What? Trondheim Calling Festival, Norway
Who? Panda Panda
When? Thursday 4th February, 2016
Where? BrukBar / Blaest, Trondheim, Norway
What Worked? Everything
What Didn’t? There wasn’t a Didn’t
Before I travelled to Trondheim, I made up my mind that one of the bands I really wanted to hear/see play live was upcoming indie band, Panda Panda. They have as yet only uploaded a few songs onto Soundcloud, but what I’d heard of their music had convinced me that they had a special something, of which I wanted to hear more.
Panda Panda is made up of Ragnhild Fangel Jamtveit, front woman and synths, Håkon Brunborg Kjenstad, co-vocalist and guitarist , Herman Wildhagen, guitar and backing vocals, Jonathan Fimland Kleven on bass and Oddbjørn Sponås on drums.
Panda Panda were playing on trend music venue, BrukBar Blaest, the first night of the fest, so off I went to check them out and sure enough, wasn’t disappointed. In fact, the band turned out to be far better than I’d hope they would be, playing a cracking seven song set, including, of all things, an ABBA cover.
They kicked off their set with three scorchers, ‘A’, ‘What Are You Waiting For’ and ‘B’, after which the crowd were pretty psyched to say the least. Whirring guitar seqs, noisy drums and might fine vocals seemed to be the order of the evening. But, it was with their performance of ‘Pictures’, a song you can find streaming on SoundCloud (see link below), that Panda Panda took it to the next level.
‘Pictures’ is an absolutely stunning song, full of reverbed guitars, thrashing drums and Ragnhilds definite, effortless vocal; Panda Pandas live rendition on the night was electrifying. The synergy between Jamtveit and Kjenstad is magical – their vocals are perfectly in-sync and they totally vibe off each other on stage. This is a match made in musical heaven. My biggest regret is that I didn’t video this performance.
I did however, have the wit to manage to catch the end of the biggest surprise of the night – the random inclusion of a cover of one of ABBA’s most anthemic songs, ‘The Winner Takes it All’. Was it good – was it what? It was gob-smacking. A huge ABBA fan, the notion of this cover in foresight would have been stomach churning – to witness it however, was ‘eyebrow raisingly’ astounding.
Jamtveit’s raw and hugely evocative vocal was simply astonishing – the top of her range is at cloud level while her voice has a clarity of a quality one has come to expect of Norwegian female vocalists – pure and flawless. While the vocal shone, the instrumental accompaniment staggered, in particular Oddbjørn Sponås’ drumming, which was ear bendingly good.
Here is a teeny clip to whet your appetite!
The venue was great, the atmosphere electric, the crowd buzzing. In fact, the audience got into it pretty much from the off, and by the end, which came all too quickly, they were on fire, such was the rapport between them and the band.
Panda Panda wrapped their set with the ace in their musical pack, ‘New Friends’. The trio of guitarists – Håkon Brunborg Kjenstad, Herman Wildhagen and bassist Jonathan Fimland Kleven – were on fire for the entire set, but I think it’s pretty fair to say that they were ablaze during the final number. Complementary wonky synth sequences and crashing percussion were provided by Jamtveit and Sponås respectively, giving this song all the wonderful noisy weirdness that makes it so darned good. It made for a super end to what was a magnetically charged performance.
Panda Panda was the big surprise of Trondheim Calling. Without doubt, of the performances I saw, theirs was one of the best. A young band brimful of energy, with a lot of talent, buckets of imagination and an already eager following, the world is their oyster. Here’s hoping that TC 2017 will see them several rungs up the line up ladder, and fingers crossed with some release successes well and truly under their belt.
You can view a live snip of ‘New Friends’ here (apols for my appalling video techniques) followed by the full track via the SoundCloud link. Follow Panda Panda on Facebook to keep up to date with their gig n music news.
A — What Are You Waiting For — B — Pictures — We Thought It Was Gold — The Winner Takes It All (ABBA Cover) — New Friends
If you have a spare three mins – would really appreciate if you could answer this quick poll which is for research purposes vis a vis the Norwegian music industry and it’s impact on the music scenes outside of its domestic market. Cheers.