In which rather than mourning my Øya losses, I celebrate the anticipation of seeing them play live at another point and place in time …
When you start attending music festivals you learn pretty quickly that no matter how many times or ways you twist and turn the programmes, it is physically impossible to make it to every live set or gig on your bucket list. Crossover schedules call for tough decisions, or failing that, some coin tossing whilst valiantly trying not to cheat when the chosen side lands facing down!
It was no different with this years Øyafestivalen club-night which played host to a rainbow of artists from across a vast and varied Nordic spectrum. Rather then focussing on the fact that I missed out on several wanna-sees, I like to think of these as the ones that got away; bands who I can continue to pursue in the happy hope that I will one day get to see them play live.
The Øya club-night was possibly my most testing off-site festival challenge to-date, and if you have a look at the night’s programme you’ll understand the predicament in which I found myself.
First off not only were the lovely Therese Aune and the super groovy newbies Lumikide, whose lustrous single ‘Golden’, is as radiant as its name denotes, pitched against each other, worse still they were pitted against the Øya delegate registration cum meet n’ greet. WHATTTT!
I longed to be transported into the fascinating landscapes of Aune’s imagination. To be whisked up and away on a treadmill of ebony and ivory, blown along by the warm wind gently borne of harmonium bellows. Sighs.
Signed to Riot Factory and with a smorgasbord of creative soundscapes forming an impressive back catalogue, Therese Aune is one of the most understated and widely respected talents on the Norwegian scene. It would have been neat to have found out if there were offerings a-new from Therese, especially as there was a rather quirky Soundcloud upload as recently as four months ago, entitled – ‘Sound Horn OK Please – Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night’ (of Dylan Thomas fame) which you can listen to here.
Alas, it was not meant to be but, Therese, if you’re reading this, do please send word if you are due to release any new material!! My portal is always open and receptive to new tunes!
I also wanted to see what more those purveyors of aureate indie-jazz, Lumikide, had to offer in addition to the multi-dimensional wonder that is their latest single.
With a disarming vocal so warmly inviting it could have insta-thawed the ice age, ‘Golden‘ is a wonderwall of all that is good about that canny Norwegian trick of melding pop-jazz with indie.
Layers of evocative vocal with that intriguing plaintive edge so idiosyncratic of the Norwegian style, intense hazes of guitar chords, blurry and blingy synths and that wonderful, wonderful drumming of Axel Skjelstad, trained in the jazz style, but whose intuitive feel for exploratory percussion is quite exceptional. ‘Golden’ is a meld of all of these succulent ingredients, poured together to create this most exquisite of elixirs.
I wanted to hear more of what this band were capable of and how they might sound outside the safety zone of the studio, but alas Oslo, it was not to be!
I set my gig alarm for 7pm. Surely that would give me enough time to register, pick up my bits n bobs and whisk myself off to venue number one, map flapping in hand (actually it was more map sagging in hand as the weather on the night was just abysmal!).
Ok so where to start … well there was Sløtface in the immense Parkteatret at 7pm.
One of my favourite young bands of the Nowegian now, Sløtface produce slickly finished, sassy punk inspo’d sounds, with razor sharp lyrics laced with kick ass attitude. Their latest number ‘Take Me Dancing’, is their most mature offering to-date. A cheeky little flirt, it’s a catchy soundscape of twist n turn bass chords, rolling percussion and a segue of clean and fuzzy guitar opposites that sync with uncluttered ease. Together they form an animated springboard for Haley Shea’s expressive vocals which in this instance are topped off with a deliciousness of angelic harmonies.
Sadly I have to be due north at the same time as their set finishes, so I make the strategic decision that as I have already seen these guys rock out live up at Trondheim Calling, I can live a bit longer on the memory, making a promise to keep them on the “must see again” list. Bearing in mind that they will undoubtedly tour their forthcoming album in 2017, it’s a promise I am quite likely to keep! For now, let Sløtface take you dancing around the virtual streets of Oslo.
Having settled on a hot date with Ludvig Moon meant that I also had to take a rain-check on Kildaphew – which didn’t impress me one bit! However, there was some silver lining zipping around the edges of those dark and rainy Oslo overhangs in the form of a Kildaphewian appearance on stage with ARY, when one half of this fantastic pairing, Danielle Christine Brogden, sang backing vocals to Ms. Loinsworth’s live set.
Purveyors of experimental electro-rap dipped in funk and wrapped up in a Windies vibe, theirs is one of the most lush sounds you’ll hear this side of 21stC soul. Danielle’s voice is pitch perfect chocca mocha velvet – sweet, rich, enticing, and moreish. Their instrumental sound is a collection of cross-border flotsam and jetsam woven with such a delicate and masterly touch as to create a perfectly seamless blend. Did I want to see them? Hell yeah. Shame on you programme timing!
On the 100% must see list (a desire reinforced having witnessed Danielle’s brilliant vocal shadowing of ARY the following day), for now I’ll have to satiate my calypso-hip hop needs by hanging out on their Soundcloud page – check this beauty of a track out!
Internasjonalen beckoned with Chain Wallet and Hanne Kolstø in its illustrious line up. All of which meant that as far as Siv Jakobsen, Pelicat, Sgrow, nrwy, Strangelove and The Hallway were concerned, it was take a ticket and wait for your number to be called (like a watched pot, at some point in a never boiling future!).
Mixing classical and techno backgrounds to produce musical purity of a quality that outclasses many of their peers, Sgrow is a band whose vocal and sonic expressiveness has the clarity of its Nordic roots, the experimental drive of personal inspirations and, the melodic warmth and curious compulsion of the futuristic driven techno age in which it exists. Missing their set was possibly my biggest mistake of the night!
Luckily, I had the pleasure of meeting the Sgrow folks for a coffee a few days later, which made up in part, for my not seeing them live. Although, given the fact that they have wrapped up their live set for the present time, it looks like it’ll be quite some wait before I eventually get to see them kill it on stage. In the words of all the best musical stalkers … “I’m waiting”!
The Hallway were a band I desperately wanted to see live, especially having heard their now internationally released EP, Vestad a few weeks prior to heading to Oslo. However, as I had been waiting to see La Kolstø since March, sadly, it was a non-runner on the night. Theirs is my kinda sound, my kinda vibe. Melodic indie rock with just the right amount of bite, classical snatches of string samples, a little flash of American grunge and a pleasing but ever so slightly terse vocal.
They’re a bit Green Day muddled with Smashing Pumpkins in an ice-capped Nordic kinda way. Addictive, infectious, vibrant and on the poppy side of rock enough to appeal to the mainstream. The Hallway deserve only good things, and with sparkling creations like ‘I Used to Know’ they’ll probably get them!
So, you can see the challenges that faced me on the night. To make things worse, all things Toothfairy were happening over at The Villa. Having been told that the venue would be packed to capacity from early doors pretty much sealed their fate; I didn’t have the time to flit to a venue only to find I couldn’t get in and have to perform an instantaneous volte face to plan B. Gone, in one fell swoop, Coucheron, Nils Noa(weeps!), Carl Louis and Baya.
My evening drew to a close as I walked in what could only be described as a deluge of rain towards Subscene and the Panda Panda live set, conscious as I was doing so, that I was walking away from opportunity of seeing Frances Wave. “OH cruel Fate, when wilt thou weary be?”
My club-night came to a close and as I walked the short distance back to my hotel through the late night misty murky Oslo streets, I despatched pointless regrets on the North Sea breeze, welcomed the light at the end of the tunnel of possibilities and gently hugged the anticipation of what was still to come. Hope springs eternal.
Øyafestivalen supported by Music Norway, runs annually in Oslo, usually around the second week of August. For full details check out the official website http://oyafestivalen.com/