Panda Panda Subscene KlubbOya 2016
Panda Panda Subscene KlubbØya 2016

Where the roving reporter chronicles their Øya pub club-crawl and all that it entailed!

O is for Øya, Oslo and Oh My God! How Much? (no wonder the Norwegians continuously offer up profuse “tusen, tusen takks” when they’re reeling in your hard grafted tusen, tusen krone!).

This Øya trip raised the ‘bar’ to an all time Gin og Tonic high, as we hit new heights both physically and financially in the Radisson Sky Bar.  Beautiful view! ‘Twud want to be at 135 NOK or 15 euro a hit and not even a complementary bar snack in sight!

Anyway, I deviate.

Oslo is home to a musicfest called Øyafestivalen, an annual shindig held early to mid August when the winds are warm, the sun is high, the skies are blue … needle-vinyl-scratch!  Øya is held every August when you’d think the weather would be pretty clement with a day-glo summery vibe, yes? #Computersaysno!

Foto Isak Froseth for Oya Official
Foto Isak Froseth for Oya Official

I arrived in Oslo on the afternoon of the fest-opener, Klubbdagen, to be greeted by the inclement glumness of grey skies and drip drop showers.  Oh well, says I, the rain can’t get you indoors and indeed it couldn’t as I kicked off my evening’s musical ramble at the Verkstedet venue, having worked out my bearings sans compass but with a lot of inky arrows dotted along my brand-Øya map!

Due to the compression of so many bands into a super short space in time, I opted to see just four acts, with a possible fifth depending on how both evening and bod went.  First up out of the traps was Ludvig Moon, a band with more members than The Specials, or so it seemed as they struggled to find ‘personal space’ on the tiniest of stages in an equally ’boutique’ venue resulting in a band-member overflow spilling out onto the venue floor.

Comprised of Anders (vox/guitar), Ole T (keys), Herman (guitar), Kristofer (drums), Andreas (bass), and Lydia (vox/guitar), Ludvig Moon are still a very young band despite their five years mileage on the clock. Signed to Riot Factory, their releases have been limited to an eponymous EP (of uncertain release geography) and this year’s smash single, ‘Cult Baby‘ whose epicness was drooled over by the likes of Best Fit.

Ludvig Moon Verkstedet Oya 2016
Ludvig Moon Verkstedet Oya 2016

Straight up … Ludvig Moon are a very good band live.  The timbre of the vocals and the instrumentation is pretty much studio to stage without too much of a shift.

On the night though, there was something of a disconnect, as faint as a skipped heartbeat, between both vocalists which, unfortunately, ran the first five minutes of the set ragged.  However, this is nothing that more live gigging and a bit more practice shouldn’t iron out.  Hey even Chris Martin had a total “slam the brakes, what key am I supposed to be in?” moment at Glastonbury for goodness sake!

Live syncing is never easy and I just felt that their nerves got the better of them, but once they settled, it all flowed, and flowed well, so much so in fact that a  30minute cut off did them an huge injustice, as they were just beginning to blossom when their moment in the sun came to a hard stop.

Instrumentally Ludvig Moon are solid, their only downfall is the inexperience of youth.  Musically, they are already there…performance-wise, they are within touching distance of reaching their stride.

One of the songs on their setlist was ‘Swim Dream’.  Obviously a huge fan favourite it went down a storm, and if you peruse this live ‘garden edition’ you’ll understand why!

**If you’re really observant you’ll spot a rogue escapee from Dråpe … one whom I keep running into ’round and around’ Norway’s hotspots!

Next!

To be honest, Chain Wallet were a band I knew very little about before seeing them in Oslo.  Made up of Stian Iversen, Christian Line and Frode Boris (with Marius Erster Bergesen, Adrian Søgnen & Lars Finborud joining live) they hail from that western hub of Norwegian music, Bergen, birthplace of many of Norway’s musical elite including Susanne Sundfor and Anne Lise Frøkedal to name but a few.

Having to glide at high speed down Torgatta from Verkstedet to Internasjonalen caused me to miss their kick off.  Arriving at the venue, it was apparent that they were already full steam ahead and, so was the beyond capacity throng.  The hyped up audience was packed so tightly there was literally no room to move.

There was a particularly good reason that such an huge crowd pitched up; Chain Wallet are incredibly good, I mean amazingly superb, live.  Tearing the varnish off the wood and the paint off the ceilings kinda good.

Chain Wallet Photo by Synne Sofi Bårdsdatter Bønes
Chain Wallet Photo by Synne Sofi Bårdsdatter Bønes

Chain Wallet’s music is a modern mirror of the type of 80’s chart-busting sophisticated pop sounds that the likes of Prefab Sprout and Deacon Blue used to produce so well. Enigmatic, tuneful, animated, their music gently draws you into its feelgood soundscape and notwithstanding a faint hint of melancholy drifting around the edges of its melodies, Chain Wallet’s portfolio is pure pop perfection.

Of the three bands I saw perform on the club-night, Chain Wallet’s set was the most cohesive, had the strongest sound and was the most perfectly synchronised.

With a pretty strong line in guitars, confident yet warmly inviting vocals and an ‘in total harmony’ RS, Chain Wallet’s self-assured translation of their superior pop compositions from record to live is pretty faultless.

The band’s eponymous debut album will be released via Jansen Plateproduksjon on 7th October, but is available to pre-order now – http://www.jansenplateproduksjon.tigernet.no/artist/17373–chain-wallet.

You need to be ALL OVER IT!!  (I’m soooo looking forward to reviewing it!!!). 

Chain Wallet wrapped their set with this coolness…get down with it.

Fangirling alert!

If watching Chain Wallet gave me palpitations, standing in front of the magical Hanne Kolstø as she performed a tranche of her greatest hits live brought me to another plane.  I think I reached that nirvana musical folks say they strive for – transcendence.

I had waited so long to see this artist play live, that it was with a lot of nerves and a much bated breath I anxiously waited for her to take to the stage.  Disappoint, she did not. Far from it!

If anything, Kolstø’s performance was the best of the night, and certainly one of the highlights of the festival in toto. (so much so that it’s going to get its own individual review)

Internas Oslo
Hanne Live at Internasjonalen Aug 2016

 

Hanne’s music is existential indie-pop: honest songs brought to life by intuitive, adept musicianship and produced with class and finesse.  Exceptional is probably the word that springs to mind!

Sublime, fiery, feisty, evocative, intense, passionate, Hanne Kolstø gave this performance her all, and then some, and still had fuel in the tank for more at the close.  The audience roared and so did I…  Kolstø the consummate performer, with a pitch perfect faultless delivery, a choir of instruments singing in unison, she alone made the effort of travelling to Oslo worthwhile.

‘One Plus +’ was one of my favourite songs before seeing Hanne Kolstø play KlubbØya.  It lived up to the live performance and my heightened expectations.

Riding high on the crest of a musical wave I wasn’t long being flushed back down to earth by the deluge of rain in which we had to walk to our next destination- Subscene – to check out Trondheim troupe, Panda Panda.

Oh what an unfortunate choice of venue…(if it was their choice, I’m unsure).  Too stark, too big, Subscene is seriously lacking furnishings, adornment and most importantly, atmosphere.  It was dead, and nothing Panda Panda could do, play or sing was ever going to change that fact.

I first saw Panda*2 perform live up in Blaest in Trondheim, during the annual TC music festival.  They played the opening night to a huge and enthusiastic crowd and their performance was beyond adrenalin on steroids good.  They were stellar; animated, enthusiastic, and in the zone.  They were lit & fired up like they’d been plugged into the Norwegian grid.

While they tried to convey the same verve and, gain the same audience rapport in Oslo that they’d had in Trondheim, sadly it just didn’t happen.  Whether through rain-soaked tiredness, or feeling the flatness of the venue, the crowd just ‘weren’t there’.

Herman Wildhagen, Photo from PP FB page
Herman Wildhagen, Photo from PP FB page

Which was a shame, because on balance, Panda Panda’s performance was pretty good, and at times, quite amazing.

They mixed it up, crossing some untried newbies with more tried and tested knockouts such as ‘New Friends’.  When they got everything right, it was phenomenal, but there were moments when quite frankly the guitars and drums hit a level beyond ‘noise’ that completely drowned out the lead vocal.

Ragnhild Jamtveit has such a light pitch to her very pure vocal that taking the ‘fuzz’ beyond a certain decibel level is the equivalent of hitting the mute button on her mic.

I genuinely like, admire and am a fan of Panda Panda, and, sincerely want them to do well.  But until they tighten up their on-stage sound they are at serious risk of doing a huge disservice, not just to themselves, but to their supersonic songs!

That said they, especially Jamtveit and drummer Oddbjørn Sponås, totally killed their cover of Abba’s, ‘The Winner Takes It All’.  While the former has sufficient vocal reach and nuance to both carry and emotionally nail this song, the latter is pretty much given free rein to let loose and show his wares, which he did on the night with dynamic aplomb.

With my ears fuzzed, and my pockets a lot lighter than when I set out, I trudged back to my hotel through the dark, dank streets of a not-so-summery Oslo night.  Slightly disappointed, I wasn’t deflated, confident in the knowledge that Panda Panda, who are blessed with talent in copious bucket-loads, are capable of so much more.

This is a band who write blisteringly good songs, which they play with exceptional musical ability, and whose lyrics are teased and translated with intuitive nuance and superb vocal sync and control.  To prove that point, I’ll leave you with an insight into how good Panda Panda can be live.

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