Norway - Full Moon 72 - 08/22/02
Middelalderparken, Oslo, 8. - 10.08.02
Yep, success. Öyafestivalen has grown from a staggering 2-year-old to a steady-walking
3-year-old (even though last year's Blonde Redhead gig
was outstanding, and nothing this year could match that one). Yet, great fun, loads of sun, people
(totally sold-out, 18.000), and good vibrations. Despite some more or less big names of foreign
origin the festival's profile (and strength) is to launch the best of pop, rock and hip-hop from
out of ol' Norway. The question is: how much bigger will the festival grow next year?
Öyafestivalen 2002 kick-started already Wednesday night with Ai Phoenix,
Madrugada and newcomers Serena Maneesh at Betong, Chateu Neuf. Then the warm-up
party continued with another club-night Thursday presenting a handful of bands at the smaller
venues - Café Mono, Last Train, So What, and Parkteateret (disc-spinning by DJ Kaukolampi
from And The Lefthanded, as well as Tellé Records
chief DJ Mikal Telle and Tellé artist DJ Annie). Another festival teaser was the promo CD
compilation holding 16 of the bands from the bill. A bit disappointing then to find only one
exclusive track (by Vidar Vang - see our live review from
last year). Rights, right? Check our archive for some of the other artists:
Madrugada, Ai Phoenix,
Muzzlewhite, Hello Goodbye,
Tungtvann, plus Salvatore and Serena Maneesh
(reviewed this moon). Others: Analogue Orchestra - unfortunately they dropped the festival;
check out their Back To Stereo EP from last year. Nice electronic pop. Richochets
(reunited for the festival) with their 60's-inspired kick-ass party-rock. Camaros rock
hard, while slowSupreme aim for clubbing dance floors.
This year there were three stages: main stage Enga (the field), the second stage Sjøsiden
(seaside), and the third and smallest Teltet (the tent - new this year). Friday afternoon
Canadian outfit The New Pornographers entered the main stage, and despite a sun-dazed,
slowly arriving crowd they managed to live up the audience with their catchy indie-pop. They
opened with their semi-hit "The Slow Descent Into Alcoholism", and browsed through an impressing
line of songs off their brilliant album Mass Romantic (pop-album of the year?). Plenty of
sunny vocal harmonies, slight fuzz, charm and humor (and energy - especially drummer Kurt!),
including an ad hoc jingle for local record shop Big Dipper. Neat! Mass romance.
Next up were Hello Goodbye - pop minimalism from this artist threesome + guitarist
Alex (of the Ricochets). Art-pop or pop-art? Colorful surf-twang new-wave sketches, topped with
high-pitch vocals from Swedish singer Lisa. Drummer Johannes got a really nice kit (snare'n'tam
plus maracas), and guitarist/vocalist Frode pulls the right strings. They threw a lot of songs
from their debut album, among them the cartoonish "Pussycat", plus cover songs by Townes van
Zandt and Mitch Cartwright (? - "I Remember It All" ?). Hello Goodbye managed to keep on the
charm track New Pornographers started. A bit more awkward though.
Some of the main artists were put up for DJ'ing between the acts, to give us some of their
fave discs. And to keep the audience warm (as if the sun couldn't do the job...) Interesting for
those interested in catching up on possible records of inspiration.
Thursday evening the festival office was shaken when Spiritualized suddenly pulled out
due to rather tragic circumstances. The week before another main foreign band Yeah Yeah Yeahs
(US hype of the year) had cancelled, and things looked a bit bad. Until Tortoise stepped
in and took Jason & co's place. They had played Oslo Jazzfestival the night before, were still in
town, and agreed to perform. Maybe not the wildest rock-festival band (introvert music, anyone?),
and they seemed to be a tad, eh, uninspired/tired up there in the sun. Still it's fascinating to
watch them slide across the stage, switching instruments, discreetly grinning, silently communicating.
I had not seen them for some six years, and it was pleasant enough to get caught in their musical
web for a while. Laid-back is the word.
The evening had moved on and the final acts were the highly successful gypsy-Tom Waits-ians
Kaizers Orchestra and hip-hop act Tungtvann. Well, I skipped the former to see the
latter, and for sure the kings of Norwegian hip-hop kicked as. Verbally. Jørg-1 and Håvard
for sure talk fast, loud and dirty, while Poppa-Lars make sure they surf on top of the most fitting
breaks, beats, hooks and melodic fills and thrills. The kids love it, and so do I. Yet, as the hour
goes the repetitive monotony and the rough-mouth rhymes get a bit tedious. BUT: the finale is outstanding,
when they finish with their two aces "Ubudne gjesta" and "Bransjehora". Ka-boom! Two smoking barrels!
And everything's a sweaty mess.
Of course did I miss some acts I wanted to check out, such as hip-hop acts Paperboys
(with Madcon), Equicez and son of light (formerly known as n-light-n). Well,
you can't be everywhere at once. But I skipped the shitty Chicks on Speed. Easily.
11 PM and the night begun...
Entered the festival midway through Americans Vue's set. Saw them a fortnight ago. As
boring then as now, and time to move on for a swing, just to get back to check out the acclaimed
Surferosa. Well, I must admit I don't understand the hype... Never did, never will. Off!
Okay, so I went to check former Caveman Kåre João as well. Well... Not. So.
Interesting. Period. Off again! Strolling across the area I bump into a surprising oasis, and
one of the most cunning ideas of the festival. Peru You - the only band with their own
stand and stage! Three concerts a day. Brilliant! On the menu (besides live music) they've got
hot dogs (be-waffled - eek! that's really disgusting!), CDs, LPs. Business and pleasure.
They play a charming, little set and I find it a bit more exciting live than on their recent
album In the Sea On The Sea. Fragile and low-voiced pop-rock.
Up next on the main stage were Furia - five young girls from Os near Bergen, playing
no-shit melodic rock. Really good! I've only heard a couple of their songs off the Furia EP
(the indeed catchy "Right On Time"), but the band played tight, showing an ear for writing good
songs. AND; with a tremendous vocalist: Stine Kobbeltvedt. All dressed in black denim/t-shirts
they pose as they're stars. And it works. Arena rock, but not the negative kind. Bravo.
Due to seing Furia I'm a bit too late to get into the universe of Salvatore, but they
sound very inspired, well, judging from the end of their show. I need a break, and
choose to miss Safariari (now being a full-blown band). Well, I catched up with their
last couple of songs and it really sounded like something completely different from the album,
Save New York. Punchy! Also got to see the Ricochets
perform their last two, three songs. Sweating like pigs under the blistering sun. Singer Trond
demanded a cold beer as he cursed the sun. They longed for a dark, sweaty rock basement, and
even then these guys wear shades. Rock! Then it was time for another 'big' underground name: Mr.
Will Oldham (a.k.a. Bonnie 'Prince' Billy). And,
well, it was quite strange to see and hear Oldham, accompanied by a guitarist and a bassist. His
music is fascinating. Dark as the night can be, his stories as well as the nature of his melodies.
And here he was playing supported by the summer sun and the all-blue sky. Quite surreal. It was
good, but after a while I said to myself: I prefer listening to his music at home. Still he
delivered a show as intense as can be done by this man, I figured. And, the show ended with him
giving away his guitar to someone in the audience! Or, was it a friend?
The crowd awaited the old lady. 62 year old Nancy Sinatra. Why? Why book her? Well, she
entered the stage, along with a band looking like a parody of a band. And hell broke loose. Horror-show.
Freak show. Karaoke from hell! Well, you'll find more tasteful music in any downtown Oslo karaoke
bar. I took off midway through song two, but was somewhat shot in the back by a horrifying "Born
To Be Wild"! Aaaaargh... Run for your life! BUT!! The worst thing about this whole affair was that
the crowd liked it! Loved it!? Beats me. Crap it was.
I rushed off to get a taste of the sensational Ralph Myerz and the Jack Herren Band (the
band name is meant as a tribute to cult director Russ Meyer, and his co-writer Jack Moran...!?).
And what sensation! One of the highlites of Öyafestivalen. The band - two drummers
and one sound-samples-mastermind - took off sky-high, and showed to be almost a rock'n'roll band,
compared to the electronic chill-hop they present on record. Well, their reputation as a live band
was not exaggerated, as they performed with an intensity and energy driving the front crowd wild.
This was the real "Born To Be Wild". And when they closed their show with a tune called "These
Boots Are Made For Waking", making jokes about their sound engineers (one "being Nancy's
ex-boyfriend..."), trashing each other's drum-kits (with humor and joy), and took a bow - they
were kings! I'll definitely go see them next time around.
As the day before I missed out some acts I wanted to see: Tøyen, slowSupreme,
and Ugress. Later. The problem then was what to chose: Motorpsycho's (with the
horns from Jaga Jazzist) monster-retro-prog-jazz-pop-rock or Saint Etienne's cool
indie-chillout-pop. They were scheduled at the same time, but Motorpsycho were top of the bill,
main stage, with a huge audience waiting. 15 minutes late the boys (plus the tuba girl) entered
stage, to the crowd's massive roar. Rock stars! And massive it became, as Motorpsycho out-roared
the crowd. From the first tone the evening belonged to Motorpsycho, when they pondered into
"Nothing To Say" (off Demon Box). Sing-along from the start. The mean Motorpsycho machine
was heated up and rolling. I wanted to get a piece of St. Etienne, so when Motorpsycho "took off
to California" I left for a while. I have never got into that song or their latest album,
Panerothyme. Am I missing something or what? St. Etienne had just started due to some
technical problems, and they had teased quite a number of spectators as well. I watched them
from a distance and Sarah Cracknell demonstrated her coolness and style, dressed up in a delicate
evening dress. The three mates of her spun their tapes and knotted their boxes, but I found their
show to sound a bit too disco-ish. Especially with a rock monster "next door".
So I left to get
more Motorpsyched. They were loud as they built mountains of cascading sound, free-basing with
the 4 horns into rumbling improvisations. They tended get a bit off the track, slowly stampeding
into their secret valleys of music, leaving the listeners behind. Nevertheless you get somehow
sucked into their whirlpool, along their highly suggestive soundscapes. And when they finaled
with a long and stamping version of MC5's "Black To Comm" ending in a musical and pyrotechnical
blast. BOOM! Earthquake. Big bang. Ecstasy. And victory. I guess Bent has dreamt of this since he
was a little boy.
So, then - better start looking forward to next year's feast. Cheers.
Copyright © 2002 Håvard Oppøyen - all photos © Luna Kafé - all photos © Luna Kafé