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coverpic flag Norway - Full Moon 84 - 08/12/03

Sjonstock Festival 2003
Sjona, Norway, 01.-02.08.

When in the small town of Mo i Rana, Norway, just south of the Arctic Circle, head west for about 30 kilometers, and you'll find a few farms and a few cows, sheep and horses. Just past the tiny church there is a steep dirt road that leads up to a field that at most will have room for 4,000 people. You have arrived at the Sjonstock Festival.

Held for the eighth time this year, Sjonstock has been growing steadily since 50 odd people celebrated a double birthday party in 1995, rocking out to various impromtu jams and music from a CD-player. This year 3,540 tickets were sold, and one of Norway's biggest ever rock bands performed.


John Doe

With friends I arrived on Friday around six thirty in the evening, and John Doe had already entered the stage for the unthankful task of being the opening band for the festival. They didn't seem to mind too much, though - the music was high energy rock'n'roll, and there was quite a lot of people up by the stage already grooving to the music. What I caught of John Doe's set I liked - it was a great way to start the festival.


This three male two female quintet from Trondheim are sometimes compared to Jethro Tull, but I think this is mostly because they're a rock band with a flute - the music isn't really similar to Tull, in my opinion. It is still very, very good, though. Singer Stina Moltu fronts the band with lots of energy - reminded me of Sandra Nasic of Guano Apes in that way - and the intricate interplay between guitar and bass was on level with 80s King Crimson. All in all Quintrophenia delivered one of the better sets on Friday.

Thomas Dybdahl

Although new to this listener, Dybdahl has been steadily growing in popularity for the past few years. His debut album ...That Great October Sound was released last year to great critical acclaim, and he is often compared to artists like Neil Young and Jeff Buckley. His laid-back melancholy was perhaps a tad to slow for some in the Sjonstock audience, but for those willing to lend Dybdahl and band an ear, it was a welcome change of pace - especially given that the rest of the evening would be pretty intense.

Bertine Zetlitz

Currently being hailed as Norway's Queen of Pop, Zetlitz plays catchy tunes that are easy to dance to. A lot of the music seems programmed, but she did have a band with her on stage, and there was a good live vibe to the show. Lots of wonderful melodies here, a definitive highlight being the hit "Girl Like You", a driving disco tune.


Four rockin' Swedes who had to endure watching most of the audience running away to get more beer after Bertine Zetlitz was done with her set.


This Mo i Rana-based extreme-metal band has released an EP on Rage of Achilles records, and are already quite well known in metal circles. Unfortunately, their Sjonstock debut (and second live show overall) was plagued by terrible, terrible sound. The guitars and drums combined to create a blanket of white noise that made it nearly impossible to hear what was going on with the music. The keyboards where mostly completely drowned out. What was left was the marvel of Cato Skivik's monster drumming (this guy could make lots of money making fitness videos) and John Erik Andersen's evil-as-hell monster vocals. I don't think the bad sound was the band's fault, it was probably a very bass-happy engineer - several other bands had the same problem during the festival. Allfader did make history, though: They were the first band ever to use pyrotechnics at Sjonstock. This was an interesting set, but ruined by the sound problems.


On the second day of Sjonstock 03 I missed the first two bands, Gaffa and Pictorial Reason. I also missed local band Moist's church concert due to watching Motif and Fuckface perform. Sorry, guys!


I arrived just in time for Motif, the jazz band at this year's festival. A quintet of young, Norwegian jazz musicians playing (as far as I could tell) their own compositions. That two of the players were not regular band members could only be noticed by the notestands the had in front of them. This was cool bop-inspired jazz of high quality. The few who were willing to listen (rather than go and get even more beer), were an enthusiastic lot, cheering loudly for every solo. The band seemed to enjoy playing at a festival where most bands play some form of rock, it was probably a nice change for them.


An uncompromising bandname that went along with uncompromising 70s style hard rock in the vein of Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin and other great bands of the era. The whole band packed a solid punch with some great tunes, but the highlight of their set was undoubtedly the antics of keyboard player Haakon-Marius Pettersen. Surely this guy must be the bastard son of Keith Emerson?

Hopalong Knut

This was the only band that disappointed me at this year's Sjonstock. Yes, it was party-ska, yes, it was fun, yes, they had a crazy stage show... But there was something not quite right, the music seemed to lack... something. Perhaps it's just me.

Karin Park

This Swedish woman, now living in Bergen, Norway, came on with her pretty pop songs, and did her best to engage an audience now increasingly anxious to hear the main attraction of Sjonstock 03 - still a few hours away at this point. Park's band was well rehearsed and played flawlessly, but the songs did sound a bit too similar after a while. Good, but not memorable.

Gatas Parlament

This year's hip-hop act - communist rappers from Oslo. They elegantly mixed politics and entertainment, and never became too preachy. One of the funniest moments was when they did a pantomine number of spray-painting grafitti all over the stage. They also renamed the festival to "Revolusjonstock". Witty lyrics about capitalism, cops, homophobia and fun in the sun performed by two rappers and one DJ who all seemed to enjoy themselves very much.

DumDum Boys

At last, what everybody had been waiting for! One of the very best Norwegian rock bands ever have been playing a few gigs this summer after having had a several year long break, and one of the gigs took place at Sjonstock. DumDum Boys is a terrific live band, so very, very tight, and with a back catalogue of music in the "pure fucking genius" category that is up there with the biggest international names. Only that DumDum Boys have Norwegian lyrics only, and thus is a band that is best enjoyed if you speak the language. Let the rest of the world have their Stones and U2s and REMs, we have DumDum Boys, and the rest of the world can never have them. Okay, I'm getting carried away here. Back to Sjonstock. Opening with the 1989 classic "Boom Boom", the band was obviously enjoying themselves right from the start. They're not touring to support a new album, so they had free reins to play basically whatever they wished. So they treated us to a veritable "Greatest Hits" show, which went over very well with the audience. Particular highlights included the ever-popular "Spitter pine", "En vill en" and "Metallic hvit" - where singer Prepple Houmb climbed up to the roof of the stage for the intro. This set was a highlight not only of Sjonstock 03 but of all the Sjonstock festivals to date.


The task of finishing Sjonstock 03 fell to this very theatrical band. One singer, one guitarist, one guy with some electronic thingamajig that seemed to contain the rest of the music, and a woman dancing (and at one time laughing into the singer's mic) and running off stage to change costumes every other minute. Visually very, very interesting, in other words. The music, though, was very different from what you can hear at nightclub's on a Saturday night. Basically, it was disco with dark, melancholy undercurrents. Graveyard disco, if you will. I'm not saying it was bad - it was quite good, in fact - but it just wasn't as special as it had been made out to be. And the sound was way, way too loud.

Finally, on a personal note, I'd like to thank Mr. and Mrs. Halse for transport, lodging and their wonderful company during the Sjonstock weekend.

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