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
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,
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
Copyright © 2002 Håvard Oppøyen - all photos ©