Steinkjerfestivalen was arranged this weekend for the seventh time with Behemoth, Kaizers Orchestra, Susanne Sundfør and D.D.E. as headliners. Three stages, great bands, music non stop for 8 hours each day, a smooth organization, and a great atmosphere made his year’s festival just as pleasurable as last year’s.
Norway have many festivals each summer, some big ones like Hove, Norwegian Wood, and Øya, plus many more local festivals, like Steinkjerfestivalen, Raumarock, Bukta, Pstereo, Rått & Råde, Slottsfjell, and many others. All of these have great booking.
Steinkjerfestivalen has managed to mix the search for the unexpected with the more safe and mainstream bands. Behemoth, and one of the highlights for many – Hedvig Mollestad Trio – were among the unexpected, meaning they are not mainstream. And specially an instrumental jazz artist like Mollestad isn’t what you expect at a rock festival. But she and her trio surprised many in the audience with her playing, and they should definitely be booked by many more festivals, also outside of Norway.
Behemoth is one of the biggest metal bands in the world, and kudos to Steinkjerfestivalen for relentlesly presenting metal rock for their audience, even if most of the audience preferred other artists. Earlier years they have had bands like Satyricon, Keep Of Kalessin, Djerv, Sahg and Shining, and this year Mongo Ninja was the other metal band. Even if Oslo Ess is more of a punk band, they also belong to the hard side of the rock scale.
At the other extreme were artists like Sandra Kolstad and Gabrielle, plus Montée – dance and techno pop artists who were big hits with the younger audience. Then we were also presented for two of the new and exciting pop/ singer-songwriters in Norway, Jonas Alaska and Mikhael Paskalev, plus veteran, but still young super artist Sondre Lerche, who hasn’t played in Norway for some years.
To balance this, the festival had booked D.D.E., one of Norway’s most popular live band with a folksy rock style, departed from the tradition of Status Quo. D.D.E. have played together for some 20 years and has built up a faithful following all over Norway. They have often been looked down upon by the music press. The audience love them, and they are a hard working band who always deliver. Their concert at Steinkjerfestivalen was a success, and they can still get the crowd to sing a long to most of their songs.
Kaizers Orchestra were the other headliner, and they played the biggest stage Saturday night. The band play a lot of festivals this summer, and they have slowly climbed to the top as maybe Norway’s best live band these days. Their characteristic is music performed in a way that gets all of the audience, young and old, to sing happily along with their songs.
Together with these artists, the festival also presented intellegent musical humor with Bare Egil Band, great rootsy music from El Cuero and The South, experimental New Wave from De Press and ”punk bluegrass” from the Swedish sister trio Baskery. They played last year, too, and was a strong request from the audience. As always they did a great show at the tent stage, and the tent was packed during their concert.
One of the differences between small town festivals like Steinkjerfestivalen and the big ones like Øya and Hove, is the intimacy and the down to earth mood that you feel when you visit. It seems like the artists feel it too, and many of them joined the crowds before or after their own gigs. All in all, with a professional and well run festival, my only wish is for the organizers to make some profit his year. That will make sure we will get a new festival next year with the same quality as this year.
All the pictures are © Per Ole Hagen and may not be used without written permission.