The Pstereo festival in Trondheim is over, and it is time for some reflections. So far it looks like it was financially successful, with two sold out days. The festival is one of many music festivals in Norway, and many of these have got problems from the bad and rainy summer this year. (Picture above is Michael Krohn from Raga Rockers.)
This weekend Trondheim had great weather, sunny on Friday and warm with some clouds on Saturday. Actually perfect festival weather. The venue is also a good one, between Norway’s biggest cathedral, Nidarosdomen, and the river Nidelven So the framing was good. But what really makes a festival special is the booking. Here the Pstereo festival is special.
There is one other festival in Norway that really distinguishes itself with an eclectic and edgy booking, and that is the Oya Festival in Oslo. It was held last weekend, and has been sold out since spring. They sell most of their tickets before they announce their headliners. Oya has managed to become the event everyone must attend.
Without becoming a copy of Oya, the Pstereo festival has managed to become something of the same in Trondheim.This year was the first year they sold out, and that bodes well for next year. The interesting thing is that they don’t book the artists for their mainstream appeal, rather the opposite. Kaizers Orchestra who headlined Friday night might be the exception, and an obvious choice for many festivals in Norway, but you can’t say that about Spiritualized and Mew who headlined Saturday.
In betwen these bands they had Grandaddy, which I must admit was a pleasant surprise that fit well in to the mix. With other good bands like the Norwegian Team Me who are gradually becoming a very exciting live band with balloons and confetti, they also had Stein Torleif Bjella, Raga Rockers, the local hip hop heroes Fremmed Rase and the Friday bands like First Aid Kit, Kylesa, Den Svenska Björnstammen and Big K.R.I.T.
If you look at the bands together, it looks like neither here, nor there. Who will be interested in both Big K.R.I.T. and Kaizers Orchestra, and who in the audience likes both First Aid Kit, Spritualized and Kylesa? The strange thing is that the crowd expect to be surprised by music they haven’t heard much before, and they seem surprisingly open for bands that aren’t necessarily on their own playlists.
I think this is the secret, and also the success factor for festivals like Pstereo and Oya. They don’t do the obvious and mainstream to attract a large audience, who will come for that artist and don’t care about the others. The people behind both these festival have established themselves as people who’s musical taste you can trust. Then you say yes to their invitation to share some of their favourites, even if you haven’t heard about them before.
Both Oya and Pstereo had good weather this year, and of course that adds to the experience. But without their good, eclectic and edgy booking they could just as well have become festivals where the one headliner was the only measurement on success. Now it is the whole package, and everytime I have attended Pstereo and Oya, I have come back with a list of bands I have to check out. I can’t say that for all the other festivals I attend every year.
The pictures here are from the Saturday night. The Friday artists can be seen in my Friday night post, Live Music In Stereo at the Pstereo Festival.
All pictures are © Per Ole Hagen and must not be used without written permission.