The Slottsfjell Festival, A Summer Festival In Historic Surroundings

Kvelertak © Per Ole HagenThe Slottsfjell Festival is one of many music festivals in Norway in the summer. Since we have just a short period with a chance of some sun and warmth, the months of June, July and August are packed with outdoor festivals. This year the weather has been very good so far in the eastern part of Norway, and lucky Slottsfjell, the first day was beautiful, and the next two days will also have lovely weather. Here is a report from the first day. (Picture above: Erlend Hjelvik from Kvelertak.)

Stemning © Per Ole HagenThe Kastell stage by the tower at the top of the mountain

The festival is situated in the city of Tunsberg, a city with a more than 1000 year old history. The festival is located at the small mountain called Slottsfjell, a mountain that hosted a fortress from the 12th century. Since then the fortress has been run down, but the ruins are there still. In 1888 the Tower was built, in an old style, and it is still a landmark for the city.

Kaizers Orchestra © Per Ole HagenThe audience to Kaizers Orchestra

The Slottsfjell Festival started out in 2003, and it has gradually been built up to be one of Norway’s most interesting festival. The organizers are presenting an eclectic mix of some mainstream, many indie acts, some black metal and punk, and also singer songwriters and straight pop acts. Obviously the mix is popular, they reckon to have about 12000 people visiting every day.

Kvelertak © Per Ole HagenThe audience at the metal stage

This year is my first time at Slottsfjell, and so far it has been a pleasant surprise. The audience is younger than I am used to from the other festivals I visit, but that is definitely a good sign. The festival itself is extremely well-organized, except for the lines at the beer stands, which were very long. Since the festival is situated on a mountain, a lot of climbing stairs up and down is involved. I counted 130 steps down from the highest stage, and that is definitely a chore for an old guy like me. Some would probably say that it is good for me, I visited the highest stage four times the first day, so I certainly got my exercise.

John Olav Nilsen © Per Ole HagenJohn Olav Nilsen

What about the music? The first day I chose to see most of the hard rock/metal bands, so I missed out on many of the hipper bands like Alt-J, Hot Chips and Twenty One Pilots. I chose to see bands I really like, and also one band I haven’t seen before.

John Olav Nilsen © Per Ole Hagen

The first act I saw was John Olav Nilsen & Gjengen. His act is always good, a straight forward guitar oriented pop with good Norwegian lyrics. Some would say that he is an introvert Norwegian version of the Swedish artist Hakan Hellstrom, but John Olav Nilsen does a great show, and doesn’t need any comparison to other artists. The audience knew all his songs, and sang along from the first one. Here are some more pictures of him.

Black Debbath © Per Ole HagenBlack Debbath

The next artist were Black Debbath, the Norwegian metal act with humorous lyrics and an academic approach to their performance. I have seen them many times, and you can read more about them and see pictures from the release concert for their latest CD here. Black Debbath did a good job at Slottsfjell, and their quirky humor was well received by the audience.

Hatebreed © Per Ole HagenHatebreed

The next act I saw was the American hard core metal band Hatebreed. The band has been active for almost 20 years, and they are tight, aggressive and with good songs. I have never seen them before, and they remind me of bands like Baroness, Kylesa and Clutch, which are all great bands in this general style.

Kvelertak © Per Ole HagenErlend Hjelvik from Kvelertak

After Hatebreed, the Norwegian band Kvelertak was next, and they always do good shows. Thursday at Slottsfjell was no exception, and their tight playing with the charismatic front man Erlend Hjelvik is a winning formula. The band started in 2007 and were breaked by the NRK concept “urort”. In 2011 they received the Statoil scholarship of 1 million Norwegian kroner (about $165.000), and they have toured with bands like Kylesa, Converge and Gaza.

Kaizers Orchestra © Per Ole HagenKaizers Orchestra

The last act out on the first day was Kaizers Orchestra. They have announced that they will take an indefinite break from September, so this summer might well be the last chance to see them live. Kaizers Orchestra have been very generous the last few years, playing and headlining a lot of festivals, and they played at Slottsfjell both in 2008 and 2011. Their show is top professional, and the audience loved them like I have seen many other times.

Hatebreed © Per Ole HagenJamey Jasta from Hatebreed

The festival’s second day has acts like Kendrick Lamar, Immortal, Shining, Razika and Biffy Clyro, and I will write an new report when the day is over.

Black Debbath © Per Ole HagenEgil Hegerberg from Black Debbath

All pictures are © Per Ole Hagen and must not be used without written permission.

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