Friday at Bergen Fest had a noticeably younger audience than the first two days. The reason was obvious, with local hip hop hero Lars Vaular as headliner and bad boy YelaWolf, plus the British boy wonder Jake Bugg, this was the day for the young crowd. We also got the Canadian indie boys in Half Moon Run, a tropical party with Rudimental and the new British soul star, John Newman. (Photo above: Lars Vaular)
Because it was Friday, everything started an hour earlier than the other days, and this also meant that there was room for for instead of three artists on the big stage. But, as the other days, the first act out played the second stage.
Ezra Furman was a new name to me. He is an American indie rocker with a definite retro sound. He is also a cross dresser. The set was charming, with distinctive songs. At times he sound a bit like David Bowie, and his sound has a lot common with 70s pop, a dash of punk and glam rock. Check out his album Perpetual Motion People.
Sivert Høyem has visited Bergen Fest before, in 2014. This year he and his band were first out on the big stage. The venue slowly filled up under their set, and as usual, they delivered a solid and well played concert. Sivert Høyem’s voice is one of the best voices in modern pop and rock, deep and mellow, with a great dynamic range. His band is also among Norway’s best, both accompanying Sivert and also standing on their own. They played highlights from his six solo albums, and the set ended with the majestic Majesty that he recorded with his former band Madrugada.
The first time I saw YelaWolf was at the Øya festival in Oslo in 2012, and I wasn’t much impressed. Then I saw him at the Pstereo festival in Trondheim last year, and I really liked his show. Friday at Bergen Fest he had the same set up as at Pstereo, with a DJ plus a guitarist, but he had dropped the cowboy image from last year and was back to bad boy YelaWolf. As a show it works like a charm. He showered the photographers in beer, spat on the lens of a video camera and got a guy from the audience up on stage. As a showman, YelaWolf delivers 100%. If you like hard, fast and dirty hip hop, YelaWolf is the man. Check out Love Story from 2015.
Jake Bugg has been touted as the new hope in rock music. He released his first, self-titled album when he was 18, and it went to No. 1 on the UK charts. In spite of his young age, he has been nominated several time for different awards and has won three. Last year he released his third album, On My Own. His albums are very good, straight on, with great and energetic songs. On stage he and his band sound good, but his stage presence seem to lack energy. But he had a grateful audience that applauded him through the concert.
Half Moon Run is a Canadian indie rock band of the more introverted kind. They had obviously got more routine since the last time I saw them at the Pstereo festival in 2013. Their songs are still small gems with some really delicate harmony singing. They are also more extrovert on stage, which really heightens the live experience. Half Moon Run is a band that deserves a big audience, and their 2012 album, Dark Eyes, is still my favorite.
I had never seen Rudimental before and new little of what to expect. They are a drum and bass band with a fresh and energetic stage show. The band went No. 1 on the UK singles chart with Feel The Love with John Newman on vocals in 2012. Since then they have won numerous awards and topped the charts several times. They were also named the festival band of the year by BBC in 2013. I certainly agree that Rudimental is a great festival band. Their albums are good, but they really shine on stage with a show full of energy and good vocal and instrumental performances.
John Newman followed his friends in Rudimental on the second stage. Like many of the other artists at the festival, I didn’t know much about him, but I was truly impressed by his performance. His voice is one of the best I heard at the festival, and his band was excellent. I must say that I am happy for these newer artists who go back to the soul and rhythm ‘n’ blues roots in their music. John Newman mixes this with modern instrumentation, often quite close to what Rudimental did, but always with the emphasis on the good melody. To me John Newman’s concert was the high point of Friday’s concerts. His biggest hit is Love Me Again from the 2012 album Tribute.
Friday’s headliner at Bergen Fest, and also my last concert there this year, was Lars Vaular. He is a hip hop artist from Bergen, rapping in Norwegian. Vaular’s style is way different from Friday night oter rapper, YelaWolf, but still good listening, also for those of us who don’t like hip hop much. Vaular has a unique timing in his delivery, and his lyrics often contain social commentary, lik his much discussed song Kem skjøt SIv Jensen (Who Shot Siv Jensen). It was a smart move from the festival to close Friday night with Lars vault. He has a solid fan base in Bergen, and the average age of the audience was notably lower than the first two days..
All photos are © Per Ole Hagen and must not be used without written permission.