Saturday at the Øyafestivalen is a long concert day with music from one o’clock until eleven at night. Luckily the weather was much better than the day before. Except for some slight rain early in the day, the rest of the day was sunny. Saturday was also a day for some really good music, starting with Midnight Choir and ending with Grace Jones. I missed Friday at the festival, but Saturday compensated well for this.
Traditionally, the first band at the Øyafestivalen Saturday is a Norwegian artist or band with a wide appeal. This means people come early, and the first artist is usually also kid friendly. This year Midnight Choir opened, and even if they are not a band for kids, the band some kind of Norwegian legends. Their career spans from 1992 to 2004, but they have had a few concerts since then. This year they have played a few concerts, and the Øya concert showed us what en excellent band Midnight Choir was, and still is. Beautiful stretched out songs written by guitarist Al DeLoner with delicate instrumental arrangements and sung by one of Norway’s best singers, Paal Flaata.
My next band is also Norwegian. Elephant9 is a a jazz rock experimental trio, consisting of Ståle Storløkken on keyboards, Nicolai Eilertsen on bass and Torstein Lofthus on drums, all of them instrumentalists of high international standard. Terje Rypdal is the veteran jazz guitarist who has influenced generations of guitarists during his career that started in the early 60’s with the Norwegian pop band the Vanguards. In the 70’s he released several critically acclaimed albums on the ECM label, and he has also composed symphonies and other orchestral works. Together Elephant9 and Rypdal served us a potent concert with intricate rhythms and complicated but at the same time catchy themes and riffs. Another high point this day.
I saw yet another Norwegian band after Elephant9, Frøkedal og Familien. They are Anne Lise Frøkedal with a band consisting of Frøkedal on guitar plus violin, keyboard, drums and this time also sister Linn Frøkedal on guitar. Their music is melodic indie pop, and the band is a good representative of this style. Frøkedal has been around for many years in bands like Harry’s Gym and I Was a King, but with this band she has found her own voice and has got the recognition she deserves.
Neurosis was next on my agenda. They are metal veterans, formed in 1985 in Oakland, California. They started out as a hardcore punk band, but has transformed to a post metal band with influences from doom and industrial. Except for their keyboard player, all the original members are still in the band. At Øya they played a hard set with songs that evolves slowly to a climax.
From Neurosis I went to see Sondre Justad. The contrast was big, from the dark tent with a mix of metal heads and somewhat older fans to the big stage with the front rows consisting of almost one hundred percent young girls waiting to see their hero. Sounder Justad is a new artist who has made some really catchy and positive songs that have been rotated heavily on Norwegian radio. His first single release came in 2014, and for his debut album the year after he got three Norwegian Grammy nominations. I have never seen him live before, but he is a fresh newcomer, enjoying himself, and with an infectious smile that pleased the crowd.
I have seen Savages once before at the Pstereo festival three years ago. I really liked their performance then, and looked forward to seeing them again. At Øya they seemed more controlled, more professional, and not as exciting as in 2013. They had some sound problems, but they are definitely a band to look out for. I just wish they could be more spontaneous on stage.
Foals were new to me, although they have been around since 2005. That are a British indie rock band with so far four albums. Live they are very good, with fresh and catchy songs, and a positive and extrovert stage show. Sometimes that is more than enough, and with Foals it worked well.
Before Grace Jones I saw Death By Unga Bunga. They are a Norwegian retro punk pop band with a stage show in true punk fashion. Sebastian Ulstad Olsen is their front man, and he combines a 60’s look with punk behavior, which makes the band a lot of fun to watch. As usual he took a walkabout in the audience while singing. The band started in 2007 and they are tight and professional, and seem to have a lot of fun together.
The definite headliner at Øya, and the artist who got to close the festival, was Grace Jones. You can read more about her and see more photos in a separate post.
The Øyafestivalen 2016 has been a good festival. What they always do, is to combine “safe” artists with newer ones, surprises, trendy and also niche artists alongside artists with a wide appeal. This year the weather wasn’t the best, with heavy rain the day before, and also on Friday, which made the ground quite muddy. But the festival was almost sold out long before the event, so luckily this didn’t affect the attendance.
I saw some really good concerts these days, and had a good time The festival is also very well organized, and everyone is happy and in good spirits. The Øyafestivalen has established itself as Norway’s most important rock festival, and as long as they continue their mix of styles as well as they do, they will keep this position. This year they lacked one or two really big names, but it didn’t bother me at all.
All photos are © Per Ole Hagen and must not be used without written permission.