This year the weather on the first day, Wednesday, at the Øyafestivalen was really bad, rain, rain and mud. Unfortunately I couldn’t go there that day, but I feel for those who did. As a consolidation they got some really good music with Lana Del Rey and many others. So, my first day this year was Thursday, when the weather was as it should be, sunny and just warm enough to wear light clothes. (Photo above: Gabrielle)
The crowd at Amfi before The xx
There are six stages at Øya, the largest one – Amfi, Vindfruen as the second, the big tent – Sirkus, Hagen as the third largest open air stage, and two smaller ones. On Thursday I chose concerts at Amfi, Vindfruen and Sirkus, and saw nine acts. With that many stages, you have to eliminate some anyway, and I was quite satisfied with what I got.
My first concert of the day was Hajk at Vindfruen, whom I also saw at Månefestivalen three weeks ago. I really like their music, and I can almost see that they get more and more confident on stage as they get more live experience. Their music is melodic organic pop music, which is a perfect blend for a sunny festival.
After Hajk it was time for the first act at Amfi, Skadedyr, a musical collective playing a mix of jazz, some funk and folk music. It was quite interesting, and the different musicians are good instrumentalists, but it was a bit too chaotic for me.
Sigrid is one of Norway’s newest female artists, who has made quite an impression in a short time. I have seen her twice before this year, at by:Larm and at Spot in Denmark, and I must admit that I am a fan of her performance. Her music isn’t 100% my taste, but she has such a natural charm plus a solid and strong voice and a totally professional sound. I smile when I see her on stage, and she will positively have a great future.
Back at Amfi and Feist, we were told that photography would not be in the photo pit, but front of house (FOH), which means from the sound tower. This means you have to have a long lens, and also that all photos from all the photographers tend to look exactly the same. And with an artist who doesn’t give much extra on stage, I found myself bored through the concert.
I had never heard of Thee Oh Sees before, but they were a fresh and welcome band after Feist, with two drummers, bass and leader John Dwyer on guitar. Hard, funky garage band from the west coast of USA, they went down very well with the crowd at Vindfruen.
I have been a fan of Ryan Adams since the first time I saw him live in 2001. In the first 10 years of his career he released CDs faster than most other artists, and with an impressively high percentage of really good songs. Since Adams suffers from Menière’s disease, where he can get seizures from flash light in his eyes, this concert was also FOH. But Adams was a bit more active on stage, and his stage props was also more interesting than with Feist. I also likes his music a lot, and his concert was one of the best this day.
Norway have many great female singer songwriter artists, Sigrid being one of them. But one artist, Gabrielle, has risen above most of them this year, much thanks to the TV success Skam, which featured one of her songs. Gabrielle sings in Norwegian and has had several #1 hits here in Norway. After Skam the Swedes are also becoming aware of her talent. Her songs are catchy, but they also have a depth in the lyrics that is often lacking in other pop artist’s work. On stage she is also very good, with an un-pretentious authority that I often find lacking in other artists.
The headliner on Thursday was The xx an English indie band known for its minimalistic sound and mix of indie pop and electronica. The band are Romy Madley Croft on guitar and vocal, Oliver Sim on bass and vocal and Jamey xx on computer and percussion. I find the band’s sound melodic, dreamy, meditative, but also introvert. I didn’t have time to see the whole concert because I had to run over to Sirkus to each the last band there, but I saw The xx at the Pstereo festival in 2013 and liked their show then.
My last band Thursday was John Olav Nilsen & Nordsjøen. This is the latest band from John Olav Nilsen, and the first time I saw him after he disbanded John Olav Nilsen & Gjengen a few years ago. I saw his former band many times between 2010 and 2013, and I remember the energy and the good and catchy songs from that time. Now it seems that John Olav Nilsen has changed his life style, but also lost some of the energy from the earlier years. The concert last night didn’t move me like he did before.
All photos are © Per Ole Hagen and must not be used without written permission.