The rain from Thursday disappeared over the night and Friday was slightly overcast with some sun, perfect festival weather. And the venue at Bergen Fest was suddenly filled up with music fans. While the preceding days were more rock oriented, Friday had hip hop, pop, some soul and very little rock. And again I got to see artists I have never seen before. (Photo above: Gabrielle)
One thing I like about Bergen Fest is their booking. Together with the Øya festival and Pstereo they are the most interesting festival in Norway when it comes to genre diversity. Every year I see several excellent artists that I might have heard about, but never seen before. And you can see metal bands, hip hop, pop, rock, Americana, indie bands on the same stage. There is, of course strong arguments for genre festivals, but since I like music from different genres, Bergen Fest has the perfect mix for me.
Erlend Ropstad‘s latest album, Alt som har hendt got great reviews when it was released last year. His rough style, a mix of rock and singer songwriter with Norwegian lyrics gave him two nominations for the Norwegian Grammy award, Spellemannprisen. Erlend Ropstad is an artist with good songs with meaningful lyrics. On the albums he sounds more introverted, but he really rocks live.
First out on the big stage was Lukas Graham from Denmark. They have had great success so far, mostly because the band writes perfect pop songs and their singer, Lukas Forchammer, has a really good voice. I saw them at the Stavern festival two years ago, and the concert yesterday was a repeat of that concert. The same setup with a bass player who jumps around while playing three horns, drums and keyboard. Lukas Graham don’t look like pop stars, but they really sound like one.
I knew nothing about Tank & The Bangas, but got a pleasant surprise when I saw them after Erlend Ropstad. They are a band from New Orleans, and you can almost hear it in their music, which is a kind of melodic funk, soul, hip hop mix of many different styles. Tank, or Tarriona Ball as is her real name, is a charmer. A wide smile on her face while she sings and dances on stage. A very good live act that would be a bonus at many other festivals, too.
Cezinando is Norway’s new pop wonder boy. He won three Spellemann awards this year and two P3 Gull awards last fall for his debut album. His style is a mix of pop and melodic hip hop, and live he has an attitude that belies his young age. On stage he had four string instruments, trumpet and trombone plus drums and keyboards. The setup looked good, but a very dominant and droning bass unfortunately destroyed much of the listening pleasure.
Jessica Reyez was also totally new for me. She is born in Colombia, but her parents moved to Canada where she grew up. After school, she moved to Florida, but mov d back to Canada four years ago when her music career started to take off. So long she has released singles and en EP, but she won a Juno Award in March as a breakthrough artist. Jessica Reyez mixes hip hop and traditional songwriting in an excellent way. She also has some very direct lyrics and a powerful delivery on stage.
I saw Phoenix in Bergen in 2005, and I looked forward to see them again. French pop music isn’t something we hear too much of, and Phenix are very good ambassadors for their country. Unfortunately I only had time to see one song, since I had to run over to the tent for the next artist there, but they were good and the crowd liked them.
I made it to Bendik’s show, or Silje Halstensen, which is her real name, just before she started. She is one of my favorite female artists as a photographer, because she has such a great presence on stage. Yesterday, though, she had filled the stage with smoke, and with heavy backlights, the shooting conditions became quite difficult. Her music is fresh, electro pop and with Norwegian lyrics. The concert at Bergen Fest was one of the best I have seen with her.
The headliner on Friday was Gabrielle. She is definitely one of the best and most interesting Norwegian artists nowadays, both on record and live. Her debut single, Ring Meg, is one of the most streamed songs from Norway. Two years ago she got a boost in her career when she was featured with 5 Fine Frøkner at the Norwegian TV series, SKAM, giving her a hit in Sweden.
Gabrielle’s music is electro pop with Norwegian lyrics. Her songs are extremely catchy, and she has a powerful delivery on stage. At Bergen Fest she showed the audience how to perform live. Even if her music style isn’t my most favorite style, I have to admit that she is definitely a favorite live artist.
All photos are © Per Ole Hagen and must not be used without written permission.