Now that summer sort of draws to an end in Norway, it’s time for indoor festivals. This one took place between 17th and 18th of September in the South of Norway, in the city of Kristiansand. The city itself deserves its own post since I had some funny experiences, but that’s maybe for another time. The festival was hosted by two venues – Kick for the main bands and På Hjørnet for the ‘afterparty’ where smaller bands performed- very close to one another and none of them too big. But that was not a problem since the audience was not very dense. The sound was decent altogether, the stage at På Hjørnet was too small for the bands with more than 3 members and the fun was had by the beer drinkers (and not only). I loved the relaxed and friendly atmosphere at the festivals I have been to in Norway and this one wasn’t any different.
The opener of the festival were Aspherium, a recently formed band with young members who has only released a demo so far and who played some mix of black and death. It must have been a bit tough for them since the crowd didn’t dare/want/bother to move all the way in front, so they only had an enthusiastic guy headbanging right in front of the stage while everyone else was few meters back. It wasn’t a bad performance, but not too catchy either and I spent most of the time fixing camera settings for the dark venue so I can’t speak much of their music. Next on stage we had In vain, a really nice surprise for me since I started to listen to them few days before the festival and I was impressed after the first minutes. The progressive rock that they are playing is a really genuine combination of brutal passages, progressive keyboards and guitar riffs, lovely melodies blended with different of vocal styles. They had a ‘guest’ singer on stage who played only few of the songs, while for the others, the vocals were done by the keyboardist. Their latest release, Mantra, from 2010 is a masterpiece, and you can only admire the quality of their work. I don’t know how often they have played live, but their looks, the chemistry between the members and the stage ‘show’ is adequate for their style. They have quite long songs and they delivered a playlist that covered the main hits from the 2 albums they have released so far.
The headliner of the day was Ihsahn, former frontman of Emperor whose live shows are backed up by the brilliant young progressive band, Leprous. Considering the complexity of Ihsahn’s music, it looked as if on the stage there’s more strings on the instruments than keys on the keyboards. Everyone used 8 strings and the bass had 5. Finally the crowd seemed to have gathered in higher number and I heard some really pleasantly surprised comments when songs from Emperor albums were played. Ihsahn himself is not much of a showman, but who cares as long as he performs with such confidence and brilliance. On the other hand the bassist didn’t stand still for 2 seconds and the keyboard player puts up his own act headbanging like crazy most of the time. The 1 hour setlist and come back covered all his albums plus two Emperor songs (Thus spake the night spirit and The tongue of fire) and they were totally loved by the audience. The parts where Ihsahn’s voice is not suitable were nicely covered by keyboardist Einar Solberg who does quite a good imitation of Mikael Åkerfeldt on ‘Unhealer’, while the growling responsibility belonged to guitarist Øystein Landsverk, who seems rather shy and not at all like the one who would put out such awesome growls. The people I spoke with were really happy with the concert, but since the pub turns into a night club right after the last concert, we had to relocate to ‘På hjørnet’ for two more bands.
The stage at ‘På hjørnet’ is hardly a place for a 6 pieces hardcore punk band like Black Blood World (or any who performed there). After half a song everyone is covered in sweat and they have to be really careful not to kick eachother (or the crowd) with the guitar necks. The vocalist was full of energy and entertaining to watch, but the punkish music was totally unfit for me after the previous concerts with totally different styles. That’s why we didn’t manage to stay til the end of the show and missed the last band of the day.
Saturday started again at 7PM, and it was quite surprising to see such a big number of long haired folks gathered in front of the stage. Once you hear the music of Fannefjell though, you understand why. Such combinations of black/folk music, ‘savage’ clothes (including a fox fur hanging around the singer’s body), face paint, make you think of all the troll bands out there and is perfect to set up a good party mood among the audience, especially when spiced up with jokes from the musicians. I read it was their first performance and that the same day they celebrated their first release, so I guess it explained why they seemed so nervous. But the performance was quite extraordinary for a band at this stage in their career so I hope they will go on impressing and making new fans.
The second I saw the members of the next band coming on stage, I thought we’re in for some heavy metal. But the idea vanished shortly after the old fashioned thrash riffs kicked in. It belonged to a band coming from the West coast of Norway – The Batallion, a band containing members from other famous groups like Old Funeral, Grimfist, Borknagar and Helheim. They came on stage with outfits that totally fit their music which seemed built around the Spirit of Masculinity (the title of one of the songs). Leather jackets, pants, sun glasses, evilish smiles, etc. Unfortunately there was something wrong with a cable I think after few of their songs, so the music was stopped for few minutes. Yet, it was the highlight of the concert as someone in the crowd started shouting ‘We’re not gonna take it’ then everyone else tagged along, including the band members and played a little of the famous Twisted Sisters song. And the other highlight of their show were the guitar solos and riffs.
The main stage shows ended in an even more evil manner with the performance of black metallers from 1349 and their brutal songs about the darkest of creatures. The show didn’t lack an entrance with two lit torches, horned fists, face and body paint, huge spikes around the wrists/arms of the singer, a cloak worn by the bassist, fast ‘hair mill’ but most of all they impress by the really tight way in which they deliver such fast music. From the photographer point of view they’re really annoying since they don’t like too much light on their stage, while from the neck point of view, they’re very painful since one ends up doing some fast headbanging. I tried to get a glimpse of Frost, the drummer, but there was way too much smoke on stage to see him behind the drums. But it’s just insane how fast he plays. 1349 has released a new album this year so they covered it in the playlist, without forgetting earlier hits like Riders of the apocalypse or I am abomination.
Again, the club turned into a disco like place after the festival, so we moved along to På hjørnet where the crowd was already mad on the rhythms of Dunderbeist’s music. People were jumping, singing, somehow dancing. There were 7 musicians on stage, with black paint around their eyes and all had white tank tops and black suspenders. Musically they sounded as if everyone of them plays whatever famous song he is thinking of. It got quite hard to breathe in front of the stage, so I stayed further away and enjoyed looking at the enthusiastic crowd. I also wondered if it had been the same had they played on the main stage and earlier in the day.
All in all a very pleasant experience and I personally haven’t experienced any organisational problems, so there should be some thanks going to those who put up the festival.