Oya Festival - Friday/Saturday

The Big Pink, Beirut, Röyksopp...
Röyksopp at the Øya Festival
After the mixed delights of Friday where the likes of ska legends Madness succeeded dubstep overlords Benga and Skream who in turn had taken queue from Lily Allen and national treasures Datarock, Saturday was equally appealing. Shake it up baby!

Friday was characterised by blissfully persistent sunshine. Saturday however witnessed a level of persistent rain that even the Scottish highlands would have been scared of. Consistently dropping rather large levels of water onto the revellers - it was a day for the ubiquitous poncho.

The proceedings were opened early by the talents of Bob Hund, a Swedish act who our photographer Joni was most smitten but was on devilishly too early for these ears but we promised him a mention on the basis of sheer passion. Our first main target was comparing The Big Pink’s recent impressive recordings with their live show. The Big Pink (for those unfamiliar) forge large walls of near psychedelic indie. Think a more grooving My Bloody Valentine. The debut LP, out on 4AD in September, has some great moments and a few that swerve strangely close to replicating Kasabian’s more mundane moments. You can’t have it all I suppose. Live though this London four piece put in a robust showing, more electronic than the recordings, there are dirty synthesized passages which are the perfect foundation for their towering edifices of guitars. Very, very promising.

Much entertainment was brought by Bergen band The New Wine, fascinating alone for having their English band name hungry to catch the eye of marketing executives following the successes of Casiokids, (from the same city), who have hit UK chart positions and regular BBC airplay without the need to resort to the Queen’s English. Bergen is regarded in Norway as the more musical city it seems and the scene thrives proudly. Established acts include Datarock, Annie and The Whitest Boy Alive. Clash had the fortune to be in the eagerly touted ‘Vahmoose Bar’ on the Monday before Øya kicked off for what can only be described as an open mike night for bands to openly collaborate. From the exploding youth of Broadway Gangsta Disco fiends Kaaakmuthafucka to the King of Convenience, Erland Oye, the scene is stitched together with creative and dazzling bonds.

However, The New Wine, as much as they are part of a healthy background won’t break into the much drooled over UK market on the strength of their Øya showing. Sounding like Phil Collins programming the ‘rock’ demo tracks in a Korg factory in 1997 their music only marginally shone by virtue of the shadow from the singer’s lyrics. Rhyming ‘danger’ with ‘stranger’ and ‘angel’ his call to sonic arms makes Bon Jovi look like Plato. If I was their, significantly talented, keyboard player and had to give up every Tuesday of my life to rehearse I’d demand more than what the singer could provide or at least switch fully into singing in Norwegian.

Crystal Castles were quickly within our range surfing along with their ever buoyant popularity which beggars to some degree the integrity of their dance music. At times they significantly lack depth yet the bonus of having a three-piece band with a near hysterical singer means there is always room in someone’s drunken pair of ears. Maybe this is harsh yet anyone remotely bothered in following the flowing delta of electronic music or even club music of any shade must recognise the frivolity of Crystal Castles noisy and crass synth stabs at electro. Yet we had fun deconstructing the history of drunken foot shuffles in questionable locations.

Into the main Øya programme, it was left to Beirut and Röyksopp to take us home. Beirut, a fantastic quirk in the annals of music history, were just the tonic for the wet weather as their flashes of brass conduct the stage’s orange lights, tricking the eye that we may indeed be bathing in the Sun’s rays. Their music is from another world. Balkanised, gypsy lore drips from their accordions and trumpets as Zach Condor makes us swoon with his faux baritone. It’s a heady mix, capable of whisking us away to a place near Yugoslavia which never existed, as these New Mexican troubadours deliver tunes they made up on the wrong side of the Atlantic. Such anthems as ‘Post Cards from Italy’ were beefed up thanks to the inspired addition to Beirut of a double bass, filling out their sound and counter balancing of all the trembling brass. This band can only getting better, and seem to at every sitting.

Norwegian northerners Röyksopp then take over the honoured business of closing a festival. Taken from a hallucinogenic substance grown very far north in their country these lysergic dance dons know a thing or two at the subtlety of enduring electronic music. Favourites from their ‘Melody AM’ era mingle well with their newer material from 2009 giving an concise picture of a band that might go on for many more years with a hardy harvest of tracks to chase the small pack of other main stage dance acts about the globe.

On the strength of this 11th year, 2010’s Øya is already assured. With a compact yet distinctive site, insightful booking policies, a kicked after party scene across Oslo’s better night venues and a switched on and hungry crowd Øya will be dealing yet again a great game. In such an expensive locale . . . just make sure you are feeling flush.



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Read a review of Wednesday HERE.
Check out the accompanying photo gallery HERE

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Read a review from Thursday HERE.
View an accompanying photo gallery HERE.

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View an accompanying photo gallery HERE.

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