Live Report: G! Festival 2022

A remarkable event that thrives on community...

G! Festival is the music event delivered by a dedicated, passionate community. Keeping young people close to heart is key and remains at the core of the vision, as the Faroese music festival returned to near full strength after a period of rest.

As a festival site it benefits from the beauty of seaside village Gøta on Eysturoy, the natural site takes into account the original layout, surroundings, buildings, housing and climate, a rugged cliff terrain, where few trees grow, and wild weather offers stubborn, windy conditions more often than not. 

Live Report: G! Festival 2022

A nation of Denmark with a population of approximately 54,000, the changeable, temperamental nature of the weather does little to put off any locals on the island, nor does it take away the enthusiasm of the visitors, who mainly travel from Denmark, Norway, Iceland and Sweden. Even if G! Festival is keen to attract a wide international audience, there is something pretty unrivalled about the combination of Scandinavian countries who attend.

In a village of just 500 residents, with no hotel accommodation, the logistical solution is to have visitors staying in private homes, schools and colleges. Sigvør Láksa, who grew up in the village, is the manager of the festival. It was founded in 2002, and she has been involved since 2003. There is always a lot to do, problems to solve and arrangements to confirm etc., but when all residents in the village work closely together to deliver the festival, the end result is a successful one.  

From a music perspective, the aim is to shed light on Faroese artists, and to showcase the wealth and variety of talent, sprinkled on top is a number of bigger Scandinavian and international acts, while local talent is visible. Over the weekend Clash gets to experience a string of Faroese and wide range of Scandi talent. 

Live Report: G! Festival 2022

Faroese musicians stick together, they help each other out. It means that the artist community they build is unmatched. They play in each other’s bands and form eclectic artist collectives that perform live and record songs, and over the weekend Clash gets to experience some of the sessions. Taking place in what must be Gøta’s main indoor venue Tøting, this is where the majority of the late night action unfolds. 

Thursday night marks a historical, emotional night for metal rockers SIC. Last year the Tórshavn band lost frontman Mikkjal Hansen, and this year they play their final concert at G! Hansen’s son Bartal stands in for his father. Playing to a loyal crowd, the fans gather in front of the stage, the feeling of sadness is present, but what also emerges from that is a sense of hope and the joy of the shared experience.

Later, that same night, Norwegian punk-rockers Pom Poko entertain the crowd. This is energy of a different type, energy of the mosh pit-amenable sort. As performers, the Oslo-based four-piece are warm and animated, and the set is swift and varied. Singer Ragnhild Fangel’s sunny disposition and the rhythmic, grungy instrumentation is ideal for igniting the festival spirit. It’s a vibrant set that lifts the mood and gets you excited for what’s ahead.

The ability to adapt in an instant is essential. So far Faroe Islands’ weather conditions have offered chilly, windy conditions, but local residents have assured me that Friday is going to be a “super-nice” day in Gøta. They are not wrong, especially given the conditions to Thursday’s more arctic offering. With temperatures reaching around fifteen degrees, we are moving towards tropical conditions, or rather what feels like it. All of a sudden, the hot tubs are used at full capacity and the beach looks as if transformed with swimmers and sunbathers. 

Live Report: G! Festival 2022

Musically, a sizeable part of the line-up action is scheduled for today. Alternative folk-pop singer Elinborg is among Friday’s acts. The younger sister of Gøta’s very own Eivør, she plays this evening. It is an impressive affair that seeks to combine distinct vocal work, dramatics, and atmospherics. A captivating Nordic encounter. 

Elsewhere, on the main stage, José González gives a moving performance. Known for his brand of indie-folk music the Swedish singer and guitarist must be playing to a smaller audience than he is used to, but that doesn’t seem to affect him. There is a transfixing stillness about González’s performance that really appeals, and the incorporation of the Beatles cover of ‘Blackbird’ and Massive Attack’s ‘Teardrop’ are welcome. 

The upbeat indie disco beats belonging to Icelandic Daði Freyr’s set could not be more different. A former Eurovision star, the Berlin-based songwriter has managed to establish himself on the international stage, and there is just something brilliantly undeniable about Freyr’s hooks, the knack for melody and ability to lift a crowd to light ecstasy, and doing so with sophistication, humour and intelligence. 

Last, but definitely not least, Tórshavn’s Joe & The Shitboys walk onstage. The performance from the Faroese punk four-piece is highly anticipated, and crowds start to gather in front of the Playground stage. More importantly, the band’s visceral delivery is just as raw, and as explosive, as you hoped it would be. Singer and frontperson Joe’s presence offers complexity; hard enough to be punk, but soft enough to be relatable, it’s someone you can identify with. Undoubtedly, the most individual and outspoken band to appear at G! this year, they have come with a purpose, and their show is entertaining.

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Live Report: G! Festival 2022

The contrasting, constantly changeable conditions in weather makes it easy to figure out why Faroe Islands often gets referred to as “the land of maybe”. It is the need to stay alert and be prepared for any weather scenario, always have a plan b, and maybe even a plan c, if such a concept ever was to become a thing. 

While numerous boats could be spotted at a mile yesterday, the same can not be said for Saturday, but the Faroese take it all in their stride, or “they become Vikings” as festival manager Sigvør Láksa proudly described them to Clash earlier. It takes more than challenging weather to put off the local, and prevent them from venturing out.

Saturday’s line-up offers more acts of the special kind. Copenhagen-based Swede Lucky Lo, also known asLo Ersare, charms the crowd with absorbing, quirky alt-pop, personal songs that resonate full of emotional lyrics coupled with heartfelt vocals. The music is irresistible and experimental in equal measure, quality-led pop music of the sort you don’t get to hear every day, but when it happens you realise how much you have missed words and music of such sincerity.

Live Report: G! Festival 2022

Gøta-born folk-rock, art pop singer Eivør, the biggest musical artist to come out of Faroe Islands, also performs on the Saturday. With a compelling, dramatic sound, a connection to the climate and the alluring surroundings, it is no wonder that she gets to play in front of a big crowd. Creating a unique blend of Nordic folk and contemporary sound, the setlist comprises songs in English and Faroese language, she connects her hometown to the wider audience she has been gaining. 

G! Festival is a gorgeous, still fairly well-kept secret. Arresting and dramatic, calm and together, just like its people, it belongs to the category of special festivals, and in a smaller category of ultra-rare moments to be cherished. 

Live Report: G! Festival 2022

Words: Susan Hansen
Photography: Alessio Mesiano, Jonas Persson

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