Oslo's Øya Festival, famous for its eco-friendly concept, healthy food and an ever-exiting blend of new bands and established headliners, took place last week (9-13 August).
Amidst muddy fields, scorching sun, an endless parade of Ray Ban sunglasses and seven year-olds collecting pint glasses for the 10p deposit, Brand Barstein found time to pick the ten best acts at the four-day festival.
Back in 2006 Kanye West had a "hello Cleveland" moment when he gleefully danced around to the sound of Norway's biggest musical export (bar black metal), A-Ha's Take On Me, while affectionately proclaiming his love for it - when he was playing Roskilde in Denmark. Kanye West 2011 however, is a bolder smarter character and as Øya's headliner naturally drew one of the event's biggest crowd, keeping them firmly in awe for two hours with the aid of scantily clad ballet-dancers, a gargantuan Roman backdrop and, uhm, Vangelis. "This ain't some fake-ass pop shit, this is real rap," he somewhat bafflingly proclaimed mid-way through his set, only to launch into a crowd-pleasing collage of his collaborations, including Katy Perry's E.T.
Trademark eccentricity aside, it's a brilliant example of how hip hop is redefining festival headline slots, as his clever mix of '808s-and-Monster-hits' prove the throne is his.
Key track: Runaway
Already a decade into their career, the Norwegian acid house outfit finally came of age with a visually formidable set that re-affirmed their credentials as one of the most inspired acts on the scene.
Key track: ComeOut
Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros
The Vaudevillian troupe's mid-afternoon slot at the festival's opening day was teeming with summery goodness and unhinged passion, masterly conducted by one of the finest voices in folk-rock.
Key track: Home
Friday's remarkable sequence of bands (Noah And The Whale, The Jayhawks, Bring Me The Horizon and Kvelertak) spread across the festival's two biggest stages always demanded a special climax: what better than transforming the main Enga Jarvis Cocker's intellectual playground for two hours. Opening with Do You Remember The First Time the reunited Pulp ran through a career-spanning mix of smaller hits before serving up Disco 2000 halfway though. With the Jarvis charmingly littering the band's set with literary allusions - Ibsen, Yates - between songs, they gently work their way toward euphoric closer Common People, though arguably it's the penultimate track, the pounding dystopia of This Is Hardcore, that proves the evening's most memorable moment. Performing the 1998 LP title track, Cocker took the edge off his sombre, disillusioned visions by extravagantly dry-humping the monitors speakers. It's a masterclass in stage antics. It's Jarvis, it's Pulp, and above all it's the party of the year.
Key track: This Is Hardcore
One of the 'hot' picks from this year's South By Southwest's showcases, the Lafayette, Louisiana band are now out to prove they can do it without half of the US music industry looking on. Playing towards the event's climac, from the daftly infectious happy-go-luckyism of Up Up Up to singer/percussionist Tiffany Lamson's throaty lament during the rambunctious coda of Ripe, it seems they are not only thriving in front of real people but that those three words, so often carelessly hurled in every direction, for once seem justified: Next. Big. Thing.
Key track: Up Up Up
Take one of the most energetic, unique and fascinating artists around. Add world-class showmanship. Multiply with fifteen musicians and dancers. Step back and take one, big bow.
Key track: Everything
Noah And The Whale
Drenched in sunshine, Charlie Fink and his band look set to conquer the world as their early afternoon slot reveals the true capacity of their more understated songs, while confirming the stadium-sized grandiosity of their biggest hits. A genuine pleasure.
Key track: L.I.F.E.G.O.E.S.O.N.
She took her time getting the crowd into gear, but when Lykke Li reaches her full potential, the transcendental Swede is an unstoppable force of tribal drums, clever melodies and enigmatic elegance.
Key track: Get Some
There are few festival challenges tougher than going against the main headliners; and when that's Kanye West on form it's harder than ever. However Warpaint are not only aware of their competition tonight, they thrive on it. Keeping their set short but sweet, the all girl-group even drop in a few lines from Gold Digger over the extended outro of set closer Bees as their understated slot proves a triumph for the underdogs.
Key track: Elephants
The Avett Brothers
With many of the crowd taking advantage of the grass to lie back and stare at the sky on the festival's final day, things to not seem promising for North Carolina's Avett Brothers, but with intense and loud renditions of the likes of And It Spread the group's otherworldly triggers one of the biggest responses of the festival. Slight Figure Of Speech produces smiles all around, while set closer I And Love And You proves simply stunning. Close to perfection.
Key track: And It Spread
Head to Q's 'festival proof' guide to the summer's music for the latest on more outdoor events now. Head to Festivalproof.qthemusic.com/.
11:12 AM | 15/08/2011
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