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Monday, June 3, 2013

Surviving Oslo Musicfest 2013

I'm no longer young and cool (or, rather, I no longer have the illusion of being young and cool... if ever I had been the latter is debatable).

I'd been aware of this fact for some time, but a three-hour whirlwind through the crowds and music of the 2013 Oslo Musicfest (Oslomusikkfest) confirmed this truth.

I thought of writing a running diary for the proceedings, but that seemed silly considering the fact that my experience was only 180 minutes of a possible 12 hours and a decent portion of what little time I did commit was spent walking between venues.

So, in lieu of a blow-by-blow, here are a sampling of the highlights (Please keep in mind that I only visited 7 of the 20 venues and only saw 8 bands):

Best Setting I visited.  The Kristparken venue was epic.  The park itself is little more than a huge courtyard between a kindergarten, Church of Sweden's Norwegian headquarters, and the Norwegian Dental headquarters.  There are numerous trees and wide alleyways leading in, so there was a cool breeze and dabs of sunny spots.  It was packed and it was a festive crowd (i.e. there was a lot of marijuana being smoked).  It most embodied the idea of a music festival (at least, as I have known them).  Unfortunately, they had a less than ideal vendor situation (the lines spanned the width of the courtyard) and the sound was distorted.  Which did no favors for the sounds of Man the Machetes and Blood Command.

Most Enjoyable Venue I visited.  Strangely, the Vulkan Scene provided the best combination of space and sound.  There were more tables and chairs brought in for sitting, as well as beer being sold from multiple spots to avoid long lines (50 kroner/$8.33 for 33 cl beers, that's an ounce less of a standard, American beer can).  The stage was set-up at the bottom of the stairs, providing good acoustics.  The wide walkways could've accomodated 500 people (it was about 1/7th that number in attendance). 

Worst Venue I visited.  While it had one of the better programs, Cafe Sør was unbearable.  There was approximately 290452834982734 people squeezed into an indoor and outdoor area meant for about 75.  However, the sound was exquisite (which makes sense as it was one of the few places that actually hosted music on a semi-regular basis).  A shame because I would've loved to have stayed through EMILY's whole set, but I just couldn't...  People-induced claustrophobia is a real thing, I think...

Most bizarre question I was asked.  Can me and my wife have your mulatt babies?  (I'm paraphrasing and this ended my first stint at Kristparken)

The one scene that is impossible to describe but I will try anyway.  There are few places that combine the unintentional comedy of people trying to look tough in bright colored clothing and oblivious, drunk white girl dancing (Oh my God!  Is that racists!?!?!?  I didn't mean for it to be, like, racists!!) better than Turkish Delight.  Though, this all pales in comparison to the awkward, reggaeton stylings of Son of Light!

Best Band.  I guess the perfect combination of space, sound, and charm of Vulkan was aided by the fact that the perfect band was playing, DUDES.  Now, please don't take this to mean that I think the band, itself, is perfect (or even very good), but, as so often happens in life, the combination of their energy, the setting, and the crowd's reaction (somewhere between riotous and perplexed excitement) just made the set unimpeachable.  What were they saying?  I don't know.  But they meant it!  Also, the drummer looks like Micheal Cera and their base guitarist looked and dressed just like the Don Dawson character in Dazed and Confused.

Why Did I Lead into this post with melancholic musings on youth lost?  Well, the following four reasons... 1) Because I didn't understand any of the clothing the trendy concert goers were wearing (I saw an assortment of "NOFX" and other mid-90s screamo bands.  I couldn't tell if people had these on to be ironic or to chalk it up to their Norwegianness... I feel like, with most things, the answer lies somewhere in-between);  2) I didn't understand the appeal of most of the bands (granted, when you're playing a free event, you tend to not have Kanye West or Counting Crows show up); 3) I just referenced Counting Crows like they released a relevant album in the past decade; and 4) I was pretty done after three hours.  There was still more to see, but I wasn't up for it.   

That's pretty much all I have.  Youngstorget was a complete and utter debacle of people (there was at least 300-500 people milling in-between a logjam of two stages with music that ran over each other and a dozen vendor stands selling everything from Eastern scarves to cowboy hats) and Revolver was nondescript (there's only so many ways to describe loud rock).


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