From the club day scattered around Oslo’s many venues, to all eyes fixed on the bombastic finale in the Tøyenpark Amfi, Øya Festival offers a rare diversity of local up and comers alongside some of the most eminent artists that 2017 can offer.
The club day is an interesting affair. With gigs all over the city it seems impossible to catch even half of what you want to see, yet supergroup, Imitating Aeroplanes managed to stand out and impress, playing most of their forthcoming debut, ‘Planet Language’.
The pouring rain is certainly beneficial for anyone playing one of the few tent at Øya this Wednesday, and the poly rhythmic productions of electro-DJ Umfang please the soaked crowd who snuggles in the Hi-Fi tent this afternoon.
From one pulsating beat to the next. As the sky clears, Migos kicks up with the best intensions. Despite a stumbling start, the trio excels with a hit parade strong enough to, almost, make up for rough time management. Enthusiasm can reach a long way.
- - -
- - -
Trying conditions aside, even the weather seems to bow for the untouchable queen of the night. When Lana Del Ray sways the park into a daze of Hollywood glamour with a Twin Peak-esque vibe, it’s a moment of Øya magic. It’s in her darker territory that the vocal efforts thrives, and the distinct seductiveness is palpable on song like ‘Blue Jeans’. The cinematic live extravaganza offered a varied collection from her previous releases alongside tracks of her newest Lust For Live. As ‘Off To The Races’ rounds of the show, there is a stoic sense of melancholy and hope lingering long after the lights are out.
Thursday is off to a sunlit start as Sigrid takes to stage. Amazed by the meet up, the 20-year old gave everything as she twirled across the stage, backed by a solid effort from her live band. With fan favourites such as ‘Don’t Kill My Vibe’s anthem like, hard-hitting chorus, and the power drops of ‘Plot Twist’ Sigrid is well-equipped for a stunning show. Though her singalong tunes are the stars of the gig, it’s the yet to be released ones that takes the crowd by surprise. Proving she has way more up her sleeve, Sigrid elevates her live-show from merely a reconnect with familiar tunes, to a true experience of her artistic abilities.
Gazing over the hill by the Amfi stage, you cannot help but getting hit by the powerful juxtapose between the dazzling sunlight and the sludgy darker vibes of Feist’s music. Her fluid vocals lingers and draws every moment out into eternity, toying with the nonchalant crowd that thought they’d just ‘drop by’.
Having played the exact same stage in 2014, Øya is a welcome reunion for Mac DeMarco. With his absurd humour and slacker-rock, Demarco is almost disarmingly charming. Unleashing the full extent of his abilities as an entertainer, the Canadian singer’s slow vocals pierce through even the most oddball jokes. From fidget-spinning with crowd members onstage, to gleefully inaccurate covers of Vanessa Carlton’s ‘A Thousand Miles’, DeMarco’s sense of irony and spontaneousness is just as important elements of his live show as his intelligent lyrics and swaying melodies.
Though most acts seemed excited to play, no one was as overjoyed as Iffy Orbit. The Oslo outfit was voted in by their fans to play the festival, and seemingly had everything to give. Their funk-rooted indie took a turn of it’s own, dipping into a shoegazing dreamscape as the boys revealed material from their upcoming debut.
- - -
- - -
From the seductive lure of the intro, The xx owns the crowd. Bolder and more powerful than ever they dare to step out of their introverted space into a more experimental soundscape. There is still a lingering sense of escapism through their set, yet the rhythmic confidence peers through making The vulnerability in Romy Madley-Croft and Oliver Sim’s vocals. Contrasting ominous bass with intimate silence, the trio are unbeatable. The grand yet playful feel is all summed up as the coloured lights from ‘I See You’ hit ‘On Hold’ fades out, and Romy’s voices the end with breath-taking ‘Angles’. It’s a finale that stops time, capturing the essential power of The xx calibre delivered in the most simplistic manner.
Having barely shaken off the stunned feel The xx left us with Friday is off to a very Norwegian start, with native favourites such as Kaja Gunnufsen, Daniel Kvammen and Bergen rappers Hester V75 all performing.
The LA-based producer Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith plays the Hi-Fi tent with her underwater electro; by intertwining elements of jazz into the concoction, Smith stands out from the homogeneous DJ scene.
This certainly is the day for nostalgia, and with both The Shins and Pixies those indie rock are palpable as James Russell Mercer & Co. step up to the stage. The joyous set is filled with classics from the their first three releases. Though new tracks such as ‘Name For You’ and ‘Painting A Hole’ grace the set list, it’s clear that the crowd are all for nostalgia. Despite the hype, Angel Olsen seems untouchable at the Vindfruen stage this afternoon. The faded sunlight matches up with the slow mood of the gig. Olsen certainly possess a ballsy attitude and an impressive vocal and lyrical spectre there is a spark missing. Sharp lyrical wordplay is wrapped in sweet innocence and nostalgia, and her sharp charisma falls as she struggles to create a connection with her crowd.
Pixies finish off The Amfi for the evening, and there is certainly anticipation in the air. The 90’s legends stood as a beacon of enigmatic energy, but for an audience that expected the nostalgia that Pixies possess, the setlist might have been a disappointing affair. Though the technicality and musical effort is glittering, there is little to give as the band fails to connect with their core audience. The classics engage, but the overall feel seems to be alienation between the band and their fans.
As Friday closes out, we dive into the pink cloud that is Cashmere Cat’s set might seem like an odd ending after the stoic effort from Pixies. However, the mesmerizing EDM is as much for the dancing legends as it is an ode to the loner and the geeky outsider. The spacious melodic twists that Cashmere Cat grasps so cleverly is exactly the grand finale you didn’t even know you wanted.
- - -
- - -
Words: Aurora Henni Krogh