[5 March 2009]
During “by:Larm”, Scandinavia’s premier music festival, there’s probably more music per capita going on anywhere in the world. Sure, CMJ and SXSW boast myriad venues within blocks of each other, but where else can you watch shows in a tent, on the 11th floor of an office building, in an auditorium (that suggests you should be attending a college lecture), or in a tightly packed and sweaty bar all in the space of one city block? Oslo, the capital city of Norway and the host of by:Larm (pronounced “bee larm” by the locals) boasts all of these venues around Youngstorget, as well as dozens of other venues that are within walking distance. This is all well and good, especially when there’s a few feet of snow on the ground and sporadic blizzards throughout the three-day festival, which ran from February 19th through 21st. Music, it seems, is as popular here as skiing (seriously, the amount of people walking around with skis slung over their shoulders was more than I expected). With so many bands on show, as well as countries providing them (Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, and Iceland all sent groups and solo acts), it’s understandable that the music on display was hit and miss. The one consistent factor, though, was the friendly nature of the locals, who not only hit me up with tips on where to eat and drink, but also which bands to check out. Best of all were Swedish sisters First Aid Kit, whose folksy take on country music produced breathtaking harmonies that belied their young age. Rockettothesky’s amped-up take on the Cocteau Twins and all things shoegazey certainly impressed, as did Fjorden Baby! and their mish mash of styles, which propositioned them as a more rock influenced Happy Mondays. And what would a trip to a Scandinavian music festival be without some metal? Monolithic were technically awesome, but Merlin, despite bringing a Theremin out on stage lacked the wizardry their name implies.
A feature is forthcoming, but here are some photos to tide you over…
Thursday Night’s Line Outside the Dagbladet Tent
Freddy & The Casuals
The Captain & Me
Men Among Animals
First Aid Kit