Once the eyes had gotten used to the dark room, it didn’t take long before they focused on the Danish singer-songwriter Anja T. Lahrmann aka EXCELSIOR and what was happening onstage. While her yellow shirt certainly guaranteed some attention, her music thankfully managed to do the same on a much higher level.
Having emerged from Copenhagen’s underground scene, Lahrmann soon showed interest in electronic composition and was inspired by avantgarde electronic music with traces still being visible in her work today. Enriched with textures and crystal clear vocals, her set at SPOT Festival and the tales she offered to the crowd all resulted in a fascinating sonic landscape full of subtleness and minimalistic gestures that still had a great effect.
2. RAINBOW PANORAMA (ARoS Art Museum)
Coming to Aarhus, you can’t miss this cultural highlight. Even from afar the ARoS Art Museum is very much visible thanks to its colourful top which does not only look pretty, but which can also be accessed by the public. The Rainbow Panorama may just be the perfect break you need while checking out the long list of artists coming to the city over the weekend.
Taking in the surrounding in a changing mix of colours is a real treat if you want to experience some quiet time away from the festival’s buzzing atmosphere. It might also be a wonderful way to get a new perspective or let your musical impressions sink in before you are ready for some more.
3. PALACE WINTER
With the release of their debut album Waiting For The World To Turn last summer, PALACE WINTER definitely managed to turn quite a few heads not only in their native country Denmark. Having gathered a growing following in the UK, the band consisting of Australian born singer Carl Coleman and Danish producer and pianist Caspar Hesselager returned to SPOT Festival 2017 to premier new songs while pleasing the large crowd at their show with old favourites and their undeniably catchy melodies as well.
Always looking ahead, the band is currently writing and recording their second album which, according to the newly presented tracks, will be equally scenic when it comes to the sonic landscape the duo has created for themselves.
4. MARCHING CHURCH
Fans of ICEAGE will already be familiar with this project formed by their charismatic and at times wild frontman Elias Bender Rønnenfelt. Hence, MARCHING CHURCH played one of the biggest venues available for the audience at SPOT Festival. On the one hand, the seats in the large concert hall might have been a bit of a strange choice considering the dramatic performance that almost wanted you to jump out of your seat.
On the other hand, people in the audience seemed to be quite mesmerized by what was going on in front of their eyes. Rønnenfelt’s movements being so sharp and sweeping that he pulled the whole band and their playing into his dynamic performance. Always ready to burst into another sequence of controlled steps.
After a few long days full of music, you would expect everyone having sore feet, eyes and ears. Unless you are attending SPOT Festival and it doesn’t matter if it’s already way past midnight. Being one of the last acts on the festival line-up, SEKUOIA‘s set made sure you would not think about going to sleep any time soon. The groovy and dreamy electronic world of musician and producer Patrick Alexander Bech Madsen was just about the right kind of dance vibe for the night that he already demonstrated so well on his debut flac last year.
Accompanied by a live band, Madsen twisted knobs like a magician while being infolded in an incredibly big amount of smoke for most of his set only to break free from that cloudy feeling with his music.
6. ARCHITECTURE (GODSBANEN)
The city of Aarhus is not only worth a visit when it comes to exploring the music scene there. There is quite a big number of impressive buildings around, too. One of them is the former train station called Godsbanen that is now a centre for cultural production in Aarhus and a spectacular sight. The inside of the elegant and modern building is home to several studios, project rooms, theatre stages, auditoriums and dance halls, but you can also simply enjoy a coffee there.
If you are not afraid of heights and physically fit enough you may also want to climb on the roof from where you can plan your next adventure or check out all the buzz from near and far. If the weather is as sunny as this year, it’s the perfect spot to have a break and recharge your energy.
7. sir WAS
After last year’s musical introduction in form of his EP Says Hi, CITY SLANG’s Joel Wästberg is now back with his recently released debut album Digging A Tunnel that he came to present at SPOT. On these tracks, the Swedish songwriter and singer blends organic as well as synthetic sounds to a balanced mix that he fills with danceable beats. While the audience seemed a bit shy at first, SIR WAS didn’t hesitate to feed them bits and pieces from his musically complex world that he knows so well.
In between the songs, the often serious looking songwriter connected with the crowd by cracking jokes. His early career as a jazz saxophonist seems a million miles away from his current musical output, but it certainly enriches his style that is based somewhere between indie-pop and driving electronic beats.
8. NICO MUHLY & TEITUR
While the sun was out in Aarhus and everybody mingled outside enjoying the warmth, the real heartwarming action took place in one of the big concert halls Symfonisk Sal where NICO MUHLY and TEITUR treated the audience to an early set of their collaborative work called Confessions. The American classical composer Nico Muhly and the Faroese songwriter and singer Teitur share a long history of working together that leads back to 2008. It was only last year, though, that they released their 14-track opus with lyrics inspired by videos and user comments on YouTube.
Teitur carefully explained the idea behind each song while Muhly led the baroque orchestra. Stories about printers and cats were revealed and it was difficult not to chuckle while listening to the sweet songs and their charming content all while Teitur’s magnificent voice filled the room and gave you goosebumps.
9. THE AUDIENCE
Thumbs up to the audience that consisted of mainly Danish, but also international guests that partied peacefully together until the early hours of the morning. Whatever kind of musical vibe you were looking for, you could be sure to be greeted by a laid-back and patient crowd that seemed very supportive of all the different kinds of styles it was exposed to. Every festival’s vibes not only depends on the artists and the surrounding, but also on how the crowd behaves and Aarhus was a great example for just the kind of audience you want to hang around with.
The friendliness and hunger for new bands that connected the fans was an overall indicator for the sociability that was going on all weekend long in Aarhus. You needed any kind of information? Someone was willing to help you. You just wanted to have a chat? The people around you were up for it. But most importantly, everybody enjoyed the music together and got into the groove.
The Finnish pop sensation ALMA hit the stage with a whole lot of energy and a bunch of catchy pop songs that reach out to urban beats. It is hard to miss the singer Alma-Sofia Miettinen with her bright green hair, but that will most likely not be everything you see from her this year. Being signed to Universal, she is ready to take the big stages as the whirlwind we witnessed her to be at SPOT Festival. She doesn’t want to be the regular pop princess so she tends to be the slightly rebellious one when it comes to her appearance at least.
The music does not quite reflect that because it is all smooth pop and catchy melodies, but it was a refreshing sight at the festival nonetheless. Large parts of the audience were already very familiar with Alma’s songs such as Dye My Hair or Chasing Highs and we will surely see more of the energetic singer in the upcoming summer.