Sorveiv Festival - 2014

When you start worrying about how much alcohol is going to cost, it’s already too late. At the airport, standing in front of small sized bottles of liquor and family sized chocolate bars. Hendrick’s. Tanqueray. Bowmore. Glen Deveron 30y. Absolut. Belvedere. Toblerone. The worst thing that could happen now, is your flight to Oslo being delayed for an hour: So vodka it is. Not for getting drunk, of course. We’re gonna use it. It’s gonna be all fine my beloved fluffy brain cells. It’s just that vodka is this perfect catalyzer for any sociocultural experiment. Scientifically proven by leading experts all over the world. Getting people to talk, getting people to punch faces and fuck.

And of course there is snow in the air: Little crystalline particles; the smell of it. Kristiansand lies at the southern tip of Norway. The picture perfect landscape is rolling, rocky and verdant. Between harbor, beach or fjord the city conglomerates about 86.000 people in modern big windowed houses, white or dark red Scandinavian light-weight construction and neo-historic architecture. There is one of the most beautiful composite-pillared McDonald’s Restaurants right near city-center. It’s quiet. Older people drive on scooters around town, park them in front of pubs, or head back to their sea-view retirement-home. Norwegians are friendly smiling. Everywhere it smells like waffles and expensive coffee.

Sorveiv 2014 - Photo by Jørund Føreland Pedersen

Photo by Jørund Føreland Pedersen

Sørveiv is a small festival celebrating its fourth year of existence. So it is young and untouched. Unadulterated like lipstick at the duty-free. It takes place at about six venues, all within short walking distance. It’s Friday morning and the breakfast is close to incredible. People come into the hotel at the city-centre just to buy their bread here, or secretly sip from the luxurious sized pots of homemade strawberry-jam. Before the official shows begin at about eight, space-time continuum already starts bending as a bus takes us around town and to the island Odderøya. For almost 350 years it was home to forts, huge walls, boot camps and quarantine stations: Occupied for military activity it was mostly closed for public use until 1992. Today, artists, galleries, filmmakers, recording studios and rehearsal spaces are established in the old barracks and houses on the island. In a dark lit and carpeted room filled with nods to nostalgia, the travel party is invited to see a gig by two young red-headed twins performing as OAKLAND RAIN, softly strumming, softly singing in unison: ‘So give me love or walk away’, the sisters claim. The intimate set is followed by THE FJORDS. The Norwegian answer to a question asked by slightly bored fans of well arranged cinematic soundscapes and synth sparkles from the tail of the wandering comet RADIOHEAD.

Back in the bus the tourists seem to want more. Beer brewed by specialists. At least six different styles they grasp for. Each accompanied by an amuse-bouche perfectly matching the whatsoever sweet or bitter finish. Especially the female parts of the party seem to tangle up in conversation on hops and barley, foam consistency and carbonic qualities. Norway: Land of the eight wonders. While the mission’s goal is still clear, the night earlier than expected starts to rain down on the yet excited: The festival centre is set up at an old cinema. The Aladdin. ‘But wait. Before you miss the opening speech in Norwegian language you should follow me. To a closed theatre. The Agder. In its foyer GEORG set up seven chairs and a sofa to play you some songs he wrote and give you some beer he just brewed,’ someone says. So the party follows, listens and watches in stunned silence:

GEORG exemplifies a general Norwegian tendency for being close to almost too perfect. He himself is a history teacher, wearing full beard and a knitted pullover in the colors of Norway, writing heartrending songs and serving bottles of home-made beer to get his audience into the right mood for a night out at his hometown. Hello? Back at Aladdin SIVU already is close to finishing his solo show and informing the audience about him wanting to get loaded later. Some people call that primitive. Some people call it dangerous, some just random. And as the girls want to have fun they hurl off to see a gig by DAD ROCKS. Almost slipping on freudian mistakes the boys just follow and are delighted as the Icelandic act turns out to perform country-pop infused by JENS LECKMAN’s humor and not any kind of weird twisted fantasy. Like wheat beer from Nevada for about 90NOK a bottle. Or BLACK DANIELS from Denmark performing pure drum’n’bass of the rougher kind. With a drummer who must have had his Pearl sponsored kit flown in by a helicopter, because of it probably being really too, well, heavy for anything less profane. Good thing is, he plays it like Norwegian barmaids pulling out the scissors as your credit card reached its limit. Super-fast, precise and without restraint.

At about one o’clock the cue standing in front of really tiny Vaktbua is handed out orange umbrellas by the security staff. Inside, peoples sweat is condensing on the venues shaking windows. SPRUTBASS is shoving electro-funk beats up an orgiastic scenery of party people and observing attendants. Its the nights pumping fade out. While all the cities bars close their doors people get lost in hotel rooms and within the proletarian crowd gathering in front of the beautiful McDonald’s restaurant. It’s probably the place shutting off lights the latest in Kristiansand, but burgers are not likely close to booze everyone knows.

Next morning: English breakfast, orange juice. Waffles, anything antioxidant for shaking the habitual. But before the bus arrives taking the slightly worn out crew on another ride, it’s still enough time to prepare for the worst. Get a Massage, get a manicure, prepare philosophical hook up lines for the girls like paraphernalia and raid a huge candy-shop for making the boys happy late at night. On a serpentine road we drive to a so called Waffle-Party. About 20 people meeting in a house on a hill. Jaw dropping lake-view, waffles, Aquavit and cheese like caramel. Christmas on a carpet ride, Gin Tonic and a fireplace, cigarettes and modest tunes on a piano played by the host of this happy gathering. But the party is ready for food, ready for fish and fat. Ready for Sjøhuset. A place where the beer flows like wine and clams stop happily snapping from dying in citric acid and parsley. The decadance pushes the party forward. Into hotel rooms to get fired up on whatever the icebox keeps spitting into empty paraffins.

Sorveiv 2014 - Charlies Bar - Photo by Rade Zivanovic

Full house at Charlies Bar (Photo by Rade Zivanovic)

It’s still early though. And the schedule demands every tendon’s concentration. Off they go to Kick Scene the ringmaster proclaims. This discoesque hotspot hosts one of the bigger stages at Sørveiv. Bearded band TORGEIR WALDEMAR play straight up folk tunes, banjo and harmonium, swelling harmonies, arguably a little tame and maudlin. When bands use phrases like ‘down on my knees’ it most of the times is too late already. And again: When the beard as a weapon of aesthetic choice is still over-represented at its probable place of origin, how the fuck shall the blogospherique metropolises get over this breadcrumb-catching trend? The ‘Nothing but Hope and Fashion’ office has no answer on that either, folks.

But what a surprise: Swedish PALE HONEY play a dangling set of grungy 90s girl-pop right around the corner. Infusing hapless yelping men a cocktail of CARDIGANS and ELASTICA with the sweetest drummer anyone has ever seen as a cherry on top. People in the crowd start struggling for air as the band lazily coats the room with melodies like sugar icing. The question while leaving could be: Where to retrieve a stolen heart? In San Francisco? On the streets of Kristiansand? Anyhow and no love lost it’s harmonically rich MARIA TORESEN up next somewhere beneath a cafe at the cities centre and the lines already start getting blurry on the modest visitor. Ten fifteen. The two song algorithm starts intervening, followed by a toast to well praised SEKUOIA. His complex approach on slow dive R&B playfully grooves along as it fortunately isn’t executed all too serious and downing. It’s percussive and nimble. There are no beards juddering from the deep echoing reverb, pushing people into Aladdins cinema-seats.

Back at the harbor BABY JESUS from Sweden are surfing up the Norwegian shore. Young, loud and wild like nothing matters late at night. Fast and weird 60s garage rock. With an extended option on likely getting laid after shows because of sheer female euphoria erupting wherever these dudes just fucked up and burned down a stage. Apropos burning: The following and last three bands on the list all successfully graduated a master class at renowned Peter Hook University. Summa cum laude. While TOI LET, yes: TOI LET from Sweden must have really pissed their parents off while letting their hair grow too long and playing way too loud in their garage, they drown the crowd in huge reverb and instrumental surf-rock passages. Then, almost too beautiful and young to look at, LESS WIN shift up into post-punk mode. An angry and raw approach like ICEAGE followed on New Brigade. Diverse shifts in progression, hard and furious noise-bursts, all held in shape by sharp hip haircuts.

And then things start getting a little twisted between harbor and hotel: The festivals most buzzed about act GET YOUR GUN deconstruct the packed venue with a dark and rough BIRTHDAY PARTY infused blues smack down. With an additional violin player for this gig, their heavy riffs gain cathartic weight. It’s that intense, people outside the venue stop caring about the ban on drinking alcohol outside of closed buildings, stop caring about the 500 Euro fine which can be expected by committing this serious felony and start drinking the duty-free vodka right from the bottle. The all fired up a crowd of alcohol hungry hyaenas blazes its trail through town. It’s beeer-driven bliss in Kristiansand. Past corpses of drunk teenagers, neon glittering boys and girls off into a hotel room where last drops of rum and gin are evaporating within seconds. The room gets unbearably packed as someone is jumping on the bed, screaming it’s his birthday and the whole crowd starts to intonate a chant so loud, the Norwegian walls are shaking.

Sorveiv 2014 - Photo by Ingvald R Ingebretsen

Photo by Ingvald R. Ingebretsen

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