DiS is in Norway for the second Hove Festival - find our coverage of the first here. In our (belated!) fourth diary entry from the site, Sam Lewis brings word of Yeasayer, Lupe Fiasco and Norwegian pizza prices.
We crawl out of our cabin just after midday, determined to avoid the gruel they serve up at the staff cafeteria. In the thin, pure Nordic air the sun seems particularly piercing, everything marked with the same unforgiving, golden hue. We move towards the big, reassuring sign marked ‘Pizzeria’ ahead of us. A disinterested teenager serves us in broken English, coolly remarking the price of the pizza as if noting the weather – “100 krone”. Gulp. Ten pounds.
The ground around the main stage has been reduced by two days of trainers and heat to an arid wasteland, covered in dust and straw that mercilessly infiltrates all clothes and shoes. We wander towards the front of the stage to catch Kelly Stoltz. To our left stands Jack White, unsurprisingly pasty, surprisingly broad, grinning as fans gather in queues around him. On stage Stoltz’s delicate indie-folky-pop wafts over us, and the few others gathered for the occasion.
As the day progresses the numbers around the main stage gradually swell to near respectable proportions by the time Yeasayer, covered in worthy beards and colourful clothes, arrive. It’s hard to judge their set – part playful, electronic bounce, part dire proggy dirge, all supplemented by those strange histrionic vocals. It’s a mixture that kind of works but not quite, and I leave feeling disorientated and slightly dissatisfied, scorched by the sun and covered in a fine coating of dust.
St Vincent is undoubtedly the day’s highlight, the band all wearing matching white uniforms, Annie Clark’s captivatingly bouncy hair glowing like a halo under the red stage lights. The music’s a pretty patchwork of raw, freeform guitar, wild violins and plaintive, Hanne Hukkelberg-esque vocals. The crowd here seem to have a peculiar affection for certain indie acts (alongside their obvious, insatiable desire for metal) and hoot with delight at almost anything Clark does. Wide-eyed, she accepts their affection with appreciative good grace.
Later I run to catch a few minutes of The Raconteurs’ set, today’s headliners. If Beck’s appearance yesterday was a dispassionate parody of a rock act (although he was unwell – Ed), at least Jack White’s crew play with gusto, plunging unashamed into crowd pleasing bursts of raw guitars and howling vocals. Full marks for energy.
For some reason I’m filled with a desire to see Duffy, bumped back to a later slot on the bill thanks to Babyshambles’s inevitable withdrawal. As her interminable soundcheck drags on, I get talking to two improbably polite, clean-cut Norwegians. Asking them what they came to Hove to see, expecting them to say Duffy or The Wombats, I’m taken aback when they reply in earnest unison, “Avenged Sevenfold!”. “We know every word to their songs”, one of them explains with a deadpan sincerity. Eventually I leave Duffy to her nasal warbling, the painfully Lulu-aping voice forcing me away after just a couple of songs.
I catch just enough of Neon Neon to get a cherished first glimpse of Har Mar Superstar, even more of a preposterous homunculus in the flesh than on screen, a blur of wispy comb-over and funky-fresh-moves.
We try to find a rumoured cinema on the beach but instead end up lost, wondering deep into the forest, the epic pines suddenly adopting a menace in the dark. We quickly scurry back to catch the opening of Lupe Fiasco’s set. He’s an accomplished showman, and his band is ridiculously tight, but the music itself, despite the admirably intelligent lyrics, just isn’t immediate enough to really grab you, or to keep us from slinking back to our little hut. Even so, the crowd here respond with the same almost innocent enthusiasm we’ve seen throughout the weekend. It’s a refreshing, infectious lack of cynicism – at an English festival you feel that most of the audience would sit back, waiting to be entertained. Here, they always throw themselves into it, almost regardless of what’s on offer.
Find the fest’s official website here.