_While a number of domestic journos were stamping about Pilton Farm, clocking Richard Ashcroft and Dizzee Rascal from afar, a handful of more adventurous sorts headed to Norway for the second Hove Festival. Following our diaries from the site, on the coast near Arendal, here’s DiS’s final word(s) on what’s now firmly established itself as our favourite festival north of Denmark. _
All photography by Gary Wolstenholme_
It’s the nicest kind of exhausted we’ve ever been. The lush pine needle greens and bracing blues of Hove’s island-based festival site finally spat us out after five days of musical merrymaking and we are, for want of a better phrase, pleasantly ruined. James Skinner in particular – his shameless hussy of a tabletop performance at the hip-hop bar the night previous was none more gangster.
And as well it might have been, strange fellow, since Hove did a splendid job of being many things to many people. The enduring popularity of the metal acts gave the event an almost schizophrenic quality, and it might be nice to see the introduction of a dedicated new bands tent, but really, there aren’t many events where you can expect to see Jay-Z, Animal Collective, Hercules & Love Affair and, yes, Duffy all gathered under one strangely-hued sky.
So to borrow the questionable exhortative tactics of the (also excellent) Cool Kids a moment, we’d humbly request that you “_put those two shits up in the air” while we offer up gushing praise to* ten of our highlights *from this most politely-staffed of festival blow-outs.
After witnessing Beck’s flu-sapped set stretch goodwill on the main stage the night before (a disappointment on a par with realising you’ve forgotten the mange touts on reaching the checkout of a particularly capacious supermarket), we’d dared entertain only the most meagre of expectations for The Raconteurs. As it turned out, the proggy excess which blights their records actually works rather well in the already ludicrous environs of a headline festival set. Jack White’s on throatily good form, making his guitar squeal like pigs trying to harmonise mid-slaughter. Nice.
Les Savy Fav
On record Les Savy’s hardcore and post-punk leanings get more assuredly melodic by the minute; live they’re a safe bet, too, but the music is perennially overshadowed by the histrionics of frontman Tim Harrington. Tonight he’s on special form even by his own colossal standards. Dressed in superhero regalia revealing a horrific imprint of the man’s cock, Harrington’s first party piece is to go a-rambling in the woods adjacent to the stage. With his frazzled comb-over he looks like he could have been there for days, feasting on reindeer carcass. But if there’s an image that comes to sum up the festival, though, it’s the sight of him sermonising atop a box before crowd-surfing back to the stage, followed closely by the carefully-handled box. He seems genuinely touched, which come to think of it is an apt description of the man in every sense.
We could hardly stand to let this one slide, could we? Before the Jigga got Glastonbury raving he was injecting effortless class into its Norwegian counterpart with a set that brought a much needed sense of occasion to the proceedings. Even granted that the live band set-up and relentless pop plundering makes for an admittedly lite-ish aftertaste, Jay-Z’s steely self-aggrandisement is still incomparably spat: “Ladies don't know me said, _‘I heard he's vain’ / Well guess what mami? I heard the same”. And how’s this for a response to a shoe lobbed in his direction by an overzealous fan? “No thanks man, I already got enough clothes_”. True dat.
Les Savy Fav
Having initially been underwhelmed by Gruff Rhys’ recorded efforts with LA producer Boom Bip the penny takes a belated dive with Neon Neon for this reviewer. It’s the throwaway-ness of it all that hits home – hitch up the bonnet of their polished chrome surfaces and you’ll find a beating heart of emptiness, and given their chosen subject matter of automobile exec and ‘80s playboy par excellence John DeLorean, it suits them very well. All that, and there’s a cameo from the man whose mid-riff knows no bounds, Har Mar Superstar. He does hand stands and everything.
Hove Festival saw Foals step up to the main stages of this world with a grace and fervour suggesting they’re very much ones to stay in this stratosphere. In a set where Yannis displays the same kind of volatile energy that’s become a mainstay of their famed live shows, the fact that we’re on a beautiful Norwegian island in the sun and not a sweaty Shoreditch club or spirit-soaked house party fades matters not. This band, as Antidotes promised and every live showing this critic has been privilege to further intones, are that, thrillingly, brilliant. *JS*
White Denim opened day two on the Amfi stage in front of an almost non-existent audience with the sort of gusto and verve rarely seen in the ‘hype’ bands of today. For this critic, their gloriously scattershot Workout Holiday _could’ve gone either way in a live scenario, and happily they exude a passion at once honest and in true rock and roll spirit. The interaction with fans is a pleasure, the playing tight and loose and virtuosic and and _and… this band are every bit as good as the hyperbole emanating from certain quarters suggest. Win. *JS*
Ah, Annie Clark. As well as possessing the sort of effortlessly captivating voice and beauty that endeared her to, it’s safe to say, every male attendee of this healthy-sized crowd, this showing of St Vincent’s Marry Me album stripped away the sheen on record that perhaps saw this one sneak under the radar somewhat upon release. Taking myriad influences in her stride and wrapping them up in the sort of glistening pop sensibilities some can only dream of, this performance is something of a revelation for those that witness it, as well as a promise that whatever comes next from Clark, it won’t be entirely what we expect. ‘Paris Is Burning’, when finally unleashed (a fan screams for it in the break between every preceding song), is particularly dextrous/wondrous/any other –ous you might care to add. Breathtaking. *JS*
The ‘amfitheatre’ area was pretty much the perfect setting to see the band play, a space carved out of the woods with the earth sloping upward on either side of the stage. The pine trees that marked the boundary of the space helped to keep the noise in, while the mid-summer Norwegian sky played all kinds of tricks above us (blue to green, green to purple). It all probably added to my appreciation of their performance, yet, still, Animal Collective in full-flow are a sight to behold, a fascinating blend of subtle lyricism and extraordinary sonic diversity. The set melted the group’s songs together into a patchwork of a samples and familiar moments, certain songs drifting in and out of sight as the set wore on. The band always seem to play for themselves, as an audience member you have to force your way into the music, but that’s not a bad thing - if anything it makes the experience all the more exciting. The newer songs particularly sounded fantastically glitchy and bouncy, a wonderful omen of things to come. *SL*
Hercules and Love Affair
The Wombats had played the set before Hercules in the ‘pink tent’, the band somehow working their fans into such a frenzy that the wooden floor had snapped beneath them. Cue some extremely worried looking organisers, hastily trying to repair the floor as the expectant crowd gathered for the next act. We were all forced outside as the tent was hastily evacuated, the buzz in the crowd only increasing until eventually we were motioned back in, a rush accompanied with hoots of delight as the audience skipped back to the front. On stage the band look like a bizarre mixture of eras, the pasty, slightly geeky looking DJ Andrew Butler stood behind a band that look pretty much straight outta the ‘80s, all in fantastic matching tees, the diminutive singer Kim Ann Foxman even sporting a high-top. To top it all off is second singer Nomi, tall, with straight black hair and almost violently pouting lips, who later removes her dress to reveal a laced corset beneath. It’s all rather disorientating. As the floor creaks beneath us the band rip it up on stage, part Arthur Russell, part pure DFA disco swagger. *SL*
I wasn’t sure what to expect from Black Lips. My slight, needless aversion to anything passably trendy led me to picture something more surface than substance. How pleasant then to be proved wrong, the band tearing through a bullet fast set of ramshackle rock, full of Ramones-esque meolodies and Stones swagger. In a festival tent the energy dissipated slightly among the bit-part crowd; in a small, dingy dive this would be pretty awesome. They’ve got to be playing the Old Blue Last soon. Surely. *SL*
Whitney Petty, Josh Fauver and Moses Archuleta of Deerhunter
Who do you plan to check out at Hove?
*M:* We gotta leave at 3am. I think we’ll see Hercules and Love affair – I love the CD and I’m curious as to how the show is. They haven’t really played in America at all – I think they’re more popular over here. I’d liked to have seen M.I.A. (who pulled out – Ed)
What about Jay-Z, would you have liked to catch him play?
** W: **That would’ve been awesome.
What’s been your best festival experience?
*W:* Hijacking a trampoline in Paris!
*J:* We have this one big festival in Atlanta where we all used to sneak in – it’s a very big festival and everyone used to jump the fence… come to think of it I don’t think I’ve ever really paid for a festival before being in a band.
*W:* We had fun at Primavera, right?
*J:* How about Lollapalooza?
What went on in Lollapalooza I should know about?
** J: **My sister took me there when I was like 14 years old and I saw NIN, Jane’s Addiction – they used to have strobe lights in the daytime – it was fun. But not many others… I’d like to do more.
How about this one?
*M:* So far it’s been a blast – I haven’t seen a whole lot of bands, but we have a beach – be good to hang out down there, maybe play volleyball, get massages and all that.
(Josh presents an item for us to look at on the table)
*W:* Josh just origami’d a swan?!
Can you make anything else?
*J:* I think the best I can do is a crane.
(Whitney scrunches it up)
*J:* go ahead and destroy it – I’ll just make a better one.
What’s a fjord?
*W: *It’s a riverbed?
*J: *Okay… a glacier comes by a long time ago, and it builds this… scrapes this shape in the mountains – I’ve always remembered this – that it’s like a finger that was carved out by glaciers a long time ago. Like a valley. With water.
Do you know any of the lingo yet?
W:** Norwegian lingo? Not a damn thing! I’m trying to learn…
Walter Schreifels of Rival Schools**
How’re things going so far?**
The country’s beautiful, the drive in was beautiful, the people are… beautiful. It seems well organised and… tidy. And it stays light so late. The odd light you get is just phenomenal. So, so far so good and looking forward to playing!
Disappointed to have missed Jay-Z?
Ah fuck yeah – I’d have loved to have seen that! I saw him on TV somewhere – I just couldn’t believe how good he was. Someday!
Do you have any significant memories from attending festivals when you were younger?
Well I guess… in the States they don’t have festivals like they do in Europe – not in the same way. But my first experience of festivals over here is… it’s a blast. I just like to walk around and see what’s going on, see what everyone’s watching, it’s good stuff.
Finally then, I was wondering if you knew what a fjord is?
A fjord? I don’t know but I was thinking about it this morning as we were driving in… I think a fjord is… one of these things that lead in from the sea before turning into some kind of little channel, like some kind of lake-ish thing, but actually with a line out to sea. I think… I think that’s what a fjord is.
Sounds like a fairly good bet! Thanks Walter.
Jack Bevan of Foals
So you’ve not been here too long, how are you finding it? Any thoughts on Jay-Z?
It’s beautiful here! We never really get the chance to play with hip-hop and pop stars… we did Jools Holland the same night as Estelle, so it was amazing seeing her band play – it’s like another level of musicianship.
Jay-Z had a brass section and all…
Amazing. I wish we’d seen him. I know there are a lot of sceptics about him headlining the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury and I just think it’s really sad because… you know, if you go with an open mind it’s going to be a really tremendous show.
Do you have any particularly good festival memories from when you were younger, or are there any festivals you hold particularly dear?
I think everyone in Foals – before we even knew each other – always went to Truck Festival, and Walter’s worked there as a volunteer for years, and his old band played there, Foals played there, mine and Yannis’s previous band played there… It’s just a really nice, actually home-grown festival, and it’s really good for all the local bands in Oxford too.
So here at Hove, you’ve not had the chance to see anyone yet?
No – we’d like to have seen Blood Red Shoes, but they’re playing the same time as we are so that’s a shame.
Anyone else you’re particularly up for?
Well to be honest I haven’t really had time to have a look who’s here… (studies line-up) I want to see Beck! That’ll be cool… Band Of Horses we played with yesterday in Sweden at an Accelerator Festival warm-up, they’re really good…what else have we got…Um, wow, Dimmu Borgir! Didn’t realise they were playing, I’ll definitely go and see that! Oh, and Wild Beasts are on now?
I think they’re on in a minute, I’m about to dash that way…
They’re so unusual… Edwin’s been playing that album a lot, there’s a couple of really great tracks on there.
What’s a fjord?
A fjord? Well, Oxford got its name from being an ‘oxen fjord’, which is like… isn’t it a very short, shallow river? Obviously with an oxen fjord they’d bring the ox across the river and then kill them or whatever, do whatever they did with those crazy ox… but yeah – that’s what I think a fjord is. Unless I’m horribly wrong!
Vincenzi Vendetta, Andrew Juggernaut and Daniel Stricker of Midnight Juggernauts
Hey guys, how does it feel to be closing the festival?**
AJ: If you haven’t got ringing ears yet, hopefully by the time we get on… it’s great sometimes to be on really late, because when everything else is closing down the tent will slowly fill up – we had the same thing at Primavera recently, on at about 3am on the first night and there were thousands of people – we weren’t expecting that!
Anyone you’re particularly keen on seeing here today?**
DS: I’d quite like to see Goldfrapp, but if not I think they’re on the same day as us at Glastonbury…
VV: Also, there’s a good friend of ours named Ladyhawke here – she’s from New Zealand and lives in Sydney. But we’ve just missed her set. And The Black Lips! We keep missing Jay-Z… gutted.
Do you guys have any key festival memories or moments as punters?
AJ: I remember going to the Big Day Out – I used to collect all my tickets form there when I was a kid – for like five years in a row! I remember the first year I went there was like Korn, Marilyn Manson and like, Courtney Love, Chemical Brothers… lots of fond memories.
VV: It was like one of the main festivals we went to growing up, so to play it now and see our music connect with so many people is just incredible. This year’s line-up was great, it had like Björk, Arcade Fire and Rage Against The Machine…
AJ: Yeah! And it was like… there’d be a ping-pong tournament with RATM, or Björk throwing an afterparty – she had parties after every show, and she’d be DJing the most obscure, often Icelandic music you’d imagine – no-one was about to ask her to change it mind!
What’s a fjord?**
DS: A what? A fjord? Is like a… river? Something like that? I think our manager knows… (Manager launches into the most in-depth, decisive exploration of the virtues of fjords yet.)
Amber Webber and Josh Wells of Black Mountain
Are you enjoying Hove?
JW: We’ve been to Norway a few times before but we’ve never been to this part, only Oslo. It’s pretty cool here, it’s really like where we live, aside from the city part.
AW: it really does look just like Canada, except the houses are a bit cuter here, they look like they have faces.
Is there anyone you guys are looking forward to seeing today in particular?
JW: Well, we were gonna check out Opeth, but apparently they may have cancelled.
I think they’ve been replaced by Satyricon…
JW: Right well I’ve never heard of them but if they’re Norwegian black metal they’re bound to be entertaining!
Have you got any classic festival memories, either playing, or as a punter?
JW: Well I’ve only ever been to a couple of festivals as a festival-goer, I was always just a punk kid going to punk shows or rock shows in little clubs and stuff. My festival memories are all starting to mash together in my brain as a big, drunken soggy mess, from backstage and onstage.
So – Vikings or Romans?
JW: Visually I like Vikings, but I know more about Romans. I’d like to know more about Vikings.
AW: Didn’t you just finish a course on Roman history?
JW: Yeah, I downloaded a course on the history of Rome and I’ve been listening to it on my iPod. It’s an interesting culture to study because they managed to influence so much of our life and the Western world.
Following on from the Scandinavian theme, I was wondering if you could tell us what a fjord is?
JW: Oh! I just found out yesterday. A fjord is an inlet… basically it’s a body of water bordered by two tall cliffs. It’s really deep but really narrow.
AW: Look, he downloads university courses…!
JW: Well I’ve wanted to know for so long, that the first question I had when I got here yesterday was: “What is a fjord?”
AW: See, I learned that too but I already forgot. Not the meaning but the word.
What are your thoughts on Jay Z?
AW: We’re playing three festivals with Jay Z this summer!
JW: I used to like him a lot, I guess I still do but I haven’t listened to him lately. I thought _The Black Album _was pretty good, I think that his second album was my favourite.
Do you change your sound for festivals, knowing the audience won’t exclusively be fans of yours?
JW: We don’t really do anything differently, no. It’s more a matter of us getting used to it; not changing things but learning how to cope with playing in the open air.
Joshua Block and Steve Terebecki of White Denim
Are you enjoying the festival? What do you think of Hove so far?
JB: All I’ve seen so far is Beck soundcheck. But everyone here, all the employees have been really friendly.
Is there anyone you’re looking forward to seeing? Are you going to stick about to see any of the bands?
ST: Dude, I don’t think we get to. I think we have to leave right after this, to get back on a plane to go to London.
What do you think of Jay Z, are you fans of the Jigga-man?
JB: I am actually a fan, I don’t really listen to a lot of rap but I do like Jay Z.
What are your fave festival memories either as fans or musicians?**
ST: I saw Ted Nugent and Lynyrd Skynyrd together at a gigantic festival. There’s nothing else to it other than that: they were there, with their fans. I was just looking at their fans, and laughing and having a great time.
Sounds like a good one. But tell me, what is a fjord?
JB: Is it not like a lock of land…
** ST:** I know it’s a geography term but I’m not exactly sure…
JB: I know it’s not a group of islands…
** ST:** I think it has to do with water that’s maybe surrounded by land?
JB: Maybe a piece of water that borders the water?
ST: Maybe the area of water around a peninsula? Maybe it’s something that juts out…?
I’m sensing a rift in the band here.
JB: We’re gonna stop in the middle of the set and have a fight about what a fjord is! I remember it from The Viking Sagas, where people had fjords.
Peer Osmundsuaag, along with festival director* Toffen Gunnutsen* and Morten Sandberg (among many others), form the team behind Hove Festival. On top of the million and one other things Peer had to think about over the course of the week, he also took damn good care of the UK press contingent. Come Friday we quizzed him about Scandinavia’s only carbon-neutral festival…
Hi Peer, could you tell us what you’re aiming to achieve with the ecological consideration behind Hove?
Well, this is the frontline of the solution – this generation, all the young people we have attending the festival. I mean, I myself am set in bad habits which are difficult to break, but these younger generations aren’t set in their ways yet – and if we can actively promote that – with the aid of all these artists, then we should be onto something, and hopefully as things keep growing we’ll see the effect of that trickle through.
In terms of the bands playing here, are they all aware of this strong environmental ethos behind the festival?
Not all of them, no – as with people buying tickets, it’s something many find out about when they get here – but I think in the forthcoming years it will become more central; more important. And we’ve managed to get a few dream artists on the bill, obviously.
The line-up’s fairly eclectic - you’ve got black metal acts rubbing with breaking British bands, hip-hop stars and a healthy electronic range of artists…
Yeah, and it works, I think – we’ve really tried to stagger it as well, so there’s as little overlap as possible. It’s interesting – as it always is at festivals – to keep things as non-secular and varied as possible, introduce and expose them to things they might not otherwise see.
What’s the story with the bands’ carbon emissions…?
I don’t think they know! We actually neutralised their carbon emissions for their travel here – we ran out of time and couldn’t quite make it work, so we just paid it all for them. We had a couple of guys do nothing but sit and work out the entire carbon footprint of the festival.
Good stuff. Do you have the decisive word on what a fjord is?
It’s a very deep inlet carved into the earth by a glacier. You should check them out, they’re beautiful.
We’ll do our best! Thanks Peer – it’s been wonderful.
Find the official Hove Festival website, where you’ll eventually find details of 2009’s festival, here.