What could you experience at this year’s Way Out West Festival? Well, that was something AMBY was interested to find out. So they let me travel all the way to the festival in Sweden to catch the Saturday event. Review and photos are here now..
I learned that Way Out West was an interesting event for several reasons. The festival was placed in a fine looking city park among trees, lakes, and water streams. They focused on presenting meals that were all vegetarian and as something new from this year on they tried out to be all dairy free as well. As they mentioned – who needs milk at a festival anyway? Interesting and well debated. There were plenty of meals to choose from, fine queues at the food stands and tasty buys.
When I had a look around the park I noticed a good number of sculptures, furniture, and signs sporadically placed in the area. Unfortunately the Saturday event was washed away with tons of rain. It was like the sky cracked in two and just let go of all the waste water it got during the evening. Most of the time I was wrapped in a blue plastic parka and the rest of the audience showed themselves in other colorful plastic parkas or just stayed under tents. It was mixed feelings shared 50/50% between grumpy acceptance and jolly singing in the rain sights.
Speaking of the music – there were plenty of highlight acts to go for and the concerts were set up with fine quality when it came to light and sound. Way Out West is known to be shorten to WOW and I think that is well put.
The first concert I headed out for was with Swedish band Amason. I have heard rumours about their concerts, seen photos of colorful lighted venues with stuffed animals decorating their instruments to make you wonder, and I found a pleasant retro sound when listening to their music. So I went to watch their show and a blue circus tent appeared to me then. It was already filled with awaiting audience members and more tried to find a spot in the back. It seemed like a popular show and the security team was about to close the entrance before more audience snuck their way in. The band appeared a few moments later with a dark lit and smoky stage. Some vague purple lights set the colors. You could see the silhouettes of the band members stay in place and play with a dedicated spirit, but vocalist Amanda Bergman cut loose of the mic stand and danced around with a tambourine in the dark from time to time. I enjoyed their smooth and comfortable sound like the one I have heard from former recordings. That said, I figured it must have been a bit difficult to spot out the stage from the middle of the crowd this time. I had a look on the instruments, but I could not find any decorations. The instruments appeared rather naked without the stuffed animals or other decorative items that must have been left at home.
At sunset it was time for the Brits in alt-J to bring their A-game. When listening to their songs in audio, it is clear to me that the band have something spectacular between calmness and festive spirit. It is always a pleasure to see how these somehow opposite moods are mixed with a live sound and crowd. The band entered the main stage and then moved calmly to the rhythms as they started to play. Vocalist Joe Newman seemed comfortable with the most relaxed expression and eyes closed while moving gently from side to side. What I noticed this time compared with former concerts was a slightly stronger live sound and more tight playing among all band members. Put the fine sound along with more colorful light effects in the background at this particular outdoor concert and you got magic. Was the concert well received by the audience? No doubt about it! The crowd seemed to be caught up in the moment.
The concert most fans talked about at the festival must have been with folk duo First Aid Kit. This performance was mentioned in each Way Out West conversation I went by in the city center. The two sisters Johanna and Klara Söderberg in First Aid Kit are known for their captivating folk songs with sweet lyrics and harmoniously blended vocals. I was also curious to find out how their songs would be presented live and went to watch their performance. As it was time for the show a golden light lit up the stage and the sisters appeared with their band. They headed for their instruments on each side of the stage. Johanna with her synth and Klara with a guitar. In the calm moments they would capture your attention with an intense storytelling, but when they were playing instrumental parts you could see Klara dance towards Johanna and their long hair would be swirling in the air with a more rough attitude. They seemed comfortable on stage with surplus of energy.
About 30 minutes after First Aid Kit started their show at the main stage, another concert was about to begin by the tent. To reach this one I had to leave First Aid Kit behind and run across the park area, slide and jump over puddles on the way. I reached the tent and was happy to find it filled with fans as well. This show was with UK band Ride. Some may know their music from earlier on. The band started out in the late 80’s and after some years break with other projects, they returned to play together last year. Whether the tent was filled with mostly old or all new fans was difficult to tell, but the audience seemed dedicated. The band brought a fine set of songs between raw and dreamy sounds and colorful lights to the stage. Even though the songs have gained some years by now, they presented music that fits quite well with the indie rock these days.
As the evening went by, the last shows were ending in the park. However the schedule for concerts was far from finished. Concerts were about to start at some different late club events. I headed out to watch the promising punk band Residual Kid play at Folkteatern. Their ages are just between 14-16 years old, but they have been playing for years already and gained a more experienced sound. The venue had a small stage and was filling up with an audience fast, so the rest found a spot in the connecting hallway. When the young band appeared on stage they took off their backpacks, found their spots on stage, and started playing with a fresh attitude. They served strong beats, playful riffs, and a well needed touch of youth energy. Vocalist Deven Ivy grabbed the mic and presented them as “We are Residual Kid and we come from The United States of America”. He let us know that this concert was their second time outside of the States. It was nice for once to spend time with a band that had the surplus to speak with the audience and make spontaneous jokes. Between songs they would take a look on each other and decide what to play. They filled out the stage with great moves and persona. Eventually they will fill out the bigger stages with an ease.
I went to watch Mini Mansions play at Folketeatern later on in the night. The band members was dressed up in their well known suits and found their usual spots on the stage. They used a few seconds on getting the instruments ready and seemed to enjoy the extra set of space on that particular stage. Zach Dawes on bass and Michael Shuman on drums/guitar moved around a bit more than usual. Tyler Parkford especially pressed the synth keys with more dancey moves and sometimes stood on the edge of his toes. Suitably theatrical. The lights pointing towards the stage was well lit and more colorful than I have seen the band use before. As they played the songs from their two albums, it was also clear that the sound was well placed at this venue. Vocals equally sharp and instruments blended as they should.
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Review and Photos by Jules Faurschou | @rockonpoets