In the second part of our exclusive Way Out West festival coverage, held in Gothenburg, Sweden, Webcuts has reviews, photos, and setlists from the third and last day, Saturday 9 August. Bands reviewed: Sahara Hotnights, Fleet Foxes, Caesars, Silverbullit, Håkan Hellström, The Flaming Lips and the legendary Neil Young.
Hot anytime of the day or night – Sahara Hotnights at the Flamingo Stage
The lingering overcast weather that dogged Friday greeted us again upon re-entrance into Way Out West on Saturday, the third and final day of the festival. We quickly moved through the mildly muddy site, sidestepping Kelis (in fear of having “Milkshake” stuck in our head all day) in favour for some good old Sahara Hotnights. From The Runaways through to The Donnas, you can’t go wrong with girls in tight pants rocking out. It gives us jaded music fans something to unwind to and in a festival environment it’s one way of adding a little onstage sparkle, lifting the grey skies into spandex shades of pink and blue. Opening their set with cute ’80s classic “Japanese Boy”, they set about unleashing an hours worth of quickfire rock and roll tunes, stretching right through their ten year career (but sadly no “Drive Dead Slow”). Despite giving an entertaining and first class performance Sahara Hotnights are still lacking in the memorable rock anthem department that is necessary for the big stages. “Cheek to Cheek” from their most recent album What if Leaving is a Loving Thing displayed a sleeker, sexier side to these Swedish ladies that was unlikely to fall on deaf ears, or eyes…
We Got To Leave
Over ‘fore it Started
Stuck With You
Jerk it Out
Boo Boo Goo Goo
Meanwhile, fellow countrymen Caesars balanced out the oestrogen overload with an all male line-up at the Linné stage. Ostensibly fronted by the laidback César Vidal it was guitarist/backing vocalist Joakim “Jocke” Ã…hlund who proved to be the real centre of attention as he enthusiastically ran around the stage, bopped up and down and swung his guitar in various directions endearing himself to the audience. The piano led title track from this year’s double disc Strawberry Weed (produced by The Soundtrack of Our Lives Ebbott Lundberg, also spied at in attendance) set the tone for the remainder of the show — uncomplicated power pop and catchy garage rock with simplistic themes and no frills vocals. Newer cuts such as “Boo Goo Goo” and “New Breed” were fun, but it was the Farsia organ enriched “Candy Kane” and ode to onanism; the iPod/video game licensed hit “Jerk it Out”, which packed a meatier punch. Leaving the best to last, the new wave smarts of “Punkrocker” from one of Webcuts’ all time favourite Swedish indie albums, Cherry Kicks, was an astute move but overall we were left a little underwhelmed, craving a set of greater substance, something which we hoped the next act to grace the tent’s stage would provide.
Like a (silver)bullit from a gun – Silverbullit at the Linné stage
Silverbullit were the dark horse of the festival; a local five piece with only three albums, a smattering of live shows and a modicum of press under their belt, but who have managed to generate an aura of mystique and reverence. The tension in the humid air was palpable as the band clambered onto the stage, most eyes focused on singer Simon Olsson whose past performances have become the stuff of legend. With the band providing a heavy wall of sound backing he did not disappoint, employing the classic Jekyll and Hyde tactic; still and intense one second, violent and manic the next. One “holy shit!” moment came when he ripped a synthersizer from its stand, threw it to the floor, and then body surfed the helpless instrument, before brutally rearranging the stage monitors. His colleagues didn’t batter an eyelid, and instead got down to the business of creating primal, fucked up rock ‘n’ roll. While on record Silverbullit concoct a guitar and electronic haze in concert it was initially more Stooges than Suicide, with the remaining synths (luckily they had three more) not getting used until after the half way mark. While this meant some of the subtly and melody of favourites such as “Magnetic City” and “Star” were lost, such was the brazen energy of the performance no one really cared. The band retired to a hero’s ovation, but luckily they were one of the few non-headline acts to be granted an encore, but first an armchair was wheeled out, and soon after a bald, sickly looking gentleman to sit in it. Silverbullit returned and provided backing for the man, who we later learn is Freddie Wadling something of a Gothenburg legend, to bark out the lead vocals. Somehow the bizarre pairing worked and instead of lessening the previous hour it only strengthened it so when Silverbullit finally retreated the audience were elated, realising they’d witnessed one of the best shows of the weekend, but also devastated, knowing it could be a long, long while before they witnessed the band again.
Fleet Foxes were a band we knew nothing about, bar a passing familiarity with the name and a report that they were better than Beach House when both bands played in London recently. “Heresy”, we said, but as it seems there may have been some credibility in this, as Fleet Foxes played one of the most memorable and captivating sets of the entire festival. Showcasing material largely from their astounding debut of this year, Fleet Foxes were both enthralling and uplifting, a mix of My Morning Jacket style Southern country and Crosby, Stills and Nash harmonies. It was a far more rustic and earthy sound than most Americana-style bands could ever hope to achieve. It was on a song a like “Oliver James” that we noticed the similarities between vocalist Robin Pecknold and that of My Morning Jacket’s Jim James. Their choral vocals rising together as they do on “White Winter Hymnal” felt like you were standing in the middle of a church while listening to the Beach Boys sing acapella as their voices all fall into one. It was an unforgettable moment, both in front and on-stage, as the rapturous applause seemed to take even the band by surprise.
We only caught a fleeting glimpse of Håkan Hellström and his band while carefully traversing the mud and strewn bodies on our quest to cross the festival’s arenas, but it we couldn’t help but admire his on-stage energy and showmanship. His everything-but-the-kitchen-sink mix of anthemic rock, pop and soul, mixed with piano based ballads was perfect festival fodder and naturally “Känn ingen sorg för mig Göteborg” (“Don’t feel bad for me, Gothenburg”) received a warm welcome by his fellow Gothenburgians.
Race for the Prize
Vein of Stars
After the Gold Rush (excerpt)
Pompeii am Götterdämmerung
The W.A.N.D. (The Will Always Negates Defeat)
Do You Realize??
Webcuts planned to sit down during The Flaming Lips, our legs and backs not being as young as they used to be, but then we spied? Wayne Coyne encased in a plastic bubble rolling over the heads of thousands of gig goers and had to get a closer look. As “Race for the Prize” filled the arena Way Out West was assailed by many spectacles — dozens of huge helium filled orange balloons, a stage full of teletubbies, Wayne shooting a ribbon gun into the crowd and a blinding rear projection screen to name a few. True we had been warned to expect something similar but to experience it in the flesh was another thing entirely. When Wayne strapped on a twin neck guitar for the ’70s hard rock vibe of “Free Radicals” and an oversized alien joined the dancing ‘tubbies things veered from the absurd to the ridiculous but by that point weird was a relative concept. After the initial visual and aural blast a couple of the slower tracks such “Vein of Stars” and “Yoshimi” were played and the crowd, like a child bored with a new toy, started to lose interest. A verse from “After the Goldrush” intended to pay homage to the headlining artist backfired and instead prompted people to start leaving en masse to the other stage, a shame as the majestic closer “Do You Realize??”, was probably the best of the set. Entertaining to a fault, The Flaming Lips had both the songs and the spectacle but need to learn how to pace both to keep the attention of an audience.
Old men fuckin’ up – Neil Young at the Flamingo Stage
Love and Only Love
Hey Hey, My My
Cortez the Killer
Oh, Lonesome Me
The Needle and the Damage Done
Heart of Gold
Just Singing a Song Won’t Change the World
Get Back to the Country
Rockin’ In the Free World
A Day In the Life
While the Flaming Lips were trying very hard to win over the audience with confetti and teletubbies, numbers were slowly drifting away from their side of the park to where Neil Young’s stage was being set up, hard as it is to compete with a living legend. From all reports, Saturday was sold out long before Friday, indicating that most people were here with the sole intention of seeing Neil. Mixing up a set of his classic hits and fan favourites with two brand new numbers, Neil and his ‘Electric Band’ set out on a comprehensive two hour journey through the past. With wife Peggy in tow on backing vocals, Neil opened with a stirring “Love and Only Love”, he quickly played the distorted notes of “Hey Hey, My My (Into the Black)” and set his intentions for what was to come immediately. “Cinnamon Girl” and “Cortez the Killer” were delivered with characteristic aplomb, Neil surveying the amassed crowd with a genial “Nice to be back in Sweden”. He also chose this occasion to debut new song “Sea Change”, a mid-paced rocker built around Neil’s squealing guitar riff and environmentally charged lyrics — “Come on, who’s gonna turn this thing around/It’s not too late to make a difference right here on the ground/I think you’re ready now to ride a sea change”. Encoring with the Beatles “A Day In The Life” seemed an unlikely, but appropriate finale, Neil’s voice echoing “I’d like to turn you on” across the park as his band bring forth Way Out West 2008 to a tumultuous and successful close.
Craig Smith and Caleb Rudd