Way Out West – Slottsskogen, Gothenburg – Saturday 15 August 2009
Day two and the weather forecast in Gothenburg is grim. The sky is overcast, rain predicted and the bill for Saturday favours the more eclectic music fan who likes a little world music with their rap, rock and pop. The deluge of American bands that played Friday are no doubt at their airport chasing their next festival date, while the rest of us are deciding whether to pack a poncho and wondering if Patrick Wolf will throw a tantrum. With today’s reduced number of A-listers Wolf manages to attract a big crowd to Linné, but he keeps them there too. Charming the audience with wonderful violin melodies and lederhosen Patrick captures the moment and makes full use of it, especially when his hit song “The Magic Position” generates a great deal of moves amongst the audience.
First out on Flamingo for the day is Jenny Wilson, the smug sweetheart of Swedish pop. Like a peacock Jenny trots around the stage smiling until she pulls out the silver rifle and becomes a hunter. Despite the moisture hanging in the air and the thousands simultaneously pulling out their ponchos Jenny captures the attention of the audience who keep grinning and dancing. Jenny gives us tunes hard to place within one category as she makes her own kind of pop music with influences drawn from R&B and disco to jazz and soul. Favourite moments during the show: “Let My Shoes Lead Me Forward”, “Hardships” and “Clattering Hooves”.
The last twelve months last year has been busy for Vampire Weekend. The debut album of the American boys from the east coast is a top seller (or top downloader) and the band has toured around the world. Looking like colleague boys out on dates Ezra Koenig charms all the fourteen year olds crowded in front of the stage. When the band plays hits such as “Blake Got a New Face”, “Oxford Comma” and “I Stand Corrected” the girls in attendance go nuts. While the songs are all solid something is lacking. Maybe the boys are tired, only Ezra seems to be bothered while the rest are looking a bit bored or a little scared even, if we are to be honest. A few new songs are added here and there which makes things a little more interesting and judging from a first listen the new album is going to be pretty similar to their energetic, groove-pop debut. Koenig ended by saying “see you next year” so who knows we might see the boys back in town before too long.
Having threatened to interfere with the festival all weekend, the rain that came down during Vampire Weekend’s set lingered on for the next few hours, sending the Webcuts team running backstage for cover and liquid refreshments. It is with great sadness to report that we missed Dead Prez and Nas, who I’m certain put forth outstanding performances, but perhaps if rain had to prevail at all this weekend, we’re glad it happened then.
Suming up the the Wolfmother gig in two words would be; sweat and sweet. After an afternoon filled with rain, some dancing and rocking was just what the cold and wet Way Out West crowd needed and that is what Wolfmother delivered. It’s impressive what Andrew Stockdale has managed to create considering in the last six months or so he’s the only original member left. The band gives their all on stage and the audience respond appropriately with the loudest roar of the festival arriving when Stockdale plays the riff to their Guitar Hero hit “Woman”, the audience collectively losing their shit in a fit of moshpit mania.
The highlight of the festival for many Swedes was obviously My Bloody Valentine, but even those in attendance would agree that their sound was the worst of any band to perform. The vocals were inaudible and the performance lacking in any cohesion, and were we to speak against the hipster’s ten commandments, Loveless ain’t all that, and My Bloody Valentine as a live band weren’t all that either. Noticeably silent throughout the entire set, the band stagger through key Loveless tracks like “Only Shallow” and fan favourite “Soon”, but it was the less complex and more noise driven pop tracks from the Isn’t Anything era that picked things up. The band acknowledged the crowd toward the end, Kevin Shields offering a polite thanks before “You Made Me Realise” tore a hole through the Gothenburg night sky. Even with the benefit of earplugs liberally handed out before the set, the extreme noise terror breakdown seemed like less of an endurance test than the rest of their set was.
Lily Allen closed the main festival proceedings sashaying across the stage to the tune of “Everyone’s At It” , wearing a zippered up black hoodie that she progressively removes to reveal a see-through black mesh top that had all the photographers in the pit falling over themselves to get a shot of, and will have everybody in the audience talking about on their way home. Fair play to Lily, she had our complete attention after that. A surprising delight in concert, Lily deserves much more credit for her music than her mouthy countenance takes away from. A set balanced with tracks from her debut and follow-up It’s Not Me, It’s You, Lily adds a choice cover into the mix of Kaiser Chief’s “Oh My God”, but it’s the pop brilliance of tracks like “LDN” and “Smile” that add some festival flavour. If the English acts brought anything to the Swedish audiences it was their fondness for profanity, with Lily leading the audience singalong on every mother’s favourite track “Fuck You” and Webcuts bidding her a fond “fuck you very much” farewell.
Way Out West – Trädgå’n, Gothenburg – Saturday 15 August 2009
In what we promise is the last mention of Deerhunter in these pages (for a while) what should’ve been a triumphant end to the festival, closed with a whimper. Whilst the venue was near capacity for Gang Gang Dance who bored us into submission with the tribal motions, numbers thinned out considerably afterwards as time ticked on and Deerhunter took forever to get their gear ready. You can only wonder about those who queued waiting to get in outside and gave up. Such was the complaint of many who tried to get into these clubs, including ourselves who had been turned away earlier when trying to see Jay Reatard at Sticky Fingers. Luckily we had a photo pass and the tenacity to talk our way in for Deerhunter tonight (and the previous days), otherwise we probably wouldn’t have had any luck at all with these Stay Out West club shows.
Deerhunter walked onstage around 2:30 am, Bradford uncharacteristically quiet and seemingly unimpressed with the couple hundred people still milling around. Working their way through a short set of eight songs that began with “Calvary Scars”, new track “Rainwater Cassette Exchange” and “Dr. Glass” from the Flourescent Grey EP, it was clear the band, Bradford in particular, were not into it. They played a few more tracks, fulfilling whatever set minimum they’d agreed to and then pulled down the festival curtain with the hypno-disco of “Octet”. There were a few upturned faces left feeling a little cheated. Such high hopes we had.
All things considered this was a step-up from last year, not in terms of big name acts, in which there was a significant drop from the likes of Nick Cave and Neil Young, but definitely in the form of some inspired selections and thorough utilisation of the city’s locations for after-festival action. These additional Stay Out West concerts were a good idea in theory but impractical when considering the quality of the bands and the size of these venues. Obviously there were bound to be some disgruntled people locked outside, but often this shouldn’t have been the case. Regardless, we had a ball, and we’ll definitely be back next year.
Text: Craig Smith, Lisa Hallquist, Tommy Karlsson
Photos: Craig Smith, Lisa Hallquist