I’m proud to announce that I Found Music will be attending its first festival since our start in the end of last year. Way Out West is, if not the largest, then certainly the best festival in Sweden. It’s held in a green oasis called Slottskogen (Castle Forrest), right at the heart of Gothenburg. Since its start in 2007, the festival has grown into a full-fledged three-day venue with over 30.000 spectators, winning both national and international awards including the Most innovative Festival at the O Music Awards. One of the greatest aspects of the festival is the various venues (including rock clubs, night clubs, churches, theaters and cultural centers) that open up during the night after the main festival closes, making it possible to catch about 150 more acts on top of the 50+ that performs at the main location. This part of the festival is ingeniously called Stay Out West. Basically, what you get is three days of none stop music, starting from around 11-12 pm to 5 am.
During the course of its 7 years of existence, the festival has headlined some major acts including Prince, Kraftwerk, Kanye West x2, The Flaming Lips, The National x2, Neil Young, Sonic Youth, My Bloody Valentine, Nas, Bon Iver x2, Iggy & The Stooges, Fleet Foxes, Tiësto, just to name a few. But what really sells Way Out West, is its scope in terms of quality as well as its diversity; this year ranging from Neil Young to Miguel at Way Out West and from Giorgio Moroder to Pissed Jeans at Stay Out West.
This year will be my fifth attendance at Way Out West and even though I’ve visited a variety of festivals in Scandinavia, stretching from a lot smaller venues to major ones like Roskilde with its 75.000+ visitors, I can honestly say that Way Out West is my favorite of the bunch. There is something very relaxing about a festival being held in the middle of the city while still being out in the green. And when the last act of the main site finished playing, then the whole of Gothenburg’s Stay Out West venues present itself with the possibility of wondering from club to club until the break of dawn.
Compared to the foregoing two years, 2013’s headliners may not be as extraordinary, but it’s unquestionably more extensive in scope and quality. Neil Young & Crazy Horse and Alicia Keys are set to headline, and while there are several good reasons why both these gigs may turn out great, our fullest attention goes to the ones highlighted below (with a few short quotations from previous blog posts):
Austra (Stay Out West – Rondo, Friday 01.30)
“With a revolving bassline of Moroder-quality, dense house beats and classic 80’s synths, Austra follows fellow Canadians Young Galaxy in creating some of the loveliest and most multifaceted synth-pop of the year.”
Autre Ne Veut (Stay Out West – Park Lane, Thursday 23.00)
“For somebody who has a huge heart for anything even remotely similar to Prince – hearing Anxiety is like Christmas-eve for a 7-years old kid. It’s one of those albums that reward multiple back-to-back listening, leading constantly to new discoveries; God is definitely in the details, so to speak. Ultimately there is no record that sounds like this, and it should be rightfully embraced as a brilliantly innovative record, boundless of genre.”
Bat For Lashes (Way Out West – Azalea, Friday 18.25)
“Her third album, The Haunted Man is the strongest yet, and consequently also the most pop-oriented and accessible. The album’s sound and production is as contemporary as pop music gets right now. You can hear everything from PJ Harvey, Lana Del Rey or Florence and the Machine in her work, and she executes it just as well.”
Beach House (Way Out West, Linné, Thursday 22.00)
“Their previous and third record, Teen Dreams, was nothing short of a masterpiece and the culmination of everything they done up to that point – a total realization of the bands potential. So where to go from there? They more or less ended up repeating the formula. But if you isolate Bloom and view it in its own context, and forget the probable fact that nothing that they’ll ever do will repeat the sheer beauty of Teen Dream, then you are left with one hell of a record. A spotless record from start to finish and not once across the albums ten lucid and carefully architected songs do they ever misstep.”
Disclosure (Way Out West – Linné, Saturday 23.00)
I’ve been reluctant to feature Disclosure on the blog. Even claiming on Twitter that Settle is one the most overrated records of the year, but I’m prepared to be proven wrong. They will be the closing act on Saturday so I’m ready for a hell of a party.
Giorgio Moroder (Way Out West – DTST#WOW, Friday 12.00)
“Giorgio Moroder has, through his life’s work, changed electronic music forever. Today after Daft Punk’s, Random Access Memories his name has been thrown out onto the world stage once again. With his ability to shake things up inside the studio he gave wings to Donna Summer and added that extra layer of gold to David Bowie’s music, whilst his own music found huge success through both film and records as a music composer. “ – Quote from Way Out West homepage. This is one hell of a way to start day2.
Grimes (Way Out West – Linné, Friday 18.45)
“Grimes (Clair Boucher) third album, Visions, isn’t what you can call as characteristic of the electro-pop sound of 2012. She goes way beyond that, or in fact back in time, to revisit some of electronic music history’s finest moments…everything from Blue lines-era Massive Attack, to Kylie Minogue’s 80s pop sound and last but not least, the fathers of all electropop, Kraftwerk. But in no way do you ever feel like these influences are rip-offs. Everything she borrows, she turns into something completely new and different. She lends the sounds from the past but feeds it through a pipe of distorted reality that feels like you just listened to a glimpse of a very chaotic but ultimately fascinating future. If this is what pop music in the future sounds like, I’m truly happy.
James Blake (Way Out West – Flamingo, Saturday 19.45)
Blake’s sophomore album Overgrown might not have matched the marvelous height of his debut, but is still a solid proof of why he’s one of biggest UK acts at the moment. I’ve heard a lot about his spectacular live performances without a chance to see it for myself. This will be one of the highlights.
Kate Boy (Stay Out West – GBG Film Studios, Friday 00.30)
“Northern Lights” was one of my favorite synth-pop singles of last year, and their two follow-ups hasn’t disappointed. Unfortunately it will overlap with Postiljonen that I’ll be attending instead.
Kendrick Lamar (Way Out West – Azalea, Saturday 21.00)
“He’s one of the best hip hop lyricists of his time, reminiscing the OutKast rapper André 300’s style and technique, and Nas in his outstanding lyrical abilities. But the difference is that Lamar isn’t satisfied telling stories in a straight up manner or rapping about traditional hip hop themes. He is highly self-aware, troubled, introvert but most importantly honest in his rhetoric. He’s abstract and intelligent in the way he tackles subject with a solid thoughtfulness. What I like about the record is that Kendrick Lamar is unafraid to take risks and is probably backed up by his label to doing whatever he liked on the record, not necessarily aiming for a mainstream succes. But as with Andre 3000 he has the talent to write melodically excellent hip hop tracks, like good kids’ “Swimming Pools (Drank)” and last years “A.D.H.D”; songs that consequently made him appealing to a broader audience.”
The Knife (Way Out West – Flamingo, Friday 22.30)
Even if I’m not entirely convinced that Shaking The Habitual is as good as some critics made it out to be, there are so many extraordinary moments in their back catalogue that The Knife performing is an absolute must.
Local Natives (Way Out West – Flamingo, Friday 17.20)
Miguel (Way Out West – Azalea, Friday 21.15)
One of the greatest R&B stars at the moment.
Mikal Cronin (Stay Out West – Pulstervik, Saturday 01.30)
“Cronin seldom leave anything for chance, wrapping his songs niftily with precise instruments, whether it’s violins, pianos, guitars or woodwind – everything has its rightful place…. MCII stand as the fully realized record of all his irrefutable potentials. It is elegantly arranged from start to finish, balancing out loud-dynamics with emotionally-charged melodies. It’s a milestone in Cronin’s career and the album that should convince any doubters of his talented songwriting, both in terms of lyrics and melodies.”
Phosphorescent (Way Out West – Azalea, Saturday, 13.45)
“Song for Zula” will be featured on countless movie scores, TV series, best-of lists (including ours) and will become a timeless piece of music, remembered for years to come. There is always a problem when one song overshadows an entire album, but it’s worth to point out that Muchacho would be a striking record even without “Song For Zula”. With that said,Muchacho is an eclectic effort, raising the bar for any folk rock or country musician who dares to follow in Matthew Houck’s footsteps.”
Public Enemy (Way Out West – Flamingo, Saturday, 17.10)
Postiljonen (Stay Out West – Lisebergs Hamnområde, Friday 00.30)
“Across Skyer’s ten tracks I keep hearing a whole bunch of similarities, not just with M83, but also with Chromatics, the Drive Soundtrack and last but not least fellow Swedes Air France…of all the upcoming Swedish bands and artist that emerged during the last two years, Postiljonen is probably the one that made the strongest impression on me. But most importantly, I find it rather rare that an entire longplay containing as little aesthetic variation as Skyer, can manifest into something this remarkably cohesive, yet without any of the individual tracks losing its distinctive traits. Furthermore, the order in which the songs appear seems to be carefully thought of, not leaving anything to chance. So a bit surprisingly, Postiljonen isn’t the singles band that I may have assumed them to be; rather they created a proper album that don’t necessarily rely on a couple of highpoints.”
Summer Heart (Stay Out West – Park Lane, Saturday 00.00)
“Boat Club, Air France, The Radio Dept, Studio, The Embassy, Korallreven, Postiljonen, El Perro Del Mar – the list is long of Swedish musician who make or made luminous sepia-filtered synth-pop with the ability to trigger or even enhance our loveliest memories. But at the moment no one does it better than Summer Heart….With a name like Summer Heart it’s not hard to imagine that Alexander’s music evokes warm summery afternoons swathed in romantic nostalgia….Its elegant composition reminds me of fellow Swedes The Radio Dept when they were at the top of their game, which in my book is a rather good thing. Who knew that such lush gleaming pop music excited just outside my doorstep.”
Tame Impala (Way Out West – Azalea, Thursday 20.00)
We named Lonerism our second favorite album of last year. This is my personal highlight of the entire festival.
Unknown Mortal Orchestra (Stay Out West – Pulstervik, Friday 01.30)
Ruban Nielson & Co’s II is a deeply fascinating and thought-provoking record that is without a question one of this years best.
Full Schedule and info can be found at the Way Out West homepage.