Slottsfjell Festival 2012
Taking place in Tonsberg, the oldest town within Norway the three day musical festival Slottsfjell offers an eclectic line up established names and a splattering of new ones from the US, the UK and Scandinavia. Now in its tenth year this festival that literally translates into English as “The Beast” is fast becoming a regular name on the European festival circuit.
Photos by CHRISTIAN ROTH CHRISTENSEN / SLOTTSFJEL
Perched up high on a mountain overlooking the town and offering some breathtaking views guitar toting troubadour Frank Turner & The Sleeping Souls embark on a set of folk touched, passion fuelled songs on the festivals Kastellscenen stage midway through Thursday afternoon. Relaxed and talkative it was a set that hinted that what was to come later on was going to prove memorable.
They were followed by the dance conscious Friendly Fires who aired a set of infectious funk-edged songs that subconsciously encourage the listener to start shuffling their feet; it was a set that leaned heavily on material from the bands self titled debut, with both ‘Lovesick’ and ‘Jump In The Pool’ both getting a very early airing but if the movement inducing rhythms of these didn’t encourage the audience enough to dance then the added encouragement of frontman Ed Macfarlane should have been enough to convince the audience to leave their fears behind and to instead get funky by almost spending as much time dancing in the audience as he does throwing shapes on stage.
The words ‘dance friendly’ also reared their heads a little while later across the site on the Baglerscenen stage; some may be saying they have had enough of solo female pop artists but Charli XCX offers something quite different from your usual example. Signed to hip LA label IAMSound, she is currently a student at London’s Slade School of Fine art and having opened for the likes of Sleigh Bells and Peaches, her dark electro pop proves to be an enticing affair of dance beats and pop melodies today hinted that her forthcoming album should appeal to both pop lovers and hipsters in equal measure.
Yet if more anticipation was held for the appearance of any artist today, then it was surely Janelle Monae who was the one people were most eager to see. With an almost theatrical Walt Disney style introduction, what followed was a stream of fourteen songs that were mainly lifted from her highly critically praised album The ArchAndroid. With the majority of her band both suited and booted it was a set of hi-energy songs that involved large scale crowd interaction, with her often encouraging the audience to either clap along, mimic a previous refrain she has just sung or alternatively encouraging everyone to slip down and hunch low on the floor. Her own material such as the ‘Dance or Die’ and ‘Faster’ almost seemed to spiral by at an extremely fast pace, these highlights being aided by the inclusion of a few notable covers such as the Price cover ‘Take Me With You’, the family disco friendly Jackson Five song ‘I Want You Back’ or the rather more unusual inclusion of a Charlie Chaplin cover in ‘Smile’ but that her own songs didn’t sound out of place was only testament to the strength of her own material such as ‘Cold War’ and ‘Tightrope’. The encore of ‘Come Alive (War Of The Roses)’ certainly left the audience still hampering for more.
Second day in and today took largely left the dance vibes behind and in exchange swapped them for something just a little bit more straight up; straight up is something that US combo Howler should excel at. This Minneapolis heralding quartet fronted by Jordon Gatesmith should at least on paper easily fall into a box labelled “Nothing Special” except what they actually let loose is a bunch of songs that twist and twirl; songs which mix the nonchalant poses of an early Strokes and add tints of a large scale Razorlight aping chorus that lift them into being just extremely good fun modern day rock ‘n’ roll band.
Brooklyn has become a centre for new and emerging talent; as soon as one rises another falls into its place next in-line for a sea of attention. She Keeps Bees are a female / male duo who make heartfelt and dynamic blues touched rock that has attracted comparisons to those other famous duo’s The Kills and The White Stripes but their performance up on the circular shaped Tarnlunden stage is a more relaxed affair then those comparisons hint at and is rather more similar to a slightly more stripped down and focused Cat Power or less rocking PJ Harvey.
Wild Beasts are one of those bands that have slowly worked their way up by the festival ladder by releasing a string of consistently strong albums that have found favour with broadsheet critics as much as they have your everyday bearded music obsessive and their performance at this festival should have at least won them a few more fans.
While the Led Zeppelin aping retro rock of Wolfmother at least seemed to go down well with the rock loving, riff loving and the devil horn flashing hand sporting members of this Norwegian crowd – often written off and discarded as a guilty pleasure by some, there is little denying that the bands most hi-profile song ‘Women’ is vying to become a headbanging festival classic.
Those who love there rock could soon after be found at the foot of the second stage, awaiting for the appearance of tattooed frontman Frank Carter; he will be no stranger to those fond of their hardcore; the ex-singer of Watford punk band Gallows alongside onetime Hope Conspiracy axeman Jim Carroll have formed a new band in Pure Love that aligns itself with good old fashioned hell for leather rock ‘n’ roll and there headline set on the Baglerscenen stage is a pure shot of hard hitting and ear teasing choruses. With both central members spending a good amount of time within the centre of the gathered audience it had the hallmarks of a truly memorable performance; it is always difficult to guess how a band will progress but their performance today at least hints that bigger stages are to come in the coming months.
The headline set tonight at least saw the festival revert back to a more dance friendly consciousness, with the appearance of Chase & Status. Receiving a largely mixed reaction; the audience almost split into two halves- one who loved it, the other not generally fussed either way – it was a set of chart friendly songs hyped up by the bands MC and that were largely supported by appearance of the original vocalist flashed up onto the large screen behind them. Chase & Status fans were pleased, others less so.