Festival review: Slottsfjell 2013, Norway

The crowd at Slottsfjell. Picture: Olaf Furniss
The crowd at Slottsfjell. Picture: Olaf Furniss
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WITH its beautiful setting, friendly crowds, and a combination of Norwegian and international acts spanning a vast range of genres, the Slottsfjell festival serves as a busman’s holiday for many British booking agents and promoters.

Slottsfjell 2013 - Slottsfjell, Norway

Biffy Clyro. Picture: Olaf Furniss

Biffy Clyro. Picture: Olaf Furniss

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And the first day already provides several highlights. Hot Chip’s fun-filled dance music emphasises why they are still firm favourites on the festival circuit and within minutes they are followed by a ferocious set from Kvelertak, whose punk-infused rock is garnering much-deserved attention Stateside – screaming Norwegian lyrics and all.

Local heroes Kaizers Orchestra, round off the evening with their unique polka-tinged compositions and customary showmanship, which includes tap dancing, the beating of oil drums and a male choir.

On Friday rising star Truls proves to be an act worth looking out for, with his falsetto voice and pop-sensibility wowing the largely female audience like an inverted Barry White. However, the day’s peak is undoubtedly provided by Shining’s mixture of strange time signatures, obnoxious jazz saxophone interludes and super-tight guitars, which create a sound so intense you feel like stamping a hole in the ground. Musically they eclipse black metal veterans Immortal, who come on next, sporting unhappy-clown make up, black leggings and lots of studs.

Having played Slottsfjell in 2011, Biffy Clyro are already firm favourites and there is something rather moving about watching the tattooed rock gods from Kilmarnock close the main stage for the day.

With the uninterrupted sunshine continuing into Saturday, Norway’s best festival audience is in even better spirits, responding enthusiastically to a variety of acts including septuagenerian blues man Seasick Steve, who recently became the country’s latest love immigrant. He is followed by Liverpool’s Wombats, who are also treated like locals thanks to bass player Tord Øverland Knudsen being Norwegian.

The final headliners, Karpe Diem, have become fully-fledged entertainers since starting out as a teenage hip-hop duo 13 years ago, and it is clear that this is a highlight for many of those in the crowd.

By midnight the haunting tones of Norwegian songstress Susanna Sundfør’s final number, signal it is time for the revellers to continue partying in downtown Tønsberg, where Edinburgh’s S-Type is DJing.

With Slottsfjell’s host town only a short flight and drive from the Scottish capital, their ranks are likely to be swollen by Caledonian festival connoisseurs in future years.