On this third day of by:Larm I was determined to explore the outskirts, undercurrents and fringe activity of the official program: The so-called Off:Larm side of things. I just had no clue on precisely how off I would get off track…
The chosen venue for this evening was the inviting site of Tilt, most known for its shuffleboard and pinball selection, this was my first time attending a musical happening in this place. The reason for this particular gathering this time was courtesy of booking agency New Kicks in collaboration with tastemaker- and quality label Fysisk Format. When frontman, songwriter and main member of the group New World Vulture, Kyrre Bjørkås (Det är Jag Som är Döden) stands up on stage and pulls out a can of spray-paint and sprays across his body there is a hilarious moment when a collective gasp goes through the audience. “Indoor spraying? This must be illegal?” An easily shocked crowd is a good palette to work with. Musically falling down somewhere between the indie musings of bands like Panda Bear mixed with almost a commanding voice of someone like David Eugene Edwards, Bjørkås seems to have a grasp on his project heading in a direction where campfire songs and electronic music can co-exists and sound big. Expended with a full backing band for this night New World Vulture sounds both grandiose and intimate, pulling musical influences from a range of places, but at the same time keeping a tight leash on structure and output. There is an intriguing, almost maniacal energy coming from the singer as his body contorts to his will and sweaty locks of hair cling to his forehead, making him seem a lot crazier than the music he is performing. There is also a reminder of something decidedly 90’s about this eclectic approach to mixing genres. A pre-internet time where people were experimenting with music and trying to evolve beyond already existing styles, but with often horrifyingly bad results, almost always ending up with unlistenable bad taste circus music. I wouldn’t say New World Vulture would fit that category, but there was something in their performance and aura that definitely sent my mind spiraling back to this particularly dark and involuntarily nihilistic time for Norwegian music. The dark ages if you will. And once that thought had infested my mind it was impossible to shake for the rest of their set, no matter how much I was tapping my foot and trying to enjoy this original take on poppy music.
Overheard in the audience:
“That guy looks like an ex-junkie ski-jumper or something!”
“This music sound like some Erlend & Steinjo comedy sketch song”
Up next was the musical stylings of the criminally underrated and always entertaining, Haust. Having gone through both extensive line-up changes and moving in yet a different genre direction I was excited to see what tricks they could pull out of their sleeve this evening. Coinciding with the release of their fourth album, Bodies, on this day and reinforced with live aerobics from the contemporary dance group, confusingly named Haus, this was set to be a special treat. Jam packed, the crowd was introduced to a face melting slow rendition of an oldie, Ride The Relapse before the band tore into all new songs. Where Haust earlier have been all about power, volume and extremes they now possess a more retrained and refined touch. Dabbling with everything from distorted 60s garage rock to krauty grooves and goth-like themes the band can seemingly do no wrong right now. Hauntingly eerie anthems backed up with whispered, creepy vocals from singer Vebjørn Guttormsgaard Møllberg all with the visuals of three synchronized futuristic dancers spread out through the venue, one of them on top of an empty couch up by the window raising a hell of a lot of eyebrows from random by-passers catching the spectacle from the outside. The entirety of the performance goes by way to fast, leaving people clamoring for more, which in itself is the highest praise any band can get.
Overheard in the crowd:
“That singer is sporting some kind of bad-toucher mustache”
“This is pretty…wild!”
There is a gap in my memory but someone, somewhere had most likely planted a hypnotic gesture on my already susceptible mind, because it seems the logical step after this was to seek out the real new talents of upcoming amateur talents of underground Oslo. Performing the noble art of Karaoke, at Andy’s Sportsbar. Starting off very strong a crowd of 20-yeard old female friends take the stage to perform, for a karaoke bar’s standard, very strong renditions of Mariah Carey- and Lauren Hill-songs. But it quickly descends into madness with a bald man with thickly rimmed glasses and a sports jacket in his 60’s does a sobbing version of La Bamba. The only remaining choice for getting through the rest of this séance is staying hydrated and laying off the chili-nuts. When we are treated to an extra-long, shamelessly tone-deaf interpretation of Meatloaf’s I’d Do Anything For Love… the group of 20 year olds scamper for the door in a desperate hurry. The rest of the evening is a murky haze of auditory molestation involving Summer of 69, Sitting On the Dock of the Bay, Mr. Big’s To Be With You, 2 Unlimited’s No Limit, and various Maroon 5 songs dedicated to drunk bros out on a night on the town.
Overheard in the crowd:
“I think I only know the chorus to Tusen Bitar, but I guess I have to sing it”
“You are the only woman in here not hanging out with anybody. Wanna make out?”