From an Arvika-newbie
- by Terje Pedersen-
The weekend from 10-12th
of July I was, at the ripe old age of, well never mind,
introduced to the joys of outdoors festival living.
As one who has preferred his festivals and concerts
to be indoors, or at least with access to reasonable
plumbing and/or my own bedroom, or barring that, at
least roomservice, I was a tad skeptical. But never
mind not being keen on tentlife, I was determined to
brave the elements and go for it. It of course helped
that my girlfriend Monica, aka Catgirl, had scored two
free tickets. Without those we would most likely have
stayed home, both of us being more or less flat broke.
But now we had to go. Whoo ho... I think. At least we
had access to backstage toilets and showers and stuff...
To my fortune, we had several breaks in addition to
the backstage tickets that made the experience a very
pleasurable one. The first one arrived in the form of
one of Catgirls friends, actually the one who was loaning
us her tent. She had decided at the last minute to go
to Arvika, and would be driving, and would we be interested
in joining her. Let's see, not having to pay large amounts
of money for a bus ticket and sit on a cramped, hot
bus for hours, so yeah, I think it was an easy choice...
We had a very pleasant drive, during which I bought
a very comfy lawnchair. Yess!
The second break came because some friends of ours had
gone down to Arvika the day before, and had agreed to
set up our tent for us. But that wasn't the break, although
you would think so. No, the lucky thing was that they
hadn't set it up, and there was no more room at the
original campsite. We were subsequently directed to
a new campsite, situated on a field beside a gas station.
This field was beautiful, with green grass and plenty
of room. And I can tell you it was in pretty good shape
even after we left. Which was in very strong contrast
to the original campsite, which was left a veritable
The first actual music experience of the festival we
had sitting outside the main entrance waiting for our
friends to bring us our tent, and clearly heard the
ethereal voice of Bjørk performing on the main stage,
Vintergatan, just inside the gates. Although Bjørk is
not my favourite artist, it gave me a small chill to
be sitting casually like this and listening...
We then then proceeded to our campsite. It had filled
up considerably, and we found ourselves pitching our
tent in a small incline. Or rather Monica was pitching
the tent, as I have as much experience setting up tents
as I have flying to the moon. But she has done this
many many times before, and did it in record time, leaving
us with a solid structure that would prove to be very
cozy. That is, after we had moved it to the top of the
small incline that funneled the rain coming down the
first night right underneath our tent. We had to move
a couple of other tents a bit to the side to make room
for our rather big tent. Sorry guys, but it had to be
done. Now we could really relax.
Before we arrived we had determined that the bands we
really wanted to see on Thursday was Chicks on Speed
and Gothminister. Chicks on Speed because they are cool,
and Gothminister because they are cool and we know them.
So we spent the evening up to that chatting and drinking
outside our tent. When we finally drifted off to the
festival area later, CoS had already started, so we
stopped by them for a little while before tracking down
Lyran, the stage where Gothminister were playing. And
what a crowd they attracted!! Lyran is a fairly small
stage, the smallest of the festival I believe, and is
located in a round wooden structure with railings around
the open parts. Well, people were actually climbing
onto the railings and onto the structure to get a better
look at the band. We managed to squeeze our way in to
about the middle of the floor, and could actually see
the band. I also thought I recognized the guy standing
right in front of us, and yes, it was a good friend
of ours. Hello Truls, and sorry that we bailed on you
when you went to the bathroom. The funny thing is that
when we met Bjørn, the vocalist in Gothminister, and
his girlfriend the day after, we told them what a crowd
they had attracted, and he was very pleased because
he had only seen the first few rows of people and had
no idea how many that actually had turned up...
On Friday, after the aforementioned moving of the tent,
we decided that we would go into the town of Arvika
to do a little shopping, because we needed, let's see,
food and oh yes, alcohol. The weather turned out to
be beautiful, and after a trek through the various stores
filling up supplies we decided to go for a swim. It
may sound mundane to you, but I can tell you apart from
one Sunday a couple of months ago, the last time I went
swimming voluntarily was about 15 years ago, so it was
a big deal for me. We didn't bring any swimwear either
of us, so it was boxershorts for me and g-string panties
for Monica. But it was a very nice swim, and it cooled
us down good. But we took a taxi back anyway... I also
discovered that two of my friends, Karen and Thomas,
were actually staying in the tent directly behind us.
It's a small world.
On Friday evening we had
some bands lined up that we wanted to see, and the first
one we actually managed to get to was Colony 5, a Swedish
synth band performing on Andromeda, a pretty small stage
as well. But they are a tight electronica band, and
did a very good show. Here we met Christer, the singer
in a Norwegian synthband called In Vein, and I jokingly
asked him if he were checking out the competition. Colony
5 is in the same category as In Vein, and also has some
of the same themes in both music and lyrics, although
for my money In Vein is way better, in the variation
in both music and the singing. I of course told Christer
so, and he seemed to be both pleased and a little embarrased.
The next band I wanted to
check out was DAF, an old German electronica band still
going strong, but unfortunately one of the members broke
his hand right before the festival and they had to cancel.
What a shame, although it must be said that the recent
version of DAF is not quite up to their former glory,
I think. So we decided to eat, and check out the beertent.
Unlike Roskilde, you can't drink beer while attending
the concerts, so all alcohol must be consumed either
on the campsites or in specially designated areas. And
also unlike Roskilde, the prices are very high and the
variation is very limited. And that goes for both food
and beer. But while in the beertent we could check out
HIM, a finnish Gothband which had been rescheduled at
the last minute to fill in for DAF. We could check out
this very pretentious band while sipping beer because
the stage they were performing on, Vintergatan, is located
just below the beer-area. From there, by way of watching
Pain Solution, a performance artist which at that moment
was suspended in the air by hooks inserted in his knees,
we made our way to the highlight of Fridays concerts,
Ministry is one of the originators
of so-called industrial music, and with this concert
they really showed us how it should be done. My favourite
thing is Al Jourgensen with his mike stand, which is
a cross between a mike and the handles of a motorcycle.
When he leans on it and starts to gesticulate at the
audience, it reminds me of The Humungus, the leader
of the bad guys from Mad Max II with the Hockey mask
that gesticulates and shouts nonsense. But the concert
itself was unbelievable tight and focused, and one thing
they always uses to great effect is a videoscreen which
shows images and films that somehow illustrate their
lyrics. After Ministry we decided to call it a night
and went back to the tent. I can also assure you that
the sausages that the guy with the cart tries to pass
off as Chorizo was NOT Chorizo...
Saturday morning came and
after a slight rain in the early morning it settled
to an overcast day, and I crawled out of the tent while
Monica slept in. She had not been feeling very well
and hoped some more sleep would help. I had some breakfast,
and settled in my chair outside and was amazed that
some of our friends around us had actually made it to
a McDonalds in their state of hangover. Later in the
afternoon, when we were gathered outside drinking and
talking, it started to rain, and since we had bought
a large piece of canvas that we didn't need now that
we had moved our tent, we decided to build a party tent
with it. So armed with a knife, Monica and me made our
way into the forest and started cutting down small trees.
Probably illegal, but what the heck. I don't think that
was the worst thing that happened to the woods during
the weekend, I can tell you. Although not very pretty,
it served it's purpose and kept us out of the rain while
waiting for one of the weekend's highlights, namely
Soulfly. Being a big Sepultura fan, I had heard just
enough of Soulfly to really look forward to this concert.
With Max Cavalera's unique voice and the combination
of latin sounds and metal, it really was brilliant.
My favourite moment was when the stagehands brought
out four big drums onto the stage, and when you knew
that this was going to be a song played solely on those
drums, it sent a chill down my spine. One of the best
concerts of the weekend, no doubt about it.
We also managed to get into
the artists' backstage area, where the lines for the
toilets were considerably shorter, and sat down for
a drink. Both Ricochets and J R Ewing were finished
with their concerts and were relaxing. After saying
hi we drifted towards the beer area again, where we
hooked up with an alarming amount of familiar faces.
I can tell you one thing though, Håkan Hellstrøm gigs
never seem to end... One funny incident though, As I
was leaving the toilet area, I spotted Bjørn from Gothminister
stumbling out from a portapotty with his girlfriend.
I have heard of the Mile high club for airplanes, but
never of a portapotty club for festivals...
At this point Monica felt
even worse than the day before and I accompanied her
back to our tent. I tried to stay with her, but was
firmly told to go enjoy myself while she went to sleep.
I reluctantly left, but only to see one of my favourite
synth bands apart from Depeche Mode, Mesh. They also
played on Vintergatan, the largest stage, and I stood
right before the stage and soaked it all up. They played
most of my favourites, and the vocals was some of the
cleanest I've ever heard from them. Brilliant concert.
I almost had a tear in my eye during Scares Me, one
of my absolute favourite songs.
I finished the evening with
a visit to Apollo, in which The Ralph Myers and Jack
Herren band were playing. They have been described as
Norway's best liveacts, and when you see them you can
understand why. What really comes across during concerts
is their enormous enjoyment on stage. You can really
see that they enjoy themselves while playing, and are
not afraid to give it their all. Their unique percussion
combo, with one guy manning a drumkit, and the other
attacking several bongodrums and other drums while their
synthman handles the keybord, leaves a very distinctive
sound. But as great as it is, after four or five songs
I find it a little bit repetetive, and leaves for the
homecamp. I try the "Chorizo" again and no, still not
impressed. But it stills the hunger. Coming back to
the tent I don't want to go to bed yet, so I sit alone
in our partytent drinking beer, but soon me and some
of our neighbours are discussing music and drinking,
and someone brings out a portable stereo and plays Mesh
- they had been to the concert too... But when they
decide to go to the road and dance (don't ask me!!)
I decide it's time to go to bed, and climb into our
tent, miraculously managing it without waking up Monica.
Sunday, and the festival
is over. It is hot, very hot, and we get up early, mainly
because it's impossible to stay in the sauna-like tent
any longer. Before we do the only thing left, which
is to pack up our stuff, we decide we need one last
trip to the beach for a swim. The funny thing is, when
we walked through the camp, we thought we were headed
for a different beach than last time. But as we came
closer we recognized the exact same place we had gone
to from Arvika town. We had only been going in a circle
then...And the water is sooo nice...
While getting out of the
water, this old norwegian hippie is on the road offering
us some weed, and when we decline, he keeps on about
how we should keep him company and how he has offered
everyone he has met along the way his homegrown stuff.
We have to smile when he also offers it to two elderly
ladies walking by, and they are very polite to him,
although one of them obviously doesn't understand what
he is trying to give them. We can actually hear her
going "Oooh" when her friend explains it to her while
walking away... We head back to camp, and start packing
up. A small crisis appears when we are unable to contact
our ride home, and just have to sit around waiting to
hear from her. Fortunately she shows up eventually,
and explains that her cell phone went missing the night
before. Apparently there was some serious partying going
on... After some food in Arvika, and hooking up with
some of of our driver Helena's friends, we start the
drive home, by way of another beach where the girls
all cool down from the sweltering heat with a dip in
the soothing lake. We reach home pleasantly early in
the afternoon, and decide to meet up at So What later.
In conclusion I feel lucky that my initiation into the
world of festivalgoing was a relatively easy one. After
three nights in a tent I could easily have kept it going
for several more days, which will happen next year when
I join Catgirl at Roskilde. That will be the real test,
spending three times the amount of time in the tent,
while being subjected to the whims of Danish weather.
But I really look forward to it, and hope to meet some
of you there at Roskilde in 2004. Until then take care.
Pictures from Arvika 2003
Back to news