With a program looking more impressive than ever, the imminent Øya festival, which always infuses the Norwegian capital with a distinctive mood, only needs the advent of some proper august temperatures to surpass itself in its special deep-colour enchantment.
For each year it becomes more and more apparent that Oslo’s Øya festival is in a league of its own; in Norway and increasingly so also internationally. For it has a very distinct feel to it and embodies something different from all the big mid-summer sunsplash extravaganzas in coastal towns or on remote battle-field muddy plains. Primarily, the attunement of Øya has to do with time and place: the second week of august is always a transitional period; the holidays are over, and everyone is back at work in the capital, yet summer is very often at its finest and most magical. The nights are yet again dark, but still hot, and often the air seems to be infused with a mood of velvety contradictions: it is the time for one last shimmering outdoor experience before normality kicks in and the leaves start browning.
It is an atmosphere in many ways akin to music itself for it reverberates; the whole city vibrates in a saturated way, and the Øya festival has grown to become the manifestation per se of this special transitional mood of delicious, sun-tanned laisse-faire.
The other, and arguably more interesting aspect of Øya’s stature, is the overwhelming program it presents, which is both gold-rimmed, hugely diverse and ultra rich in terms of categories, events, venues and overall profile. Øya 2007 manifests this like never before. It is a musical tree with so many branches and fruits that one is slightly dumbfounded. The festival makes use of the whole city, and like we said the city itself responds, one might say, by letting Øya be the overall mood-definer for five full days. This is possible because Oslo is just right for such a festival: big enough to embody the great diversity, yet so small that the festival does not disappear but instead runs through every street like an ephemeral river.
In addition to the main concerts the program includes a designated club day -which opens the whole festival with a mesmerizing relay of concerts around a circuit of almost every club in the city- special night events that take place after the major concerts, a film festival, and a plethora of broadcasts and media events. The international media presence is something other Norwegian festivals can only dream of; like Reykjavik’s Iceland Airwaves it is an event that foreign journalists simply adore, for its musical content of course, and because of Norway’s musical standing these days, but perhaps even more for the reasons of atmosphere we have already discussed.
The most zeitgeisty and defining magazines and web sites always make a Øya a priority, as do promoters, bookers management people and musical scouts from across the line. Suffice it to mention Dazed and Confused, Die Zeit, Intro magazine, Mojo, Pitchforkmedia, The Wire, Süddeutsche Zeitung, ZDF TV. The importance of the festival for the promotion of Norwegian music simply cannot be underestimated.
Some of the Norwegian artists to look out for this year are Ida Marie, Kim Hiorthøi, Sunkissed DJs, Superfamily, Heroes and Zeroes, Hanne Hukkelberg and a plethora of others. But most impressive is the roster of international names; a line up which has entailed that the festival has been all but sold out for many months already. Sixty thousand tickets were swept away, and small wonder: Amy Winehouse, Nine Inch nails, CocoRosie, Tinariwen, Eagles of Death Metal, Tool, Architecture in Helsinki, Devendra Banhart, Lilly Allen, Roky Erikson, Timbuktu, Primal Scream. The list goes on, and beyond the principal venue in the “mediaeval park” in old Oslo, Øya truly reverberates through the city. So if the weather could finally get its act together, we have every reason to believe that this year’s festival will be an even fuller sweep of magic than before.
The festival opens with its club day on Tuesday August 7th, and then runs a full four days in the park, until the grand finale on Saturday night.