For fifteen consecutive years the rock-Beatlesque atmosphere of the Norwegian Wood music festival has filled the natural amphitheatre of Oslo’s open air public bath Frognerbadet for a few days in June. And so 2007 marks a noticeable jubilee for “Oslo’s outdoor rock festival” which kicks of tonight, June 14th.
Established from the start as a relaxed and comfortable festival –catering, with its central city location to the notion of just strolling down the lane from your front door without any obstacles of logistics and planning, bringing both kids and grandparents- Norwegian Wood has achieved the status of laid back, sunny enjoyment of timeless quality music. But these characteristics have always also been balanced with a sincere desire to bring more uncompromising expressions into the bowl, and not least to give opportunities for new and un-established Norwegian talent to the fore.
A look at the rooster from the past years reveal huge diversity, with bands spanning the whole spectrum of genres, and this year is certainly no exception. The structure of the festival has developed into making each of the four days of its duration distinct in terms of genre so that one can choose the day that caters to one’s musical tastes and be sure to see both some of one’s favourite artists and also experience some unfamiliar acts most probably likable.
Thus 2007’s Norwegian Wood features a Friday dedicated to metal, with e.g. Enslaved, Korn and Evanescence, a Saturday of coutryesque singer song writing with The Waterboys, Shawn Colvin and Jonas Fjeld, and a Sunday of general quality pop with Travis, Brian Wilson and The Lemonheads among others. The opening night, Thursday June 14th is more composite with Marthe Wulf and Tori Amos followed by Australian power trio Wolfmother.
So it is a festival where the audience’s ability to get their favourite musical fill is emphasised and where one need not be struck by indecision; for it is an intimate festival with only one major stage (in addition to the Underwood stage, see below) and thus little danger of missing out on the shows that will be talked about later. It’s all more in the vein of: “Sit back, have a popsicle or a beer, you’re in the right spot anyway.”
However, the relaxed atmosphere does not mean conformity; as mentioned Norwegian Wood have from the start put emphasis on giving a chance to new talent in the general pop-rock genre. This is systemized in the “Underwood” concept; a collaboration between Norwegian Wood and Norwegian national radio (NRK P1) where a demo-competition singles out a selection of new and unsigned acts to be given the chance to perform in front of the festival crowds on the designated “Underwood stage”, and which entails substantial exposure on the web and in the NRK broadcasting system.
Previous Underwood bands have included favourites to-be like Kaizers Orchestra and Johndoe. This year the selected bands to look out for -chosen among more than 500 entries in the competition- are Caligula’s Sisters, Dobbelmono, No Torso, Postscriptum, Pulverhund, Rover, St. Morritz and Yoyoyo Acapulco.