You know what the Nordics do well? Aside from the ardent gender equality policies and all that cosy candle nonsense: pitch. A staggeringly expansive vocal pitch. Think Jónsi’s flawless falsetto or Susanne Sundfør’s pure, far-reaching range. Copenhagen trio, Irah channel some of that impressive vocal expanse through Stine Grøn. Grøn’s soaring tones have a charming likeness to the ethereal innocence of Kate Bush, particularly sprawling ‘Showering Layers of My Skin’. ‘Fast Travelling’ is similarly guileless, the held chords and whispering operatics conjure up an almost - dare I say it - Enya dreamlike quality. Their set closes with Grøn emulating the band’s synthesiser, flexing like a giant muscle, and leaving the rest of us breathless.


It’s clear that the next space is a pop-up space. Even with little Norwegian knowledge, there is an etched sign on the door reading "Popup scenen". Like the Tate’s Turbine Hall, space towers up into the rafters. Vintage ceiling fans spinning far overhead as Kristiansand’s own Vian take to the stage. I am taken back to the time I stood watching fellow Norwegian, Aurora at Greenman in the pouring rain. Not the damp clothes but the mesmerizing precision of such a band. The same goes for five-piece Vian. But there is some welcome double-time here and a vocal that ebbs and flows into full throttle in vocalist, Elisabet Mjanger. ‘Gå Der Vinden Blaser’ is a highlight, skipping over shuffling snare and tinkering keys.

Nelson Can_Edit

Unassuming from the street and more like a steak ranch, Charlie’s Bar is an intimate back room. The kind of dark wood affair and excellent for the intimate brilliance of Denmark’s Nelson Can. A bottle lies smashed on the floor, and their set smacks of early Gossip party punk swagger. Standout number ‘Downtown’ simmers with Bush Tetra eccentricities and Siouxie oddities. ‘Miracle’ stomps through with a solid ESG bass lines and a Rapture-style indie disco sing along. ‘Go Low’ brings about rollicking drums, stabbing bass lines and a much-missed Juliette Lewis squawk. Looking back at my notes, I realise I’ve only been snatching song titles having far too much fun dancing and grinning like an enthused teen. Set closer, ‘Let’s Talk About It’ pulses with chirpy cowbell and a feeling we’ve all seen something pretty special. And that’s something worth talking about.


Day two of the festival begins with a stroll down to the 17th century Christiansholm Fortress. But despite the barricades, Sørveiv has welcomed in another fleet of artists for today’s billing. Norwegian/British duo, Tuvaband is an act confident in space. Their songs are moments left in time, leading the crowd into contemplation. In ‘Trees’, vocalist Tuva warns “there are too many trees, there are too many people”, with the sparsity of XX’s minimalism or even Daughter’s pregnant hush. Towards the end of the set, through rusty interpretation, vocalist Tuva explains how they like to end with a cover version. Tonight’s is a considerate ode to MGMT’s lithe ‘Electric Feel’ but while the band's set is slick, it’s no oracular spectacular.

Thea and the Wild_Edit

As Nordic exports go, Thea and the Wild's folk-tinged indie isn’t really what comes to mind. Country counterparts, First Aid Kit come close but it's more than honeyed melodies. There's electronic sampling and some solid distortion. It's the kind of wild (clue’s in the name, right?) that conjures up rollicking road trips. Thea appears like a frontwoman from another era, clad in a kaftan and emulating the greats. She oozes a Grace Slick superior as the set weaves through pop belter, 'Dark Horse' and eerie 'Paved The Way'. The latter a teaser for the much anticipated new record out next year via Propellor Recordings.

“Go outside and see the northern lights, it will calm you down”. It’s a fitting greeting from this group of Kristiansand locals considering our current location. And it’s all fairly relaxing watching I Am K's classic Scandi synths. With a name like that, it’s not surprising that much of their catalogue focuses on self-identity and cosmic reflection. After encouraging us to watch the night sky, vocalist Oda’s calls for us to “look to the future and through the universe”. But astrology aside, there’s a couple of stand out tracks in the set. Arguably, the closing pair. ‘I Come Alive’ gets a lot of gusto from the crowd while ‘Stars’ skyscraping melody soars straight towards the festival fields of 2018.

Sørveiv 2017 then. Come for the new Nordic sound, stay for the brunost and waffles.