I'm of the opinion that a festival is destined to be good if the weather is sunny. Luckily for Way Out West, Gothenburg was smothered in sun and blue sky. The second day of the festival proved that great bands, lively atmosphere and the power of the sun is a winning formula.
Click to find the review of Day 1
Photos by Lily Pearmain
Tallest Man on Earth
Have you heard of Bob Dylan? Swedish-native Kristian Matsson, known better under his moniker The Tallest Man on Earth certainly has. This said, when I was able to finally look past the obvious Dylan comparison, Matsson’s performance was thoroughly enjoyable. Clearly elated to be playing in front of a Swedish crowd (from what little I could understand from his Swedish) Matsson blasted through a set of intricate folk songs, smothered in passion and emotion, successfully proving that one-man can easily produce a sound big enough to fill a festival stage. Helped by his hugely powerful voice, enthusiasm and use of stage-space, tTMoE provided the ideal compliment to the glorious summer sun. Not even the awkward sharing-of-one-mic-and-gazing-into-one-anothers-eyes duet with female singer-songwriter ‘Idiot Wind’ was enough to tarnish the performance.
There is a subtlety to Loney Dear’s music that shouldn’t translate to a festival performance. After all, the material from his previous 3 albums mostly relies on complex instrumentation, delicate harmonies and gradual crescendos that require a great deal of concentration. This said, Emil and his large accompanying band successfully adapted his material into a remarkable, comprehensive festival set. The band made the most of a wide array of accompanists and instruments to create a full and energetic sound – most notably through his use of two drummers. His decision to play primarily new material was a confident, if not ambitious, move that paid off; the new songs both complimented his back catalogue without sounding too formulaic. Emil himself seemed sweaty and disheveled but clearly happy with his new songs and when they sounded as good as they did, it was difficult not to join him.
Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti
I make no qualms about saying that Mr Ariel Pink (Ariel Marcus Rosenberg) is a weird man; everything from his brown bellbottoms, to his long bedraggled hair, to his odd stage movements sets him aside as an 'indie-pop front man'. However this not only created a visually entertaining performance but also perfectly complimented the distinctive, lofi-pop music of Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti. Ariel Pink’s sound was tight and powerful, and through the unpredictable mist there was a competent, professional performance. Even the long periods of standing around, looking wistfully into the distance did not seem contrived or dull. It’s rare that the ‘odd front man’ formula works in a performance as well as it did for Ariel Rosenberg and his haunted graffiti.
It was difficult to not get excited about Kanye West. Granted I don’t own a single album, couldn’t name more than 5 songs and had to research most of his information from Wikipedia but as soon as he stepped onto stage I was remarkably star-struck. Maybe it has something to do with the fact he is the owner of 14 Grammys, or perhaps that he has sold over 8 million albums, or even that he emerged onto the stage on a giant, smoking cherry-picker - either way I felt lucky to be watching him. Even the set itself was enjoyable; helped along with a mind-blowingly impressive stage show, complete with a large, meticulously choreographed dance ensemble, coma-inducing lightshow and a repertoire of incredibly catchy material. Indeed, his set encompassed the perfect ingredients for a festival performance: upbeat songs with recognisable sing-a-long choruses. I left questioning what an incredibly surreal life Kanye Omari West must live…
The extra ‘r’ in Ringo Deathstarr is less a typo and more a statement of intent, a sign of the band’s celebration of excess. Indeed, on only a few occasions have I experienced such a loud, unrelenting performance that has been so enjoyable (namely Dinosaur Jr. and My Bloody Valentine.) Even the cramped pub venue, fueled by a furnace and lit by candle failed to dampen the relentless performance; in fact the small venue only serve to enhance the gloriously brutal barrage that came from the unassuming 4 piece. Even after my focus began to wane following their minimal stage movement, lead singer Elliott Frazier proceeded to give his guitar to an audience member to make noise during a song, before forcing him to ‘chug his beer’ – who said Rock 'n' Roll was dead? The band clearly took pleasure in loud, raw music and when it sounded as good as it did, who could blame them?
Photo by Jason Williamson