Oh yes, summer is coming! We’ve already had a few sunny days, a few beers outside Le Coq and the atmosphere in Aarhus is changing for the better; it’s the season where ‘Smilets by’ really makes sense.
Now, the above mentioned also means the following: the festival season is upon us!
Just around the corner we have SPOT Festival, a festival that has been extremely important to Aarhus for many years now, and not long after that, the main event in Aarhus; NorthSide Festival.
Today they release their poster, after a year with more criticism than usually and after a year with a difficult festival war here in Denmark. But when looking at the poster, and the newest member of the headliner family, Antony and the Johnsons, it seems like NorthSide managed to escape the festival war with their integrity intact. They’ve managed to create a line-up that really fits the NS identity, and Antony and the Johnsons is just the name that completes the line up.
“I’m pretty sure this name fits well with our NS-audience. And i think it’s gonna be a lot like the concert with The xx a few years back, a lot of new material and a concert you’ll really be listening to. And we’ve seen that from our audience quite a few times, there’s a lot of respect about the music” says John Fogde, booker and spokesperson at NS.
Alongside Antony and the Johnsons, who’ll be playing with the lovely Aarhus Symfoniorkester, these names are added to the line up: S!vas, Emilie Nicolas, The Minds of 99 and Rangleklods.
This is the 6th year that NorthSide will be entertaining the music lovers in Denmark, and especially the last four years have impressed us. Actually, they’ve been impressing us so much, that they’ve planted a great deal of expectations to this year. This year, the festival would appear to be an established festival, that ‘here to stay’ kind of thing – and with expectations comes a more demanding audience. On their Facebook page we’ve seen a lot of wishes, a lot of critique and maybe not enough of the positive feedback that this festival actually deserves. To this, John Fogde has the following to say:
“Well, this might have something to do with the expectations this year. It was expected from us, that we booked The Black Keys. We’ve been working on that booking since 2012, and it’s really huge for us. We know that people wanted indie bands. And we announced Sam Smith and Wu Tang as the first headliners, leaving the indie lovers disappointed, and i guess they forgot to leave the positive feedback later on – and we can definitely learn from that. That being said, i’m pretty sure that the they’ll will love the poster, when they see it.”
And i agree with John, i really do. I’ve been one of those, who in private have been discussing the disappointment over the line up this year, but when seeing that poster… I guess the expectations really took over, especially after the huge shows we’ve witnessed the last couple of years at NorthSide – and this year will have it all! There are some of the biggest pop stars, indie names, rock bands and even hip hop legends – but somehow you can really feel that common thread, it’s very NorthSide’ish.
“This year we’ve been more aware about who we are, about style and the common thread. So i think we’ve found a balance between diversity and cross over; it’s not 41 bands from New York in the same leather jackets, but it is a lot of different bands and genres, but you still have that cross over between the names. You can easily be really into The Black Keys and still really want to experience Wu Tang. And now it’s our duty to inform people, to tell the story behind this poster and the many names on it”
When looking at the poster, I see a lot of things, that i really want to experience. Names that I’ve seen before; names that I’ve been listening to, but never seen live; names that I’ve never heard of before, but with the NS announcement really has caught my interest. However, one of the things I’ve noticed throughout the announcements, something a lot of people have been wondering about, is the names that will be back at the festival. I asked John Fogde about this, and he really made a solid point:
“See, that is where we are now. This is our 6th year now, we’re established and by now we can definitely invite people back. If bands have played at Roskilde Festival or at Store Vega (Copenhagen venue, red), that doesn’t mean that our audience have seen them before. And i know that some of the bands have played here before, a band like Alt-J have released a new album since last their last visit, and an album that good deserves an invitation back to this festival. Interpol played here in 2011, that is 4 years ago. And i mean, I would love to see Interpol every weekend.
Last year we had The Minds of 99 at the P6 Beat stage, and at that time many people didn’t know who they were, and what they capable of. It was great show, and they had a good time playing in front of that many people for the first time. Now people know them, they have hits, and we’re really glad that we can give them the opportunity to play on an even bigger scene, in front of an even bigger crowd – and that’s a pretty cool development.
And yes, there are a few bands who have been at NS before, but once again this festival delivers names that we rarely get the chance to see in Denmark.
“We can turn it around and have a look at the names who haven’t played in Denmark before, or haven’t played at a Danish festival before. The Black Keys have had one gig in Denmark, Sam Smith have never been playing in Denmark, Underworld haven’t been here in about 10 years, Antony and the Johnsons haven’t played at a Danish festival before, the same goes for Ben Howard and FKA Twigs, etc.”
John had some really solid arguments, when chatting with him about the subject. I had to ask him about MØ though. A name I’ve been wondering about a lot, as this is her third performance at NS in a row.
“Both FKA Twigs and MØ are a part of this post Spotify generation, and they create music whenever they want to, collaborate with who they want to. If they want to release a new EP on youtube, and create a video to every song from that EP, then that’s what they’ll do. That is really exciting and really dynamic! The first time MØ played here, a lot of people didn’t know her. It was in front of about 2000 people, at the same time as Nick Cave. Last year it was one of the craziest concerts we had, and you saw a lot of fans who looked like her. I’m willing to take the beating of having her playing here for the third time in a row, but i guarantee that the concert will be great, and people will show up. We rarely get positive feedback on the Danish bookings, but at the same time, it’s the Danish artists that gathers the biggest audience.
I haven’t received any mails saying ‘thanks for booking Scarlet Pleasure’, but I’m pretty sure that you’ll see thousands of people at their show – singing along! We have really good artists in Denmark, and people really love the Danish scene.”
When finishing up the talk about this years line up, and the whole putting together a line up like this, I come to the understanding that it is extremely difficult to satisfy everyone. John Fogde mentions a band like Radiohead, who most people would love to have at NS, but if they aren’t touring at the time, then it’s just not possible. You can’t force a band like Rage Against The Machine to come out and play, if they aren’t willing to. And at the same time, when you have a rather strict budget, that rules out some of those bands who are quite simply too expensive.
The thing about NorthSide is, that it is more than just the incredible music. The food, the beers and the many weird experiences are a huge part of it – and the key words are sustainability and a high level of service. Last year, the area around the P6 Beat stage was meant as an area where you could chill in between the concerts, but due to different circumstances, it couldn’t be as they wanted. That has lead to a lot people wanting more place, as the whole going from bar to concert, bar to concert over and over again, three days in a row, can be a bit rough.
“Last year we found sort of the build up that we wanted, so this year will be most similar to NS14, when it comes to the stages, entrance and the different areas and where they are put. Inside the fence, things will be different though, as we start from scratch with colors, art, sitting areas, etc.
The area around P6 Beat stage will be really different. It will be that area where you can have some food, a beer or just chill out when you want to escape from concerts for a moment. There will still be some secret areas and some different installations, that we won’t tell the public about yet, they have to be discovered at the festival”
NorthSide Festival is something we can be really proud of here in Aarhus. They know that the music is the most important thing to the audience, it is for NS as well, but they also know, that it takes more than the music to have a really good festival experience. This year, NS delivers, in my opinion, a really solid poster and you just know that they’re ready to take care of us at the festival place. Dear readers, we’ll see you out there!