Photo by Bombastic
Expectations was quite a buzz word for myself and friends for this year’s 7th edition of NorthSide festival. Some folk’s expectations were lowered by a pop-heavy line-up – especially Friday and the inevitably looming forecast of rain. Some folk’s expectations however were really quite high – due to more and more opportunities for activity’s and food and drink beyond the main program.
As the gates opened, both for “Outside” and the main entrance – it was more of a trickle of guests in, rather than a torrent. The grounds were still be tidied up until the very last minutes – with a flurry of workers in all manner of weird ATV golf carts dragging around bits and pieces – crossing the ‘t’s and dotting the ‘I’s on everything from toilets, wood chips, food stalls and bars. Northside is now pretty much a city within the city (of Aabyhøj) and administration now playing a seriously whacky version of SiMs.
I have to say though – having attended every NorthSide – I’ve seen both the major problems and now minor ones be addressed and solved. Green Stage now has extra speakers on posts surrounding the public area – to help deal with wind carrying sound away. Crush barriers and catwalks have been installed at both main stages to avoid folk getting trampled, and there were evidently more semi-permanent shelters this year than ever before. Not enough though as we’d find out the hard way in a matter of hours.
The festival’s music program began with Off Bloom – the Danish semi-urban pop act. Why not? The red stage was pumping with their brand of super-pop (Pink vs Katy Perry with some middle eastern beats) and the sun was out. Unfortunately, it was farewell to the sun for Veronica Maggio’s set next on Green Stage, the first act of the weekend on the two bigger set-ups. More pop- this time reigning from Sweden (How can those Swedes write so much pop music?) With a full band of good lookin’ dudes (and a dudette) playing. Even though Maggio’s saccharine Swede-pop is happy and upbeat – the clouds were now looking like Thor himself was rolling in to check out the festival.
During fantastic sets from Primus and Run The Jewels (who apparently shared ‘gifts’ with each other backstage) the rain really pelted down. Within minutes – the grounds became a soggy mess, and I was soaked to the bone – even having prepared myself for the inevitable. It wasn’t a happy summer rain though – it was proper “let’s build an ark” shit. I think one man with a beard was actually trying to tie some pallets together next to the main bar. There wasn’t room for everyone though. Our species is doomed. The rain never let up – puddles were now becoming lakes – which caused problems towards the entrance and VIP area – as some of them were so vast that human traffic had to be single file across the dwindling islands. People were getting a little pushy. Each step was laboured. Tina Dickow played off in the distance. She sounded great as always but I just felt done. Many huddled under whatever cover they could find – but of course there just isn’t shelter enough for everyone. Folk were soaked to the bone with no way of getting dry, and tipsy and hungry – as any food you managed to grab was instantly ruined in the rain. It was next to impossible to get out your smart phone and try and decipher where anyone was though – and everyone just looked the same anyway with rain gear on in the twilight.
At one point, I thought – “all those folks that I thought were idiots for buying gourmet courses and rum tastings earlier and missing music while sitting indoors….yeah…”. You probably don’t want to hear this – but I beat a retreat to the (amazing) press area they set up for us this year. I was able to stand in front of a heater and become human again (after nearly de-evolving into swamp-thing) while other journalists looked at me like I was some kind of deranged yokel for having been out there in the first place. I’m here for you, though, NorthSiders…to a point.
Rain let off for a little while – I figured out that there was a huge umbrella-cover over the red stage area – so I was happy to hang out there until Afghan Wigs performed. I did feel like I was in hell though – standing in mud up to my shins, listening to an hour-long sound-check (Tom Waits once said –“ musicians don’t go to hell – they go to sound-check”) but I was close to a bar with no line, close to a panini and people were being moderately nice to me although – I’m not sure why if you are two or more people walking somewhere – they expect YOU to get out of their fucking way.
After a solid set from Afghan Wigs though – the biomass of swamp-people headed over to the main stage to get ready for Frank Ocean. My shoe at one point got sucked into the ground while people kind of were annoyed that I wasn’t moving fast enough for their needs and looked for the shoe. I decided that I would go home, throw out my shoes, watch the rest of last year’s Mets vs Giants game (12 runs in an inning!!!) and dry out. Did I give up? No. I was defeated. Frank Ocean did sound great though with the open window on my balcony with a nice cup of tea.