SPOT Festival Friday – Francine Gorman shares her highlights from Friday at SPOT Festival 2017
Francine Gorman is the Editor of the Ja Ja Ja and Nordic Playlist websites, as well as a freelance journalist, content producer and writer. She’s attending SPOT for the fifth time, and will be sharing daily summaries of the best things that she’s seen, heard and discovered throughout the festival.
Hello! I’m Francine – I’m the editor of Ja Ja Ja and the Nordic Playlist, and I’ve been invited by the fine folks at SPOT and MXD to share some of my favourite moments from this year’s festival with you. Which I’m more than happy to do, as after a bit of counting and a fairly difficult time trying to remember which year was which and who played when, I’ve come to realise that this is actually my fifth year attending SPOT Festival!
I keep coming back because year upon year, SPOT gets bigger and bolder, and in the past, I’ve experienced some incredible shows here – from stumbling upon brand new talent (MØ and Baby In Vain in my first year here standing out as particular highlights), to finally being able to see some heroes in action. And on a line up level, this year is no exception – on Saturday, two of my all time favourite favourite musicians will be joining forces, as Teitur and Nico Muhly’s opus “Confessions” is performed in the sumptuous surroundings of the Symfonisk Sal in Musikhuset. But before we get to what’s still to come, I’ve picked out a few personal highlights from the festival so far!
I’m told that there are in the region of 250 performances taking place over the course of the festival, with artists from throughout the Nordics taking to stages popping up in every corner of the city. As well as the traditional venues used for the festival (Musikhuset, Voxhall, Radar etc.), SPOT have introduced a new area this year that I hope you’ve already had a bit of time to check out. Aarhus Volume plays host to an outdoor stage and plenty of tantalisingly nice smelling food trucks. That’s where the day began for me, kicking off with some euphoric 90s tinged electronica from Denmark’s Hands of Light, followed by a great performance from Dirt White, an electronic proposition of a whole different kind, offering up expansive, glacial backdrops topped off by the deep, crisp tones of vocalist Mads Bertelsen. The stage kicks off at 2pm again on Saturday, so do head along if you can to catch some Danish grass roots talent.
One completely hypnotic performance that’s stood out so far at SPOT this year arrived earlier in the evening courtesy of Icelandic vocalist and musician JFDR. Now, to be honest, me heading to this show was cheating a little bit, as I’ve seen the artist at the heart of this project in multiple musical guises before, performing with Samaris, Pascal Pinon and Gangly. So I knew it was going to be good. But the performance that was delivered was beyond good, it was truly majestic. It’s incredible to see an artist of such hushed and delicate tones captivate a crowd as Jófríður Ákadóttir does this evening, but she does so instantaneously. Songs from her debut solo album “Brazil” are delivered via a jazz infused, time-signature defying drummer and a saxophonist whose sound serves as much as a bass as it does a sax. And the lighting in Rytmisk Sal was just phenomenal, making the whole experience ever more immersive.
A highlight of a completely different nature arrived courtesy of Uyarakq, Peand-El and Tarrak – a producer and two rappers respectively, all hailing from Greenland. Uyarakq and Peand-El have been particularly busy of late, as their collaborative album from 2015 was nominated for the Nordic Council Music Prize last year, before they made their way to SXSW to tear up Texas with their unique Arctic sounds. The show delivered tonight also features a young emerging rapper called Tarrak, and throughout the set, they attack issues such as racism and identity through raps mixing their two native languages, Danish and Greenlandic. Now, as a native English speaker, I wasn’t hugely familiar with exactly what was going down in the lyrics, but the ferocity with which they were delivered and the rhythm, melody and unique sounds that formed their style were completely hypnotic. And that’s before we even get into Uyarakq’s deliciously textured beats.
An honourable performance mention also has to go to Lydmor, who took over an exhibition/shop space (Verpan, ed.) in the centre of the city earlier in the evening, and performed superbly altered renditions of some of her existing – and upcoming – tracks. Accompanied by a string quartet and opulent contemporary chandeliers, Lydmor was more hushed in her vocals than she appears in other settings, wandering throughout the seated crowd as she softly explored the new arrangements of her songs. Lydmor’s set to perform again on Saturday night in Voxhall – highly recommended! Other honorable mentions? They’d have to go to Marching Church, David44 and Noréll who all offered up spectacular performances tonight.
As I mentioned earlier, there are an incredible number of shows to have picked from tonight, so I’m continuing my journey around town to catch as much as I can – Goss, Man Duo, Code Walk and sir Was are all firmly on the list of things to check out this evening. And to give a hint as to what tomorrow has in store – I’d highly recommend heading along to the MXD SuperBall where three incredible acts – Ellis May, School of X and Marching Church – will all be performing. And for some afternoon entertainment, make sure to head to Musikhuset Symfonisk Sal to catch the Danish premiere of Teitur and Nico Muhly’s “Confessions” – I’ll see you there!