THIS WEEKEND, SPOT festival was held in Århus: bringing music, film and an interactive festival to the usually sleepy Danish city. With an open mind, Pandeia Culture headed to the festival with the aim of exploring it’s desirability to a larger European audience.
The bands playing were predominantly Nordic: something we had worried would put us off, at the risk of it’s being niche. However, we were surprised to find a fantastic mix of performers and music types; from heavy Danish rock to electro/hip hop collaboration efforts.
Despite some cultural differences (namely the lack of dancing), the relatively small scope of the festival and a certain tendency to talk at seminars and speeches in Danish – despite its promotion and boasts of a European air – the music, atmosphere and overall experiences were amazing.
Kidnap on opening night
At the opening night Reptile Youth, a post-pop-electronic band known for its wild live shows performed with a show to remember. Full of energy and raw power, the band made a legitimate attempt to get the Danes to dance their shines away.
Lead singer Mads Kristiansen kick-started the night by jumping off stage and crowd surfing in the middle of the act: his unfailing enthusiasm bringing the crowd slowly to life. The performance ended when Kristiansen jumped down to the audience after a long powerful dance on stage, grabbed a girl and ran carrying her out and through the doors to the backstage as his a final act. The doors were shut, the band left the stage and the performance was over. Or was it? What an ending!
Hip Hop: a tale of two continents
The festival offered all the best of Danish music, all from the hip-hop-pop singer Kill J that took the crowd away with chilled tunes
to the rap star KIDD, that made every teenage girl in the audience scream. Despite not being exactly to the Pandeia team’s taste (…Danish…Rap) we had to hand it to KIDD: he did work the crowd into a frenzy. A rarity, KIDD had the crowd was dancing and jumping – when KIDD went on his knees to add some drama to his performance (as it wasn’t dramatic enough already) it seemed like every teenager in the room wished to be him.
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The following day, US Hip Hop Artist NOTE the rydah performed in a collaboration with Danish electro artist Simon of “When Saints go Machine” in an act entitled ‘League of Extraordinary Gentleman”. The performance included a small video showing behind the scenes clips of their work together, followed by the finished article being performed on stage. The two made an intriguing team, and the show was enjoyable through it’s expression of two music types and national cultures working together on one stage.
Danish Music: A Study
Panamah, a Danish pop electronic group filled the music hall with a light show and a remarkable performance that left the audience moved. The room was completely dark and the light show made sitting on chairs feel like an experience, it was an adventure that the audience was taken on.
Denmark’s own Will Smith or ‘Vild $mith’ played in a tiny crowded room singing one of Denmark’s biggest hit ‘Crazy today, sick tomorrow’ (Vild I dag, syg I morgen) – it seemed the band took their words of wisdom seriously as they were seen the day after with what seemed to be a good hangover.
A refreshing change was found in the Aarhus Jazz Orchestra’s performance with Emil de Waal and Spejderrobot of the music of Kraftwerk. Drawing in a large – if slightly older- crowd, the music was light, entertaining and professionally performed. In this performance, perhaps more-so than some of the younger bands, there was a real feeling of quality and structure about the show.
‘Watch out, Europe…..’ : Pandeia Recommends
All female rock band Nelson Can provided a completely eye opening experience for all those attending. The girls had a confidence and beautifully brazen ‘f*ck you’ attitude to each song, almost oblivious to the packed out room in front of them as they performed a set of songs guaranteed to be the perfect tonic to anyone going through the more bitter stages of a breakup. Their set was professional, the standard of their live performance was astonishing, and the group were one of the few we could see ourselves following loyally in the future. Their magnetism truly draws in a fan base set to stay.
Slightly left of field, but completely enjoyable, was a performance by ‘Danjal’ – a Faroese performer who had gathered a rag tag bunch of musicians to play a unique and enthralling mix of folk, tango and Balkan music (if it can be categorised at all). The uniqueness of their sound really brought something to the festival: a welcome break to the – at times – monotonous continuation of all male, all Danish, rock bands.
Pandeia found a star performance in Heimatt, a folk-style band of 5, performing with such vigor and talent it would put more popular bands in that genre (we’re speaking to you, Mumford and Sons) to shame. The group’s enthusiasm for the songs they played during the set was obvious, infectious and – if we’re honest – more than a little heart warming. The music had us wishing we could go home and listen again, just so we could jump around madly to the tracks more freely than the friendly but not nearly manic enough audience of their show would allow. We hope, with sincerity, this band finds all the fame and recognition they deserve in the future.
A Great Festival: But for Everyone?
This festival was not a disappointment, but equally not as ‘European’ as it claims. Pandeia gladly recommends it to Danish residents: if you want a small scaled music festival offering a little bit more – documentaries and talks along the side – this is the right festival to go to. The small size makes it easy to get around so there is no stress to make it between concerts. However, given the small scope of the event and the tendency – despite its claims – to orientate itself to a Danish audience, it is only the bands (rather than SPOT festival itself) we can recommend wholeheartedly to anyone looking to travel.
It was a chilled music festival: SPOT managed to do it right. Well organized, plenty of food, volunteers, happy smiles and, most importantly, Nordic high quality music. Feeling completely exhausted after the festival – Pandeia is content.
Words: Rachel Barr and Svanlaug Arnadottir
Pictures: Martin Nauton