The second day of the festival started fairly early but the late night rumble from yesterday was washed out equally easy with a shower, a great breakfast at Fjärde Långgatan and lots of energy from having the sun shining over Gothenburg. Since the shows didn’t start until late we had planned for a few conference sessions and for a meet up at “Meet the Austrians” because there were a few labels and magazine colleagues we were interested in.
At Pustervik the networking started already at coffee before the first session, and I ended up in a discussion with aFestival lovely person at the Ukrainian music export agency, who later was in the panel discussing on how to fund popular music in different countries. As a former researcher on this topic I found it frustrating to hear how few steps forward the popular music culture infrastructure has reached since I left the university to run Messed!Up. Literally nothing has happened. Let’s leave it as it is at the moment; I still believe that there’s enough enthusiasts out there who will make a change.
After a break and birthday beer – yes, it was my birthday – it was time to join the forces of “Meet the Austrians”. We already had contact with the Austrian magazine The Gap and ended up in a discussion with their editor and a journalist from Swedish online magazine Hymn about the media industry and financial security where most music magazine face a huge challenge in terms of financial sustainability when advertisement is less in demand. To be honest, I was just happy to break free from the discussion – I think all of us were – because it was just too depressing to talk struggles on the media market. Luckily, The Gap suggested a beer and we had a lovely and endless discussion about bands to watch in 2020 instead.
A quick break again for birthday beer(s) with friends and the night started at Oceanen and the Austrian three-piece Dives, a band that earlier this year released their debut album “Teenage Years Are Over”. And they thrust themselves out in “Chico” as the opener of the evening, a song pointing a finger to all mansplainers out there “You feel uncomfortable with every word I say, I like it best when you keep your hands away”. It’s a nice set and although they need a bit more live experience – all new bands tend to look a bit nervous in the beginning – they have some great songs to save them at the moment; “Pumpkin”, the post punk ballad “Stay Right Here” and the amazing Bleached cover of “Looking For A Fight”. Great start of the evening.
We strolled quickly over to Bengans Fik to catch a glimpse of Sticky Heat but I got stuck in a band meeting just after the entrance and literally missed it all, at least I didn’t see enough for a review. But the night had just started and while having a classic Swedish “halv special” from the grillhouse we walked down to the main venue, Pustervik.
Pustervik was hosting lots of interesting bands tonight, but keep in mind that all people you just networked with were there as well and you will understand that it was a struggle to do both.
One act we always wanted to cover was Amanda Werne aka Slowgold, literally Swedish poetry coated in distorted guitars and dreamy songs. Slowgold is already five records into her career and it’s a huge difference in performance from the last time I was a one of her shows (somewhere around five years ago). It’s not only a massive improvement, it’s a show aiming for mindfulness while getting a rock punch in your face in between. Not that it was bad before but this is professional at another level, especially how tight-knitted the band have become over the years.
It is at this point, five songs into her set, that one of the new acquaintances reached out and wanted to talk about a future collaboration. It’s a difficult situation because you want to cover music, that’s what you get paid for, but you need your network for the future. I chose networking. And a beer. Unfortunately it also meant that I almost missed the whole Fontän gig, a performance I was looking forward because my only show so far was sometime around 2009 in Linköping just after they had released “Winterwhila”.
However, the party continued and the night didn’t end because the music stopped. When Red Rum Club played their encore we left with our new friends, crossed Järntorget, the plaza outside Pustervik, and walked down Andra Långgatan for a beer night.
To summarize: yes, Viva Sounds is here to stay. I have worked with the INES showcase festival programme a few years and in my work I visited many of the showcase festivals in Europe, and although Viva Sounds can’t compare to giants as Reeperbahn Festival it’s way better organized than many of the established festivals on the circuit. And they have an advantage; Swedish music is popular on the international scenes, Sweden has a reputation to produce many high quality acts and Sweden has a history of being in the frontline of new and exciting music. That’s something Viva Sounds should take great pride in and use to promote the next editions of the festival – because I’m sure there will be quite many more festivals.
If the Swedish bureaucracy for once can understand the long-term value of funding the popular music industry you may want to help Westside Music Sweden out to make this a landmark of Gothenburg’s music scene. You will get “paid” for it later, not necessarily in money but in cultural value (aka increasing tourism = more visitors to Gothenburg = more money).