Festival review: Way Out West – Friday

Way Out West is located in a park in central Gothenburg. That has it´s many, many advantages, but on of the disadvantages is that it needs to be quiet rather early. On the Thursday, the last shows in the park ends at 11 PM and at midnight the rest of the days. It means that for those that want to prolong their party needs to head downtown to one of the clubs at “Stay Out West”. It´s a smart move, taking advantage of existing clubs and many great stages. In recent years they have built a whole extra festival area at an old dock, called Bananpiren, meaning that you could go to one place and find at least three different stages. They did not use Bananpiren this year. Not sure why, no real explanation has been given, and it´s missed.

The main problem with Stay Out West is that not everybody can get in. That´s the rule of the game, but it means streeeeeeess! In order to have real chance of getting into the popular venues, you need to leave Slottsskogen midway through the final act. It means that so much discussions at the festival is about logistics. “Where are going tonight?”, “How much of Band X can we see before we need to leave?” etc etc etc.

The same was true on the Friday, and with Nick Cave and the bad seeds as the final act, let´s face it, they’re not for everybody, it would probably mean that many would leave early. Or would they? Stay tuned for the results by the end of the text.

Dungen

I start out for an hour in the Dungen area. It´s one of the additions a few years into the festival, expanding the area to even greener places. The main attractions in here are DJ-sets, and there are some big names playing. On Saturday, Romy, will play their set her, which is pretty interesting given the size.

Fontaines DC. Photo: Richard Bloom

First band for us today was Fontaines DC, an Irish postpunk band. Their third album, Skinty Fia, was released earlier this year and have gotten some great reviews. Editor Nilsson saw them at Roskilde and gave raving reviews. So expectations were high, and they delivered well. Their show is not of full throttle, kick in the head. It´s more of a slow burn, building up high tensions for later release.

Fontaines DC. Photo: Richard Bloom

They start out with album opener In ár gCroíthe go deo, a perfect start, to a large crowd. That is a major difference compared to before the pandemic, that the area fills up super early. Previous years, the first shows were rather empty and often, quite frankly, sleepy. I remember seeing Idles in 2019, and it was of course all but sleepy, but the tent was probably filled to a third at best. At Fontaines DC, it was full from start. That´s a good thing obviously, as there are no filler shows nowadays.

The setlist is a mixture from all records, and favorites like A Hero´s Death and Boys in the Better Land gets great reactions from the audience. Great start of the day.

I manage to see a few songs with Norwegian heroes Kings of Convenience. After several years of hiatus they have returned with a new record last year and a large tour. I mean, it´s nice, it´s chill, it´s delicate. There is a large crowd in the superhot afternoon. At some point we should talk about the weather, to sort of quote Tears for Fears, but lets save that for later.

In the songs I see, there is just the two members Erlend Øye and Eirik Glambek Bøe at stage, and I have to be honest, it´s not what I needed at that time. After seeing Fontaines DC, waiting for Arab Strap, it could have been the perfect pallet cleanser, but it does not work for me. But others enjoyed it, and that´s good enough.

Arab Strap. Photo: Richard Bloom

Arab Strap is this band that have always been there for me. Always seeing their name, their records, having friends talking about them, but some weird reason I never got into them. But I knew that it would be something for me. The Scottish band have been around since the mid 90´s, but were broken up for a few years, but have come back with some great releases since. The 2021 LP As Days Get Dark was a return to form, with the dark undertones and haunting sounds. Album opener The Turning of Our Bones opens the show in a brilliant way and sets the tone for the whole show. This is what you will get, fakk off if you´re not into it.

Arab Strap. Photo: Richard Bloom

The audience is surprisingly captivated. It´s a focus that I rarely see in the tent, it´s often much talking and alcohol. It´s still a lot of alcohol, but it feels like everybody just shuts up and listens. Compersion pt 1 from latest release is one of the highlights.

Beabadoobee

Another area that has been added to the program in recent years is Höjden. It´s on a hill above the site, and has sort of an amphitheater. In recent years main focus has been on interviews and panel discussions, but it seems to be more shows this year. One of the, at least for me, hidden artists in the program is British beabadobee. I had never heard of her, but as her music was compared to Soccer Mommy and Julien Baker it sounded interesting. Just let’s hope there will be some people there, the old idiot thought, as she still played at the same time as both Chance the Rapper and Perfume Genius. Well, it was crammed! Full of superfans screaming to every song. I then realized that her songs have 100s of millions streams at Spotify. I´m losing my edge. Probably never had one.

Beabadoobee. Photo: Mia Höglund

With a drummer, guitarist, and bassist, it´s a full-on rock show more or less, still with nice and soft melodies. It´s super catchy and great. Her hit coffee get´s a fuller sound and even though some people leave, it´s one of the best crowds of the festival. To me, the biggest and nicest surprise of the festival!

Jamie XX then had a DJ-set on one of the main stages. Huge crowd! Gosh!

Jamie XX. Photo: Mia Höglund

DJ-sets can be a bit stale at festivals, at least in my opinion. The crowd seem to disagree fully, and maybe it´s a perfect thing to switch up with a thing like that in the evening. Just in front of us was a stoned camera man filming the back of peoples shirts. I was wondering what the hell he was doing, until I realized that the visuals were made up of camera angels from the crowd. So he was filming weird angels, and projecting them live up on the screens. Really interesting. A little worried about GDPR-issues though.

Kite. Photo: Hanna Brunlöf Windell

To me Swedish Kite is almost hometown heroes. They comes from different places in my home region and one of the members, Christian Berg, comes from Tranås, close to Linköping and many friends come from there. They play electronic music, and have some of the most interesting live shows around. They basically build their own light fixtures (together with another guy from Tranås), and it always feel authentic and exclusive. And although they are big, they have never become huge. They really should, because the hits are there and the sound, but it is still of course the mainstream music that is popular today. But at Way Out West, it felt like they got a crowd they deserved. They have played sold out shows in Stockholm (and many sold out shows at Klubb Din Mamma in Linköping, and I have had nothing to do with that. Nothing.). The tent was almost as full as Yung Lean and although the crowd was calmer, it was still a super enthusiastic bunch of people (although with a lot a self entitled men arriving late and pushing themselves into the tent. Nice.).

Kite. Photo: Hanna Brunlöf Windell

Hand Out The Drugs comes early and really start things of. The vocals by Niklas Stenemo sounds amazing and the light show is spectacular. Dance Again is another favorite, and probably their main hit together with Jonny Boy, and it works extremely well.

Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds. Photo: Richard Bloom

We manage to see a few songs of the Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds-show. And what a show. He runs around back and forward by the barriers, addressing the people in the front all the time. His stage presence is just out of this world. He moves back and forward between the front and the grand piano and it´s difficult to not get amazed.

Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds. Photo: Richard Bloom

But. It is Way Out West. FOMO and all that. It is unfortunate and a bit unfair to see how much people that are leaving the festival area already in the beginning of the Nick Cave-show. We do the same, so who am I to speak, but I have never seen that many people leaving that early. It generates a stress and   It generates a stress with people walking passed you all the time.

We decide to leave in order to get into Folkteatern down in central Gothenburg. Porridge Radio was booked on rather late after some cancellations. The Brighton band has gotten quite some hype the last years with their low-key indie rock and with the unique vocals by Dana Margolin. I had high hopes, but got a bit surprised, and at first disappointed, when I realized that Margolin was alone on stage. They excused that there were no band today, and it felt a bit cut short. But däääämn, was I wrong!

Porridge Radio

Margolin alone with their guitar for 45 minutes was one of the most intense experiences of the festival. Already in the first song, Born Confused, the focus and attack was so magical that I was blown away. In the end, they were spitting while screaming the lines Thank you for making me happy. The rest of the set was really strong, except of the drunks drowning out some of the songs, and Margolin even addresses it in a charming passive-aggressive way by asking if a quite song would be drowned in the noise.

I missed my favorite song Give/Take and after someone in the audience asked for it, they apologized that they needed the full band in order to play it. But all in all, that was one of the main shows of the day.

Swedish Nicole Sabouné ended the day. She has a rather dark, rock sound that has changed a bit over the years. She started out with a record with more catchy indie rock songs that got much attention, especially with singles Win This Life and I Surrender. After that, she moved away from that sound, towards more gothic sounds, and it seemed like she wanted to distance herself a bit from the first record and not really playing any of the songs live.

Nicole Sabouné.

At Way Out West she mixes songs from all records, but it is the two mentioned songs from the first record Must Exist that gets the best reception. Memories is a beautiful song that works well, and she has an exceptional stage presence. The finale with I Surrender is magnificent, and even though it has been a long day, it does not feel like it.

Holly Humberstone. Photo: Richard Bloom
LÉON. Photo: Richard Bloom
Oumou Sangaré. Photo: Richard Bloom
Perfume Genius. Photo: Richard Bloom

About Dick Magnusson

Energy researcher and semi-proud owner of probably the largest collection of Placebo-records in Sweden. Spins wax, or rather clicks MP3s, under the name DJ Pappaledig. Former concert promoter that loves festivals and listens way too much on indie rock (by choice) and children’s music (well, at least by someone’s choice…).
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