Festival review: Way Out West – Saturday

We might complain about a lineup at Way Out West that lacked super-mega-big headliners. I still think it´s true this year, but on the other hand, there are few festivals that can offer such a variety in small- to medium sized acts. For example, starting out the Saturday in Dungen, watching Romy from The XX perform a DJ-set right in the afternoon is pretty cool. On any other festival, it´s quite a big deal, and it still is, but it was still, well, in the afternoon on one of the smaller stages.

Romy. Photo: Hilda Arneback

Romy put on a great set for a sizeable, pumped up crowd. Relaxed atmosphere, and a stage that´s just a milk crate high makes the connection between the audience and DJ very direct and almost intimate, and Romy handles that great, with big smile throughout the set.

Girl in red. Photo: Hilda Arneback

Norwegian girl in red has made a huge impact right out of the gate. 2021 album debut if I could make it go quiet got great reviews and the artist behind the moniker, Marie Ulven, has gathered a huge following. It is in line with some other pop music today, where guitars are making (a small, small) comeback, even though girl in red have a much more distorted sound. On stage she has a full band with five musicians, all dressed on black, rocking pretty hard. It sounds a bit like Avril Lavigne, in a good way, I think. It is quite rehearsed, the cynical part of me notes, as all musicians head bang at the exact same time and follow the same pattern, but at least it is a full throttle show, so who cares.

Girl in red. Photo: Hilda Arneback

The crowd is on their toes right away with opener You Stupid Bitch and especially during her hit we fell in love in october. It´s entertaining, definitely. Is it for me? No. I´m, just not the target audience, but that’s also fine. I think.

Nilüfer Yanya. Photo: Hilda Arneback

One of the main clashes of the day for me was Nilüfer Yanya and Bright Eyes. Both are, obviously, indie rock acts but separated by many years but would definitely attract a similar audience. Yanya has gotten great reviews (best new album from Pitchfork for both releases – not to shabby!), but I was curios to see the size of the audience. It´s not an easy time slot nowadays, to play more introvert indie rock at a festival at 9 in the evening, when everybody wants to party (and the main target audience is in the tent on the other side of the festival site to see Bright Eyes). A sizeable crowd still show up, and songs like midnight sun and the PJ Harvey-cover Rid of Me is just magnificent. Stabilize is one of the best songs of the year, and it sounds great. A better time slot would have been great, but still an excellent show.

Bright Eyes. Photo: Richard Bloom

I manage to see a bit of the Bright Eyes-show. I meet a huge crowd, and an angry Conor Oberst. Missing out what the deal was, I was just surprised, as it is seldom one see a show that is not super slick nowadays. It was not totally clear to me what it was all about, but I manage to see a nice version of I Believe in Symmetry but judging from the setlist posted later, it was far from a best of-show.

The last shows of the day were also made out of clashes, but between very different artists. Swedish legend Thåström went head-to-head with Danish queen MØ and beforehand, I thought I will just see a few songs with Thåström and then move over to MØ. But damn, Thåström was just so good. I was blown away.

Thåström. Photo: Richard Bloom

I was skeptical beforehand if that could end the whole festival. And still, to an international audience, or younger also for that matter, it is perhaps not the best thing, but to us old farts, it was awesome. Thåström comes of a big tour of 2021 release Dom som skinner and it was clear that it was a super tight band. The lightning show was superb, with quite simple features, but used in an effective manner. I´ve seen before how his lightning persons taken inspiration from various sources, on a previous tour mainly from Nine Inch Nails, but the inspiration is utilized in a great way.

Thåström. Photo: Richard Bloom

The sound is just so heavy and even though I realize that, after not really listened that much to recent albums, I just don’t know that many songs, but I´m still just glued to the ground and cannot leave. He alters his own songs with songs from his former band Imperiet, but they work equally well. I just know the Imperiet-songs more, especially since they were played at home when my dad was drunk. The autobiographical (I just assume) Kort biografi med litet testament is majestic as it grows into a grand crescendo. Beväpna dig med vingar is another favorite that works great. Thåström is one of the only artists that also can say “You´re welcome” between the songs, instead of the obvious “Thanks” and get away with it.

The only little thing is that he ended a bit early, and I was hoping for my old favorite CC Cowboys which had ended several of the shows on the tour, but yeah. It was still a pretty awesome end of a great festival.  

Aldous Harding. Photo: Richard Bloom
Ane Brun. Photo: Richard Bloom
Molchat Doma. Photo: Richard Bloom
Mwuana. 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…).