by:Larm 2008: A look at some afterthoughts

Most people seem to agree; bringing by:Larm to Oslo was like bringing the winter Olympics to Lillehammer, i.e. to where the event belongs, making it the best one of its kind, ever.

Truls and The Trees by:Larm 2008 I (foto: MIC/Tomas Lauvland Pettersen)

Notwithstanding the fact that the exotism of previous by:Larms, when hosted in polar towns and fjord ports, is all but gone in a city like Oslo, it is likely that the ambulation of the event is a thing of the past. More than a few foreign reporters do not hesitate to call this year’s by:Larm the best festival they’ve been to. And the capital city’s own press is of course duly exited about the success that by:Larm in Oslo proved to be. –Further, the Norwegian critics seem in concord regarding the musical dividend of this year’s event:

Ida Maria proves her jean D’Arc-status, and reaps the huge StatoilHydro stipend, a novelty of the year. The uncontrollable young queen of dance rock suddenly vows to cooperate with the national oil giant and make the world better. Well, well…
Swedish pop fairy Lykke Li is the most beloved foreign act, whilst the biggest and most pleasant Norwegian surprise is Truls and the Trees.
The nine-piece band fronted by Lukestar’s (another Norwegian act in the ascendant) Truls Heggero brings to bear “diverse instrumentation, irresistibly catchy Indie-rock tunes and a fantastic joy of playing,” in the words of Aftenposten’s critic, who calls the band “the sensation among this year’s undiscovered acts.”

Dagbladet, another Norwegian daily, describes Truls as: “Currently the foremost Norwegian carrier of the torch of contemporary, North American Indie-rock.” (Can there be more than one torch-carrier?)
And it is not just Norwegian media that embrace Truls and the trees. British NME says of the band that “although formed only last June, they’re already one of the city’s most promising bands.” NME puts them on the top five list of by:Larm experiences. Greg Cochrane, the British envoy, sums up by saying: “We’ll certainly be back at by:Larm, that’s if upcoming festivals Øya and Hove don’t tempt us more. “

Check out Truls and the trees here:

Fuller foreign impressions come from PopMatters’ Adrien Begrand, who draws attention to these Norwegian acts:

- came out and made jaws drop. Part Nordic folk, part energetic pub tunes, part country, these young ladies came off as a cross between the Dixie Chicks and Gogol Bordello, each ridiculously talented member trading instruments between songs, moving from piano to mandolin to a gigantic bass balalaika that was taller than any of them, and the charismatic bunch won over the big crowd instantly.

Ida Maria:
- It was during the brilliant “Oh My God”, one of the best tunes of 2007, that the entire exhausting night came to a head, a final explosion of energy that had us walking, heavy-legged back to our hotels to try to recuperate enough to withstand one more night.

- was absolutely ferocious, their fusion of saxophone, clarinet, math metal, and Battles-style prog sounding transcendent in the confines of the immaculate sounding theatre Sentrum Scene. The album was already impressive, but after witnessing it firsthand, this writer has a new favourite band.

- It’s goofy, but it’s theirs, a perfect encapsulation of the likeable insularity of this part of the world, and to hell with the rest of the world if they don’t get it. In all honesty, you couldn’t ask for a more fitting end to easily the most well-run, enjoyable musical event yours truly has ever seen.

The American site dedicated to Scandinavian music, Itsatrap, gives the following conclusion:

Final analysis: Well planned, well organized, well run, and wonderful festival. ( ) Oslo's a great city. -23 bands in 3 nights and only a few of them disappointing. It's one of the best weekends of my life.
- Nancy Baym

As for the Norwegian organizers, they may rest their case: 25 000 people have had a great weekend of music, the execution of the festival was near-flawless and the foreigners are in awe over Oslo’s musical vibrancy.

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