Strong public turnout for by:Larm in Trondheim

This weekend saw the entire Norwegian music industry congregating in Trondheim for the annual by:Larm festival. With hundreds of delegates, more than 70 bands and thousands of spectators the stage was set for an intense weekend full of music, talk and the odd pint.

Listen to a 30 second clip of Thomas Dybdahl’s From Grace
Listen to more tracks or buy Thomas Dybdahl’s That Great October Sound album

Thomas Dybdahl

by:Larm is one of the Norwegian music industry’s most important events. Spread over three hectic days the delegates are to attend seminars, network, see the upcoming bands and down a pint or ten. Judging by the turnout at Trondheim’s concert venues, by:Larm 2003 could be described as a success. Never before in by:Larm’s history have the clubs been so packed and the queues so long. The public’s interest in Norwegian music has increased noticeably, and this weekend’s queues in Trondheim is proof that it’s cool to like Norwegian bands again.

As annual as by:Larm is the criticism that the event causes. This year some have voiced concern whether if by:Larm has grown too much and that the focus on unsigned bands is lost when attendees are forced to spend hours standing in queues. By:Larm’s managing director Erlend Mogård-Larssen’s response to the critique was deadpan: I think blasé industry representatives need the ego-adjustment they get when they’re forced to spend time in a club-queue together with mere mortals!

This year the international attendance to by:Larm was at its biggest ever. More than 100 representatives from media, concert agencies, promotion, booking and record labels attended the seminars, debate forums and the many showcases at Trondheim’s club scene. A joint initiative from the by:Larm committee, The Norwegian Ministry for Foreign affairs and the Music Information Centre Norway was the foundation for the international attendance to by:Larm and the purpose was naturally to increase interest in Norwegian music abroad.

The Norwegian dailies tend to single out one or two bands as “winners” of by:Larm. Past acts to emerge successfully out of by:Larm include bands Briskeby, Madrugada and Big Bang – bands that have gone on to gold-selling status and international acclaim. This year the national press didn’t single out one band as the so-called “winner” but some artists were given good coverage and very positive reviews. Singer Thomas Dybdal from Stavanger was awarded six out of six stars for his Trondheim concert. Dybdal, who some compare to the late Jeff Buckley, released his debut album That Great October Sound on Stavanger label CCAP last autumn to wide critical acclaim. Unsigned Trondheim punks John Doe won all critics hearts after their show on Friday. Their take on Clash-esque punk with Norwegian lyrics awarded them with a full dice in the dailies. John Doe’s status as an unsigned act can soon come to an end as the CEO of EMI/Virgin Norway, Per Erik Johansen, was seen heading for the band’s backstage. Dadafon is another strong act that was awarded near ecstatic reviews for their unique blend of pop, afro-beat, jazz and experimental sounds.

Next year’s host city for by:Larm 2004 was also unveiled in Trondheim this weekend. Make your reservations for a trip to Bergen next year – the city below the seven mountains is set to host by:Larm 2004.

What set this year’s by:Larm apart from previous events was that the Alarm Prize awards were held on the final night. The Alarm Prize has been described as an alternative to the more established Norwegian Grammy Awards – Spelemannsprisen, and the show was broadcast live on the national Petre station. The Alarm show will also be aired on national TV this week. The winners are:

Live-band of the year:

Metal-album of the year:
Satyricon: Volcano

Pop-album of the year:
Thomas Dybdahl – That Great October Sound

Rock-album of the year:
JR Ewing – Ride Paranoia

Music video of the year:
Kaada – No You Don’t

Hip-hop/Rap-album of the year:
Gatas Parlament – Holdning over underholdning

Jazz-album of the year:
Dadafon – Visitor

Tune of the year:
Satyricon – Fuel For Hatred

Electronica-album of the year:
Jaga Jazzist – The Stix

The Alarm-prize 2003 is a special award given to an upcoming act that deserves wider recognition and backing. Winning the prize Ephemera from Bergen were awarded NOK 50 000.

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