Way Out West


Events, Features, Music, Review | by — August 12, 2013


by Jon Burns & Marko Domazet

For a festival in the centre of a city, Gothenburg’s Way out West is an example of Scandinavian efficiency, fun and beautiful people.  As you might expect for Sweden, the festival takes place in a clearing surrounded by trees, with a couple of streams thrown in for good measure. The two main stages, unusually, face each other, meaning one act can set up while the other performs, and the crowd switches as the music changes over. This was one feature of an extraordinarily organised festival with super clean loos and no rubbish.  We were unsure about only being able to drink in designated bar areas, but found that the areas were huge, and provided great views of the stage, with lots of seating, and no meat to be found anywhere – this was our first ever vegetarian festival!

We kicked off the afternoon with Public Enemy, who although are legends, didn’t cut it this time.  Flava Flav and Chuck D certainly have the energy still, and they can get the crowd going, but their sound was so loud that we had to leave to buy earplugs.  Flava Flav was great despite turning up without his trademark clock.  He announced he’d given the clock up having been inducted into the hall of fame in April, only to pull a smaller clock from under his shirt to everyone’s delight.

As soon as Public Enemy were done, Cat Power appeared on the opposite stage to give a beautiful, almost ethereal set as the sun was starting to set.  Cat Power and her band looked at home in the forest clearing setting, and almost looked like they were carrying in the party from somewhere else?!

James Blake was next on with his distinctive dubstep influenced fusion, and was the perfect partner as the sun finally set. Again, Blake brings an ethereal experience to his performances, and the tightness between him and his two band members is a joy to see.  They had the crowd mesmerized throughout the set, without appearing to do all that much, which goes to show less is more.

We hopped over to the smaller stage to catch super cute Blackpool disco lass Little Boots, who was showcasing some of her new work. Dressed in a cut off kaftan and heels, La Boots gave a delightful pop set to a crowd who totally got into the disco vibe.  Her new songs are great, and we hope to be seeing a bit more of her soon.

The headliner of the day was super songstress, Alicia Keys, who, in our opinion didn’t make much sense on the main stage of a festival? Don’t get us wrong, Beyonce killed it at Glastonbury when she took it on, but Keys didn’t have the energy for us. Keys is a fabulous performer, but her banter was over rehearsed and cheesy, like it had been written for a Las Vegas hotel.  During one ballad she pretended to be a waitress making a phone call to ask out a customer on a fake mobile phone, with a dancer playing a customer at the other end of the stage… Darling, you are Alicia Keys, lift it honey!!! She totally looked amazing in a glittery blue top and black floppy hat (a bit Whitney Houston), but we left to find the saviours of the day at the dance tent.

One word: Disclosure. These UK boys didn’t have the biggest crowd of the day, but they had the crowd that screamed, whistled, danced, and put their hands in the air more than any other. One glorious hour of dance hit after dance hit meant we finished the festival on a high. We’re not sure how two lads with a few laptops, a drum machine and a guitar can create such an electric atmosphere, but boy, they did.  Best set of the day? We might be a bit biased!

Over all, Way out West is a great, well organised and a clean city festival.  Next year we might try the whole three days!

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