Schnipper’s Norwegian Travelogue #2

August 15, 2007

I am writing now from NRK, Norway's national television and radio station. I am here because I missed my flight because I am an idiot and some nice people (Håvard and Mona, thank you I love you) have let me camp out until my six AM flight. This other guy here Ruben talked about UGK and I got a free peach. Better than the US? Also, because I can, I am going to do this ååååååååååååææææææææææææøøøøøøøøøøøøøøø.

Anyway, Thursday began with me half awake in the early afternoon talking about Manu Chao to a woman in a sundress. I heard her a little but what I really heard was boom boom boom and walking towards the stage I found it was Gogol Bordello; someone with funny pants and a very, very large mallet banging a drum the size of an airplane. I have a note here that they reminded me of a gypsy group covering "I Believe I Can Fly." Take it for what it is. Eugene Hutz's next acting role in Trapped in the Closet: Part Mustache?

Coco Rosie was next, making Thursday two for two in the mustache department. Mustache came out with a fire helmet and construction worker's caution vest. Then the opera singer lady came out with a gold bathing suit over her clothes. Some guy beatboxed and Opera, whose voice is truly gorgeous, sang over it while Mustache played some electronic knobby knobs and looked like a weirdo and ten million photographers frothed. The whole thing reminded me of Jordy, that French baby rapper from when we were nine.

Let me just say this: Coco Rosie is confusing, purposefully or not. They are like a mushed up hipster Bjork, and while I don't necessarily say that derogatorally, I can't say I'm saying it to give the props. There has to be a better way to harness this, though. I saw Metallic Falcons, I know you have it in you! Their warm up, loose and informal, sounded better than their perfomance, which I left partway through to check out El Caco, a Norwegian hard rock band who had been recommended to me. Unfortunately, whoever recommended them to me neglected to mention the hard rock part. I did get to see my only pyrotechnics of the weekend, a braided beard, girls freaking out, and a guy with a questionable pimples/birthmarks on his back covered up by a very large angel tattoo. I was not the only person who said Great White. Actually, yes I was but I bet other people were thinking it.

I left El Caco to catch some of TTC on the small stage aka the stage where bands play old American post-hip house songs with electronic drums over them and then sort of cover sort of rap their own lyrics sort of like really fun karaoke stage. Was C+C Music Factory popular in Oslo? Did they have freestyle? Can you imagine if you'd never heard "Gypsy Woman" until a chubby French guy, a tall French guy and a black French guy played it for you with Baltimore Club breaks underneath and then jumped up and down, encouraged you to do the same and rapped like a professional talent show? I think I would probably lose my mind. But I have heard those songs and I've been to Baltimore so it was maybe a little more vicarious. (Later that night, though, I went to see DJ Orgasmic of TTC play their afterparty at Dattera til Hagen, and I am happy to say it was the first time I've heard "Watch My Feet" in a club.)

I was hyped to see a big glowing (not burning) cross on the stage for Justice, but they were without symbolic religion, and without much else; they played a DJ set against a black curtain at a table with a black cloth like a podium at a conference, teaching a session on how to be very casual very popular French duo. Against such a vast darkness and sans accoutrements they looked silly, the tall one a bit Muppet-like with floppy hair and a loose cigarette. Then the little one, who looked so so young, sang along to this hard electro song where they repeat the phrase "keep it tight" and it was slightly dirty. I was in the photo pit then and it was all young girls losing their minds. They could have played Maria Callas and at least fifty percent of the crowd would still be punching the air. I don't think people mosh in 2007, they just go see electro house.

I missed the middle of their set to see Planningtorock in the small tent that hosted the weirder acts. Planningtorock is a terrible name, made me think of a bunch of suburbanite project managers talking about jamming out on Saturday with their Scorpions cover band. Instead it was a lady who looked like a Kim Jones Umbro model. She walked onstage with a big funny paper jousting mask with little tiny photos taped all over it, an oversized stuffed microphone and a similarly large stuffed chain with the initials PTR. She had video projections of herself with the various accessories all doubled up and folded in like a magic mirror. She pointed to the screen, said “that’s me.” We all already knew, but let it slide.

The music was her own, electronic tinkles and the expected bloops. She sang surprisingly gruff, though, as though her repeated phrases for lyrics were wearing away at her vocal chords. “What happens if I loved you so much I wanted to take a bite out of you,” was the phrase for one song, with a video of just that, a big apple-y neck getting noshed on screen. This all seemed very natural. That lightness was a happy change, and especially after watching a not dissimilar but way more lamely serious Coco Rosie earlier in the day, it was a relief. She also played in a little tent with air conditioning, and that can never be a bad thing. When she finished her set and I emerged into the heat Justice was still playing. They ended with a Rage Against the Machine electronic remix, making that the second time in two days I had heard that played and making it the second time in two days a lot of people disagreed with me about good taste.

My roommate, amongst other people, told me to see New Young Pony Club and I was like “man, they just played in Brooklyn last week and I didn’t care then,” but then I realized I was thinking of Band of Horses, so I went to see New Young Pony Club aka X-Ray Spex 2007. Or Maximum Joy 2007 or the half foxy lady A Certain Ratio 2007 or the half dude Slits 2007. “I wanna see some excitement and some movement and some attitude…Are we gonna do this now or are we gonna do this never?!” their singer pep rally berated from the stage. The keyboardist with the sweetheart neckline hit her bright blue cowbell and shook in the way someone who doesn’t really know how to dance has figured that and made the best of it with a wink and a wiggle to surprisingly tantalizing effect. New Young Pony Club is a greater-than-the-sum-of-its-parts band; their style isn’t difficult to play but so difficult to do and not seem lackluster and corny. Good job!

That night, before I got super drunk on duty free apricot brandy and eleven dollar cheap beer and talked to some guy sweetly stressed over his wife’s Ph.D studies who I later found out was the first singer of Turbonegro, I went to see Kim Hiorthøy again, this time at a secret show at indie club Mono. There were maybe 15 people watching him but an enormous line outside. Joakim, of Smalltown Supersound ( said that the show had in fact been too secret and people in the courtyard of the bar thirty feet away didn’t even know he was playing, as usually there are 500 people at his show. I don’t think anyone Norwegian thought this was awesome but I did. He was again good, this time making poppy housey electronic music solo, pogo-ing fiercely hitting pads and twisting the shit out of some knobs. I have been led to believe that I am stupid for not previously knowing who he is (thanks blog commenter who called him an “institution.”) I guess there is a lot in the world I don’t know but I’m learning.

Posted: August 15, 2007
Schnipper’s Norwegian Travelogue #2