After staying out until 3am dancing to all manner of funk and soul in Mono, I’m actually surprised I’m capable of running ten miles early on Saturday. I decide to run to Sognsvann Lake and take in some beautiful views and its frozen lake. After running four miles straight up hill that is. It’s fair to say I wish I checked the course profile before starting! I get the tram back rather than slalom down and watch some Premier League football - there's quite a few Man City fans in Oslo for no apparent reason it seems - before starting the final night of By:Larm. It’s flown by.
Saturday. The Prettiots. Mono
Saturday night starts exactly the way Friday finished, with US trio The Prettiots and in Mono. The stage here is much smaller and intimate than last night's, the chemistry between the band is apparent throughout and their personality shines through as the crowd lap up their witty, youthful, self-deprecating tales of high school woes wrapped up in pretty harmonies and boundless energy.
Holly Macve. St Edmunds Chruch
To church next, for a quite brilliant run of acts at St Edmunds.
This is the first time I’ve seen Holly Macve after posting about her here last year with the stop you in your tracks demo "The Corner Of My Mind". The performance matches her and the venue, bewitching. A picture of timeless beauty as over the next half an hour Holly transports the listener with her mystical, darkly hued atmosphere. Her voice is incredible, a devastating tone that quavers slowly, deliberately around twanging country melodies and later against striking keys as Holly makes use of the venue’s piano. Let's finish with a cliché, If you were looking up the definition of gorgeous, you’d probably find a picture of this set.
Siv Jakobsen. St Edmunds Chruch
I’m not sure there is much else I can say about Siv Jakobsen. Her show at Mono two days earlier (which I wrote more comprehensively about here) wins my ‘show of the festival’ award because it’s the first time I get to experience Siv backed by a string quartet. The environment here at St Edmunds is much more suitable and the result is beguiling. I’m often closing my eyes to take in every exquisite note.
The good news is that on my on return home Siv announces a set of UK dates (dates over on GFP to save me typing!), I cannot imagine them being as incredible as these two backed by this string quarter but you should go and see her nonetheless. This is real talent.
I'm posting an exquisite new remix (you probably know I don't like remixes) of one my favourite tracks from her EP, The Lingering, "Bullet". This though is beautiful, it's Siv of course, but it's sparse, crystallize and the ending has strings which makes you want to release your every inner feeling. It sums up these two sets just lovely.
Monica Heldal. St Edmunds Chruch
I leave the church after Siv to go to the bathroom – it’s the finer details – and there is a massive queue to get back in, so I miss perhaps a track of Monica Heldal before I’m finally back inside and have a view near the back of the exquisite venue. The acoustics are great though and I’m intoxicated once more as Monica weaves through tracks taken from Boy to the North and her forthcoming follow-up.
Both the familiar and the new are divine with her pure vocals entwined around intricate guitar melodies. It’s the same duo set up I’d seen Monica play last year in London, apparently the day before her show was with a full band. The church setting though calls for simplicity and the result is magical.
Emma Acs. Revolver
Just around the corner in Revolver is Emma Acs. I actually head here because it’s right next to the church, my schedule has a gap in it and I’m intrigued about the act that followed Emma (I actually left after two songs of them – naming no names!). She is a complete unknown to me but quickly has me shuffling near the front of the small stage for a better view – Norwegian men are tall and seemingly like to be front and centre!
The show is nothing short of a revelation, as I put on my Twitter account, a bonkers, nostalgic psyche, alt-pop sound filled with cascading instrumentation and off-kilter vocals – it’s haphazard, messy and brilliant. The six of them on stage (I think) are packed in close because of the small stage but they are having fun. A lot of fun. Emma the most. She reminds me of Bowie’s Ziggy with her red hair, piercing stares and never still exuberance. She threatens to spill into the audience on more than an occasion, its infectious, smile-inducing and I’m wondering quite how I’d never heard of Emma Acs until this very moment.
When I get back to the UK I work out why, sure you can get a few tracks on Youtube and Soundcloud but there is nothing officially available here from the Copenhagen artist. I hope it’s part of a scheme for a launch here at a later date, this is the sort bat-shit, brilliantly crazy pop that is ready made for British audiences. Listen to “Magnetic Field” if you don’t believe me. A vinyl has been ordered!
Alice Boman. Rockefeller
Later at Rockefeller it’s Alice Boman, I’d earlier expressed concerns about the venue placing to my friend. 'Alice should be playing in a church or small venue and not at half midnight on Saturday night in a huge venue' I said (to be fair she did play the church the day before but I was elsewhere) and when just Alice comes out to play a solo version of “Waiting” I am further worried but then I take a glance behind and there is sizable crowd and on the whole they pay Alice the credit she deserves and don’t turn into the rowdy rabble that you’d expect in the UK.
Soon a full band joins Alice and they play tracks taken from her two EP’s and some new ones from a release we’ll hopefully hear about soon. Sure it would be better in the aforementioned venue, her sparse and intimate music is suitable to dimly-lit, flickering venues and not million pound light shows but she pulls it off creditably and provides a pleasant ending to my inaugural By:Larm.
In quick summation, a rather apt photo. See you next you Oslo?