Norberg Festival – So fucking experimental it could convert a hippie

By Kai Teo
Photos: Fotograf Peo Bengtsson at Norbergfestival.com

Festival: Norberg Festival 2014
Venue: Norberg, Sweden
Date: 24–26 July ‘14
Artistes: See full list and listen to their stuff here

If you don’t have some kind of special talent, or you’re not so confident about your lack of one, Norberg Festival might just make you feel shit about yourself.

Buddha Mag was invited to this small gathering of talented motherfuckers in the small, quiet town of Norberg in the north of Sweden (it’s north enough for us Malmö people). We had no idea who any of the artistes were, what music they played, or what food they ate. But we were absolutely convinced that we were gonna stomp the fuck out of the dance floor anyway.

The town of Norberg is so fucking remote and tiny that we suspected that it might even be racist.

There’s one supermarket, one Systembolaget (the Swedish state-owned alcohol monopoly heaven), one local drunk, and probably five cars. The first thing that struck me when we arrived in the town was that the residents probably hated this. It’s like an annual Woodstock descending upon their peaceful lives. Imagine having to wait behind 10 smelly hippies for your daily morning coffee. Well, at least the café had 11 (it’s mathematics, my friend) customers that day.

But to be fair, the festival grounds are about 1 km away from the town centre, at some abandoned factory / mill / mine / some old building with chimneys and shit, hence the festival logo. The building gave it some sort of an underground badass feel to it, so our first impression was already that of pure excitement and an uncontrollable urge to punch the invisible decibel butterflies in the air.

And then the music happened. Some call it noise, some call it xzyuyxzux, but we were just like what-the-fuck.

Pardon our ignorance of experimental music and our lack of understanding in the complexities of the nomenclature of music genres. But the entire festival had such a wide mix of different sound types that it was hard to even describe what they were playing.

But it was fucking good.

It’s hard, fast, dark, and always playful. Everyone had their own styles, everyone did their own thing. And everyone was awesomer than awesome.

The first sounds that greeted me was some sort of gabber with 180 bpm. Arh! I can do that shit! It was coming from the “Really Open Stage”, where everyone could try their hands on DJ-ing and shit. Such a cool concept, I mean, usually these EDM people tend to be a little religious about their decks and trade secrets. But this shit was really open.

I stood outside the tent and watched on as the people who looked like they knew what they were doing do what they were doing. I completely understood my grotesque lack of musical talent and refrained from touching any of the knobs for fear of causing an explosion. Better stick to what I know: dancing and drinking.

We walked from the Really Open Stage straight into the belly of the Really Dark Building.

It was pitch black in there. I tried closing my eyes and opening them again and I couldn’t tell the difference. There was some sort of ambient music going on and some steps. I spent about 5 minutes feeling overwhelmed by the feeling of being swallowed by the giant beast called darkness. And I never stepped in there again. I heard bad things happen to people who walk around places without light.

I stepped out and found myself immersed in a hub of pure creativity. Everyone there did something cool. Music producers, noise DJs, people who produce sound equipment stuff, people who don’t take drugs. It’s fucking insane. It’s like a pool of pure talent that you’d only find at some Annual EDM Convention or something.

I was in the company of geniuses. I better prove that I am talented in some way too. I used to play basketball as a kid, but was never really good at it. I picked up the guitar but ended up crying myself in the shower, with my clothes on, after I saw a youtube video of a 10-year-old kid doing a cover of Steve Vai’s Tender Surrender. I thought the Ukulele would be easier for my petite Asian hands, since it’s got less strings, but it made me feel like an ape trying to moonwalk.

Fuck. So I did what I did best, drink and be happy. And it kinda worked, these people seemed to like it.

And on the dance floor that evening, my eyes met with hers. This wild child plucked straight out from fucking Narnia or something. Her long flowy dress fluttered wildly like a raging passionate flame as she swayed around freely to the music. Those eyes burn with animalistic hunger as droplets of beat-infused sweat formed on her forehead. She approached. I freaked out a little.

Her fiery red hair met with my unkempt Pantene commercial hair as we pounded the floor with tribal stomps and princess-y fireball moves.

I could’ve fallen in love. But I figured it was just the alcohol. And then the music stopped.

3am. Welcome to Sweden. Even at festivals, people stop dancing at some point.

We moved to the tents to… What. The. Fuck.

Once again, 180 bpm from our neighbours’ mother-of-all-portable-speakers. It was as tall as a 13-year-old kid and as loud as his mother’s scream for him to do the dishes. The party goes on, right at my tent-step. And at some point, the hard beats and the noisy chatter somehow lulled me to sleep.

The highlights during the hot days were our trips to Systembolaget, our ice cold showers and this big net thing that’s like a giant hammock. There have been some rumours about a lake about 15 minutes away and some of the other festival-goers have even shown me pictures, but hey, I’m a smart guy, I’m not convinced. I’m not going to no fucking lake with you guys. There’re pictures of aliens on the internet, doesn’t mean they exist.

So I put my attention to perfecting the art of wine binging and sitting in the shade.

Then gabber happened to my face.

I was enjoying the cool summer breeze, laying on the hammock and speculating when I should actually get up to finally go pee, when the BPMs caught me by my neck and assaulted me with a might more powerful than Bruce Lee’s one-inch punch (if you haven’t seen the video, google it, it’s insane).

I tumbled gracefully out from the hammock and sprinted for the dancefloor. He was wearing a slipknot mask and throwing thunderbolts of dirty, hard and fast beats to the hung-over masses. This was it. Old school 90 eurotechno combined with a whole load of boom boom boom bang bang wor wor wor. Oh yes. Malapert. You sick motherfucker. Delivering a tumultuous onslaught of angry hardcore mixed with upbeat, happy tones. You cause great confusion, yet evoke such immense pleasure. Amen.

Then came the voice.

It was a mix of Cocorosie, Cher, Feist, and everything nice. The operatic delivery of vocal prowess was mashed with a young, groovy voice that takes you into a medieval pop orgy. Right, that was Aja, the I-really-can-do-everything girl. She spins, sings, writes, dances, juggles, breathes fire, does backflips with a Segway – all at the same time. Big respect.

And what I witnessed (or touched) next, was sound that you could touch.

I’ve always thought dubstep felt like stretching and kneading a piece of blu-tack or plasticine. And I’ve always dreamed about using my touch to create different sounds. Taadaa! This woman made my dream come true. Phantom Chips pushes the boundaries and stretches the limits of sound and tactile creativity to create noise costumes that you can stretch, pull, twist and do whatever the fuck you want with it.

She presented to the wide-eyed crowd her exotic Sound Octopus Strap-on, which is basically a belt with tentacles that you can do stuff with, and it produces different noises according to what you do with it, and how hard you do it. And then there was the Shadow Ninja Playback Time costume, which is a mask / glove thingy you put on, talk into your right index finger, and playback the recording with your left index finger. Experimental. Mind-blowing. It was the one fucking portal that would push my uptight mind to experience and enjoy immensely something other than psytrance.

So thank you Phantom Chips.

Through the course of 3 days, I became part of a close-knitted family that enjoyed sounds of all sorts, and dared to set new standards and explore never-before frontiers of what we call music.

Ok, I’m saying it as if I’m one of those smart people. But yea, they accepted me for my lack of talent and my abundance of alcohol. Norberg for me was about discovering new genres of music that I still can’t name, new friends that I still can’t remember the names of, and a definite eye- and mind-opener on a level that I can’t even put a name to.

Thank you, Norberg. And thank you to the family. Seeya next year.

 

If you enjoyed what you read, click here and like us on Facebook to see what other insane stuff we’ve been up to. For every one ‘Like’ we get on Facebook, a Nazi dies. Help save the world.