XLR8R Does Oslo

Besides being an incredibly well organized festival (only Lily Allen and Amy Winehouse cancelled) with a sweet, eclectic lineup, Norway’s Oyafestivalen also happens to be ideally situated in the middle of gorgeous Oslo, home of Ringnes beer, extremely tall women, and an infinite number of 7-Eleven stores. In other words, it’s the kind of party where you can make a last minute decision to skip Gogol Bordello for the Edvard Munch Museum (now comically secure after 2004’s brazen Scream robbery), nearly get arrested because you forgot to pay your fare on the T-Bane (Oslo’s underground transport system), and be back on the festival grounds in time to catch TTC two hours later. Did I mention the fjord?

Karl Johans Gate, Oslo’s central thoroughfare.

Oslo is full of beautiful older buildings, yet the whole city feels like one big construction project at the moment. One example of Oslo’s past meeting its future.

Minnesota’s Cock ESP freaked the hell out of everybody with their 10-minute set, during the festival-opening Oya Club night. The show was at Bla, the long-running DIY jazz venue that also hosts G-Ha and Olanskii’s Sunkissed party.

After coming out draped in a burka and a Confederate flag, Cock ESP’s “vocalist” (I say that term loosely) proceeded to strip down to a teddy and maul the crowd with a metal stage barrier. At least one patron left with a bloody nose.

One great thing about Oya was the total randomness with which the bands seemed to be scheduled. No lesser icons then the Boredoms performed for a slim crowd just moments after the gate opened on the first day of the festival proper.

Tinariwen is a decades-old band of Tuareg nomads from Mali who have been playing a shitload of international music festivals the past few summers. Their bluesy desert music sounded great as it bounced between the main Enga stage and a nearby hill.

This kid was feeling the hell out of Tinariwen. I’ve never seen such a young child watch musicians so intently.

Norway’s hotly tipped Lionheart Brothers towed the line between shoegazing and cock-rock. They were fun to take pictures of but not to listen to.

At least they brought out members of Jaga Jazzist, a much better Norwegian band not included on this year’s festival lineup.

The homeboy Schnipper from The Fader. He may look unenthusiastic but this kid loves being in photographs. In successively remote levels of background are Oya attendees, gawkers on a highway ramp and the port of Oslo.

Oslofjord (which is actually not a proper fjord) is home to dozens of picturesque islands—most of them less than a ten-minute ferry ride from downtown.

Many, including this one called Bleikoya, are dotted with Cape Cod-like cottages originally built for working class residents by the Norwegian government.

Oya founder Claes Olsen breaks it down, Bleikoya style. Oya means island, BTW.

Justice settle into their extended mix of Rage Against The Machine’s “Killing in the Name Of.”

Kim Hiorthoy, one of our favorite Norwegian artists, gets swivey with it at local nightspot Mono.

Joakim from local label Smalltown Supersound relaxes after some eggs and bacon at Teddy’s Soft Bar, Oslo’s number one hangover improvement facility.

Bjorn Torske looks like a cross between every Nordic tennis player from the ‘80s: Boris Becker meets Stefan Edberg, with a splash of Bjorn Borg (minus the headband and untamed mane, of course).

Torske’s Oya set resembled a circus, with about 12 different performers in various states of freakout while Torske ambled around the stage whispering directions in everyone’s ear. With the possible exception of NIN (who unfortunately went un-photographed) it was the best 40 minutes of the fest.

That’s Aggie from the Norwegian pop group Frost, inciting the crowd during Bjorn Torske. The Clara Bow/flapper look she was rocking was off the chain!

Is this kid crying because his mommy dressed him in a shirt that says “Disco Sucks” or because some strange American guy with a shitty digital camera was trying to take a picture of it?

On second thought, leaving the kid at home with grandma might have been a good idea.

Shunda K of Yo Majesty shuts shit down on the Vika stage.