What We Learned At Sweden’s Way Out West Festival

Way Out West is a three day festival in Gothenburg, Sweden. It’s so named because it’s as far west as you can get in the country but it’s an excruciating 90 minutes on Ryanair east of England. We went to try it out and see if it’s worth you swapping the V ticket for a WOW ticket and suffering Michael O’Leary’s extended sales pitch (scratchcards? Fake cigarettes? Rancid sandwiches?) next year, and on the whole we’d have to say very much so.

Pavement – pic (and all pics): Marcus Mays

Set in a beautiful park in the city centre it features a pretty good line-up for such a small capacity (think Pavement, The Chemical Brothers, La Roux, The xx, LCD Soundsystem, The Radio Dept., The National if this year is anything to go by) followed by a network of nightclubs showcasing the likes of Caribou, Fool’s Gold and Sleigh Bells after dark.

The Radio Dept
The Radio Dept.

The National
The National

Despite its tender age (4 years and counting), it’s fast establishing itself as a key date in the Euro festival calendar. So this is what we learnt at Way Out West 2010…

The further north in Europe you go the more beautiful the festival site
While Summercase took place on a concrete plateau and Benicassim punters congregate on asphalt, Norway’s Oya rages hard in a medieval park by a lake and Way Out West unfolds in a lush forest than boasts more green stuff than Wu Tang Clan’s rider.

The Stooges might be 800 shows into their reunion but they’re still awesome
Is there a festival left on Johnny Borrell’s green earth that hasn’t seen Iggy parade his grizzled, David Dickinson-post-lipo torso across the stage? Probably not. They’re probably singing ‘Search And Destroy’ in the deepest darkest Amazon right now. But by the time he and the remaining Stooges reach ‘No Fun’ it doesn’t seem to matter.

Iggy Pop

Orchestras make everything much better
While the addition of the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra had a tendency to subdue some moments of The Soundtrack Of Our Lives’ early set, turning the epic moments a little Sergio Leone, and at times swamped Ebbot Lundberg’s growl, on the whole it proved that any band can be improved with the addition of a conductor and twenty-odd classical musicians. Well, maybe not Fucked Up. But most.

Everyone deserves porcelain loos
The good thing about a festival capped at 25,000 is it ain’t hard to match bursting bums with decent receptacles. None of the Glasto shitpits or Reading’s flaming portapotties here.

Lykke Li is about to make a dramatic comeback
She’s nearly done with her new album and is plotting UK shows and if her Saturday night headline slot is anything to go by she’ll be raising the bar somewhat. Dressed in floating, spangly, studded, biker-gone-goth-nymph gear and darting around a forest of flowing drapes she was a revelation, her show veering from tribal Fever Ray-esque moodiness to balls-out rock noise replete with kazoo solos and a cover of The Fugees’ ‘Ready Or Not’ that saw her do a Madonna and get very close with her female backing singer.

Stick the VIP area across a lake in another county and the liggers really won’t leave
Kirsten Dunst, Kate Bosworth and Alexander Skarsgard from True Blood spent more time in the backstage bar both days than the furniture. Still, and sorry to mention him again, but at least Dunst was Borrell-free.

Backstage at Way Out West

Swedish people are really really paranoid about their hearing
They’ll stick luminous plugs in their ears if they so much as sniff a speaker stack within 500 metres, and run a cord from them around their neck for fear of the things falling out. I suppose they’ll get the last laugh in twenty five years when the rest of us can’t get the sound of Fuck Buttons out of our ear canals.

We’re really going to miss LCD Soundsystem
If you’ve seen them this year you’ll know what we mean.

LCD Soundsystem