Holiday in Cambodia
By Raoul Hernandez, 1:26PM, Mon. Feb. 25, 2008
OPEN IMAGE GALLERY
“They’re like every band in San Francisco right now,” smiled Jello Biafra dismissively.
He should know. No one canvassed the musical talent more thoroughly at by:Larm this past weekend in Oslo than the decade-old Norwegian music festival’s 2008 keynote speaker, who was everywhere, and always down front. He sang the praises of Oslo’s coastal neighbor, Bergen, but three young Finnish girls Ramonesing the “Blitzkrieg Bop” just weren’t melting the arctic circle off the professional raconteur’s Dead Kennedys heart. Much better, he touted, were Norway’s Cyaneed, four women doing what Sleater-Kinney did in three. And convincingly so, Scandinavian so: blindingly blonde.
Stalingrad Cowgirls, though, as black (hair) and white (complexion) as early Joan Jett (open the photo gallery above), multiplied their exuberant power of three into something more universal: exploding heart youth. They made you ache high school in all its struggling nonconformity. Henna Vaarala, whose perfectly cut features recalled the dark queen of Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, split the difference on bass between sisters Enni and Riina Kivelä, frontwoman and backbeat respectively. Finland’s tiny town of Salla kisses polar extremes by mere kilometers in its Stalingrad Cowgirls. Sing it:
“We come from the land of the ice and snow, from the midnight sun where the hot springs blow….”
by:Larm’s 190 South by Southwest-style performances went down in Oslo’s centrally located club cluster Thursday, Friday, Saturday nights – on time and with expert sound – the town's native metal integrated into all things Swedish (Lykke Li), Danish (This Floor is Made of Lava), and Icelandic (FM Belfast). Nine out of 10 festival acts were as Norwegian (Serena Maneesh) as the oaken burial vessels in Oslo’s hallowed Viking Ships Museum.
7 Norwegian Hot Spots
Can-like quartet set their controls for the heart of the sun.
SXSW 2008 showcasers shield their fivepiece prog from Mars Volta’s über spazz, only is that an oboe equivalent of the keytar?
Blue collar thrash worth its frontman’s 1,000-yard Ronnie James Dio glare.
Muscled Brit-pop guested on keyboards by producer Cato Salsa.
Truls & the Trees
Cranberries meet Värttinä on a stage crammed with fiddle, accordion, sax, bouzouki, etc.
Gluecifer’s Captain Poon rides explosive Hellacopters rock to No. 1.
Unrelenting DFA-like duo strobes Creosote rock back to the Stone Age.
72 hours in Oslo, somehow bookended by Rodrigo y Gabriela’s flamenco meltdown of “Wish You Were Here” at La Zona Rosa two Saturdays ago and the same song busked by an anonymous duo on the streets of Norway’s capital one week later.
Valhalla, I am coming.