Search The Line of Best Fit
Search The Line of Best Fit

Way Out West 2014: Day 1

08 August 2014, 12:01 | Written by Lauren Down

​Returning to Gothenburg after a 2 year break is like meeting up with a dear old friend; it’s like you’ve never been apart. Walking through its cobbled streets and hopping over the low bridges that cut through its winding canal system, everything is at once familiar and new. The same goes for the Way Out West Festival site in Slottsskogen Park - an intimate place where the two main stages essentially sit back to back and the third largest finds itself separated by a little lake, it’s hard to believe it holds 25,000 people a day. Opening its gates to an already sunburnt crowd, we delve into Thursday’s bill.

Neneh Cherry. Photograph by Sonny MalhotraNeneh Cherry. Photograph by Sonny Malhotra

Swedish trio DNKL were high up on our list of priorities for the weekend but we arrived on site too late to catch their particular brand of bold noir pop and so Neneh Cherry took their place as the first thing on our list for Thursday. The Swedish born “Buffalo Stance” lady was at the front of cutting edge pop in the 80s and 90s before delving into more left field experiments. This year’s Blank Project was a wonderful experiment in modern free jazz with licks of dub and reverb crafted perfectly by the hand’s of Four Tet man Kieran Hebden.

Walking on stage with an unflappable grace and confidence, she opens with the minimal, powerful stirs of “Across The Sea” before RocketNumberNine’s bass driven presence makes itself known. She’s a captivating performer but as her set progresses it becomes rapidly apparent there is something wrong: it’s the sound, the bass creeps in and never goes away - drowning out her voice with an aggressive dirge of electronic noise. We try and relocate to get a better spot but it doesn’t help. It’s not Neneh’s fault, but Way Out West is off to a disappointing start.

The National. Photograph by Sonny MalhotraThe National. Photograph by Sonny Malhotra

The National soon turn things around. Arriving at the Azalea stage (via Motörhead, because who wouldn’t want to see Lemmy and Mikkey Dee perform “Ace of Spades”) to the sounds of Trouble Will Find Me featured “Don’t Swallow The Cap” is about as perfect as moments come. Walking straight to the barrier through a sparse but enraptured crowd, a double hitter of “I Should Live in Salt” and “Bloodbuzz Ohio” follow - the brothers Dessner flanking frontman Matt Berningher on either side as he delivers a set of career highlights in that distinctive baritone. It’s not the most emotionally intense performance from the Ohio five-piece but a heartbreakingly bitter rendition of “Squalor Victoria” more than makes up for that.

Motörhead Crowd. Photograph by Sonny Malhotra.Motörhead Crowd. Photograph by Sonny Malhotra.Motörhead. by Sonny MalhotraMotörhead. by Sonny Malhotra

Over on the Linné stage Joey Bada$$ draws the hip hop heads whilst headline heavy weights Queens of The Stone Age draw the rockers amongst us; delivering a raucous set that takes in an ecstatic “Feel Good Hit of The Summer”, a sprawling indulgent and deafening outing of “My God Is The Sun”, a mosh pit inducing “Little Sister”, a frenzied almost surreal “No One Knows” and an epic set closer in “Go With The Flow” whose video I remember so perfectly from teenage days spent watching MTV2.

Queens of The Stone Age. Photograph by Sonny MalhotraQueens of The Stone Age. Photograph by Sonny Malhotra

Abandoning the park for Gothenburg’s late night Stay Out West offering we arrive at a rammed Trädgår’n Lilla Scen for Liverpool duo Forest Swords. 2013’s Engravings was a beautifully textured, gauzy record and we get much the same this evening. It’s a focussed, tightly wound exploration into the limits of the pair’s instruments, dragging up organic sounds from electronic depths and hypnotising the audience with their kaleidoscopic visuals. We leave in a state of wonder, ready for tomorrow and another incredible array of acts.

Joey Bada$$. Photograph by Sonny MalhotraJoey Bada$$. Photograph by Sonny Malhotra

All photographs taken by Sonny Malhotra.

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