The seventh NorthSide music festival kicked off in Aarhus yesterday and the organisers had clearly not done enough to appease Frey, the Norse god of weather.
As I entered the site, lightning flashed, thunder clapped – and the rain started. It didn’t really let up the whole time I was there, and I thanked the stars I’d had a flash of inspiration earlier in the day leading to the purchase of a pair of green wellies.
Here comes the sun?
On the green stage, Swedish soul/pop diva Veronica Maggio put on a spirited show that did much to lift the mood.
The young Swede was dressed more for the beach than for the current conditions, with a skimpy sun top, blue mini-skirt and platforms. During the set, she played her recent hit single ‘Jag kommer’, which received appreciative cheers from the increasingly wet audience.
Primus inter pares
Next up – and for me at least the highlight of the day – was American power-trio Primus. The band hails from San Francisco and have a number of years under their belt, as they were formed in 1984.
Bowler-hatted, goateed, Mephisto-like lead singer and virtuoso bassist Les Claypool is the driving force, but he’s ably backed by guitarist Larry LaLonde and drummer Tim Alexander. Claypool’s custom-built bass is often used like a lead guitar – when did you last see a bass with a whammy bar?
As well as jaw-dropping bass playing, he writes thought-provoking lyrics, although these were often lost in the mix. One of the songs was about the plight of the salmon fishing industry in southern California and then came the anti-war anthem ‘Too many puppies’, for which Claypool donned a pig’s mask.
The band also had some pretty creative graphics behind them during their performance, with grotesque cartoon figures reflecting the general paranoia of the songs.
The rain was coming down in stair rods by this time – it’s a pretty surreal experience to see your beer splashing out of your glass every time a raindrop hits.
The final act that I caught was a US hip-hop/rap duo called Run The Jewels. I must confess that this is a musical genre that I’m not usually a fan of, but somehow it seemed to fit and the two protagonists, rapper Killer Mike and El-P on rap and turntables, cooked up a storm.
There was a political dimension to some of their songs and they even managed to get a cheer from the crowd by referencing the recent UK election and name-checking Jeremy Corbyn!
Monks on the prowl
Incredibly, spirits among the crowd remained high despite the torrential rain. Most people were equipped for it, with wellies and either ponchos or hooded raincoats. The whole panorama gave rise to the somewhat disturbing visual image of a slightly sinister monastic order on a day out.
By now, rising damp and dampening spirits were taking their toll, so I headed for home and dry clothes.
It’s all pretty ‘right on’
Tomorrow is another day, and Northside is not only about music. It is probably the festival in Denmark that is most like Glastonbury in ethos.
There is emphasis on sustainability, from recycling the contents of the toilets to the vast armies of can and bottle collectors who ensure the area is litter-free.
The food is organic, Meyers Køkken has a stand, there is a gin club, wine and champagne bar – and, of course, craft beer. Even their regular Tuborg is the organic variety.
I’m looking forward to re-entering the fray on Saturday – with dry clothes!