Flying into Kristiansand over an archipelago of green isles jutting into the sea is the most spectacular way to approach any festival.
Situated on Norway’s southern peninsula of Tromya, near the summer city of Arendal, I camped in pine woods that led down to beaches lapped by an icy blue sea for the inaugural Hove festival.
18,000 other festival goers had congregated to soak up this jamboree. Besides an impressive lineup and scenery, what made Hove unique was its focus on becoming the first carbon neutral festival, and as a test bed where green practices could ferment.
With bands not starting until mid afternoon, lazy mornings gave way to bright afternoons, followed by endless evenings. Nordic nights are made for partying, and one of the benefits of being so far north is that you can check your watch at 11pm to find its still daylight. The long days do give ample opportunity to explore . There was a skate park, a purpose built mountain bike range, and a library within the festival walls in case you needed to retreat from it all.
And when you werent listening to bands you could also have taken time out to lark in the woods with the Anger Banger, a massive metal art installation, which you were invited to thwack. Pulsating drum rhythms could be heard emanating from this hunk of junk all night long, and rumour had it that Arcade Fire gave it a go straight after their set in the wee hours, but no-one knew who they were.
Street art played a big role at the festival with artists from all over Norway being invited down to leave their trademarks on the hoardings around the site. This year London based graffiti artist and graphic designer, the inimitable Ian Stevenson, created Hove’s logo and assorted cartoon insignias that adorned the programme and other merchandise.
He was on site all weekend, with pen in hand, tagging the site and adorning its temporary structures with crazy faces, curious questions, and weird shape shifting characters. It was like watching a gallery unfold before your eyes, and a little disconcerting as your scenery and bearings kept changing – great, when you have only got three days to navigate your way around Norway’s biggest festival
Dressed head to toe in black I felt at one with Interpol who were headlining. But the lackluster, somber mood the New Yorkers exuded left me under whelmed. The crowd jigged about, nodded their head in unison, but it was far from the romantic, post punk glory that have earned Interpol their status
Houston hip-hop phenomenon Chamillionaire was on the main stage wowing the plus size clothing crew. The benevolent rappers, dragged three wannabe Eminems on stage, and invited them to prove their mettle by giving them 16 bars of music and telling them to freestyle. The crowd went nuts, as these Norwegian kids rapped in perfect street style and professed their undying love for the Notorious B I G. Wonderful to watch, if a little incongruous.
Sunny cloudless days mean that the nights in Norway are freezing. I should have realized that those cream and navy wooly jumpers the country is renowned for are not just folklore costumes but actually have a practical purpose. As it was, I turned in early in search of warmth, tripping home through pine forests, and watching out for trolls.