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Monica and Terje in camp


Our driver - Helena


The newbie himself


Happy campers out of the mud


Raving mad...


Colony 5


Thomas in front of our tent


Chilling in the beertent


Expensive beer though...


The crowd at Ministry


Ministry


The crowd at Soulfly


Back to the primitive!


Max Cavalera


The beach


Lovely spot


Greetings From an Arvika-newbie
- by Terje Pedersen-


The weekend from 10-12th of July I was, at the ripe old age of, well never mind, introduced to the joys of outdoors festival living. As one who has preferred his festivals and concerts to be indoors, or at least with access to reasonable plumbing and/or my own bedroom, or barring that, at least roomservice, I was a tad skeptical. But never mind not being keen on tentlife, I was determined to brave the elements and go for it. It of course helped that my girlfriend Monica, aka Catgirl, had scored two free tickets. Without those we would most likely have stayed home, both of us being more or less flat broke. But now we had to go. Whoo ho... I think. At least we had access to backstage toilets and showers and stuff...

To my fortune, we had several breaks in addition to the backstage tickets that made the experience a very pleasurable one. The first one arrived in the form of one of Catgirls friends, actually the one who was loaning us her tent. She had decided at the last minute to go to Arvika, and would be driving, and would we be interested in joining her. Let's see, not having to pay large amounts of money for a bus ticket and sit on a cramped, hot bus for hours, so yeah, I think it was an easy choice... We had a very pleasant drive, during which I bought a very comfy lawnchair. Yess!

The second break came because some friends of ours had gone down to Arvika the day before, and had agreed to set up our tent for us. But that wasn't the break, although you would think so. No, the lucky thing was that they hadn't set it up, and there was no more room at the original campsite. We were subsequently directed to a new campsite, situated on a field beside a gas station. This field was beautiful, with green grass and plenty of room. And I can tell you it was in pretty good shape even after we left. Which was in very strong contrast to the original campsite, which was left a veritable mudpit.

The first actual music experience of the festival we had sitting outside the main entrance waiting for our friends to bring us our tent, and clearly heard the ethereal voice of Bjørk performing on the main stage, Vintergatan, just inside the gates. Although Bjørk is not my favourite artist, it gave me a small chill to be sitting casually like this and listening...

We then then proceeded to our campsite. It had filled up considerably, and we found ourselves pitching our tent in a small incline. Or rather Monica was pitching the tent, as I have as much experience setting up tents as I have flying to the moon. But she has done this many many times before, and did it in record time, leaving us with a solid structure that would prove to be very cozy. That is, after we had moved it to the top of the small incline that funneled the rain coming down the first night right underneath our tent. We had to move a couple of other tents a bit to the side to make room for our rather big tent. Sorry guys, but it had to be done. Now we could really relax.

Before we arrived we had determined that the bands we really wanted to see on Thursday was Chicks on Speed and Gothminister. Chicks on Speed because they are cool, and Gothminister because they are cool and we know them. So we spent the evening up to that chatting and drinking outside our tent. When we finally drifted off to the festival area later, CoS had already started, so we stopped by them for a little while before tracking down Lyran, the stage where Gothminister were playing. And what a crowd they attracted!! Lyran is a fairly small stage, the smallest of the festival I believe, and is located in a round wooden structure with railings around the open parts. Well, people were actually climbing onto the railings and onto the structure to get a better look at the band. We managed to squeeze our way in to about the middle of the floor, and could actually see the band. I also thought I recognized the guy standing right in front of us, and yes, it was a good friend of ours. Hello Truls, and sorry that we bailed on you when you went to the bathroom. The funny thing is that when we met Bjørn, the vocalist in Gothminister, and his girlfriend the day after, we told them what a crowd they had attracted, and he was very pleased because he had only seen the first few rows of people and had no idea how many that actually had turned up...

On Friday, after the aforementioned moving of the tent, we decided that we would go into the town of Arvika to do a little shopping, because we needed, let's see, food and oh yes, alcohol. The weather turned out to be beautiful, and after a trek through the various stores filling up supplies we decided to go for a swim. It may sound mundane to you, but I can tell you apart from one Sunday a couple of months ago, the last time I went swimming voluntarily was about 15 years ago, so it was a big deal for me. We didn't bring any swimwear either of us, so it was boxershorts for me and g-string panties for Monica. But it was a very nice swim, and it cooled us down good. But we took a taxi back anyway... I also discovered that two of my friends, Karen and Thomas, were actually staying in the tent directly behind us. It's a small world.

On Friday evening we had some bands lined up that we wanted to see, and the first one we actually managed to get to was Colony 5, a Swedish synth band performing on Andromeda, a pretty small stage as well. But they are a tight electronica band, and did a very good show. Here we met Christer, the singer in a Norwegian synthband called In Vein, and I jokingly asked him if he were checking out the competition. Colony 5 is in the same category as In Vein, and also has some of the same themes in both music and lyrics, although for my money In Vein is way better, in the variation in both music and the singing. I of course told Christer so, and he seemed to be both pleased and a little embarrased.

The next band I wanted to check out was DAF, an old German electronica band still going strong, but unfortunately one of the members broke his hand right before the festival and they had to cancel. What a shame, although it must be said that the recent version of DAF is not quite up to their former glory, I think. So we decided to eat, and check out the beertent. Unlike Roskilde, you can't drink beer while attending the concerts, so all alcohol must be consumed either on the campsites or in specially designated areas. And also unlike Roskilde, the prices are very high and the variation is very limited. And that goes for both food and beer. But while in the beertent we could check out HIM, a finnish Gothband which had been rescheduled at the last minute to fill in for DAF. We could check out this very pretentious band while sipping beer because the stage they were performing on, Vintergatan, is located just below the beer-area. From there, by way of watching Pain Solution, a performance artist which at that moment was suspended in the air by hooks inserted in his knees, we made our way to the highlight of Fridays concerts, Ministry.

Ministry is one of the originators of so-called industrial music, and with this concert they really showed us how it should be done. My favourite thing is Al Jourgensen with his mike stand, which is a cross between a mike and the handles of a motorcycle. When he leans on it and starts to gesticulate at the audience, it reminds me of The Humungus, the leader of the bad guys from Mad Max II with the Hockey mask that gesticulates and shouts nonsense. But the concert itself was unbelievable tight and focused, and one thing they always uses to great effect is a videoscreen which shows images and films that somehow illustrate their lyrics. After Ministry we decided to call it a night and went back to the tent. I can also assure you that the sausages that the guy with the cart tries to pass off as Chorizo was NOT Chorizo...

Saturday morning came and after a slight rain in the early morning it settled to an overcast day, and I crawled out of the tent while Monica slept in. She had not been feeling very well and hoped some more sleep would help. I had some breakfast, and settled in my chair outside and was amazed that some of our friends around us had actually made it to a McDonalds in their state of hangover. Later in the afternoon, when we were gathered outside drinking and talking, it started to rain, and since we had bought a large piece of canvas that we didn't need now that we had moved our tent, we decided to build a party tent with it. So armed with a knife, Monica and me made our way into the forest and started cutting down small trees. Probably illegal, but what the heck. I don't think that was the worst thing that happened to the woods during the weekend, I can tell you. Although not very pretty, it served it's purpose and kept us out of the rain while waiting for one of the weekend's highlights, namely Soulfly. Being a big Sepultura fan, I had heard just enough of Soulfly to really look forward to this concert. With Max Cavalera's unique voice and the combination of latin sounds and metal, it really was brilliant. My favourite moment was when the stagehands brought out four big drums onto the stage, and when you knew that this was going to be a song played solely on those drums, it sent a chill down my spine. One of the best concerts of the weekend, no doubt about it.

We also managed to get into the artists' backstage area, where the lines for the toilets were considerably shorter, and sat down for a drink. Both Ricochets and J R Ewing were finished with their concerts and were relaxing. After saying hi we drifted towards the beer area again, where we hooked up with an alarming amount of familiar faces. I can tell you one thing though, Håkan Hellstrøm gigs never seem to end... One funny incident though, As I was leaving the toilet area, I spotted Bjørn from Gothminister stumbling out from a portapotty with his girlfriend. I have heard of the Mile high club for airplanes, but never of a portapotty club for festivals...

At this point Monica felt even worse than the day before and I accompanied her back to our tent. I tried to stay with her, but was firmly told to go enjoy myself while she went to sleep. I reluctantly left, but only to see one of my favourite synth bands apart from Depeche Mode, Mesh. They also played on Vintergatan, the largest stage, and I stood right before the stage and soaked it all up. They played most of my favourites, and the vocals was some of the cleanest I've ever heard from them. Brilliant concert. I almost had a tear in my eye during Scares Me, one of my absolute favourite songs.

I finished the evening with a visit to Apollo, in which The Ralph Myers and Jack Herren band were playing. They have been described as Norway's best liveacts, and when you see them you can understand why. What really comes across during concerts is their enormous enjoyment on stage. You can really see that they enjoy themselves while playing, and are not afraid to give it their all. Their unique percussion combo, with one guy manning a drumkit, and the other attacking several bongodrums and other drums while their synthman handles the keybord, leaves a very distinctive sound. But as great as it is, after four or five songs I find it a little bit repetetive, and leaves for the homecamp. I try the "Chorizo" again and no, still not impressed. But it stills the hunger. Coming back to the tent I don't want to go to bed yet, so I sit alone in our partytent drinking beer, but soon me and some of our neighbours are discussing music and drinking, and someone brings out a portable stereo and plays Mesh - they had been to the concert too... But when they decide to go to the road and dance (don't ask me!!) I decide it's time to go to bed, and climb into our tent, miraculously managing it without waking up Monica.

Sunday, and the festival is over. It is hot, very hot, and we get up early, mainly because it's impossible to stay in the sauna-like tent any longer. Before we do the only thing left, which is to pack up our stuff, we decide we need one last trip to the beach for a swim. The funny thing is, when we walked through the camp, we thought we were headed for a different beach than last time. But as we came closer we recognized the exact same place we had gone to from Arvika town. We had only been going in a circle then...And the water is sooo nice...

While getting out of the water, this old norwegian hippie is on the road offering us some weed, and when we decline, he keeps on about how we should keep him company and how he has offered everyone he has met along the way his homegrown stuff. We have to smile when he also offers it to two elderly ladies walking by, and they are very polite to him, although one of them obviously doesn't understand what he is trying to give them. We can actually hear her going "Oooh" when her friend explains it to her while walking away... We head back to camp, and start packing up. A small crisis appears when we are unable to contact our ride home, and just have to sit around waiting to hear from her. Fortunately she shows up eventually, and explains that her cell phone went missing the night before. Apparently there was some serious partying going on... After some food in Arvika, and hooking up with some of of our driver Helena's friends, we start the drive home, by way of another beach where the girls all cool down from the sweltering heat with a dip in the soothing lake. We reach home pleasantly early in the afternoon, and decide to meet up at So What later.

In conclusion I feel lucky that my initiation into the world of festivalgoing was a relatively easy one. After three nights in a tent I could easily have kept it going for several more days, which will happen next year when I join Catgirl at Roskilde. That will be the real test, spending three times the amount of time in the tent, while being subjected to the whims of Danish weather. But I really look forward to it, and hope to meet some of you there at Roskilde in 2004. Until then take care.

Terje

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