Team Poule spent the past weekend in Sweden, enjoying some of the finest music under the sunny Göteborg skies: buckets of roses, disgusted audiences and Swedes losing control - Way Out West had it all . And really, if you ever look for an excuse to make a trip up the Western Swedish coast line, this is the time to do it. Göteborg is a very nice city, second biggest after Stockholm, and the countryside - oh my: beaches like the Mediterranean and I even saw some proper palm trees. No shit. The festival itself however is held in the Slottskogen park in the heart of the city of Göteborg and even includes a small zoo with very polite penguins and seals. This year's head liners included some rather big names like Röyksopp & Robyn, Outkast, Mos Def slash Yasiin Bey, The National and Swedish legend Veronica Maggio.
Now, this Poule has been a big fan of Outkast for a very long time and it feels like they have sort of always been around in one form or the other, so accordingly the show was part of the 20th anniversary tour of the ATLiens. That is twenty years. Music wise it was an absolute treat and Andre 3000 and Big Boi certainly don't make the impression of being almost 40 years old, playing the classics like Aquamini, B.O.B. and Art Of Storytelling as well as their hits Ms Jackson, Hey Ya and so on. It was great!
However, towards the end of their set, they started showing pictures of half-naked women and played a video of a girl stripping on their video wall and people started getting seriously angry and those who could left disgustedly. The whole incident created some stir in the Swedish media and even led the festival organization to declare that they are against "sexism in all forms and understand the criticism" but that they would "not believe in censorship". The show was excellent however, and you could tell that Outkast certainly have a long history to look back on while always reinventing themselves.
Now, apparently though, the controlled Swedish audience does have a very strong opinion on what they think is right and wrong. Later, at a DJ set, the whole crowd suddenly started booing and forced the DJ to skip that song. It really has been a rather correct, sustainable and very professional festival while still delivering the typical festival vibe. The beer was local and the schedule was only available via the festival app - not on paper. Also, the food stalls were all vegetarian. Which unsurprisingly did not lead to great excitement with Motörhead.
So, the next day saw Mos Def play a very energetic set. However, whether impressed by last nights happenings during Outkast's show or not part of his Yasiin Bey setup anymore, he did not play his hit song Ms Fat Booty - instead, he came up on stage with a bucket of roses and went on throwing them into the audience and all across the stage. Unlike Outkast, he did not have a video wall in the back but only a DJ booth placed in the middle of the stage, nicely decorated with African patterns. His 2009 album The Ecstatic must be one of Team Poule's favorite albums of all times, and finally seeing this man on a stage was amazing. In a very stripped down setup, just Yasiin and his DJ, it actually felt like he was filling the stage - comes with Golden Globe nominations I guess. Great presence, great energy.
After the Outkast experience and a prayer-including Mos Def set followed what the Swedish audience actually did celebrate like nothing else: Röyksopp and national treasure Robyn. They played the closing set at the main stage Flamingo, all happening under the cool somewhat cloudy sky and the everything illuminating supermoon, truly epic, I mean look below. Great light, great energy.
The festival only really comes to life after midnight though. When the last concert at Slottskogen is played, shows continue with Stay Out West in clubs all around the city. Taking you from the regular night club, through high class jazz clubs and theaters as far as to the scenery of the Göteborg Film Studios. A really spectacular range of venues, and all that after a whole day at Slottskogen park.
Team Poule's hot tip Zhala played a banging almost techno set in a giant hall at the Göteborg Film Studios. Being the first signing to Robyn's Konichiwa Records, Zhala did actually bring Robyn herself up on the stage for the last song. One of the coolest concerts this Poule has ever attended. Never seen so many Swedes losing it like crazy. You know how everyone likes to keep a polite distance to the person in front, the second Robyn set a foot on stage, it looked as if the room suddenly was only half-full because everyone rushed up front. The moment of the festival. Crazy good. Attached is said last song, Prophet. Featuring Robyn. What a banger this is.
It was Team Poule's first time at Way Out West - in its 8th year. It feels a bit like they had line-ups in past years that were a bit more up the Poule's alley. Still, Blood Orange played a very amazing gig on a super sunny Friday afternoon, inside a sweating tent. Yes, Swedish summers can be very hot indeed. And take Icona Pop for instance who played the smaller main stag Azalea, making what must have been 10.000 Swedes dance. But then there were also Jungle who played in a club during Stay Out West - and with around 27.000 people on each of the three festival days, those Stay Out West venues tend to be full quite fast, so Team Poule sadly missed that. While having this truly great range of night time venues, you might find yourself traveling there for half an hour and find yourself in line not getting in. It's the way it goes though and more people got in then didn't I reckon. The festival app does provide a quite accurate and timely gauge of how full the Stay Out West venues are.
Other great gigs however were just booked at awkward hours. Jamie xx for example played at 15h00, Real Estate at 1h30 at night. Surely not the festivals bookers first choice I reckon. So in all, Way Out West is an amazing experience but it felt a bit like this year's schedule only gave a glimpse of what could go down. That said, if this great fun during the three days of the festival have only been the tip of the ice berg, Way Out West might well be one of the if not the greatest festival in Europe. If you will have us, Team Poule will be back for more next year.