">The By:Larm Report
a report of my trip to the By:Larm Festival February 2012 in Oslo by Yang Yu</a>
== By:Larm ==
With estimated 1800 visitors, ca. 450 delegates from all over the world and 164 artist groups (about 40% non-Norwegians), the 15th By:Larm in Oslo 2012 truely has become one of the biggest industry events of Scandinavian music. Seminars and conferences at daytime and show case concerts and festival program in the nights, between 16-18 February 2012, By:Larm has turned the city into a nordic metropolis of music. Some even see it as the SXSW of nordic music.
The whole festival seemed to be very well organized when I started to check out the program online before I left China and this impression was confirmed as I checked in and also later at the concerts and conference events.
Well prepared was also all kind of information supply, starting with the official website that offered detailed and extensive information about participating bands, delegates, conferences and meetings, venues and facilities, etc. At the information booth one can pick all kind of flyers and information handbooks such as "A poor man's connoisseur..." which introduced the city Oslo on its touristic and free-time activity aspects. What I find very useful was the daily news paper "By:Larm News" which offered very detailed background information about shows, seminars and activities of the festival.
The center of By:Larm was at Hotel Christiania where they basically occupied two stories for festival activities and room facilities for most of the seminars, workshops and conferences vary from small rooms for 30 people to bigger halls with over 100 people capacity. The main meet and greet place was the bar and cafe area on the second floor where delegates would sit down and chat for a drink or so. It is very easy to bump into people I just met at other occasions or simply get know new contacts.
== The Meetings ==
The offers for seminars, conferences etc. was very big, it all sound so interesting that I would have participated in all sessions in English if I had the time.
The seminars of MusicAlly by host Sarah Lewine for example were very interesting and useful for me. I participated on two or three and took notes about tricks and suggestions introduced to each topic. And the "Free Ride..." book discussion session with author Robert Levine and other conferences dealing with the bigger topic on business issues facing internet possibilities such as downloads and streaming.
Anyway, most of the content of the conference programs I attended was quite mind opening. Altogether the seminar and conference program was very well organized, even better compared to the PopKomm in Berlin, where I attended to do a presentation about Chinese rock some years ago.
The most interesting activity to me at By:Larm was Anders Odden's "Black Metal Bus Tour" which originally was initiated for Inferno Festival. He decided to do it again for this year's By:Larm and I was surprised how many delegates assigned to this tour.
Anders was very good as tour guide, since he was there with the early black metal crowd in the beginning days of early 90's with his death metal band Cadaver, he has a lot insights and stories to tell. His main aim is to correct all those false tales about the legendary Euronymous and the black metal background and it was important to him to tell the true story from his own perspective and views.
What is interesting about it is that he also told a lot about the social background of Oslo or Norway of that time. For example that there was only one radio station and one TV station and almost no rock music exposure on mainstream media etc. He has a unique way how to put things in his own humor so it all was both very informative and entertaining. The tour brought us first up to the hill where that famous burned down chapel stands now rebuild anew, next to the famous snow slight ramp and a breath taking view over Oslo with the sea shores afar. Then we went to the former record store of Euronymous not far from the city center and the last stop was Neseblod, the black metal museum. The whole tour took from 8am to ca. 2pm.
== The Concerts ==
First of all, I have to admit, I m really impressed by the logistical ability of the festival organization to keep all concert schedules on time and tidy. Basically, most gigs were on 30min. sets with another 30min. set change, giving the visitor enough time to bump between different venues all not too far from each other to catch up their favorite bands at the same night. And I m surprised how many good venues there are in Oslo, Rockefeller to begin with, this huge live house complex alone offers 3 regular stage facilities in it. And security everywhere are very pleasantly professional and friendly.
On the first festival night, I went to Rockefeller Annex to see the metalcore band Torch. They fully convinced me with their explosive energy on stage, my first thought was, they have to come to China one day!
Next check out was the Danish indie rock band WhoMadeWho at Stratos and this venue is totally true to its name. It is on top of that high building where you can have a beautiful view over Oslo. I didn't know this band before but I really enjoyed their driving but easy going music.
In 2007 we did a show with the Norwegian stoner metal band El Caco and I was very happy to see them being listed in the concert program. I have to go and see them at Sentrum Scene. Their set was great and convincing, the trio didnt go for too much stage acting but their driving music had a strong expression of its own and the picturesque light show did a good round up, too. Actually I didn't had the opportunity to really see their live performance the last time they played on our show since I was working on different issues of the show and barely had time to check out the performing bands. So here in Oslo, I finally witnessed their live show. I met the vocalist Osa after the show at the back stage and he was quite surprise to see me there.
In 2011 we also promoted the Beijing show for The Raveonettes. But since i spend too much time chatting with with Osa of El Caco in Sentrum Scene, i missed their show when i came back to Rockefeller. At least i met them again at back stage to say hello.
On the 2nd festival day, I have been very busy at day time and in the evening back to hotel I needed to spend time working on ongoing projects and answering emails. So in the end I decided not to go to any concert and rather have an early rest.
On the last festival night, my main interest was the metal concert organized by Dagbladet at Sentrum Scene. The opening act was the black metal band Astaroth, they didnt sound as harsh as expected. They build up some sort of an altar table in front of the drum riser with candels and goat skull and all, a good show both visual and sound wise, followed by the melodic death metal combo Execration who again was rather melodic than pure death metal brutality.
A big surprise was the stoner-ish / noise-ish rockers Arabrot which i dont know how to exactly descrip. This trio was pretty loud and intense in their own way and fits perfectly to an over all metal night, even though you'd hardly find any metal elements in their music.
Next was the young thrash metal band Nekromantheon, the new hope of Norway's metal, or at least every one was excited and talking about them among delegates. They delivered a solid, fast and clean old school thrash metal as if they were originated from the 80's. By the time of their set, the venue was already packed, and it was no doubt that they did a good job to impress the crowd.
It took quite long for the black metal legend and head liner of the evening Mayhem to begin their set. Not sure if i was too tired and worn out from the intense festival day but to me the music of Mayhem was really monotonous and boring, this kind of music is better saved for listening at home if you don't have extra-ordinary stage acting on live shows. Anyway, at least there are still 3 original members of early line ups on stage and it felt good to see that the origin of all evil still didnt loose its teeth after 2 decades. Hail!
I know that my main focus was maybe too much on the metal side of things where there are so many other gigs of cool bands cross all genres waiting to be witnessed. But my time and also energy was limited to be able to capture them all and in deed By:Larm offered enough program content for any kind of music taste and interests. Mine was occupied by metal, of coruse...
Oslo is such a beautiful city with is preserved traditional architecture in the city center and modern infrastructure that makes any sort of visits to this place so easy and convenient. And is Oslo is city of culture, from gravities to sculptures and facilities such as the Opera, theatre, museums etc. In spite of its relatively small size, Oslo still has its flair of an metropolis like Berlin or Paris but altogether in almost walking distances.
In Oslo, there are so many interesting shops such as antiques, 2nd hand boutiques and most importantly for myself music shops, especially vinyl stores! According to a webpage I found online, there are more than 10 places where they offer all kind of vinyls, plus those places like the post-card store on Storggata where they also have loads of old vinyls, it's really a heaven for music lovers!
Beside Neseblod (the black metal shop) which was very close to my apartment, I also wend to Big Dipper and Tiger, altogether I guess I spend ca. 2000 NOK on vinyl records alone! Unfortunately, I didn't have enough time to check out more and my luggage also didn't allow me for any further shopping intentions.
Another pity is that I couldn't make it to the Munch Museum and the History Museum, next time, those will be must-stops!
But I have to say, compared to my limited income and the low living costs in Beijing, Oslo is a pretty expensive city. Then again, it still is worth a visit if you are into beautiful streets and Nordic culture both traditional and modern.
Only a short stay of few days packed with concerts, meetings and visits are far not enough, one needs to really spend time to get know this great city better. And I m sure, the next time will never be the last time.
== Conclusion ==
It has been a wonderful and eye opening trip to Oslo which I have to admit has won me as a convinced fan not only of this beautiful city but also of the Norwegian music landscape. By:Larm truly opened a door for me into a realm of valuable cultural treasures to be discovered and exhibited to my fellow Chinese countrymen.
The trip to Oslo made me generally more eager to increase collaborations with Norwegian companies or artists, no matter if pop, metal or non-music projects. I made a lot new contacts which will sure be useful for the future and I will also try to make more connections between industry people from Norway and China.
Last but not least a BIG Thank You to Anne Moberg of Rikskonsertene/Concerts Norway without whom this all won't be possible.
The photo report:http://www.allnordic.com/?p=484&lang=en
By:Larm News! online (issue: Thursday Feb 16th 2012, English)http://issuu.com/bylarmnews/docs/bylarm_torsdag_web__1_/17
By:Larm News! online (issue: Friday Feb 17th 2012, English)http://issuu.com/bylarmnews/docs/bylarm_fredag_web/1
Other reports about By:Larm 2012:http://www.the-nmo.com/8/post/2012/02/bylarm-2012-report.htmlhttp://www.brooklynvegan.com/archives/2012/02/bylarm_2012_day.htmlhttp://www.brooklynvegan.com/archives/2012/02/bylarm_2012_day_1.htmlhttp://www.brooklynvegan.com/archives/2012/02/bylarm_2012_day_2.html