…And There Was Light

Yesterday was a beautiful night and the high expectations for the sneak start of Way Out West were all met. People were in good mood in spite of the fact that it rained on and off.

Today, however, is a different story. The official starting of day WOW is sunny, warm and only a little breezy. Gothenburg smiles at its visitors from all corners of the world and today you can really feel there’s something going on here. After a lunch outside the old Saluhall Market, consisting of fresh seafood and a cold beer, it’s time to take the tram and join the masses. The shows have started and in this weather, you really want to be around music and people.

The one lasting memory from Thursday night, by the way, will be people. Everywhere there are people. Teens sitting by the canal, toddlers with ear plugs watching live jazz, middle aged people on the tram talking with that nostalgic light in their eyes feeling seventeen again. Don’t get me wrong, Sweden is a nice place and all, but people usually tend to stay inside or hang out in small groups. Now every door seems to have opened and people are flowing out to enjoy themselves.

Explore West Sweden was interested in the much talked about James Blake, who played in the astonishing venue of Annedalskyrkan yesterday. The smartphone app we wrote about yesterday hinted that there was a line outside and a couple of phone calls confirmed that. Being somewhat lazy, we instead went to Nefertiti, a classic club by the canal. There we enjoyed a couple of local acts, one hip-hop-ish and one pop band with enormous energy. The later band was the main act and consisted of Jonas Lundqvist, a local hero of the same generation as Håkan Hellström, who has played in several pop bands but now has gone solo. Explore West Sweden had to translate his lyrics into English for a Canadian woman who saw the fire in Jonas’ eyes but didn’t understand enough Swedish to get what he was singing about.

We had a very good time and when the dancing made it too hot, we stepped out and cooled off in the cool summer night by the canal. The thing about Gothenburg is that water is always close and when you’re warm and exhausted from running around, nothing beats sitting down by the water – be it man made channels, ponds or the sea. Almost every single one of the venues, including the main area, is close to the water and you should not miss out on the experience of resting under a clear sky, breathing salty air while re-charging your system.

After Nefertiti, on the way out to Jazzhuset, one of the bars acting as “friendly clubs” – that is, free entrance for festival goers but no official endorsement from the festival – we met several people who actually went to Annedalskyrkan and they said that the experience alone was worth the ticket price. Even though we danced until sunrise at Jazzhuset, we couldn’t shake the feeling that we should have gone inside the church. Late tonight, Jonathan Johansson is playing there and this time we won’t repeat the mistake.

Generally speaking, going to the smaller venues is a great tip if you’re new to the festival. Major acts performing on big stages are of course the main attraction, but you really get to feel the city and the WoW-pulse when you go to the smaller places scattered around Gothenburg. You get to talk to people, drinks are cheaper, generations mix. Tonight’s best club venue will probably be Storan, a rebuilt theater at the bottom of the “Aveny” main street, or Pustervik, a rock bar at Järntorget. Then there are rumors about a huge party further out, by the industrial port. We will of course come back with more. Hopefully the lines will be a little thinner tonight when there are so many more venues to choose from.

It’s 20 degrees Celsius and we just ate shrimp with our bare hands for lunch. Towards the festival area! Tonight’s goal is to once again spot Kirsten Dunst, to finally have that wild boar kebab and, of course, to watch Robyn and then Prince. We can already hear Swedish garage rockers The Hives screaming from far away. Updates will follow.

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