Way Out West – The Grand Finale

The grand finale of Way Out West was indeed grand. If Prince used all the tools in the box, peaking with laser beam explosions and guitar solos for his extra numbers, Kanye West was all out from the start. Not being much for humble gestures, he managed to use a massive amount of confetti, fire of a golden rain and rise above the crowd on a mobile platform – all within the first ten minutes of the show. And from there, he took it to even more ambitious levels, showing of all the hits that people were expecting, while still flowing naturally on the stage.

Earlier in the day we had enjoyed the extravagant Jarvis Cocker, being in a good mood and even surrendering to playing Pulp’s super hit “Common People”, but it was natural that the talk of the festival site centered around Kanye, of course a major booking for Way Out West.

If Friday’s main show, Prince, ended with people trying to leave the area as soon as possible in order to go dancing at the festival’s different friend clubs, Saturday was something different. Now we all wanted to stay a while, to really feel the vibe of the place before the 2011 edition officially closed around three in the morning. But since we at Explore West Sweden are curious visitors, we did of course enter the night and we chose to go to Storan, the former grand theatre now used as a kind of hub for all things cultural.

There we enjoyed Mattias Alkberg, grand old man of the pop scene in Northern Sweden. We have seen him many times before, performing on all sorts of stages, but he is the kind of musician you really want to enjoy in a smaller club area than on a big stage. He is also an entertainer in a very Swedish (or even norrländsk) sense, funny and dry in his reluctant small talk between songs.

After Jonathan Johansson from Skåne and Robyn from Stockholm, it felt natural in a way to let a man from Norrland be our last performer and thereby cover the Swedish musical map. Not many artists from Gothenburg this time around though, but that’s another topic…

When Alkberg had left the stage, we were encouraged by eager rumors suggesting that Kanye himself was at Yaki-Da, a five floor clubbing palace on main street Avenyn. It later turned out he was there Friday (eyewitnesses confirm) but once we got inside we didn’t really care that he had left the building. The place was full and there’s always a special air when a big party such as this one is about to end. It felt like all the hundreds of people inside had had a great couple of days and didn’t want it to end and more than once you could hear “Skål för Way Out West” (Cheers to Way Out West).

The crowning of the night was an “espresso martini” at the coffee bar on the fourth floor and once you start craving coffee, you normally realize it might be time to admit that there’s a new day pushing for attention and that you really should consider heading home. The walk home was just as beautiful as Friday night’s and there’s something very poetic about this time of year on the west coast, when fall is about to hit us and the sun is slower to rise than in June, when it’s virtually never set.

Now, a couple of hours of sleep later, it’s time for the mandatory fika, gossiping about the last few days. We will be at Egg and Milk, an Americana-styled diner just down Linnégatan from the festival site, with great bagels and super pancakes with bacon and maple syrup. If we don’t see you there, now is the time to say goodbye and start looking forward to Way Out West 2012. One more thing: if you were in Gothenburg during the festival, I think the city officials and organizers would like to thank you. The local police issued a statement giving the festival the highest mark for security and tidiness and even though there were a record number of visitors, it’s the cleanest urban festival yet. All in all, a great success.Thank you!


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