Courtesy of fellow road-trippers Heimatt‘s shiny beauty of a bus, Good because Danish arrived in Utrecht the night before Nordic Delight Festival 2014 started. Following a mix up with accommodation, our blog’s envoys were to sleep the next two nights in said van. Rock’n’Roll etc though.
Walking into the venue the next day, we were all very excited to see what the festival would deliver. Handmade hangings, little boutique food stalls and grinning people abounded. And sun! Glorious sun! After getting familiar with the stages – consisting of an outside venue clad in charming handmade icebergs, the church scene, which was to truly come alive later that night, and of course, the “Stallen” (engl. stables) stage inside a half-finished section of Utrecht’s Centraal Museum – we were soon watching Heimatt open the festival on the outside main stage.
Due to their enthusiastic “throw your hands in the air”-style alternafolk, Heimatt have become a festival favourite to kick things off. The four men did not disappoint. Hopping around the stage, the musicians quickly converted their Dutch audience. A cover of Kavinsky’s “Nightcall” came as a welcome departure, revealing sizeable emotional depth in singer Magnus Grilstad’s poignant yet strong delivery.
Shortly after, much of the crowd were enticed by the distorted anguish spouting from Get Your Gun‘s indoor stage. Set inside a half completed section of the Centraal Museum, the unadorned concrete walls enhanced the band’s dusty aggression. Parts of us even believed seeing tiny bits of building materials coming of the ceiling during a banger peak of the performance. Out front, singer Andreas Kildedal Westmark was a man possessed. Stomping and snarling his way through the set, Westmark had effortless command over his audience. At one point, the band waited a full few seconds between verses, thrusting the cell into absolute enrapturing silence.
After such an intense experience, we headed out to clear their heads. The delightful Utrecht based pre-loved furniture and clothes store Goed spul provided the festival with a room full of their beautiful furniture. Here we drank delicious Danish Mikkeller beer, whilst waiting for Blaue Blume to play the outside stage. Dutch locals were a friendly bunch, making it easy for us to quickly feel at home in our adopted city.
Having seen Blaue Blume several times in the last few weeks, there was a curiosity as to how they would be received outside native Danish ground. Well, it turned out. Hearing the guys speak in English (or at all) was an experience in itself, but predictable it was the emotional power of the four playing together that was the set’s central feature. Unsurprisingly, many onlookers were taken aback by the unique vocal acrobatic vocal stylings and dizzying guitar led instrumental breakdowns, finding it hard to pinpoint the exact genre in which the band mines. But it was clear after giving such an honest performance that Blaue Blume left with many new followers.
The next couple of hours were filled with tasty food and promising Scandinavian acts. In particular, Swedish soloist Loney Dear impressed, filling the church with his lovelorn vocals and self-looped harmonies. GbD favourites Sekuoia were yet to come.
Through a haze of smoke and moody blue lights, Sekuoia sauntered onstage in front of the almost-full church venue. It was late, but festival goers were ready to dance and shake after a day filled largely with acoustic instruments. Sekuoia arrived as a crisp electronic rebirth. Off kilter sampled drums, ethereal keyboard lines and warm analogue bass’ typified Sekuoia’s sonic signature. Having the chilled Danish electronica wash over the crowd was a fitting end to a breezy Utrecht day.
Good because Danish left the venue thoroughly fulfilled by the day’s events, but ready for another night in the van…
Photos by Nick McKinlay