Formerly known as the Ole Blues festival, Bergenfest is one of the few festivals audacious enough to make a point of its complete lack of specific profile. As the name suggests the festival is simply about making all kinds of music, artists and events interweave through a happening week in Bergen, and thus letting the audiences indulge at their own whimsical will.
Some big international names have already filled the Bergen airwaves, such as the Blind Boys of Alabama, Delbert MClinton and Fairport Convention, while others will make their impression during this weekend; Grant Lee Philips and Tom McRae, both on tonight (Friday) and the headliner Patti Smith who will play two concerts, on Saturday and Sunday.
Some of the currently most talked-of Norwegian names have also made their appearances; debutants of the year Ingrid Olava and Ida Maria, and also Bergen’s own Real Ones.
A special new feature of this year’s festival took place on Wednesday when 18 electronica artists played at a dedicated electronica night; a concept entitled The Fix. This concept Bergenfest’s organizers have described as aiming to merge important electronica artists with local talent and create a musical laboratory. The Fix will also feature at other festivals throughout the summer.
Another new aspect of this year’s festival is Bergenfest UNG, which is a project where schoolchildren get to go to concerts in their school hours and then work with the music and lyrics in workshops. This is also a concept that other festivals mean to copy.
A third new feature this year proved a big success when, on Wednesday night, people could see 20 concerts, at 10 venues, with a single ticket. –All in the vein of the “more is more” policy of the festival.
With the weekend still ahead there is plenty more concerts lined up. Most highly anticipated is probably Patti Smith’s two shows, which are something of a coup for the festival.
But before that there is tonight’s multi-concert with a selection of real party bands from Detroit and Nashville. And then there’s Saturday night’s Indie bonanza, which features a string of the coolest names of the Indie sphere.
In all, Bergenfest has made the transition from a genre festival, Ole Blues, to an all-comprising musical party in a way that pleases all. And Bergen strengthens its ascending reputation as a city not only of musical talent and defining style, but as a major venue for big names and good times