Monday, 9 February 2015
The other exciting thing about an ice music festival is that the instruments are susceptible to the weather. Yesterday cyclone Ole hit Norway causing havoc up and down the coast (for example all the Hurtigruten boats had to seek shelter), roads were closed all over the place and there were lots of evacuations and damage. Here in Geilo, we had snow and gale force winds but also some unusually warm weather. When I say 'warm' I just mean that it was slightly above zero until the evening. Enough to cause the first act's (Kings of Convenience) guitar to melt before his performance so he had to make another one just a couple of hours before the show. The new one seemed to work just fine though and I really enjoyed the set.
As I mentioned before, the shows can't be too long here as the musicians' fingers freeze, but again, that suits me as it's almost as cold for the audience!
The final show of the festival was the midnight concert. It was going to be a a viking graveyard and the plan was that everyone was going to ski there (it was 4k). Unfortunately, the gale force winds made that impossible so the concert was moved. As the organisers and artists had spent weeks building the arena out of snow and ice they put on shuttle buses so that we could go and have a look at the venue anyway, before going on to the the new windproof indoor venue at the local culture church.
And it was really awesome at the viking graveyard. It must have been devastating for them to have to move the venue. Aside from the fact they had built a large amphitheatre out of snow and ice, they had also built a large ice igloo thing (which is what I imagine an ice-bar is like inside) and they had created lots of ice installations around the place as well. Oh well.
It was hard to photograph it as it was dark and very snowy and very windy. Another 'hearts and minds' thing I guess. I'm really keen to go back out there during the day to have a good look - I think it will be there for a few more days before nature or the volunteers remove it all.
On the way to the shuttle bus we walked past the normal village amphitheatre where all the other shows had been and as there was no-one around we snuck onto stage (via the back-stage snow tunnel) and checked out some of the instruments including the guitar which was cooling off I guess…
We also had another look today - they are pretty free and easy with access to the instruments really - this is me playing the remains of the ice balafon...
and Jon on the ice sculpture...
The sound of the ice percussion instruments was really beautiful - they were my favourite part of the concerts really. The strings didn't sound too different from the real thing (to my untrained ear), but the percussion stuff was really lovely. The musicians also created a really nice sound by stepping on or pounding soft snow.
Anyway, after our 10pm visit to the outdoor arena we were just about ready to go to the relocated midnight concert. I wish I could say it was the perfect culmination of the festival and I'm sure it would have been had the weather not turned on us, but once the ice instruments were moved inside (and were melting away like crazy so that the stage assistant was constantly bringing them in and back out to the cold) it sort of lost it's magic. The weird dancer would have fitted right in out at the viking graveyard, but just looked slightly like someone dancing in pyjamas at the front of the church. Also it was so cold and windy outside and so warm inside with everyone wearing their thermals, it was actually hard to stay awake! Overall the festival was great though - some stuff I loved, and some I didn't but that's ok. The instruments were amazing, the sound and atmosphere was great. I'd recommend it to anyone.
This is us heading out to the midnight concert.. I can't adequately describe the wind and cold - but you get a sense from what we are wearing. I had to rush back in to get a key and when I came back out everyone waiting for me had formed a penguin huddle and were rotating around to take turns sheltering from the wind - it looked like one giant giggling, rotating puffer jacket!
These are the grown up Verde-Thon's jammed into the lift on the way down.