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Chanting & Screaming: Oya Festival Day Three

12 August 2012 | 10:47 am | Oya Festival

There were inevitably thousands of fans humming that song all the way home, some cursing The Black Keys for their melodious aptitude.

In case you were wondering what the Norwegian equivalent of Cloud Control would sound like, look up Young Dreams. The first act I caught on the third day of the festival, the ten member all-male band strike a dream-pop balance between Fleet Foxes-esque folk tendencies and a love of reverberating harmonies. If they were Australian, triple j would've snapped them up as the next big thing by now.

The more established Metronomy got things into a summer party state with a rousing set. The Bay saw falsettos soar before Heartbreaker's playful organ melody had the entire audience bopping along. The band were practically bouncing from collective energy, bassist Olugbenga encouraging fans to clap their hands, shout and jump in unison to the beat. The band have managed to meld their old and new tunes into a perfect set, with The Look and Holiday coming back to back and ensuring no one stayed seated. As the summer sun began to beat down, it was hard to think of anywhere better to be.

Metronomy, pic by Sevana Ohandjanian

Escaping into the dark coolness of the Club Tent was made all the more worthwhile when Dam-Funk appeared on stage. With little fanfare, he and his backing musicians, including ex- The Mars Volta drummer Jon Theodore, launched into soft, grooving funk music that immediately brought intimacy to the setting. Bringing his hometown of LA to Oslo, Dam-Funk laced sensuality through his melodies with ease, surprising with the boldness of his lyricism and clarity of his voice. An old soul with new musical spirit, it was a pleasure to witness him live.

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Dam-Funk, pic by Sevana Ohandjanian

For those looking for something a little more rough and tumble, the destination was front row centre for Cloud Nothings. Aggressive, blatantly loud and unforgiving, Dylan Baldi and his band strolled onto stage unassumingly, announced themselves and proceeded to annihilate the crowd with Fall In. The dexterity and musicianship on display is especially astounding considering the band is fronted by 20-year-old Baldi, whose heart on sleeve lyrics were delivered with throaty, rasping yells on his part. Whether pounding out the instrumental Separation or lamenting time lapsing in youth on Stay Useless, the sheer conviction in every note made it an unmissable set. These guys are one of the best bands doing the rounds, you'd be a fool to miss them when given the opportunity.

Cloud Nothings, pic by Sevana Ohandjanian

They probably learnt a thing or ten from the next band; Refused. The Swedish punk band recently reunited and all reports had suggested that they were exceeding expectations at every turn. Having already seen them absolutely dominate a midnight set at Primavera in May, you could say I was setting my hopes pretty high. And they were magnificent. As a black curtain fell down the height of the stage to reveal the band and the opening strains of Worms Of The Sense/Faculties Of The Skull blared out from the monumental speaker stacks, the beers began flying overhead, the crowdsurfers began their pilgrimages up and over the audiences' heads, and frontman Dennis Lyxzen proved there are few as talented as he. When he wasn't screaming himself into infinity or lecturing the crowd on politics (he spoke in Swedish so the only words I managed to get were 'free Pussy Riot', but that says it all really), he contorted his body, leapt over speakers, did a back roll before landing in the splits, essentially he was part-gymnast, part-singer. How he managed to do all of that and still perfectly embody songs like Liberation Frequency and Summerholidays vs Punkroutine is beyond comprehension. The band were tight as could be, appearing to genuinely be enjoying themselves in this second coming, playing the big gigs rather than the basement shows that originally led to their dissolution. All the favourites got an airing to rapturous applause, but it was the double slam of The Shape Of Punk To Come followed by New Noise that left everyone beaming, as the opening words of  '”Can I scream?” on the latter inspired all to violently headbang and throw their bodies around. Lyxzen implored to his audience from the barrier, before leaping into the crowd and surfing across it, nothing but a red shirt and black vest visible at times. As he screeched “the new beat” repeatedly, there was a sense of belonging and homecoming, something uniting this audience to what Refused has always been about – not being afraid to speak out and not allowing oneself to become part of an oppressive system.

Refused, pic by Sevana Ohandjanian

Chromatics were probably none too pleased to have been drowned out by the aforementioned band, but their set was like stepping into a warm shower right after a cold swim. It soothed and sedated in equal measure, the hypnotic beats floating across the crowd towards the water, where the strange positioning lead to it echoing back up. Though the trio aren't the most charismatic live performers - one would go so far as to say that they're quite static - the songs still captivated.

Let me get something out of the way right now, I have never understood the appeal of The Black Keys. Before their headline performance I questioned whether they'd be able to recreate the dense sounds of their records live, and it must be said, they excelled in doing so. Then again, the Norwegians went crazy for them, going so far as to chant “USA, USA” before the band had even arrived on stage. The duo of Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney were assisted by two backing musicians, which helped fill out what would otherwise have been pretty sparse music, as they blasted through their back catalogue, focusing mainly on their two more recent records. Opener Howling For You set the tone for a rollicking set bound together with heavy guitar riffs, and a stand-offish, appealing nonchalance from Auerbach as he drawled through Gold On The Ceiling and Thickfreakness. Yet it was always going to be the whistling refrain of Tighten Up and the now infamous opening tune of Lonely Boy that had everyone from front of stage to riverside shimmying enthusiastically. There were inevitably thousands of fans humming that song all the way home, some cursing The Black Keys for their melodious aptitude.

Sevana Ohandjanian