Does everyone just… know about Norway? Clean, stunning scenery, lovely people, banging music scene. Has Norway been here the whole time? Here in Bergen at Vill Vill Vest 2019, we have traversed fjords and caught up and coming popsters, and we have put the ‘fun’ in ‘funicular’. (See, Bergen has a funicular that goes up the side of a mountain over the city and… you know what, just forget it.)
For a city where it rains approximately 270 days out of every 365, the first day of Vill Vill Vest is shockingly bright and clear. We choose to take it as a good omen for the evening and are proven right over at the Ole Bull Scene, where R’n’B/pop hybrid Miriam walks out to a sparsely populated room – and sees the place fill up with fans faster than you can say ‘Taylor Swift’. Soon, her ‘1989’-style tunes have enticed a crowd and filled out the floor. Miriam has been touted as one of the festival’s most promising up and coming artists, and even though the gospel of Alex Turner told us not to believe the hype, this time it’s justified. Later, Emma Jensen’s frothy pink pop and neon-lighted staging reveal a sophisticated star in the making. Singles ‘Better’ and the multi-million streamed ‘Closer’ are juggernauts, but Emma also knows the power of intimacy – part way through the set, she sits on the front of the stage to sing something softer, right into the faces of the front row. Clearly, Emma Jensen has studied hard at the school of pop.
On day two, naturally, it rains. But fear not – our spirits will not be dampened. Still, twenty minutes after Alva Ravn’s supposed start time the venue doors are yet to open, and with a wet pack of concert-goers clustered into the small corridor, even we’re starting to feel a bit tense. Thankfully we’re eventually rescued, and after a crystalline opener Alva explains the delay which, even though we at Dork do not speak Norwegian, we can pretty confidently assume is down to something along the lines of “technical difficulties”. For this incredibly minor early hurdle (thank you, we are the real heroes of indie) we’re rewarded with ‘Precious Prey’. Now, the set has been good so far but this is where Alva Ravn truly comes into her own. Cinematic, and soaring, ‘Precious Prey’ shows the full range of Alva Ravn’s capabilities. The bar is set high for the evening. Then, SKAAR (pictured) clears it with room to spare. SKAAR was one of the most hyped acts for Vill Vill Vest 2019, and she more than follows through with a switched-on set of crowd-pleasing bangers like ‘Higher Ground’ and ‘Wicked Rhythm’. Delivering one of the most engaged sets of the weekend, SKAAR ramps up the crowd and plays the two halves off against each other with climbing harmonies like some sort of pop orchestra conductor. We’ve been keeping our eye out for this year’s Sigrid-level breakthrough, and while we’re not breaking the glass on the alarm just yet SKAAR is definitely holding the right cards.
On Saturday afternoon we’re treated to a boat trip around the local fjords, just in case we haven’t quite grasped the full beauty of Bergen and its surrounds. As it turns out, we haven’t. After an extremely leisurely cruise during which we contemplate abandoning Dork for a life on the high seas, we decide it’s best to go and see Jens and set our minds straight. Jens bounds around the stage like a labrador puppy, and has the adoring fanbase to match. This is what you call good clean fun, with the hair of a mid-00s Jonas Brother and the bops to match. Boy, do we feel wholesome.
After three days of pop and exploration, leaving Bergen and heading back to reality is a wrench. At least, after the wonders of Vill Vill Vest 2019, we can rest safely in the knowledge that we have an excuse to come back this time next year.
Words: Liam Konemann