For many years, the Piknik i Parken Festival (PIPfest) was held on the historical premises of the Vigeland Museum. This year the festival moved to the Sofienberg Park on the east side of Oslo, in an attempt to host the ever-growing audience. From the 13th to the 15th of June, festivalgoers got to experience a broad variety of different musical acts.
The new location has changed the essence of the picnic-themed festival, and many of the traditional aspects of the festival have had to be adapted to this new space, and some are better and some are worse.
PIPfest delivered a fun and energetic festival over the weekend. The organisation, logistics and design at the new location at Grünerløkka met the expectations, once you actually managed to get into the festival area. There were massive flaws to the entry system this year. Despite a few problems with the electrical power during the Thursday, the festival was very enjoyable during the three days.
With plenty of stores, food trucks, games and cultural activities for adults and kids (from yoga to pecha kucha), the festival was not only a musical experience, but rather felt like a fair.
Even though the festival has expanded in terms of space and audience – receiving more than 18,000 visitors –, the amount of stages did not. The festival had only two big stages, Sophie and Petrus, of almost equal size and immediately next another. Walking from one act to the next took almost no time. The lack of more spaces (they used to have four at some point in the previous editions), actually led PIP to have less acts this year compared to previous ones, primarily on the expense of up-and-coming acts.
Jumping back and forth, New Order gave a masterclass in performance and in how to smoothly jump from the proto-punk of the 70s to their hugely influential hits from the 80s and 90s.
New Order was given the honours of closing the festival on Thursday, presenting a mix of the best and more famous singles from New Order and Joy Division. I didn’t actually expect them to have so many songs and visuals from the Joy Division era. «She’s Lost Control», «Shadowplay», «Transmission» were among them, and they finished the whole concert with «Love will tear us apart«.
Their classic album Unknown Pleasures turned 40 this year, so the band was honouring their legacy. Jumping back and forth, New Order gave a masterclass in performance and in how to smoothly jump from the proto-punk of the 70s to their hugely influential hits from the 80s and 90s (such as «The Perfect Kiss», «Bizarre Love Triangle», and «Blue Monday»).
Mike Skinner took the festival-goers by storm.
Mike Skinner took the festival-goers by storm. Already during his first song he came offstage and into the middle of the crowd. The surprised audience just lost it and connected immediately. As classics such as «Turn the Page», «Don’t Mug Yourself», and «Dry Your Eyes» went by, Skinner managed to keep the audience captivated during the entire concert, exchanging dialogues with them, going up and down from the stage, and opening a couple of bottles of champagne to throw at the audience.
With a solid band behind him, Mike Skinner egged the audience on during the entire concert. Ending the concert with him knee-deep in the middle of the crowd, opening a final bottle of champagne, and singing along with his fans one of The Streets’ biggest hits «Fit But You Know It«. It was just amazing!
Madrugada had the responsibility of closing the entire festival Saturday night, and took their task very seriously.
Fans were taken on a nostalgia trip, visiting some of the best rock produced in the 90s in Norway. Songs like «Strange Colour Blue», «Salt«, and «Norwegian Hammerworks Corp» were highlights.
After a short break, the band decided to also give a taste of some later music, playing their biggest hits such as «Hands up», «Majesty» and «The Kids Are on High Street». The audience, as well as the band, seemed pleased with the intense and well thought-out presentation.
There were plenty of good lesser-known bands hitting the stage during PIPs three days.
The British band Metronomy (Thu) was one of the best. With a solid career of more than ten years, their happy electro-rock tones and dancy fun-filled harmonies was really enjoyable. They definitely helped set the mood for the rest of the festival. With a similar atmosphere Jungle (Fri) had a dominant presence in the festival. With all their 7 members producing cool and electric vibes that made the entire festival dance along to their main hits, while enjoying some of the sunniest moments of the day.
With a completely different style but equally entertaining, Tallest Man on Earth (Sat) offered a solid concert to his Norwegian fans, while the Jaga Jazzist (Sat) did their part presenting their album “A Livingroom Hush” from 2002. These in my opinion were some of the best bands presented during this year’s edition.
Two acts that caught the audience’s attention were Boy Pablo (Sat) and Yola (Sat). Boy Pablo and his group of friends seemed to be really enjoying their stage time. Their fun and optimism proved contagious. It was reflected in all of their songs and their beachy vibes. A perfect band for the PIPfest mood, both fun and dancy.
Yola also stood out, with her impressive voice and candid presence. In a very positive and surprising way, she made the entire festival follow her mellow rhythms. She put smiles on our faces, with good and classic quality songs.
Two small disappointments
John Grant and Nils Frahm are also two acts that should be remembered, but that for different reasons didn’t fully work. John Grant had the potential to be one of the best acts of the festival. A powerhouse in performance, he was let down by the songs and style of his new album. The goofy way of singing on these songs, though entertaining, took away from his beautiful voice and lyrics. A shame.
Nils Frahm alone on stage with his quirky instruments offered incredible audacity and talent. Unfortunately his whole set, as amazing as it was, was not cut out for the mood of a festival. Especially not such an open sunlit space, though there were some upbeat moments.
During his presentation, I couldn’t help but deeply miss Borggården, the inner patio at the Vigeland Museum. It would have fit him perfectly (as well as for acts such as Mari Samuelsen and Víkingur Ólafsson).
Picnic in the Park is no longer a picnic, but rather a festival in the park. They have left behind a lot of the charm and cosiness, but embraced a bigger personality, and taken a step towards competing with bigger Norwegian festivals. Overall, it was a fun weekend with a well-thought quality program.