Saturday was all about Frank Ocean: his beautiful tumblr love letter drew attention away from the tired exploits of Odd Future and towards his debut solo effort in a way that nobody could have predicted but that everybody welcomed. It was all about Frank Ocean; that was until around 3pm when predictions that he would pull out following his abandoned set at Øya were confirmed. The Channel Orange cancelled his appearance, leaving a gaping hole in the line-up and the shared sentiment that maybe we should all just go looking for Frank in case he needed a hug and a lemsip. Ocean’s absence was disappointing; but the damper it put on the afternoon was soon counteracted by a blissful, little known backyard performance by Gothenburg native Jens Lekman who treated a small crowd to stripped back versions of songs from his forthcoming album I Know What Love Isn’t.
Sharing the grassy floor with label mates Nite Jewel, this was a really special couple of hours. Standing behind nothing but a Yamaha keyboard Ramona Gonzalez is flanked by two backing singers, one quietly beat boxing as the other rubs his hands together in place of any shimmering synth driven rhythms while Gonzalez’s delicate, projected voice floats over programmed beats. The Yamaha sounds are at times laughable, but in an endearing way, the relaxed atmosphere coming through in amused glances and softly spoken setlist decisions between the band. A tribute to Frank Ocean is played out through a poignant and intimate cover of ‘Thinking About You’ before everyone begins making their way back to the festival site in the hope that they’ll catch the end of A$AP Rocky. They mostly don’t make it but the thought of a rare headline performance from Düsseldorf legends Kraftwerk is more than enough consolation.
Photo: Annika Berglund
With our free 3D glasses in hand we head to the main stage, the flashing red lights of Ralf Hütter and co already illuminating the dark corners of the field. As the increasingly layered bleeps and glitches build into the four-piece’s 1978 penned opening number ‘The Robots’ it is clear that the entire crowd is completely immersed in the multi-dimensional experience and projections, a feeling that wanes throughout the show as more and more people remove their white framed spectacles, realising that watching the electronic pioneers themselves, rather than just their projections, is probably a more unique experience.
There is disbelief in everyone’s eyes as the set continues, the group’s set delving further into classics most people thought they’d probably never hear in real life like ‘Metropolis’, the playful ‘Autobahn’ and delicate subdued beats ‘Computer Love.’ A dark sense of humour occupies a lot of their back catalogue, touches of which reach a heightened tension during the mid set ‘Geiger Counter/Radioactivity’ boiling point. I can’t imagine the vitality their creations held in the 80s remains intact, particularly with so many line-up changes and progressions in the musical landscape they helped forget; but that does little to diminish the fact that their performance tonight is unforgettable and a perfect farewell to Gothenburg.
Photo: Hugo Johansson
Header Photo: Annika Berglund