NORWEGIAN WOOD FESTIVAL – Wednesday 13 / Stonegard / Gåte (Live)

in Oslo, Norway, June 17, 2005

The Norwegian Wood Festival in the capital of Norway, Oslo, is rich on musical genres. The majority of the artists are Norwegian, but acts like Tori Amos, Roxy Music, The Hives, and Crosby, Stills & Nash performed this year as well to spice up the four day long event. However, Friday, the 17th of June, the festival’s second day, was reserved for a bit more hard-hitting bands. Headliner was System Of A Down (read separate review later), but before the Armenian Nu-Metal army entered the stage, the audience could enjoy performances by Wednesday 13, Stonegard, and Gåte.


Ex-Murderdolls frontman Wednesday 13 was the first rock act of the day. He has gained his success from his Alice Cooper inspired Shock Rock. After the release of his latest album, Transylvania 90210 – Songs About Death, Dying, and the Dead (click title to read review), he has by many been described as a more worthy successor to Alice Cooper’s Shock Rock traditions than Marilyn Manson.

However, a surprisingly large base of fans had gathered in front of the stage to welcome Wednesday 13 and his band. Despite the fact that it was half past four and broad daylight did not prevent the black-dressed fans from showing up to get some live action from the grave. Wednesday 13’s song concept of death, dying, and the dead sure would fit a dark club better than an outdoor venue at daytime in June, but some incredible heavy rain during the set prevented the happening from being too joyful …

Nope, Wednesday 13’s music and lyrics has nothing to do with having fun in the sun. The set was opened with “Rot For Me,” ”I Want You…Dead,” and ”House By The Cemetery” — all taken from the band’s latest album … and the band did a great job! The soaking-wet fans truly had a reason to enjoy the show as the compositions worked out more than fine live, and Wednesday 13 and his fellow axe man, Pig, did not fail to present their stuff with energetic and raw guitar playing/riffing, done with a lot of respect to the edgiest moments of Hard Rock and Roll.

The set was comprised of eight songs only, concentrating heavily on the Transylvania 90210 album. “Bad Things,” “I Walked With A Zombie,” and “Buried By Christmas” (the latter with lyrics to crack you up!) all were great reasons why Rock lovers all over should check out their new recording. On the other hand “I Love To Say Fuck,” from his days in Murderdolls, was a great reminder of Wednesday 13’s songwriting abilities (… and attitude) of the past.

A couple of thousand members of the audience in the back, who were ignorant of Wednesday 13’s music, probably wondered what kind of sick masquerade they’ve just witnessed, but some rock and roll circuses will always be for the freak show enthusiasts only.


Norway’s own and proud Stonegard has been incredibly hard-working lately. They seem to be showing up everywhere (including supporting Slipknot at Rockefeller Concert Hall, Oslo), and this time around they were ready for the Norwegian Wood stage. By now, at least 5000 people had arrived in the festival area, ready for some live Hard Rock.

Unfortunately, Stonegard will not be much to see abroad, as their stunning debut album, Arrows, is not yet exported much. If Stonegard fails to get international recognition, it’s the music industry who is only to be blamed. Arrows contains all the compositions and musical skills that’s needed to launch a global attack (capable of being the new Metallica of the new Millennium here … ) However, luckily for their home fans, Norway doesn’t have to share the band with foreign lands, and as the band entered the stage, it didn’t look much like they were wishing themselves to be somewhere else.

The outdoor venue format could be a challenge for any band who’s got nothing but experience from indoor locations. Stonegard is most familiar with the latter, but still they looked convincingly comfortable. The four piece acted just as energetic as the four piece that would top the bill later the same evening, System Of A Down. They were even self-confident enough to through a couple of non-album tracks to the crowd. This was material, the quality of which is hard to judge from one listen, but from the size of the sound and the amount of power, it sure fit the rest of the set.

The rest of the show contained big numbers like “Hunter,” “Arrows,” ”The White Shaded Lie,” “Darkest Hour,” and the closure “At Arms Length.” All were performed just as any fan would ask them to be, even though some of them where slightly rearranged at spots. “Triggerfinger,” however, one of the most stellar tracks from their album, did not work out too well, mostly due to the fault of a guitar being out of key. Frontman Torgrim Torve’s uneven English articulation could also been worth a comment, but his charming approach makes up for it. Guitarist Ronny Flissundet was the most hard-working part of the band posing-wise, and he, in general, did more that necessary to prove that this should not be the last time Stonegard should be offered a gig of this size.


The third band to enter the stage was Gåte, a Norwegian act highly beloved in their home country. Singing in Norwegian, and music-wise quite different from what normally catches Metal Express’ attention, they still managed to throw a memorable Rock and Roll party.

Despite the fact that the band’s material has got its inspiration from old Norwegian Folk Music and folklore, the violin used was as electric as any other guitar on that stage that evening. Their guitarist Magnus Børmark too was nothing short of whatever guitar virtuosos you could think of right there and then. Even though the impatient System Of A Down fans by now were very ready for the night’s main event, Gåte sure managed to please the crowd to quite a satisfactory level.


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