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Day 1 of Stavernfestivalen 2023


Larvik, Norway

July 6-8, 2023

Review and photos by Nathalie Knudsen

In the south of Norway, near Larvik, Stavernfestivalen is set to welcome thousands of eager festivalgoers on July 6th. Stavernfestivalen first came to be in 2001, and has grown bigger and bigger ever since, hosting both Norwegian and big international artists. Last year's line-up included big names like Cardi B, The Kid LAROI, Major Lazer, and internationally known Norwegians a-ha and girl in red. During the 3-day festival this year, they hosted a majority of Norwegian artists, like the rap-duo Karpe (arguably Norway's biggest artist right now), singer-songwriters Dagny and Chris Holsten, and our little international superstar-DJ Kygo. The international line-up had names like Niall Horan, Ice Spice, Tinie Tempah, and rapper Tyga who unfortunately had to cancel last minute and was replaced with singer-songwriter Justin Jesso. We checked out day 1 of the festival, and had our eyes and ears set on catching at least Horan and Ice Spice's performances after making the drive from Oslo to Larvik.


We arrived at the festival at 4pm, right after they'd opened the doors and as the first artist, Moncrieff, took to the main stage. Due to the rain, the area was muddy and wet, and not too many people showed up for the first few gigs. The festival area offered lots of fun stuff in between sets, like a range of food trucks, merch and clothing stands, as well as a line-up of partners offering free goodies or similar stuff to the festivalgoers passing by. And as the sun was coming out, and the grass slightly drying up, spirits were high and people were getting more excited as each artist played.

Justin Jesso was up next, having replaced Tyga. And while it was obvious that he'd come on short notice, both because he played without a band and because he stated something like "I got the call to play at 11:30pm yesterday", his set was very enjoyable and charming. I saw Jesso at another festival last year, and didn't make much of his show, but at Stavern I was surprised at how much I enjoyed his set. He seems to be a natural at engaging with the audience, joking and picking up on signs and comments from the crowd, and even taking it as far as walking off stage to come stand with the crowd for a chorus, as well as coming around after the show to greet and take pictures with the fans.

Following Jesso was the Norwegian band Postgirobygget, which is a staple-artist at every Norwegian festival. (Blir ikke mer nasjonalromantisk enn allsangen på Idyll i solsteken, her snakker vi norsk sommer på sitt beste altså.) And following probably the most Norwegian-esque act ever, was One Direction-boybander Niall Horan – keep your eyes open for a more in-depth feature on that soon!


As I had to travel back to Oslo that same day, I had to miss out on seeing the DJ duo Broiler finish off the day, and my last artist was American rapper and newcomer Ice Spice. Having only started her career in 2021, and with big parts of her discography being viral TikTok-songs, I didn't expect too much. Yet, I was excited to see the artist who had so quickly gone from being unknown to collaborating with artists such as Nicki Minaj and Taylor Swift, and how she would compare live on stage to her studio songs. And while I found her to sound just as good live as on her recorded music, you could sense that she's still finding her way when it comes to doing bigger performances and in interaction with the crowd. My opinion could be biased by the fact that she was only on stage for a total of 12 minutes during what was seemingly supposed to be a 30-45 minute set, as her introductionary DJ was on stage longer than her (15 minutes). But looking past that, I think many of her songs will be staples in my summer playlist this year, and it was fun to see and dance along to her music live at Stavernfestivalen.

Feeling like I saw everything Stavernfestivalen has to offer, while simultaneously feeling like I saw the bare minimum, I find it hard to give a proper review of the festival itself. My perception of the festival has for years been that they're able to combine the big international stars with more typical Norwegian artists, and creating a line-up that appeals to a large range of youths, and after having gone for the first time this year, I still find that to be true. I do think day 2 or 3 might have been even more fun than day 1, as the weather was the worst on this day, and since day 1 was a Thursday (meaning less people likely showed up because of other commitments like work). All in all, I had a lovely time and will be looking forward to seeing the line-up for next year's festival!



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