HARD ANGER OPEN AIR – En festival i fjellheimen
Norway is probably not the most natural place to have an Open Air Festival. The weather is rarely on the organizers’ side and several organizers have felt the lack of public and therefor lack of income. This often leads to people thinking at least one extra time before organizing the festival again. Yet it is with pleasure one finds that there are still enthusiasts out there who will try and the latest addition to the festival family tree is Hard Anger Open Air Metal Festival.
First of all, tell us about the idea behind Hard Anger Open Air, how it became a reality and a also add a few words of the people behind the scenes.
René: On a rainy day, Hedvig and I went to the Vøringfoss waterfall on the Hardangervidda to take some pictures. On our way back we passed Måbødalen again and Hedvig looked at me and said: do you think what I think? A metal festival? Was my reaction. Yes, she said with a big smile and the first idea was born. Continuing our way back to Eidfjord we started fantasizing and brainstorming about this idea and 5 minutes later we had the name of the festival. The following weeks we gathered as much information as possible. Who are the owners of the land, is it logistically possible, what are the financial possibility’s and so on until we had the feeling that our idea could be realistic. The next step was having conversations with people at the town hall and see if they could help us with our plan. They advised us to start an association, so Hard Anger Festivals was born, an association with a very active board. That really did speed things up.
Hedvig: It`s pretty awesome how far things have become after one small idea! It has always been my little secret dream to do something like that , but I had not met the right people for this before. So I`m glad I met Rene , who has the same interests as me and who is crazy enough to make it happen together with me haha!
The festival is located in Måbødalen, a historic place in the Norwegian mountains. Can we get some information about this historic area and why you ended up arranging a festival there?
Hedvig: Hardly any other place in Western Norway can offer the contrasting landscapes that characterise Eidfjord. The reason is the ice that ruled the ground approximately 10,000 years ago. When it disappeared, it left landforms of infinitely rich variations ranging from the vast mountain plateau called Hardangervidda, to the steep narrow valleys like Simadalen, Måbødalen, and Hjølmodalen. Since ancient times Eidfjord has had a close connection with the eastern parts of
Norway. The three valleys mentioned above have all served as points of departure for trails crossing the Hardangervidda, it being the largest mountain plateau in Europe. Måbødalen, with its impressive Vøringsfossen waterfall, now features an open-air museum of man made landscapes, which focuses on roads from the year 1500 to the present day. Måbødalen appears to have been uninhabited until 1600. Before that time there was no reasons for people to travel through these inaccessible regions.
The reason, why we decided to have a metal festival over there, is because we were both blown away by the beauty of its nature and majestic mountains. For me, as a nature loving person, this place is simply inspiring. And every time, we both went to Måbødalen, we get more and more new and good ideas. Would be a crime to ignore them. Until now,most of the ideas have come true.
With an audience capacity of 2000, Hard Anger Open Air is the biggest metal festival in Norway. Do you think you will sell most of the tickets before the festival opens at August 31?
René: If we weren’t convinced that we could sell enough tickets we wouldn’t have started this big adventure. In fact, we hope to sell all the tickets trough our internet ticket service. We have planned to not sell any tickets at the festivals gate and we’re only offer festivals passes.
Hedvig: Ticket sell is rolling. If it`s going to continue with that kind of speed, we will be sold out even earlier than the end of August. So, everyone- It`s highly recommended to buy your Hard Anger festival pass NOW!
In the European festival jungle, you are quite small compared to the bigger festivals in Sweden, Finland, Germany and most of the other countries in Europe. Do you think Norway is ready for an Open Air?
René: Norway is the birth cradle of black metal, Viking metal belongs in the countries were once the vikings flourished and Norway is one of the countries with the largest number of metal bands in Europe. Besides that, Norway has maybe the most powerful scenery along with its mountains and fjords. So the question should be; is the rest of Europe ready for Norway as metal-mekka? I think the answer is Yes!! We’ve got so many positive reactions from other countries and overseas. Even from Indonesia, Chili etc. etc. and they all say the same thing: Wow!! what an amazing place to have a metal festival. So connecting this scenery with a very interesting and good lineup should be enough to have a successful festival.
Hedvig: Besides that, Eidfjord has the capacity to provide 2000 people with shelter like hotels, camping’s pensions and the "allemannsrett" which means that people are allowed to put up their tents in the nature. Try to find that in Germany, The Netherlands or most other countries. And yes, I believe that Norway is ready for the festival!
As mentioned above, the festival is a late summer event (Aug 31 & Sept 1), but you already have your final lineup. It must be nice to be done with this job this early?
René: It feels great! Hedvig has done an amazing job putting a fantastic lineup together. People from the Netherlands and Estonian are the same if it’s about organizing: instead of saying "don’t do tomorrow what you can do today" we say "we should have done it yesterday" and increase the pace.
Hedvig: It all went slow when we first started searching bands for our festival. But everything changed after our first interview in August last year. Suddenly I got requests every day from different bands in Norway and abroad. Then things started to speed up. And now we have this amazing lineup and we are so proud of it!
Everybody who is into booking and festivals have their own dream lineup. How does your dream lineup look like? Which band(s) is on top of your wish list?
René: For me personally it would be a lineup which re-presence all the metal styles. I don’t have favorite bands or preferences for style. It all depends on my mood.
Hedvig: The more different bands we have , the more exciting it is. I have many great ideas for the future already ,but I’m not going to mention any names yet.
A festival like Hard Anger Open Air necessarily needs many volunteers to implementation. How do you solve this?
René: Like we mentioned before, we have a real active board. One of these board members, Ingrid Hendrix, is responsible for gathering the needed volunteers and putting them on the right places. We still need some people but Ingrid is doing a great job and managed to get volunteers from all over the world.
Hedvig: We appreciate every volunteer we can have, and still looking for some more. If someone has interest in becoming a volunteer at Hard Anger Open Air, then please find the contact information on our website : www.hard-anger.com
Folk/viking metal band Ensiferum from Finland, death metal band Disgorge from the states, German black metal band Endstille and the Norwegian thrashers Susperia are the biggest names in the lineup, and the first thing that strikes me is the dispersion and variety musically with these 4 bands and also with the rest of the bands in the lineup. What kind of profile do you have?
René: Hard Anger Open Air Metal festival, "the place where metal meets"!
Hedvig: We want to have different metal styles, so there would be something for everyone. So, like Rene already mentioned – Hard Anger Open Air is the place where metal meets!
Economy has gradually become more and more important in an enormous festival jungle where the losers often doll. One can see that some new promoters start too optimistic and book big bands and expects sold out festival in year one, while others are more sober and think more realistically. Is this something you spend much time on?
René: Do you start with a lineup with bands that are not world wide known and take the risk that this will not attrackt enough paying visitors to cover the costs? Or do you have a lineup with expensive big bands and take the risk that the costs can’t be covered by 2000 sold tickets? I think we play as safe as possible by having the best of both: amazing talented young bands, and very good headliners. For foreigners we have Norwegian bands and for the Norwegian visitors we have foreign bands. And this all in a mighty and natural metal arena.
Hedvig: To survive, you have to have confidence and enthusiasm to push things through. And also you have to have a good board to make it all work. We have it both ! And things are getting better and better. There is always a risk when you organize something that big, but like someone smart once said :" No guts ,no glory!" We have been working very hard on this and we are optimistic enough to believe that our festival will turn out well.
Anything else you want to share with our readers?
René: For the people that want to visit us it’s maybe good to know that there are really not more than 2000 festival passes available and there is much interest. So don’t wait too long with buying your festival pass. They are available at www.billetservice.no.
Hedvig: See you all at Hard Anger Open Air !