HOIST! – Trondheim – Dokkhuset

HOIST! – Trondheim – Dokkhuset

Beautiful live madness

One of my most intense ‘love at first sight’ when it comes to music is the Norwegian band Hoist! and their beautiful sound with a touch of madness. They recently released their second full album, ‘Unhost’ and since the tour didn’t include the Southern part of Norway, I decided to take a short trip up North and see the release concert at Dokkhuset, in Trondheim. They had a mini concert that day as well, at the Big Dipper music store, but I didn’t manage to arrive in time for it. But after that I chased the band around until late in the evening, so I’ll try to tell the story of ‘one day with Hoist!’

After they relocated the instruments from the music shop to the evening’s concert place, it was time to do a bit of nothing and that was rather enjoyable. But later on it turned out that this didn’t apply to everyone involved in the making of the concert. The employees at Dokkhuset (stage technicians/light guy/sound guy) had already started the preparations of he stage and when we got there the visuals were really awesome. They had placed a big fence in the background, hanged some windows on the ceiling, hanged some light bulbs above the drum kits, fixed some big bottles inside metal barrels and added some lights inside the bottles and much more. Besides starting to arrange cables, light covers and positions and the million other details needed for everything to run smoothly for two hours. But the work to the whole stage setup had actually started even earlier as some of the band members had brought the windows and old wooden pieces used to build the fence. And they even went to Dokkhuset in the middle of the night to build one of the coolest merch stands I ever seen. A tad dangerous, but cool nevertheless.

(Photo: Andrea Chirulescu)

After a delicious dinner, the hard work started. Everyone in the band started unpacking the various bags, luggages and boxes scattered all over the floor and arranging their contents on the stage. Things were being moved around, adjusted, pulled, pushed, taped and tested, and all this time the stage people had a fantastic dexterity of sneaking around with huge ladders in order to fix the cables and the lights at different heights. I have always been fascinated by the clockwork needed to prepare a stage for the concert and this time was not at all boring. Especially that very little time before the concert was supposed to start, they were still doing sound checks and the guy who arranged some TV projections on old fashioned televisions set was still struggling to get the images right and to actually find a right position on the already very crowded stage. Afterall, there are 7 band members in Hoist! and well, everyone needs their space: either because you play a regular huge piano and an el one, or a contrabass the size of China, or you have built a percussion set the size of a regular drum kit and  some small areas on the side where you actually store the various sound making items, or you play an organ that has countless pedals next to it (not sure if attached to it) and then a bunch of small/odd/unusual keyboards, or you need space to store your 4 guitars. Plus, space needed for a regular drumkit (even if the poor drummer was almost out of sight), plus, most important, space needed to display the madness during your singing process. This is not something I can really explain, so I recommend you either watch a youtube video of Hoist! live or you just go see them with your own eyes.

(Photo: Andrea Chirulescu)

Once the venue doors were opened with a bit of delay, there was quite a decent amount of people who rushed in and pretty soon after that the band members returned on stage with concert outfits. They were warmly welcomed and that made me feel like it’s going to be a good concert. I don’t think too many in the audience would contradict that. Certainly not those who started dancing, either in pairs on the slower songs, or jumping and going in circles on the fast paced ones.

On one hand, I think it’s good the band only has two albums out. Most of the songs are so awesome and the live re-arrangements make them even more exciting than on the discs, so it would feel rather unfair if some had been left out. The intro song was the calm ‘Beehive’ from the new disc and it’s so soft and cosy that, if you’re not familiar with the band, it makes you wonder why do they have so much stuff on stage. Yet, it should also make bewitch you since Marita’s voice is heavenly and soothing on this one.

(Photo: Andrea Chirulescu)

After that, there’s so much madness than you actually get to treasure the slow and soft moments in the music. I had a hard time deciding whom to look at to understand what was going on. Hoist! has ‘lost’ Kristoffer Lo on tuba and Daniel Elide on the drum kit and they are now replaced with Per Spjøtvold (responsible for synth, organ, odd keyboards) and Tomas Järmyr on drums. I don’t deny I wasn’t ‘missing’ Kristoffer’s witty sounds on the so familiar songs from ‘Ami Noir’ – the band’s first albums. But when I decided to actually pay attention to what Per Spjøtvold was doing with the countless effects and well, stuff, that he brought along, I realised the replacement is very very successful and inspiring and the new ideas just fit in perfectly. Plus, he could headbang and jump around much more often. While Alessandro Elide is already known for adding a touch of brilliance with all the percussion equipment he brings along (bells, xylophone, rainmakers, cow-bells, ‘eggs’, maracas, various types of drum sticks), I admit it was fascinating to watch the energy (provided it can be watched) of the new drummer. Tomas has taken Hoist! a step up on the concert- intensity scale. He seems to give all he’s got and he loves it. And while he’s not the biggest person in the band, when he stands behind the drum kit and hits them with all his power, he’s really the most impressive on stage.

The deep, groovy bass line is elegantly handled by Bjørn Marius Hegge on contrabass and he has a very cool style of making it look as if it’s easier than breathing. Meanwhile, Kurt Sprenger is sweating his ass off, as he plays one of the four guitars on display and tries to get the best sound for his guitar solos that are so elegantly placed within the songs. As he is the only other ‘mobile’ band member, he has the liberty to interact more with the singer or just go in the middle of the stage and do a bit of guitar show off, so well loved by the crowd.

(Photo: Andrea Chirulescu)

Marita Røstad is stuck to the chair as she has to play her piano(s), but I’m pretty sure she’d run around the stage attached to her pianos if she could. If you chose to focus on her lovely voice, it’s enough to close your eyes and just forget the visuals for a while, so it doesn’t make any difference whether she’s mobile or not. Stian Leknes, the male voice of Hoist! compensates for her and everyone else sitting. There are some ‘relaxed’ parts for him when he stands still for a while, but most of the concert you’ll rarely notice him standing still for more than a second (unless he maybe decides to perform a bit on the floor at some points). I personally find the combo of the two voices to be one of the sweetest sounds heard by my ears. Whether they sing softly, scream or ‘rap’, it feels flawless. Especially when they improvise and play with their songs and make you go ‘wow’ many many times, as it’s probably not easy to jam like that, in a team of 7. But I guess here it’s where their passion for music and the professionalism comes into play.

The concert had an encore and ended with ‘Time has Come’, which, in turn, ended with another insane jam that had such a fantastic vibe that I smile so much each time I think about it. I can only hope that Hoist! would soon plan more live dates in the South of Norway (so I avoid the many hours of travel). But even if they don’t, I’ll happily travel again and again to watch them live and I hope more and more people would get to watch them live and be amazed by their talent.