Words and photos: Andrea Naess
It’s a warm August day in the Norwegian capital, and we are headed to the old town, a part of the city known for its down-to-earth people and culture. As this reviewer is approaching the venue OG35, a venue that is also a home for Oslo’s creative souls and punkers, we notice that a lot of people have already gathered, ready for the show. In addition to young people in their twenties, there’s a fair share of children, from the age 5-8 as well, which this reviewer finds refreshing. Around us there is an old bus that is used as a “backstage area”, as well as a place for artists to sleep after the gig. The music can be heard several blocks away, leading to some curious passers-by who occasionally stop by to see what’s going on. They have also made a bar and café, serving tasty vegan food at affordable prices.
OG35 is a culture collective consisting of musical artists, visual artists, anarchists and in general a wide variety of people who identify themselves as outside of the mainstream. The name OG35 stands for the street address of the house Oslo Gate 35. Recently the culture collective has been under pressure from the railroad company that owns it and are facing an end of their era, as the company have decided to not continue the lease. It’s located next to the rail lines, and a huge building site. The company and city council have future plans to develop the area into a more gentrified, poche city centre, which the ‘outcast’ doesn’t fit into. This is a big loss for the punk scene, and this concert is therefore called “The Death Is Near”.
The first band, Teppebombe – meaning “carpet bomb” – starts the show like the name suggest: like a bomb. Their opener ‘Nerveskade’. makes you feel alive because of its very fast tempo. Even though the tempo is fast, it’s easy to follow the rhythm because of Tobias Fausko-Johansen’s great talent at the drums. Leading vocalist Mikael Lyngaas’ is wearing a paper bag on his head while he screams, and that makes it difficult to keep the eyes off this mayhem. It leaves you terrified and intrigued at the same time, and it sets the tone for the night. Oscar Jæger Indresand on bass guitar is looking like a classic punk with the long hair and tank top, revealing a big tattoo on his upper arm. He’s got a look that makes you think he wants to murder the guitar, a little distressing but captivating as well. Their sound is typical hardcore punk, getting influences from bands like Rat Cage and Filth is Eternal. However, it’s surprising to see a saxophone being introduced towards the end of their set, during ‘Allerede Død/Uendelig Terror’.
Next is Swedish band Frisyr, a Gothenburg-based band featuring female vocalist Ragna Trost and female bass guitarist Kim Börjesson – something that is still unfortunately a little rare in the punk/hardcore scene – alongside Santiago Bautista on guitar and, on drums, Anders Ismaelson. Frisyr brings topics like social injustice to light, as we can hear in ‘Kassörens apati’ (Cashiers apathy). This song is about a worker in Lidl being payed very little, resulting in a feeling of apathy of their work: “the owner c’est la vie, the cashier’s apathy (…) wear yourself out for a shitty wage”. Trost delivers the lyrics with seething anger, aka just the perfect way to deliver punk music. We want more Frisyr in the future.
Finally, GUFF enters the stage! It’s been a while since we saw them, over a year ago at the hippie-inspired venue Hausmania, during the pandemic, when the audience had to sit on chairs when we watched them – something not so compatible with their rough hardcore sound.
GUFF is relatively new, formed in Oslo in 2018, but has managed to make a name for themselves within this scene. They start off their set with ‘Ignorance Is Bliss’, a favourite for this reviewer and their usual set-closer. The song starts with a quirky and somehow western-styled guitar riff, and then we see frontman Jølle start screaming in the microphone. The drumming is tight, and very upbeat and it’s delivered by Snorre Tangen.
Guitarist Mattis Tryland is animated and very eager too, as he leans back and forth in his signature style, while playing. He leans so much this reviewer is starting to worry about his back… haha. The set moves on to ‘Too Much’. The song is like a capitalism anxiety attack, with the manic and cyclic chorus ‘Too much, too much, too much’, where the voice sounds harsh and tired, and you can really believe him when he sings, he’s had too much. ‘Produce, to consume, consume to produce, getting confused – too much’. It makes you reflect on the problems with consumerism and capitalism, and the meaning behind it all. Snorre is unstoppable on drums, and looks like a punk ninja, with his long hair in a hair tie and baggy shorts. Adrian Larsen is cool and groovy with his bass guitar in the background.
‘Working Man’, another song they deliver this evening, emphasizes the feeling of the daily grind and giving, and giving to the capitalist system, while getting little in return. They also sing about political problems and war in the world, for example in ‘Guns At The Border’, in the lyrics “Destruction is the only way forward, guns at the border”.
We also hear a song about toxic masculinity: ‘Manly Man (Alpha Male)’. The song is about the ‘act’ of an alpha male often being a disguise for internal fears. They deliver this song with great oomph, and the crowd seem to like it as well as a mosh pit forms. The temptation of joining the mosh pit seems to have become too big at this point, since Jølle starts jumping around with them. It’s easy for the bands to interact with the crowd while they play because the concert is on ground level. This bonds the acts to the community and the DIY spirit of the genre.
Before the night ends, there’s room for one more act: Parasite Dreams. They’ve come all the way from Vienna, Austria to join us for this night and are a two-piece, Dominik Plináček sings and play guitar and Raphael Schrute plays drums, and sings as well. Their act opens with some growls and howls, paired with a melancholic guitar riff. It sounds mysterious.
Two songs in particular stands out from this band: ‘Landlord Murder’ and ‘Liberal Scum’. lyrics are very explicit for the former and very on the edge of what is okay to say, but LDN thinks that’s what makes great art. If you’ve ever rented a property, you may have come across a greedy and unfair landlord, and Parasite Dreams bring this topic to the light: “Work for living – no way out, landlord takes my money”, and then it escalates to “blood on the carpet, hatred grows in inches, year by year, dreams of stabbing. No more rent for you, my lord”.
‘Liberal Scum’ criticises liberal politics and people supporting it: “Buy yourself and be free, everybody has the chance. But try hard, you lazy pig” can be viewed as meaning if you try hard enough you can “buy yourself free”, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that everybody has the resources to do so. A very radical political commentary there from Parasite Dreams, and just edgy enough to leave us a bit shocked. But that’s how we like it.
Despite the “death is near” theme, LDN hope’s that isn’t true for OG35 and that we will see more similar acts in the future. Oslo needs punk and alternative voices.