Music, Food, and Fun: Way Out West—The People’s Festival
Adrianne Lind gives us a behind-the-scenes look at the three-day Way Out West Festival in Gothenburg.
A happy festival
The seductive ambiance began upon arrival. The festival atmosphere was amplified by the electricity and music in the air. People looked happy.
Groups walked to the entrance of Slottsskogen Park in Gothenburg in droves. Friends sat along the green drinking, eating, laughing and grooving to the sounds emanating from behind the Way Out West entrance gates. Once past the security point, the sheer vastness of the thirteenth edition of this three-day event became apparent.
Gothenburg’s favorite park is home to a forest of trees, a zoo, art installations, cafes, volleyball courts, miniature golf, outdoor gyms, an observatory, Segway rental center, Natural History Museum, playgrounds, an old water tower, ponds, jogging and walking paths.
The entire park spans a vast 137 hectares and hosts an open-air church, theater, and concerts. The biggest of the concerts is the internationally acclaimed Way Out West held this year from August 8 through 10.
Spontaneous dancing could not be avoided as there were pockets of music at every turn pouring out of huge speakers.
Music and Dancing
There was techno, there was hip hop. There were simultaneous musical performances on different stages. There was music being spun by DJs at various points around the Park providing the perfect backdrop to the festival you curated for yourself.
At Way Out West, you get to decide what kind of experience you want to have.
Way Out West Talks, yet another offering, bring together thought leaders and the public to address important issues of the day.
This year, sustainability is the main theme and discussions centered around the climate, economy, democracy, equality. Speakers and topics included Testimonies of Racism, Silence of the Bees, Daddy Issues: Live Podcast, The Good Show, Ta det som en man – en föreställning av och med Hampus Nessvold, Oslipat: Speaking of Drugs, and Spring Uje Spring.
Third-largest film festival
Way Out West is also Sweden’s 3rd largest film festival. This year, 35 films played over three days. The film festival also provides a platform for directors to engage with the audience.
Films are also shown around town and included several Swedish premieres and Cannes Film Festival favorites.
This year, the Way Out West film festival included the TV series previews of Everything I Do Not Remember (ALLT JAG INTE MINNS), and episodes of the upcoming season of Our Time Is Now (VÅR TID ÄR NU).
It also offered an exclusive preview of And Then We Danced, and the Nordic premiere of the zombie film The Dead Do Not Die, directed by Jim Jarmusch and starring Adam Driver, Chloe Sevigny Bill Murray, RZA, Iggy Pop and Tom Waits.
Other highlights included Amazing Grace, Sydney Pollack’s documentary on the recording of Aretha Franklin’s legendary album of the same title.
One could go to Way Out West for the films. One could go just for the DJs. One could go just to dance. One could go just for the food.
None of those choices would end in disappointment.
The festival is vegetarian and has been completely meat-free and largely dairy-free for 7 years. The Lilla Dammen section housed the Chef’s Market, something new for 2019, a Craft Beer Hall, Wine Garden and bars with premium cocktails.
Additional choices included Agrikultur, the Michelin Starred restaurant offering a vegetarian five-course set menu prepared by Filip Fastén and Joel Åhlin (reservations required).
There was also Cocktails on tap, a Wine Garden, a Gin Bar, a Coffee Bar, and a non-alcoholic bar. There were over 20 food options including Hoi Polloi, Boho Bar, Planet Vega, Churros, Taku Taku and The Good Gringo.
Way Out West was a place to be with friends. Clicks of woman and men enjoyed themselves immensely. And while people were consuming alcohol all day and into the evening, I didn’t witness a single altercation.
Accidental bumps always garnered an immediate apology. There was a strict no drugs policy and people respected the non-smoking areas and gathered in the smoking sections instead.
Way Out West was also an opportunity to express oneself through fashion and makeup. Glittered faces sparkled in the night. High heels were dared on the grass. Men and women alike dared to be different.
The Sunday rains were managed with gear from cheap ponchos to professional camping outfits guaranteed to keep the wearer watertight. No umbrellas are allowed inside the park during the festival, so a good jacket with a hood is advisable.
And of course, Way Out West is all about the live musical performances by local and international acts.
This year’s line up of headliners was James Blake, Solange, Erykah Badu, Neneh Cherry, Stormzy, The Cure, and Pharoah Sanders. Seinabo Sey, The Blaze, Earl Sweatshirt, and Rex Orange County are just a few of the others who made Way Out West such an outstanding music festival.
But not content to end the night at 1 am, Stay Out West was an additional experience to be had for an additional price. Music venues around Gothenburg provided stages for even more performers into the night. This was a festival that went practically non-stop for 72 hours.
Tickets went on sale August 25th for Way Out West 2020. The dates are August 13 – 15, 2020.
You can buy tickets here: https://www.wayoutwest.se/
The 14th edition has a lot to live up to but I have no doubt that the organizers will not disappoint.
Way Out West is the people’s festival. And the people have spoken. There really is no other place to be.