In Tromsø, there is no need for an introduction to the Bukta Festival as well as to its headliner in 2016, Iggy Pop. However, most boats were lured to the main stage by another artist…
TEXT: Stefanie Singh
Those who move to Tromsø in August, e.g. for studies, usually have to listen a lot to what they have just missed in July regarding music festivals as three of the biggest open air events in Tromsø and its surroundings are held annually in July: The arctic hippie gathering Karlsøyfestival on the island Karlsøya, the Sami music and culture festival Riddu Riđđu in Manndalen in Kåfjord and last but not least the rock festival Bukta which takes place quite central on the island of Tromsøya. The Bukta Tromsø Open Air Festival, which was first staged in 2004, is THE rock event of the year in Tromsø and provides both national and international artists.
This year’s headliner, punk rock legend Iggy Pop, already performed in 2007 with The Stooges at the beach of Telegrafbukta. This year, James Newell Osterberg, Jr. aka Iggy Pop is finalising the first day of the festival (Thursday), and so his gig just fits into the jam-packed schedule of the editorial office of Utropia. The Bukta Festival definitely possesses one of the most beautiful festival settings in the world: The main stage «Telegrafbukta» on the homonymous beach, and water and the mountainous landscape of Kvaløya, the fifth largest island in mainland Norway, behind it. This year, the visitors of Bukta are also fortunate to experience some of the warmest and sunniest days of the summer 2016 during the festival from 21st to 23rd July 2016. In this picture-perfect scenery, Iggy Pop starts his set at 9.30 p.m. with «No Fun», followed by «I Wanna Be Your Dog» and his mega-hit «The Passenger» whose «la-la-la» part is sung along enthusiastically by the crowd. The atmosphere is absolutely magical, and despite his age of 69 years, the performance of the American hasn’t lost any of its energy. Every now and then, he looks at individuals in the crowd, assuring that he can see them. Later on, he even jumps into the stage pit and moves closer to the fans.
Next to classics like «Lust For Life» and «Search And Destroy», the setlist also covers compositions from the latest release «Post Pop Depression», a collaboration with the Queens Of The Stone Age frontman Josh Homme («Sunday» and «Gardenia»). Despite the picture-perfect scenery of a rock concert at sunset, something very strange is happening during the second half of the set: The crowd thins out – and it does so visibly! Since there is no metro system or the like in Tromsø, something like «I need to catch the last metro» cannot be the explanation. Or does everyone want to be in time for the after-show concert of the Tromsø-based rock band Red Headed Sluts in the Hålogaland Teater? It remains a mystery.
When stopping by the Telegrafbukta the next day, there is a possible explanation as the number of boats in the water behind the main stage is increasing shortly before 5 o’clock. Just in time for the show of the Norwegian pop artist Sondre Justad from Lofoten. Do national acts enjoy more popularity in Tromsø than the international ones do? It would also explain why the day tickets for Saturday have been sold out since a while and why the third day of the festival will have most visitors at the end (7,000). All bands playing on Saturday on the main stage are Norwegian (The Northern Lies, Black Debbath, Valentourettes, Senjahopen, Raga Rockers and DumDum Boys). On Friday, 6,000 visitors are counted, and on Thursday – when Iggy Pop was playing next to Gogol Bordello from the US – it’s 5,000. Altogether, Bukta had 21,000 visitors in 2016, celebrating under the motto «Rock, øl og sjømat» [Norwegian for: «Rock, beer and seafood»].
Due to a lack of time, we unfortunately missed the performances on the two smaller stages «Paradisbukta» and «Little Henrik». Another good reason to return to the Bukta Festival next year. The date for the 2017 edition is already confirmed: 20th to 22nd July 2017.
Those who moved to Tromsø just now in August 2016 should definitely think about paying a visit to the Bukta Festival (or to the other two festivals mentioned) in July 2017. The summers in Tromsø are short, but full of life and activities. And one should definitely not miss it.