MIDNATTSROCKENS ÅR FOR ÅR
The Midnight Rock Festival 1985 poster with a facsimile from the local newspaper Sagat.
Time: July 28th 1984
Artists/bands: Åge Aleksandersen & Sambandet, Terje Tysland, Mari Boine & Blizzard, The Game, Piera Balto, Freezy and the Total Illution, PTF Junior
The Midnight Rock festival is born. With Lakselv Boxing Club as midwife, and Øyvind Finne as the festival chief.
The first Midnight Rock is headlined by Åge Aleksandersen & Sambandet and Terje Tysland.
The highlight of the 1984 festival was without doubt the duet between Åge Aleksandersen and Terje Tysland. They are on stage together for the first time in six years, and their final number “Det er langt igjen til Royal Albert Hall” (It’s a long way to Royal Albert Hall) made the audience go bonkers. Their time together in the band Prudence, was evidently an important musical era for the first ever Midnight Rock audience. And – in the background, four Para shooters slowly fall from the sky.
An audience of 4500 people is in utter ecstasy. They push up against the stage and yell “Åge” Åge! Åge!”. Finnmark has never seen anything like this. And the people of Finnmark have never been able to experience anything like it.
The bar has been set. The Midnight Rock phenomenon has been born.
The Midnight Rock festival 1985 at Brennelvneset
Time: July 13th 1985
Bands/artists: Åge Aleksandersen, Björn Afzelius, Christ Candy, Helter Skelter, Wannskræk*, Mari Boine, Moment 82
*later known as DumDum Boys
The Midnight Rock Festival has already achieved status as the biggest music festival in northern Norway, and everything is lined up for an amazing festival weekend in Lakselv. One of the most memorable happenings for probably most people in the audience, was the moment when Bjørn Afzelius entered the stage, and immediately brought out his camera to photograph the audience of 5500 people bathed in the light of the midnight sun with the Porsanger fjord as a perfect postcard image background. And then he brings out his guitar, and begins the concert. Again, the absolute highlight of the year is a duet. This time between Åge Aleksandersen and Bjørn Afzelius, accompanied by thousands of hands, sharply contrasted by the midnight sun. This whole setting made a huge impression on both us and the artists. The much-loved Norwegian artist is also live on the phone with the national broadcasting TV-channel NRK, reporting from the world’s northernmost open-air music festival. The party goes on until about the time the local grocery store opens.
Hundreds of tents, and the number of empty bottles is proof of the fact that the 1985 Midnight Rock has been a true community party.
Facsimiles from the local newspaper Sagat after the 1986 festival.
Time: July 12th 1986
Bands/artists: Stage Dolls, TNT, Terje Tysland, Piera Balto, Black Widow, Grax, Thule, Geggen & The Crew, Road, Babij Jar, Ny Gate, Cat Fever
Saturday July 12th was the date the festival hungry had marked off in their calendars. Stage Dolls, TNT and Terje Tysland were on the poster of the 1986 edition of the Midnight Rock Festival. Everything is set and lined up for the musical event of the year, and even in horribly cold and wet weather, 6000 people found their way to Brennelvneset.
“We are here to listen to the music and have fun. We don’t care the least about the weather.” was the message from the audience.
This year, we could see that the Midnight Rock festival quickly had become like a musical catwalk.
The local Sami singer and artist Mari Boine Persen (now Mari Boine) who had played the earlier festivals here, had now played the Roskilde Festival in Denmark, and at this point in history, no other Norwegian artist had been received better or been more applauded by the Roskilde audience at Europe’s biggest music festival. Her international breakthrough was a fact, and she had now started her long and laborious way towards her status as a world artist.
The 1986 festival success was a fact when Pierra Boine entered the stage as the final artist, to perform a duet with the singer of the band Road.
This year, because of Lakselv Boxing Club’s involvement, an outdoor boxing event with the famous boxer Steffen Tangstad was planned. However, because of the horrible weather, it had to be cancelled.
We have also been told a little story from 1986. Even if then prime minister of Norway, Kåre Willoch, had announced that “everything is going so much better now”, and the country is about to become more liberalized, the full effects of that had yet to reach Lakselv. The festival capitol of Finnmark has yet to be granted a store from the Royal Norwegian Wine and Liquor Monopoly, which gives way for a lot of local moonshining. A local “entrepreneur” has planned well, and a couple weeks prior to the festival, he strategically buries his 20 liter “flask” with an attached hose sticking barely up above the ground. All well so far, and the wonderful day of July 12th finally comes, and the young gentleman is on his way to the festival area. In his pocket, he carries some money and a treasure map. Well inside the pearly gates, he soon realizes that the map no longer matches the surroundings; a toilet has been put up exactly where his little hose is supposed to come up! If he voted for the then current prime minister at the next election is unknown to us, but we know that Lakselv eventually got a wine and liquor store.
Tickets and stickers from the 1987 festival.
Time: July 11th 1987.
Bands/artists: Imperiet (SE), Tomboy, Mari Boine, TNT, Can Can, Kim Larsen (DK)
The third Midnight Rock Festival was July 11th 1987. The ticket sale was fantastic, and 7000 people found their way to Brennelvneset. The high number of visitors was probably directly related to a great list of headliners. This year’s poster was probably one of the all-time best posters. Huge names like the Swedish band Imperiet, Tomboy, Mari Boine Persen, TNT, Can Can (Anne Grete Preus), and Kim Larsen should speak for themselves.
So, it’s just before midnight. The temperature is only a few degrees above freezing, and a cold northern wind is whipping us from behind. Anne Grete Preus, Per Vestaby and the rest of Can Can enter the stage. “Unbelievable, but true!” is the statement from the experienced front figure. Almost 7000 Finnmarkinger have shown up, despite the cold and uninviting weather. And Anne Grete Preus was right – it truly was unbelievable, but true.
The massive flow of people entering the festival area made it’s stories too. A local woman was going to the festival, and came up to the entrance gates a couple of hours before it all started. She kept running into people she knew, and kept engaging in conversation after conversation, standing there by the entrance without really going in. In the meantime, more people arrive, and they automatically assume she is working there, so they pay their entrance fee to her before they go in. This woman just stayed there for about an hour before the real guards and entrance workers arrived, and in that time, she had a whole grocery bag full of approximately 100 000 NKR, that she delivers to the guards before she pays her own ticket fee and enters the festival.
This year, the festival general Øyvind Finne, made national media, after inviting the USSR ambassador, Terering, to Lakselv and The Midnight Rock Festival. The Midnight Rock Festival had at this time grown into such a position and size, that the media coverage both before and after the festival was significant. Before the festival, local media wrote “TNT returns to Lakselv”, and the statement from Øyvind Finne was that “we have promised to have the best of bands on stage in Lakselv, and we are about to fulfill our promise.” Ronny Le Tekrø and Diesel Dahl of TNT are headlining once again, and are on familiar ground here. The local branch of the national broadcasting channel, NRK Finnmark, sent live radio from Brennelvneset, and made tv pieces for both the national news, and “Norge Rundt” which features stories from all over the country. What was probably best remembered were Mari Boine’s rather political statements about the Russian ambassador’s presence.
A well-known curiosa is that Åge Aleksandersen is a fan of Lakselv, and his guitar strap is made here by a local man called “Fosse Olav”. However, what not too many may be aware of, is that Kim Larsen, who arrived by helicopter for the occasion, also used “Fosse Olav”’s guitar strap on stage at The Midnight Rock Festival 1987.
Facsimile from the local newspaper Sagat
Time: July 2nd and 3rd 1988
Artists/bands: Wall of Voodoo (US), Va Bank (RU), Jørn Hoel, Eva Dahlgren, Dance With A Stranger
The fourth Midnight Rock Festival happened July 2nd and 3rd. The year before, Øyvind Finne got a lot of national attention, after inviting the USSR ambassador, Terering, to Lakselv and The Midnight Rock Festival. Finne isn’t shy, and sets up a new “top meeting. The American band “Wall of Voodoo” and the Russian band “Va Bank” are both on this year’s poster. During the cold war, on stage, only 300 meters/1000 feet from a NATO airport. “Most likely the first time an American and a Russian band play an open-air concert together.” was Finne’s statement. The members of Moscow based “Va Bank” weren’t particularly willing to talk about politics during the press conference. However, the vocalist, Sasha, did lift the veil slightly with his statement: “There are a lot of USSR rock bands. Bands that stay within the guidelines from the government. They get played on radio, and they make a living out of their music. But they play bad rock. Good rock needs to come from the underground, and we do. We are revolutionary, which you have to be in order to play good rock.”
The Midnight Rock 1988 had several treats to offer. A duet between Jørn Hoel and Eva Dahlgren, to mention one. And Dance With A Stranger, one of the dangling carrots this year.
Oh, and Jørn Hoel was at this time like Julio Iglesias, Robbie Williams and Norwegian Idol winner Kurt – in one person! Not one girl’s heart beat at a normal rhythm when the charming lady’s man from Tromsø entered the stage. Jørn Hoel demanded full attention. He proposed to the audience, and the answer was yes: “Ei hand å holde i” (A hand to hold) was performed with only acoustic guitar and song, the rest of the band clapping the beat. And so did the audience. “Let me hear your hands, Lakselv!” he shouted with his horse, raspy voice to the audience. And in the audience, tears were flooding, they were pushing up against the stage, and the ones in the front had to be lifted up and carried out by the guards. Yeah, that was 1988.
But, everything wasn’t simple. How the weather makes trouble for the Midnight Rock Festival is clearly shown through Sagat journalist Hanna Hansen’s comment: “Last year, our comfort was that it couldn’t possibly get any worse. It was 2 degrees (Celsius, app. 34-35 F) and northeastern wind all night. This year, the ironic comfort was that it was indeed worse than last year.”
This turned out to be the last time Øyvind Finne was the festival general. And, 16 years would go by before the name “Midnattsrock” would be formally used again in Lakselv. The 1988 festival did actually do pretty well, but earlier years’ losses made it impossible to continue.
“Oh, hell. We’re in Finnmark. We’ve had 18 degrees Celsius. In total! In three years!”
Øyvind Finne, festival general.
Facsimile from local newspaper Sagat
Artists/bands: Dance With A Stranger, Backstreet Girls, Finnmark Rock Championship.
The father of the Midnight Rock Festival has quit. It is no longer Øyvind Finne smoking his cigar on the stage. Because, 1988 was the absolute last time he sacrificed his summer vacation, his sleep and his own wallet to give the happy Finnmark campers The Experience of the Year on that little peninsula just east of Lakselv. This time, local patriots and enthusiasts Oskar Jolma, Gunnar Olsen and Atle Thomassen make sure the Porsanger fjord is filled with guitar riffs. The local sports team Lakselv IL and the community union Brennelv Bygdelag were equally responsible, and the budgets were far more modest than earlier years.
But still, the poster had names like Dance With A Stranger and the thrash-rockers Backstreet Girls, in addition to organize a Finnmark Rock Championship. A total of 8 bands entered the competition, and the results were ready early Sunday morning: The band Dr.Wessel from Kirkenes won the top prize of 15 000 NKR and a record deal.
This last “Lakselv rock” in this era drew in a little less than 1000 paying visitors. Which wasn’t enough for the organizers. The rest of Finnmark had opened their eyes for what an event a rock festival could be, and this year you could go to Hammerfest and “Salen Rock”, to Vardø for “Domen Rock”, where you could experience old heroes like Smokie or Nazareth. And, the market in Finnmark simply wasn’t big enough to support three big events like these. So, the fires burned out for the enthusiastic patriots, and Brennelvneset was left alone for 12 long years, half a generation, until guitar riffs sounded from the idyllic peninsula outside of Lakselv.
Brave individuals brought the festival back to life.
Time: July 28th and 29th 2001
Artists/bands: Big Bang, Midnight Choir, Steinar Albrigtsen, Uro, Bjarte Hjelmeland & Cowbiz, Misvær Skaforening, Split Image, Johns Quijote, Spitfire (RU), J.A.Z, Turdus Musicus, Sorg, Kenneth Weines, Perfect Street Rangers, Thule, Amnesia, Pi, Intrigue
See 2001 poster
Five local enthusiasts have spent almost two years planning to rebirth what Øyvind Finne created in the eighties. The planning is zealous, detailed and very thorough. A 14-hour non-stop marathon rock is under construction. 20 bands are on the poster, both local talents and bigger national names like Steinar Albrigtsen, Big Band and Seven. And also, a Russian rock band from St. Petersburg will be on stage, here at the end of the Porsanger fjord. All of it supposed to be over with in less than 24 hours. “Pulling off a festival like this is like performing the longest foreplay in the world, and achieving the world’s shortest orgasm.” was the analogy made by the festival general. Two years of planning and working, and then everything is over in a day.
But, the Finnmark summers can be very capricious, something they painstakingly learned this year too. The last forty days before the festival gates opened, no blue sky was seen, and the gates of heaven were wide open. Which was a directly reason to why the number of visitors didn’t get high enough, and the organizers were left unpleasantly red numbers in the accounting.
One of the episodes the audience maybe remembers the best, was when Kai Somby and Intrigue’s microphone was thrown off the stage, after their sound was cut due to a tight schedule. We asked Somby if he had forgiven Roar Steingrimsen, the guy who made the decision, and he said: “Hehehe, yes – although it was a spontaneous reaction on my part. You give so much of yourself during a performance, and when the sound was cut, I got pissed of then and there. But yeah, Steingrimsen is forgiven.”
Anyway, the enthusiastic organizers had to call it quits after yet another huge loss. However, there was a growing optimism, new lessons learned, and proof that the success like the eighties indeed could be recreated.
The first year with organized camping inside the closed area.
Time: July 25th – 26th 2003
Artists/bands: TNT, Björn Rosenström, Surferosa, Gåte, Jack, Diaz, Rocochettes, Threesome Project, Kristopher Schau (speaker/toastmaster/master of ceremonies)
See 2003 poster
To year have gone by since the guitar riffs last sounded from Brennelvneset. Now, a local pub owner with many creative fibers in his body, has decided to feed the festival hungry. Also, he has a vision about recreating the Midnight Rock Festival, this time under the name “Festival 71 degrees north”.
“It’s really just like organizing a concert at the pub, just a little bigger.”, was his confident statement. This time, the weather gods teamed up with the organizers. Porsanger and Finnmark presented from it’s finest side the weeks prior to the festival. Everything was lined up for a fantastic weekend, bathed in midnight sun and rock. And, that last weekend of July 2003, Lakselv was upside down! There were people everywhere both in the town center, and at the festival area at Brennelvneset. All available taxies from all over Finnmark had to be called to Lakselv for the weekend, and a number of extra buses were running. Anything to transport the festival hungry people to Brennelvneset.
Eight bands played, spread out over two nights, and great heroes of the past, like TNT, made a lot of people nod with recognition: “Yes, this is exactly like the good old day, you have successfully recreated the eighties.” Next to TNT, we would say that Surferosa and Gåte probably made the biggest impressions on the audience. The poster also had names like Diaz, Threesome Project, Riccochets, Bjørn Rosenström and Jack. When everything was stitched together by the crazy figure that Kristopher Schau is, you had to acknowledge that Morten Pettersen, who handled the booking, definitely put together a great combination.
But alas, not even that stopped the numbers from ending up red. However, ever more knowledge had been acquired. And, everybody involved knew that this competence could not be wasted, but had to be further developed. The decision was made: there was going to be a Midnight Rock Festival in 2004.
During the 2004 festival, the concerts took place inside tents. It’s never been nicer weather during the festival.
Time: July 22nd – 25th 2004
Artists/bands: Mari Boine, Stage Dolls, Postgirobygget, Surferosa, Amulet, Side Brok, Askil Holm, El Caco, Karin Park, John Doe, Popium, Lorraine, Milestone Refinery, HGH, Hangface, Daisy, Ping, Pinionhead
Immediately after “Festival 71 degrees north”, the preparations for next year’s festival began. On several levels. It was soon revealed in local media that there were two separate organizers that wanted to give the people “bread and circus”. Both the initiator behind «Festival 71 degrees north» and a group of a few of the key initiators behind both the 2001 and 2003 festivals, had applied for the right to use festival area. Local media got inspired by the tabloids, and this “fight over Brennelvneset” was given plenty of attention and space. The initiator behind “Festival 71 degrees north” drew the shortest stick, and the competitors won the right to use the festival area, and teamed up with a few others too. The Midnight Rock Festival finally had tailwind, and the only thing to do was to hit the gas and build a solid festival in Finnmark.
Keeping weather statistics fresh in mind, the organizers did not want to risk not having the weather gods on their team and decided to set up the stages and the concerts inside two huge tents. Ironically, the weather gods have never delivered better! So, with Postgirobygget, Stage Dolls, Karin Park, Askil Holm, Mari Boine, Milestone Refinery and Surferosa on stage inside the circus tents, Lakselv had night temperatures with a low still above 20 degrees (68F), and with the midnight sun hanging over the Porsanger fjord – the 2004 festival was a huge audience success.
It rained cats and dogs during Åge Aleksandersen’s concert in 2005. He probably still remembers the experience…
Time: July 21st – 24th 2005
Visitors: 6200 including Norwegian Idol show
Artists/bands: Åge Aleksandersen & Sambandet, WigWam, Gåte, Margaret Berger, Stonegard, Kari Rueslåtten, Hopalong Knut, Ping, Rilka, Slogstorm, Taliban Airways, Geggen
See 2005 poster
It’ 2005, and the Idol fever has reached Norway. The Midnight Rock festival is visited by the popular Norwegian Idol Tour, fronted by Tone Damli Aaberge. But that’s merely the foreplay. Because, this year’s posted is headlined by Åge Aleksandersen & Sambandet, Wig Wam and Gåte. The Midnight Rock Festival is slowly but surely building a reputation beyond the northern parts of Norway. In Fyllingsdalen outside of Bergen, three young women are filling their old Ford Escort with mosquito repellent and Hansa beer, and remembers to check “good mood” off their packing list. Then they head 2200 km/1367 miles north and are among the very first to get settles in the, in time, legendary festival camp. “We’ve heard so much positive about the Midnight Rock Festival, that we simply had to come check it out. We’ve read about the bands online and figured out that this ought to be just as great at The Roskilde Festival or The Quart Festival”, is the statement hollered out with well sounding Bergen dialect.
Whether or not it was the west coast girls who took the weather with them and contributed to having the sky open up or not is still unknown, but the highlight of this festival was probably Åge Aleksanderen & Sambandet’s concert. It’s 2am Sunday July 24th. The weather conditions are perfect for shooting a commercial for extremely weather persistent paint. The distinction between the horizon and the sky is erased into a coherent gray and frothing mass of water. On stage, between Åge and the other band members, stage technicians are desperately sweeping waves of water off the stage. “This is incredible! I can’t believe you persevere!” Åge hollers out to an audience of thousands of soaked, but happy people. In the background, the saxophone player pours water out of his sax. Well blown! A pretty moist weekend for most of the 6200 festival visitors ends with a cloudburst and a hurricane of a concert.
The ladies were well represented on the 2006 poster
Time: July 20the – 22nd 2006
Visitors: 6300 including Norwegian Idol show
Artists/bands: Turboneger, Ralph Myerz & The Jack Herren Band, Briskeby, Mira Craig, Maria Mena, Elvira Nikolaisen, Paperboys, Animal Alpha, Enslaved, Henning Kvitnes, Sort, Ska Patrol, Furia, Sagittarius, Torch, The Goo Men, Tyven, Elin Kåven, Cyaneed, Chris Willian, Bøbb-1 og Yogi
See 2006 poster
One of the very lucky booking this year for both the Midnight Rock Festival and the Quart Festival was Mira Craig, who had won an “Alarmprisen” for best newcomer the year before. Her work with Snoop Dogg, and her kamikaze like stagedives off the stage, and very close contact with op politician Trond Giske had given the brunette with the deer eyes a lot of media coverage. And Mira fulfilled – thousands of people gathered in front of the stage while the singer, dancer and clothes designer from St. Hanshaugen in Oslo moved her famous hips to her song Boogeyman. A bit further from the stage, a couple of distinguished gentlemen, soon middleaged, are watching the show, each with a beer in their hand, and the comment from one of them was “You can tell she’s good!”.
The Midnight Rock Festival has made a goal of having the most important national artists visit Finnmark. Around the millennium, Briskeby was one of Norway’s hottest bands. Their debut album was highly acclaimed and gave them several hits. Front figure and singer, the charismatic Lise Karlsnes, delivered consecutively hits like “Jeans for Onassis”, “Joe Dallesandro” and «Propaganda”, and gave the fans ninety unforgettable minutes. And, Karlsnes herself will probably not forget Lakselv too soon: “When I first arrived here, I noticed a couple performing reproducing activity. If there’s a result in nine months, I would like to know!”, she humorously proclaimed from the stage.
But still, the main attraction was Turboneger. The sight of Hank von Hell without a shirt on in a few degrees above freezing at 70 degrees north was the absolute highlight of the weekend. Charged to the limit, Norway’s at the probably best rock band delivered a furious concert. Songs like “I got erection, “Apocalypse Dudes”, and “Fuck the world” blew the grass and heathers at Brennelvneset into a ninety minutes long epileptic seizure. The audience was in ecstasy, and the main character himself responded by screaming: “All economical festival support should go to this festival!” from the stage.
The general and united response from all visiting artists gives The Midnight Rock Festival as a phenomenon a reminder that the organizers definitely are on the right track. The festival is about to create an identity for itself, become a concept among visitors all over the country, and an exotic destination for artists.
Originally, the Swedish artist Robyn was on the poster. When she had to cancel, she was replaced by the American band Kamelot.
Time: July 12th – 14th 2007
Artists/bands: Kamelot (US), Fish (SCO), Dr. Hook feat. Ray Sawyer (US), Askil Holm, Pagans Mind, Seven, Sissy Wish, My Midnight Creeps (cancelled)
See 2007 poster
This festival is best remembered for having two international legends on the poster. Artists that stand strong in the musical history books and have influenced generations of buyers. First out was Fish, or Derek W. Dick, singer and front figure of the English band Marillion. The band sold over 14 million albums, and most radio listeners know the massive hit Kayleigh from 1985. Fish had never been this far north, and describes in his own blog, the day and night in the land of the midnight sun as “The longest day”: “The site was truly magical. Perched on a sandy outcrop between the local river and the sea, the stage facing the bay and overpowering midnight sun and the backstage area full of tepees containing fine wines, vodka and a crackling birch wood fire in a cauldron offering sweet smoke to the vent above which held a blue circle of sky. I was living again. We sat on reindeer hides and smiled with our new friends. This was so Fellini. I can honestly say that Stig, the promoter, and all those involved at the Midnattsrock festival were the friendliest and most helpful bunch of people I have met for a long time and the festival itself was one of the best experiences I have had at an open air. The vibe was fantastic. »
The next “grand ol’ man” was the American band Dr. Hook featuring Ray Sawyer. After 40 years on the road, it was time for the band’s farewell tour, which included The Midnight Rock Festival. That the singer was in his 71th year, and probably the oldest man at the entire festival, was surreal. And all those that had feared a geriatric rock show with a high wheelchair factor, was proved wrong. The singer, who in a social democratic world could be resting in a nursing home, had fresh batteries in his pacemaker, and gave the audience songs like Sylvia’s Mother, The Cover Of Rolling Stone, Only Sixteen, Sexy Eyes og When You’re In Love With A Beautiful Woman.
This year had to deal with a few changes to the poster. The famous Swedish singer Robyn was on the original poster, but when she had to cancel only a week prior to the festival, she was replaced by the American band Kamelot. The Norwegian band Madrugada was also on the original poster, but this concert was cancelled because guitarist Robert Burås passed away the day before the concert date. In respect of Burås and his family, band members and fans, the band was not replaced, and the stage was instead left silent while Madrugada was supposed to be on stage.
This year, the number of visitors was lower than the two previous years. The organizers decided to make some changes: they needed to aim a bit higher – big names on the poster were needed to get people’s attention.
The Swedish band Europe contributed to attract 5500 visitors to The Midnight Rock Festival in 2008.
Time: July 10th – 13th 2008
Artists/bands: Europe (SE), Kurt Nilsen, Superfamily, Elvira Nikolaisen, Animal Alpha, The Disciplines, Howl, Heroes & Zeros, Cyaneed, KM Myrland, Rolffa feat. Duolva Duottar, Seven Doors Hotel, Damage Inc., Rammsund
See 2008 poster
After last year’s slightly disappointing visitor numbers the organizers had decided to go for it. This year, an international headliner was going to make the festival audience choose the Midnight Rock Festival. The Swedish band Europe was booked. One of Scandinavia’s bestselling bands with over 20 million sold albums. The choice of band proved to be right, because people once again made their way to Lakselv. Supergroup Europe’s success began with a record deal after winning the first Swedish national rock championship in 1982. Four years later, the single “The final countdown” made 1. place on the hitlists in 26 lands, and at the Midnight Rock Festival they gave the audience well known hits like Carrie, Rock The Night, Superstitious, Cherokee and last but not least The Final Countdown as their final countdown. One of the people in the audience was Stein Erik Haugland from Alta. His half-brother, Ian Haugland, is seven years younger and lived as a child in Nordreisa in Troms before he moved to Sweden with his father in the sixties. In 1984 he became the drummer in Europe, while Stein Erik still lived in Finnmark. It has now been 20 years since they met. And then Europe came to The Midnight Rock Festival and Lakselv, and the half-brothers met again. “It was so great to get to meet him. He looks exactly like himself, like when you see him on CD covers or in photos of the band.” said a happy Stein Erik Haugland after meeting his half brother backstage.
The festival camp has slowly become a party camp that’s being talked about, and those who hasn’t yet experienced this phenomenon should. A wise man once said, “It’s never too early to regret”. If there is any connection shall remain unspoken of, but numbers from the local pharmacy reported by local media tell us that the pharmacy double their sale of “the morning after pill” in July compared with the rest of the year. However, the pharmacist hasn’t given any hints about how much he sells of prescription free pain relievers during the festival.
People hardly believed their own eyes and ears when The Midnight Rock Festival released Deep Purple for the 2009 poster.
Time: July 9th – 12th 2009
Artists/bands: Deep Purple (UK), Twisted Sister (UK), Kaizers Orchestra, CC Cowboys, Datarock, TNT, Jorn, The Blacksheeps, Joddski, Tone Damli Aaberge, Karin Park, Terje Tysland, Bergtatt, Intrigue, Cyaneed, Slogstorm, Storm Warning, Astatines, Alit Boazu, Euthanasia, Tyven
See 2009 poster.
Last year’s choice to go for it produced results, and this year’s poster shows that The Midnight Rock Festival has stepped up from the minor to the major league. Names like Deep Purple, Twisted Sister, Kaizers Orchestra, TNT and CC Cowboys contributed to the festival setting a new record in number of visitors, and the festival is the party of parties. The festival’s turnover is getting close to 10 million NOK and has become one of Lakselv’s biggest businesses.
The week before the festival, the election year of 2009, Helga Pedersen from the Labor Party visited the festival organizers. Back with her, she brought a midnight sun yellow post-it note with a message from the midnight Rock Festival: this festival needed to be included in the state budget like other festivals this size. It did not seem to work, but the organizers got help from other higher forces. Because, when the meteorologists promised that The Lord was gonna provide tropical temperatures, a lot of people decided to rock it out in Lakselv. There was constant activity on the entire festival area, and early Saturday morning, the festival camp was declared full. Cars were parked in a radius of 1 km from Brennelvneset, and for the first time in history, local police officers had to work as traffic constables.
On stage, the main attraction of the year was Deep Purple. One of the real pioneers of rock. The band is a dinosaur with three generations of fans, but whether it was age that weighed singer Ian Gillan down at the Midnight Rock Festival is unknown. Even if they delivered hits like Black Night, Speed King, Fireball and Smoke on the Water, they were executed with a certain lack of enthusiasm and energy. It was huge for many fans to experience these legends at the Midnight Rock Festival, and although the content was pleasing, the stile somewhat let them down a little bit. It was alright though, because the next legend both delivered and surprised. It was the second time in 15 years that Twisted Sister played in Norway. But, those who wait for something good…When the Americans served rock classics like I Wanna Rock and We’re Not Gonna Take It, fronted by a highly vital Dee Snider, fans from all over got what they came for.
The summer heat and the hot guitar riffs made the audience thirsty for more than music, and both the festival and all the local stores ran out of beer. The organizers had estimated 8000 visitors. 3000 more showed up. This crowd consumed close to 20 000 pints of beer and several tons of hamburgers.
When the port-a-pottys were emptied, the final result was 14 tons of waste.
This record growth had many effects. The power use was enormous, and the electricity was delivered by a generator that normally provided a whole island with power in case of emergency.
For the first time, there were three stages, and the enormous flow of people took the organizers by complete surprise. No one slept for a second that weekend, and still they weren’t able to cover everything that needed to be done. A Brazilian piano bar entertainer had been flown in from Bergen, to entertain at “Campen Pub” when there weren’t concerts going on. He was forgotten. Nobody had time to get neither instrument or sound systems up where he was supposed to play, so he basically ended up being paid 20 000 NOK to sit around and drink beer backstage all weekend. He looked like he had a good time, though…
This year’s Midnight Rock Festival gave clear signals that the organization needed to be expanded. Five-six enthusiasts had built a festival for the people and a musical experience you wouldn’t really think was possible in the heart of Finnmark.
The Midnight Rock of 2010 had the Swedish band KENT on stage, with also among others N.E.R.D and Pharell Williams.
Time: July 7th – 11th 2010
Artists/bands: Kent (SE), N.E.R.D (US), DumDum Boys, D-A-D (DK), Mari Boine, Queensrÿche (US), Saivu feat. Richard Fortus (NO/US), D.D.E, Marit Larsen, WigWam, Ralph Myerz & The Jack Herren Band, Dunderbeist, Murmansk (FI), Susperia, Violet Road, Rolffa, L.A. Laplanders
See 2010 poster
There’s a Norwegian expression “To jump after Wirkola”, meaning that it’s a bit of a challenge to perform following a great performance. The challenge now was to perform as good as last year and recreate the success. The confidence was there for sure, and the poster showed the most ambitious booking in history. Kent, N.E.R.D, DumDum Boys, D-A-D and our own world artist Mari Boine lit up the top four lines in bold font.
A new visitor record was made. The camp looked like a combination of a gypsy camp and a party camp. We love it here! RVs, tents, campers, buses and tipis, and more tents. Like an anthill of beer, smiles, weird sunglasses and ghetto blasters, the Midnight Rock Festival’s camp is a party within the party.
This is simply fantastic! The Midnight Rock Festival is like the big city nightlife, except it lasts for 3-4 days, said Stian Eliassen, head of press.
No one has played at the Midnight Rock Festival more times than our own Mari Boine. This year was supposed to be her fifth concert at Brennelvneset since she began her long musical journey. Her music has brought her out in the world and given her fans from all over. Rita Verhoef drove 3000 km (1864 miles) from Netherland to Lakselv to experience her idol in her hometown and was of course hugely disappointed when Mari Boine had to cancel due to technical problems.
- “I heard Mari for the first time 15 years ago on German TV, and her music touched something deep inside of me, and it is still that way. Very emotional. Mari is my medicine, and I was very sad when the concert got cancelled. I shed a few tears, the Dutch woman said in front of the stage.
The Midnight Rock Festival is becoming immortal. Like a dandelion it pushes through and reaches for the sun, no matter how hard the conditions are. No one-Ever-Really- Dies, or N.E.R.D’s concert contributes to immortalize the phenomenon. Two weeks earlier, they released their fourth album, and from the stage they pound out hits like Lapdance, Rock Star and She wants to move. The sound technicians run the equipment so hard, the sound goes miles and miles out the fjord.
«We have never been this far north before. Our next concert is in St. Tropez, but it won’t be as hot as Lakselv!” Pharell Williams holler from the stage.
In front of him, girls all ages throw their bras at him, while he asks for more. A bit further from the stage are four young men from Riga, Latvia. They have rented an RV to drive to Lakselv to see their favorite band. Around them, local heroes dance their alternative version of “støveldance” while the midnight sun the trademark of the festival, hang above the horizon.
Enormous crowds of people demand sensible procedures and good routines for most things. Like emptying and cleaning the port-a-pottys in the camp. In a hectic situation, human errors occur, also in the toilet business. While the renovation company is attaching the hose to one of the port-a-pottys to empty it, they are a bit clumsy and accidently knock it over. Those guys are not sissies, so they simply lift it back up and try again. And then the door flies open, and a confused and messy guy falls out with his pants down. “Dang it! I got shit all over, but what the hell. My tent is next to the river, so I’ll just go take a bath.”
After a memorable weekend in Lakselv, a woman from Tromsø wrote something like this on her blog: when I have kids, and if I have a daughter, I’ll let her go to the Roskilde Festival, and I’ll let her go to the Øya Festival. But I would never let her go to the Midnight Rock Festival.
The Midnight Rock Festival will probably never make the heart of an economist burst. Terms like profit are replaced with experience. And this time, it really went south economically. The board had to file for bankruptcy. But like the Phoenix the Midnight Rock Festival is, once again it rises from the ashes of the disposable grills at Brennelvneset. There will be rock next year too.
Time: July 7th – 11th 2011
Visitors: app. 11 500
Artists/bands: Status Quo, Hellbillies, Donkeyboy, Madcon, Stage Dolls, Backstreet Girls, Dr. Alban, Kråkesølv, Intrigue, Lukestar, Oslo Ess, Honningbarna, Cyaneed, Seven Doors Hotel, Vishnu, Allfader, Elias Jung, Vidar Vang and Rolffa.
Making a poster to match last year’s with headliners like Kent and N.E.R.D is not easy. Last year’s booking costs broke the organizers backs. However, The Midnight Rock as a product is so important to so many that local businessowners were quick to bring fresh money to the table.
The festival management has to be pleased with being able to headline the poster with a giant like Status Quo, considering all circumstances. Another big 2011 name was Donkeyboy. No doubt that this band means a lot to a lot of people: between songs, a young gentleman from the audience was allowed up on stage, and in front of thousands of people he proposed to his girlfriend. One of the band’s big hits is “Promise Kept”. She said yes.
This year, Norwegian band Backstreet Girls was booked. Logistics at Oslo Airport Gardermoen led to the band having to cancel, and with extremely short notice Karasjok band Rolffa stepped in to replace them. Status Quo on the other hand, had no problem with their logistics. They landed at Lakselv Airport Banak in their own private jet. And local people walking around the town square during the next days with sale stands and happenings, could probably recognize band members from the supergroup walking around the sale stalls, while sellers maybe offered “Whatever you want?”.
Time: July 5th – 8th 2012
Artists/bands: Europe, Thin Lizzy, Sivert Høyem, E-Type, De Lillos, CC Cowboys, Kvelertak, Lidolido, Hålogalandslaget, Sirkus Eliassen, Samsaya, Plumbo, Montee, Wellfear and Tant
The major headliner this year was undoubtedly the Swedish band Europe. Before their concert, they were deeply engaged in fishing in the river Brennelva. and Sivert Høyem was happy and lucky to have Joey Tempest himself serve him newly fished trout freshly cooked on the big barbeque grill backstage between the lavvo tipis.
This summer, Thin Lizzy did their farewell tour, and the organizers were quite content to be able to put Phil Lynott and Gary Moore’s old supergroup on the poster before the band ended their career.
The year before, they had a huge success with booking Swedish artist Dr.Alban. They felt they had hit a nerve with the audience, and chose this year to book the nineties heroes E-type. The audience received the platinum selling Swedish Eurodance group with great enthusiasm, and by that a new genre is making it’s place onto future posters.
Time: July 11th – 14th 2013
Artists/bands: Nightwish, The Hooters, Beth Hart, Republica, Admiral P, El Cuero, Staut, Iiris, Saivu, Samantha Fox, Bøbben & Yogi, Ravage Machinery, Erik & Kriss, Slincraze, Bergtatt, Sagitarius, Kjetil Linnes and Felgen Orkester
Nightwish is perhaps Finland’s biggest export article, following Nokia and Koskenkorva. Now Nokia has been sold to Microsoft, and the Norwegians have replaced Koskenkorva with French red wine, and all that’s left to import is Nightwish. And the band delivered. Even with hurricane like wind and having to cancel the concert being a real threat, Nightwish’s concert will definitely go into the Midnight Rock Festival history books. The wind was so strong, the VIP tent had to be taken down, and the light rig on stage had to be lowered all the way down to the stage floor. But, the wind receded, and the hurricane taking over was called Floor Jansen. The singer made the Nightwish fans realize that there is indeed a life after Tarja Turunen.
Experts still debate whether or not the sexy “Månestråle” (Moonbeam) from the Belgium comic series, had been replaced with Samantha Fox on teenage boys’ bedroom walls the fall of 1986. After debuting as a model on page 3 of the huge newspaper The Sun only 16 years old, the road was pretty much paved for the young girl. Her remarkable exterior took her out into the world and led her to Brennelvneset. And just like teenage boys fell in love with her in the eighties, she fell in love with Brennelvneset. The hotel room booked for her was never used. The road to her next concert went directly from the festival backstage area by bus to Ivalo Airport in Finland.
This year, also American band The Hooters and Kjetil Linnes from Alta. They definitely hit it off. The result was presented a short pregnancy later in the form of a song called “Rock the night” signed Kjetil Linnes feat. Eric Bazilian.
Contributors to the Midnight Rock Festival history this far are Fred Persen, Stian Eliassen and Robert Greiner.
Translated to English by Ingeborg Walsøe
Time: July 10th – 13th 2014
Visitors: app. 12 000
Artists/bands: Hellbillies, Karpe Diem, Violet Road, TNT, Terje Tysland, Datarock, Intrigue, Broiler, Rolffa, CLMD, Senjahopen, Phone Joan, Tara and Moped.
It had now been 30 years since Øyvind Finne had moved the party out of the community house to make a real festival, and the festival management wanted to really celebrate this anniversary. This year, the festival was gonna be taken back to the good old days, and it was gonna shine through in bookings and concept. The decision to go back to having only one stage like the earliest years was made, instead of having two or three like it had been practiced on and off during the last ten years, in addition to booking an entirely Norwegian poster consisting of a mix of earlier audience favorites, famous Norwegian artists, artists on their way up, and local artists. It was going to be a lookback on past greatness, but also mark the fact that the festival now had grown back to be the largest festival in Finnmark, still growing and developing.
On this fully Norwegian poster, they managed to secure bookings like Terje Tysland and TNT that both had successfully been on the eighties posters, Hellbillies and DDE as audience favorites, Violet Road, Senjahopen, Intrigue and Rolffa as northern Norwegian local favorites, of which a couple of them almost “grew up” on Brennelvneset, and some goodies for the young and party ready in the form of Karpe Diem, Datarock and Broiler.
Also, the physical poster got, unlike the recent years’ modern designs, the original logo back in addition to a retro look to really underline the similarity and homage to The Midnight Rock festival’s childhood in the eighties. The poster got to travel around Norway and was put up in as good as all parts of Norway, even the most obscure places, which got a whole lot of attention on the 2014 event page on Facebook. Anniversary merchandize was designed in the form of t-shirts and hoodies in a large variety of crazy colors, that you could see on lots of happy people all over during the festival.
The opening act at this anniversary festival was the local favorite Tara, who the following fall to all of Finnmark’s joy competed in Norwegian Idol and landed a super sixth place.
The weather was absolutely fantastic while Tara was on stage, and this opening Thursday with a daytime high of over 30 degrees (over 86 F) and a night time low still above 20 (68 F), kind of set the tone for the rest of the weekend. Even if the temperatures got slightly lower, it wasn’t in any way chilly, neither weather wise or on or in front of the stage, or among the audience. The mood and atmosphere were superb all through the weekend, with super happy and very content festival goers, which was proved through exceptionally few incidents of fighting or complaints, both inside the festival zone and out in the camp.
So, even though the number of visitors didn’t set any new record, everyone agreed that this had been a huge success anyway, and they already looked forward to next year…
Time: July 9th – 12th 2015
Visitors: app. 14000
Bands/artists: Scooter, Genesis Classic, Smokie, Return, Donkeyboy, Gabrielle, Vassendgutane, Tindrum, Hekla Stålstrenga, Stage Dolls, Felgen Orkester, Staysman & Lazz, Luxus Leverpostei, Tara and Highland Glory.
The record festival of 2015 had a visitor number of 14 100, and the massive sea of people every time the audience gathered in front of the stage was an impressive sight. Especially during German techno-dance band Scooter, when the tightly packed crowd went from the stage and all the way back to the tiny hill where it begins to incline towards the sea shore, and all the way out towards the barrings on both sides. Never had there been that many people gathered together for a concert at Brennelvneset, and had there been a roof, it would surely have been lifted by the insane atmosphere from that many thousands of people jumping, digging, dancing and beaming out good energy.
The new festival manager of the year was very happy with the poster, both before and during the festival. He had however received not entirely positive feedback beforehand, since there were very divided opinions about the music on this year’s poster. A lot of people cheered and were ecstatic about the musical choices, while other people were very negative, and in debates on social media referred to it as “drinking music”, “without quality or integrity”, “garbage” and other similar characteristics, saying these were bookings meant to satisfy the kind of people who like to roll around in the camp not giving a damn about real music. The festival manager wasn’t shy, and referred to the complainers as “the music elite”, and confirmed that he did not book music for the kind of people that don’t go to festivals to have fun, but for the ones that come to set the good mood and create great atmosphere. The debates in social media and the local newspapers went through the roof, but the festival manager just laughed: because he had just proved that this was what the audience wanted, and this sold the tickets.
And not only did the music sell tickets, but people really gathered in front of the stage during the concerts, and you could see thousands of happy people singing along having fun. Old heroes like Stage Dolls, Genesis, Tindrum and Smokie rocked it out, and younger artists like Donkeyboy, Gabrielle, and Staysman & Lazz made the younger crowd wear out their vocal chords. Tara was back too, because the whole town wanted to see their local Idol star here at home again. Because of delays, her play time was shortened, but she got to come back up on stage and finish her set later the same evening, and as a fantastic opening act for Scooter.
Weather wise, there wasn’t much to write home about. The last week before the festival, the weather was sour and chilly, and it was raining. But, it turned around fairly. The rock Thursday was sunny from blue skies, even though the temperatures weren’t exactly tropical. Friday and Saturday were unfortunately a bit cloudy with temperatures down to between 10 and 15 degrees (50 – 60 F), but it stayed dry and people were happy. So was the festival manager, who promised to continue this track.
Time: July 7th – 10th 2016
Visitors: 12 100
Bands/artists: Boomtown Rats, Violet Road, Madcon, DiDerre, Alphaville, Opus, Trønderfestival, DJ Sash!, Dream Police, Black Ingvars, Wellfear, Tix, Morgan Suele & Innertier, and Katastrofe & Staysman.
The 2016 festival had a fairly expected decrease in the number of visitors compared to the record year of 2015, but it surely set it’s own records. Even with 2000 fewer visitors than the previous year, this festival set a new record in number of campers, in addition to the title of “the muddiest Midnight Rock Festival throughout the times”. It was sour, and it was raining, and even though it’s been raining during earlier festivals there’s just never been this many people, campers/RVs and vehicles and activity at Brennelvneset while it’s been raining this much, and this level of muddiness had never been seen before. The road going in from the outer gates has always been a bit of a bumpy ride, but the factor now reached new highs. All vehicles had to bumpy zigzag their way in, not to get stuck or crush the bottom of the vehicle, and several festival campers had to leave their campers, Rvs or buses for days after the festival because the ground was simply too soft and muddy to get them out of there. Work to fix and level the road and repair the damages to the vegetation was implemented at once after the festival.
It’s possible that one of the reasons to why the number of campers had increased is that far more adults now had started using the camp. The quiet area was full, but also the general tone throughout the camp was calmer, although the atmosphere and mood were impeccable considering the rain and the mud, and temperatures below 10 degrees (50 F). And even though there was a little bit of this and that left after people on Monday, people had in general become much more conscious about tidying up after themselves, and Brennelvneset looked better on a post rock Monday than ever before.
The fact that it takes a lot of work and a lot of people to organize and pull off a festival is no secret, and the Midnight Rock Festival now had a total of approximately 500 volunteers at work before, during and after the festival. Several local sports teams annually take care of important tasks like security, parking, and organizing the camp, but the Midnight Rock Festival also rely heavily on all the locals and people traveling in from far away to volunteer and work. Even the mayor of Porsanger, Aina Borch, rolled her sleeves up and helped rigging the VIP bar, and made sure to be present during the festival, talking to people, both artists and festival participants.
In her weekly blog, she spoke warmly of the event, both the volunteers, the organizers, the implementation, the professionality and how much the festival means to Lakselv, Porsanger and Finnmark.
In front of the stage, the atmosphere was impeccable. People seemed to fully enjoy the music, and there was singing and happiness all through the weekend. Especially Boomtown Rats, fronted by Bob Geldof, was an audience winner, and Sir Bob also took the time to meet fans during his stay in Lakselv, among others the angel Shirley Bottolfsen who has dedicated her life to helping others.
The highlights were many, almost too many to mention, but some of the bigger ones were perhaps Violet Road, Madcon and di Derre, and the utter joy in the audience when Alphaville played “Forever Young” and Opus played “Life is Life”.
Also the artists had a great time, and many of them have stated that this place and this festival is something they never will forget. Staysman stated that «this place is crushing VG-lista» (annual top 40 music festival) and says he feels so much at home at The Midnight Rock Festival that he suspects there is a bit of a “Finnmarking” in him.
Time: July 6th – 9th 2017
Visitors: app. 12 000
Bands/artists: Aqua, Lita Ford, Ugly Kid Joe, Nazareth, DDE, TNT, 2Unlimited, Intrigue, Julie Bergan, Freddy Kalas, Country Sisters, Soulsister, Slincraze, Klish and Kevin Boine.
This year can in many ways be summed up in two words: like expected.
There was exactly as many visitors as expected compared to the last 4-5 years (except from the record year of 2015), the weather wasn’t great but it wasn’t bad either, people started coming in from Wednesday morning like expected and the camp gradually filled up and worked exactly like it normally does. All departments functioned exactly like they were supposed to, and both infrastructure, logistics and all forms of organizing took place exactly as expected. Now, this might sound a bit boring, but quite the contrary – it shows that The Midnight Rock Festival has become a well-oiled machine after many years of work and experience.
And it was in no way a boring festival just because the machinery ran problem free in the background. The festival wasn’t surprise free. It was just that all the surprises this year was of the positive kind.
On Thursday, Nazareth took the stage early in the evening, and despite the rain the stage area filled up with thousands of people wanting to see the rock legends. When Aqua came on stage, it was packed in front of the stage, and they were in for quite the show! Aqua-Lene was wearing the traditional Sami dress called “kofte” after having spent the day in Karasjok seeing end experiencing the Sami way of life, and was simply over the moon about being where she was. The audience didn’t only get to hear all Aqua’s hits, but also for the first time in history see a reindeer on stage, in addition to Aqua-Lene inviting the 18-year-old Eirin Anti to come on stage and yoik (the traditional Sami singing) one of the verses of their biggest hit “Barbie Girl”. The audience was ecstatic! “It was almost like becoming a part of Aqua!” said one fan who had looked forward to this concert for months, and felt that not only were their expectations met but also totally surpassed.
The giant surprise of the year was the young Tana (Finnmark village) artist Kevin Boine, who was set up to play first on Saturday. The crowd grew, for this early in the evening, huge in front of the stage, and the audience both knew several of his songs by heart and were digging it wildly, and it’s obvious that local artist who bring in yoik and Sami language really catch on and receive massive support from the audience.
Another special event from this year was yet again about artists coming to Lakselv getting beside themselves about the whole area. This time, it was Lita Ford’s bass player Marty O’Brien. The band spent several days in Lakselv, and he spent his time going around on a mountain bike exploring. He documented his whole experience on video and put together a 15 minutes long video showing their travel, stay in Lakselv, the festival and the nature that he published on YouTube. After Lita Ford’s concert, he got Midnight Rock t-shirts for himself and the rest of the band, and he was super happy and said he was gonna wear his a lot back home in Los Angeles. So, who knows where The Midnight Rock’s t-shirts might show up? We’ve already been told they have been spotted in Bulgaria, Turkey, Greece, Italy, United States and Spain.
2014 – 2017 history written and translated by Ingeborg Walsøe