The Best Things We Saw at Way Out West 2016

The Way Out West festival has been drawing indie-lovers to Gothenburg for 10 years, and the 2016 event was just what you might expect from the festival’s 10th anniversary: packed with headline superstars and intimate sets aplenty. Sweden’s second largest city provides an iconic backdrop to three days and nights of rock, electronic, and hip-hop, and its vibrant student population ensures that there’s plenty of after-hours fun to be had.

This year’s guests were treated to tunes from artists such as Morrissey, Grace Jones, and PJ Harvey, so it might be a surprise to find that the show was stolen by one of the line-up’s youngest stars. Zara Larsson’s hour long set showcased her ability to combine killer tunes with celebrations of feminism and equality. Might sound like an odd mix, but lightning moves and commanding vocals fused activism and artistry into something special.

Another top name was Jamie xx, a Way Out West veteran who has given the rags-to-riches tale a festival-spin by working from the event’s smallest stage right up to its largest. His set was a melting pot of funk, retro house, and heavy guitar. This was old school DJ-ing that drew just as much on a cherished portable vinyl collection as on the latest tech. We really hope to see Jamie xx back again next year to continue his domination of Way Out West.

We got something a little different from The Last Shadow Puppets, with the sounds of a majestic string quartet and the help of glam-rock band Mini Mansions taking their set to the next level. Höjden were new to the festival and new to plenty of festival-goers, but their intimate set at the peak of the park was another standout affair.

The Libertines also made their long-awaited return to Sweden, although only just. Arriving a mere 25 hours late to their gig, Pete and Carl made up for their tardiness and then some when they walked onto the stage donned in iconic jackets. Their set took us back a decade and proved that there’s still life in The Libertines. It would have been worth attending for that fact alone.

It’s easy to get cosy with the British festival scene, but keep in mind that there’s plenty out there beyond the green and pleasant land. If you’d like to branch out next year, heading east for Way Out West might be a good shout.