Published July 18, 2018
It’s hard to believe, on first sight, that a music festival could take place in the location of G! Festival. The 50-minute drive from the Faroese capital city of Tórshavn to the tiny village of Gøta crosses long bridges, mountain passes and roughly-hewn tunnels through the fog-shrouded islands, through a series of progressively smaller towns. Rounding the final corner to Gøta, the site is jaw-dropping. The main stage sits on a grey sand beach, just a few metres from the sea, blasting out light, smoke and music across the rolling waves and the handful of colourful houses of the village. It looks like an enthusiastic stage diver could plunge directly into the cold surf of the Atlantic ocean.
The stage in question—Sandur—is one of five. There’s Spæliplassið, a chunky outdoor stage on a square of grass, set back from the ocean; Fjósið, an indoor stage in a too-pungent-for-comfort concrete barn; and Grundin, a DJ tent located in an open-topped space in the graffitied walls of a crumbling seaside building.
A fifth, Annað, host daytime and family events. And G! Festival is nothing if not family friendly. It feels like the entire village of Gøta is there in force, from grandmas in electric wheelchairs to gaggles of pink-haired alt teens, their casually hipster parents, and packs of young kids collecting plastic glasses to trade in for cash at the exchange.
They mingle in tangibly high spirits along the main drag of the seaside promenade, munching on fish and chips and knocking back the festival’s specially-brewed signature beer. They hop in and out of the four specially-installed hot pots on the beach, hang out in hammocks, and frolic in the surf. The crowd is covered in smiles, like one big welcoming family.
The programming is suitably celebratory. When we arrive, Ba Cissoko is blasting out accomplished, energetic Guinean tunes that have the crowd doing a spontaneous conga line in the rain. The backdrop for this sun-kissed African sound is inky, heavy clouds, distinctly Nordic mountains, and tiny boats bobbing in the choppy sea. It’s a surreal and beautiful moment.
On the Spæliplassið stage, local musician Eivør Palsdóttir draws possibly the biggest crowd of the weekend. Her music draws from various sources, veering between Kate Bush-influenced ballads, traditional folk interludes, and festival-friendly gothic pop songs. The home crowd makes her feel welcome, at times singing every word.
Last party on earth
One of the bigger names at the festival is Sister Bliss of Faithless, who delivers a crowd pleasing set of 80s-inflected EDM with a shimmering video display and occasional dramatic blasts from a battery of smoke cannons. The crowd goes absolutely wild for it, bouncing, screaming, waving Faroese flags, and dancing like it’s the last party on earth.
The festival comes to a close at Grundin, the rough and ready dance-party spot. Local DJ Dan Helgi plays out some pop remixes, house and techno for a small but fervent crowd that swells when local producer Sakaris takes the stage, mashing together disparate styles in an effective and iconoclastic party set.
As I finally stagger off into the night, I’m overcome with gratitude to have experienced this utterly unique specimen in Europe’s festival ecosystem. G! Festival is clearly made with love, and every attendee enjoys it in that spirit; long may it continue.
G! Festival took place in Gøta in the Faroe Islands July 11-14th