Being the Bible belt of Norway Stavanger is sort of an odd location for a subversive art show, but it works. Tou Scene, the main hub of both Nuart and Numusic festival, was an old brewery and evoked that kind of 'Dalston-cool' vibe, minus the artifice. With disco balls in old beer vats and makeshift stages and dj booths erected over the brewery's 3 stories, this was the real deal, somewhere between a sexed-up youth club and a genial warehouse party.
Joining the music venue is a series of long tunnels which were handed over to some of the biggest names in street are, for them to do what they will with them. The likes of Saber, Eine, Ron English, Mobstr, HowNosm, Aakash Nihalani and Neils Shoe Meulman (who you might know from his Mos Def and Louis Vuitton collaboration about Muhammad Ali - see below) all contributed to turning Tou Scene into a sort of Nat Gal for street art (except far fucking noisier). Over the weekend Tou Scene become the centre point for this 'Cannes' of street art, where we talked graffiti, advertising, politics, smoking slippers and 'beef'.
Despite the high levels of testosterone - I thought we were going to be one member down at one point - and copious amounts of beer (the only thing we could drink for free) I found Stavanger decidedly escapist. The festival - built on ideas of unrestrained self expression, beauty and freedom - and set within the beautiful fjords of Norway (which you can tour on boat ) and crazy toy town buildings of Stavanger, was an unique experience.
I highly recommend the NuArt and NuMusic festivals to those who want to try a completely different festival vibe. By day wander the streets of Stavanger for chance encounters with ephemeral artworks, then by night nod your head or skank your heart out to the likes of The Orb, Mad Professor and CasioKids - you can't get more Scandinavian cool than that.