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Live At Heart 2018, Sweden: Our Top 10 Finds

The four-day showcase festival held in Orebro earlier this month hosted everyone from Taiwanese hip-hop to hillbilly rock/metal

Anurag Tagat Sep 23, 2018

Greek alternative artist Theodore on day one of Live At Heart Festival in Orebro, Sweden. Photo: Iro Siamanta

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Earlier this month, the latest edition of music festival Live At Heart took place in Orebro, Sweden, hosting more than 150 artists across four days. Metal, indie, folk, country, hip-hop, alt-rock – you name it, and it was likely represented in some way at Live At Heart, which has been running since 2010.

Between September 5th and 8th, we caught some of the latest buzz-worthy new and established artists from around the globe. Here’s just a small fraction of the most notable performances we caught, listed in no particular order.

Theodore – Alternative (Greece)

London-educated, Athens-based alternative artist Theodore was one of the first acts we caught at the festival, bringing a straight-up hypnotic, haunting level of otherworldly rock to an otherwise bright day. A second timer at the festival, Theodore’s upcoming album Inner Dynamics is philosophical, but even if the lyrics don’t stick, there’s the band’s distinct blend of post-rock and experimental music that’s a sure draw.

Capitano – Indie (Germany)

After being in a few bands in the German scene, Capitano came together after about two years of careful deliberation about sound and overall aesthetic. If we had to guess, it’s somewhere between flamboyant and totally badass. When they’re not shooting feather-filled party canons at their shows or wearing mesmerizing lights, Capitano are high-energy dance rock with a few nods to hip-hop and soul.

Elle Exxe – U.K. (Electro-Pop)

Hailing from Edinburgh, Elle Exxe brings her headstrong voice to both, studio releases and live performances. Although she only traveled to Live At Heart with a drummer, Elle was a crowd-puller from the start, having the crowd follow her just a few songs down. By no means a newbie – she’s performed at South By Southwest in Texas, The Great Escape in Brighton and Isle of Wight – Elle channels modern pop as well as hip-hop and a bit of classic rock.

Karpov Not Kasparov – Romania (Electronic)

With a name like that, it’s easy to draw in anyone reading a festival schedule or lineup, but Bucharest, Romania-originating electronic duo Karpov Not Kasparov have enough to support the intrigue. Slithering synth lines meet gypsy-like rhythmic patterns and solid robot-like precision drum work. Crafting a seamless live performance, adapting their debut album Soundtrack for a Game of Chess, this is the best kind of playful electronic you’ll hear.

Fearless – Sweden (Rock/Metal)

Armed with moonshine jugs (empty, of course), banjos and then some, Swedish hillbilly rockers Fearless have a certain redneck-ness to them that may feel like they’re borrowing a little too much from American culture. But then again, they do have real family back in the Southern parts of the U.S., which certainly makes it a little easier to groove to the banjo-employing stomp-along hard rock of their latest song “Down to the River.”

Listen to “Down to the River” here.

Kielley Koyote – Canada (Hip-Hop)

How many white rappers from Newfoundland, Canada do you think are into lo-fi hip-hop and count the likes of XXXTentacion and Earl Sweatshirt as their formative influences? Josh Kielley aka Kielley Koyote might look like he could growl into a mic, but he offers razor-sharp wit and rhymes about his own life and weaknesses on his latest EP Weak Days, which even got hype from rap star Gucci Mane.

Mpho Ludidi and Unit – South Africa (World)

Blending Afro-Jazz, soul and more, Mpho Ludidi certainly sings from as pure a heart as they come. With a powerful voice that flows over smooth jazz settings, Ludidi sings to harken back to his Xhosa and Zulu folk roots. Although he moved to Sweden in 2014, he carries forth his tradition, aided by a solid backing band named Unit, featuring Niclas Hoglind on guitar, bass and keys and drummer Kristofer Johansson. They released Ithemba EP in 2016, but Ludidi raises a toast to strong South African women on his latest, “Izibongo.”

Listen to “Izibongo” here.

Omiri – Portugal (Folktronica)

When Vasco Ribeiro Casais aka Omiri took to the stage at the Scenit Kulturhuset in Orebro as part of his performance, he blazed out a shred solo on his bouzouki – and that was just the beginning. Omiri shuffles between several instruments over a backing track and more importantly, mashed up video footage that chronicles traditional Portuguese folk music in the most fun way imaginable. There’s also a modern twist thrown in every now and then, like the spitfire rap hook on “Pais Colmeia.”

Lobo Interestelar – Peru (Synthpop)

Halfway through his set at Live At Heart, Lobo Interestelar aka Julio Benavides donned what looks like a 3D-printed shimmering head of a wolf. But even better, he proceeded to trip out on his synthesizer, offering songs like the instant earworm “Gravedad.” Space-themed and dream-like synth lines in place, Lobo Interestelar’s album Interestelar is perfect mood changing synthpop that could be your pick-me-up for the night.

Yeemao – Taiwan (Hip-Hop)

Representing a major part of Asia at Live At Heart, Taiwanese rap duo Leo Wang and Chunyan, assisted by DJ Didilong were among the top hip-hop acts we caught at the festival, just imbibing their energy more than necessarily wondering what any of the songs actually meant. Although punctuated with very familiar English lines (such as “Put your hands in the air” on their somewhat comical song “Donkey”), Yeemao rapped and scratched their way through sets like they were not ones to feel odd, perhaps riding on their strong following back home in Taipei.

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