By Shannon Kehoe
The window in the room of our hostel blew shut from the force of the wind, waking me up. The rain tapping on the glass prompted me to open the weather app on my phone. Rain. Forecast for the entire day. I got up and began getting ready like every other day, but was sure to include the rain jacket I hoped would keep me dry.
All day, the rain poured down as the wind whipped through the air, breaking umbrellas. It subsided for a brief moment as we arrived to cover night three of Bergenfest. Waiting to enter the venue, I looked around at what the others in line around me were wearing: rain boots, long raincoats, and specially-designed hats. At that very moment, I knew my tennis shoes were not prepared for what was to come.
The pouring rain, although not something I’m typically prepared for, was just a typical day for the mostly-local music fans filing into the festival. In Bergen it rains about 63% of the time, so it’s no wonder the weather didn’t bother most of the crowd. I asked one concert-goer, Andre, if the weather affected the attendance and he simply shrugged his shoulders, explained it’s perfectly normal and proclaimed,”We are Vikings! There’s nothing to be concerned about.” When the temperature dropped to a mere 49 degrees Fahrenheit, the crowd seemed unfazed and, up on stage, performing artist Father John Misty called out his appreciation to the fans for braving the weather.
Although most people didn’t appear adversely affected by the rain, the lines for indoor venues such as Magic Mirrors and Håkonshallen, as well as the bar and lounge tent, seemed exceptionally long.
Following Father John Misty, I danced through raindrops to shoot the next performer – Jason Isbell – as the rain grew stronger.
The plastic bag over my camera was becoming more of a hindrance than a help as I ran up and down the pit. Media can shoot only the first three songs of a set, so I was running back and forth trying to get a good shot, looking up from ground level at a 6.5-foot tall stage (that I couldn’t reach at all) and getting more soaked with each second. And my lens kept getting raindrops on it. Frantically I’d wipe my lens and keep shooting. Wipe my lens, keep shooting.
As I ran, I felt something come over my head and looked up as a man put the poncho he had been wearing over me. Overwhelmed with gratitude and with an extra layer of protection from the elements, my spirit was recharged.
Once our three song limit was up and it was time to make the trek back to the train station. Through more puddles, we hurried along the streets of Bergen to make it with time to change out of the soppy wet clothes and into something dry for the six-hour ride back to Oslo.
Bergenfest, you’ll always be one to remember.