Saturday, November 14, 2009

A-Ha: Oslo

On a rainy November Friday, my c0-worker Laura and I were wrapping up a quiet Friday night in Oslo. We had just spent a long week in the office and were looking to blow off some steam, but the astronomical cost of living there made doing just about anything cost prohibitive (example: $56 for one 12" pizza, 2 sodas and a side of chips/ $12 for a beer) . We wandered the streets that were being gently pelted by cold rain, disoriented by the fact that the city goes dark at 4:30 on short winter days.

As we drew close to the hotel at about 10pm, we heard music coming out of a nondescript, concrete building with an open door, people streaming in and out. Clusters of Norwegians sat around engaged in the national past time of smoking. Chatting it up, they were blissfully unaware of two American wandering among their midst. "Hey, let's go check that out." "Ok."

Ascending a flight of ~10 steps, we got out of the rain and walked straight in without even a second glance. Inside, we found a minor hallway dotted with about a hundred people that were wandering this way and that. Finally I identified the music, and said plainly "oh, someone is doing a crappy version of 'Take on Me'."

Straight ahead we saw a heavy cloth curtain that covered an obscure entry way. Unable to avert our eyes and drawing us in like a giant mosquito lamp, an intriguing purplish neon glow streamed through the cracks. The music that drew us inside was clearly coming from behind, glowing louder with each step.

In retrospect, the funny thing is that other than "Take on Me", I honestly didn't know what to expect to find when we pulled aside the curtain. It could have been a drunk kid singing on a Karaoke machine to a few of his friends. It could have been a college band wailing away to a dimly lit bar full of drunks.

Or, it could have been a -pull back the curtain- stadium full of 20,000 Norwegians watching the real A-Ha at the end of their farewell concert tour.

I looked at the well-lit stage, complete with A-Ha singing away at their most successful song, their recognizable yet much older faces splashed on 10 Meter high screens. There they were, complete with fans dancing heavily and screaming throughout the arena. Stunned and speechless, I looked at Laura. She had the same shocked look on her face and we both laughed incredulously at the randomness of our encounter.

To this day, I can still remember the first time I saw their video, in Huntsville, Alabama a week before my friend Ro Delibris and I were going to attend Space Camp (yes, that's right.. Space Camp). A side story in itself, Ro lived in Huntsville and in that week we got into more trouble and did more things that could have gotten us thrown into Juvenile than I can recall. We shot at street signs with sawed off BB guns. We rode down massive storm sewers with modified dirt bikes, emerging from manhole covers and bathed in green slime. We ended up with an assfull of rock salt thanks to an irate neighbor who didn't appreciate us cutting through his backyard. One night, we ended up in a movie theater watching "Back to the Future", and after a few previews aired, the A-Ha cartoonish music video kicked off and I was hooked.

Fast forward to November 2009, and out of complete, random luck we just so happened to stumble onto this, one of their last concerts on a farewell tour before splitting up. Totally random. I grabbed my camera, snapped this picture, and then was yelled at in Norwegian by some security guy. Good times..

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