|This is a personal diary, chronicling my adventures at the Sweden Rock Festival 2013, written to capture the spirit of the festival and my impression of all the concerts I saw.
With 41 bands I wanted to see, a great weather forecast and a wide variety of cool alcohol packed to reduce the chance of dehydration, this year's Sweden Rock Festival was already looking great before I even got there.
Tuesday, June 4'th 2013
The ArrivalI caught the train to Copenhagen to meet Mads, who would join me for the remainder of the trip. After a quick lunch, we were ready to head for the train when a very drunk guy stumbled by and asked if I could spare a few Danish kroner. I had a flashback to the Sweden Rock Festival 2005 where I had run out of money and was contemplating singing a few songs for the people in the press area to collect enough money for a drink, so I felt somewhat sorry for the guy and gave him a coin, hoping that this was not some kind of sign for things to come.
We boarded the train and sat down for three hours, drinking a few beers and talking about the festival. Suddenly we were in Sölvesborg and quickly decided that we had to make a stop at the Systembolaget, just to make sure we would not run out of alcohol over the next week. As if that was going to happen with my completely stuffed 20 pound cooling bag of beer, Southern Comfort, Capt. Morgan and Famous Grouse and Mads' 4 bottles of Whisky and two cases of beers. Still, better safe than sorry, so I ended up checking out the place for a case of beer but came out with a three litres box of red wine. I am clearly getting older, but not particularly wiser.
We managed to hail a cab driver, who was only happy to fit all our gear in his car and drive us right to the entrance of the Rosenlund Camping site. This camping site had been a success last year and this year it was a fantastic place to camp as well. Nice and quiet, big trees to block out the warmest sun and plenty of space around the tents. Mads tried to make me a bet on who could get our tents set up the quickest but he was clearly cheating as all it took for him was to undo a zipper and the tent flew open. Even with my incredible tent skills, I could not hope to better that.
The Survivor Pre-pre-pre-partyWhen I had my tent set up, it was time for the unfolding of the festival chair, opening of the first camping ground beer and to sit back, relax, take a deep swig and turn up the volume of my 4-watt speaker system. It was a great feeling to be back and even after eleven years, this moment never gets old. Mads felt it too and we proceeded to make the most of our first night there by sharing and tasting all of the different kinds of alcohol we had brought along and before long we decided to host the Survivor pre-pre-pre-party, which came off to a glorious start with much singing and general party attitude. With me not exactly drinking every weekend, my stomach had quite a challenge to sort out the 12 different kinds of alcohol we were drinking and in the end it gave up and exploded by a nearby tree. By that time it was past midnight and we gave in and went to bed, even if it took me quite a while to crawl into my tent.
Now, the weather was really nice and warm during the day and I am not sure what exactly happened, but on the two first days of the festival the nights were absolutely freezing with cold. I ended up freezing in my tent through the whole night, waking up several times, wanting to put on more clothes, but that was apparently an insurmountable task in my state.
Wednesday, June 5'th 2013
I expected to wake up the next day absolutely hammered, but I felt surprisingly fresh. The weather was fantastic with a sunny, clear blue sky and our tents being in the shade. We had somehow found the perfect placement yesterday.
Thomas and CarinaNot long after my trucker bath in the nearby toilet container, Mads and I went to pick up Thomas and his girlfriend Carina at the festival bus stop. On the way back to our camp, Thomas and I reconnected by way of "Rooori racerbil" and it was great to have him back at the festival after his absence last year. Back at the camp, Carina set up their tent all by herself as Thomas unfolded a chair and opened his first beer. Clearly a couple who have their work priorities in order. They were a great addition to our camp and we all proceeded to host the Survivor pre-pre-party. Soon the alcohol was flowing again.
Michael and BorgMichael and Borg were arriving today in their blue van but they'd decided to stay at the parking lot which had failed to come to my attention, so some time was spent texting back and forth and in the end I went to look for them in the car area of the camping ground, since I thought that was were they were staying. That proved to be a complete bust, as I spent some time walking all over the car camp looking for the blue van. I did however meet some nice Swedes who offered me an ice cold beer, so everything was in fact quite all right. In the end I finally got the message from Michael that they were staying on the parking lot instead of the camping ground, so I headed back to our camp and gave up meeting them for now. It was good timing since my incredibly powerful 4-watt speakers had just run out of batteries and Mads wanted to play me Jimi Jamison's Baywatch theme song which I had no idea existed. So we blasted that at high volume so everyone in the close vicinity of 4 meters could hear it (ie. our own camp).
Stacie Collins and Magic PieWe agreed that it was about time for some music soon. Fortunately the first bands had started playing and we headed down to check out Stacie Collins. On the way to the stages, I called my Scottish mate Eric who had arrived with Dodge the day before as well, but seemed to have camped on the wrong camp site.
At the festival area I started going through the drinks menu at the bars by means of a glass of Rosé wine (First and last of the festival). With that in hand I enjoyed Stacie Collins putting the festival of to a great start with some comfortable blues rock, all the way from Nashville.
After a bit of CD shopping I went to see Magic Pie who announced that they "only had an hour to play so we're going to slightly mad this time". I had no idea what to make of that. The musicians were very focused on their instruments but the band made a good impression. The vocals were excellent and made even better by lots of harmonizing by the bassist and guitarist.
The quest for a photo shirt and a visit to the press bar
I had been put on the Photo shirt waiting list and the people at the press accreditation had told me to come back today to hear the latest news. When I talked to them they told me to go to the press tent in the backstage area, so I dutifully went there but it was unmanned and there was no one to talk to, so I gave up on the photo shirt and decided to just shoot whatever I could from the audience.
After this I hit the press bar (Well, I was already there) to see what had happened since last year. That was in fact plenty. The first Jack Daniels and coke I got had grown to three times the size of last year, so that was a major improvement. Thanks Sweden Rock organizer dudes. Good call. The furnishing of the backstage bar had also improved heavily, with three pinball machines and high score contests, two live Black Jack tables and several small table tennis tables for entertainment, along with a rich scattering of couches and comfy chairs. There was always something going on there and I had to frequent the area daily to charge batteries and write down notes.
The Black Day and ThresholdIt was time for Threshold who had reunited with singer Damian Wilson a few years ago and had a new album out, which I had on my must-buy list but never got around to actually purchasing. When I arrived at the Sweden stage The Black Day was playing their 10 minute set and were halfway through Adele's "Rolling in the Deep". I was far from the stage and only later found out that they were a bunch of nine year olds, and the youngest band ever, who had been asked to play at the festival. That was pretty cool. If my mind is not completely wasted, I think they finished their set with a Blur song.
Soon after, Threshold began setting up their instruments. Damian came running on to the stage and started greeting everyone, as the band were setting up their instruments. He even jumped down to the audience and started shaking hands. I moved closer to the stage to get a better view. The announcer came on stage and made an introduction and soon after, Threshold started on their opening song. As the instrumental opening was coming to a close, Damian came running onto the stage again, but there was no microphone. He was looking around for it and found it lying on the floor of the stage. He picked it up and started singing but no sound came out of the speakers. Fortunately a stage crew guy ran on stage to give him another mic and now we could hear him.
After this somewhat unprofessional beginning to the shop, due to no fault of their own, the band seemed to find their groove. I had a good spot at the front of the stage but unfortunately the sound was very bad. I moved further back in the audience but it didn't help much. This was a real shame and with me not knowing most of their songs by heart, I had a hard time keeping track of the show. This was a real shame since Threshold's music demands sound perfection. I still left the show with a good impression.
Sister SinRight after Threshold I ran for the Rockklassiker stage where Sister Sin were about to play. I remember being infatuated with their 2007 EP "Smash The Silence" but then never got to check out their albums. Sister Sin delivered a mega powerful blast of energy-filled hard rock and I enjoyed every second if it. So did the rest of the audience, who were very much into the band and jumped through most of the concert. "On Parole" was a clear favorite with its sing-a-long chorus and of course being one of the few songs I actually knew.
Sister Sin really came across with a lot of attitude and credibility. They clearly love what they do and deliver a 100% authentic performance. Lead singer Liv's wardrobe didn't leave much to the imagination and while she may be the focus of the band the rest of the members delivered great performances as well, including convincing background vocals. But what happened to "Hostile/Violent"?
SweetSweet was next on my list of bands to see and they turned out to be surprisingly excellent. I wasn't quite sure what to expect, but the guys put on en entertaining show with the most excellent triple vocals. Several songs I knew but did not connect to Sweet were aired and I was rather sad when I had to run back to the camp in the middle of the show to get more clothes as the sun had gone down at it was freezing cold all of a sudden.
The Enuff Z'nuff partyBack at the camp I was supposed to warm up for Candlemass, who I was really looking forward to seeing, but suddenly Michael and Borg popped by and the planned midnight mass turned into an Enuff Z'nuff party instead, with me and Michael doing most of the singing and dancing. Sometime past midnight only Michael and I were left and way past midnight when Michael stumbled out of our camp, I continued singing into the wee hours of the morning. At some point I must have fallen asleep because I woke up in my festival chair at a quarter to five in the early morning, being absolutely frozen to the bone and quite clueless about what had went down. The first thing I did was check my speakers and found them to be missing the batteries. Hhmm. I decided I'd better close down and get some sleep, but not before making sure a nearby tree did not wither and die any time soon.
Thursday, June 6'th 2013
HammeredI fell asleep quickly but woke up only two hours later with a major bladder problem. It took half an hour to collect myself and head for the bathroom container. Looking in the mirror afterwards I was not surprised to see that I looked exactly as I felt. Absolutely wasted with glass eyes and major frown. I was in terrible shape and decided I'd better sleep till noon today, if I were to make it through the day and enjoy Survivor, which was the band beside Rush I was looking most forward to seeing. On my way back to camp, I greeted a guy from another camp, who was already up and he laughed at me and hailed me to come over, since he thought I looked absolutely hammered and wanted to hear what was up. He offered me a cold beer and I felt conflicting interests starting to battle it out in my mind. I decided to go for the beer since it would probably make me sleep better, and well, this is Sweden Rock, so you do not say no to free beer. One beer turned into two and three and a "Fernet Branca" to get that bad breath out of the way. It turned out this was a Danish camp who had been coming to the festival for 6 years.
The guy who had called me over (I seem to recall his name was Jan) had brought his 13 year old son with him and there was a Polish guy as well who was a Sabaton fan (of course) and several other Danes, all slightly older than me. After some beers and much talk I decided that I was not going to sleep again and instead went back to change clothes and get a trucker bath. The Polish had been saying that Sabaton had cancelled their show at Copenhell and had broken up and I was quite confused by that, not having heard anything about it. But after a change of clothes I invaded their camp, which was only two tents from our own with my small speakers and a box of wine and we proceeded to hear all the Sabaton songs I had, because if that was true we had to hold a Sabaton mourning party. (Fortunately this turned out not to be true.)
I got the feeling that beside the Polish guy, none of the other people on the camp seemed to think that Sabaton was such a grand idea but they held out. When they wanted to put their own music back on I suggested a Survivor warm-up and I then managed to play all the Survivor songs I had brought along. I even snuck in a Pride of Lions tune just for good measure, but by this time they had clearly had enough and put their own music back on just as "The Gift of Song" peaked. Fortunately their taste was quite impeccable and I discovered that I have to go home and start listening to my Deep Purple albums. They put on "Child in Time" from "In Rock", an album I have never really listened to, but wow! That song sounded amazing.
Tandoori Chicken, Raubtier, Demon and Sonata ArcticaAfter this slight detour and a pitstop at our own camp, I went to the festival site for breakfast (11:45am) and called Eric on the way to try and see if we could meet up. I ended up at Raubtier with the Tandoori Chicken ( The booth "Indisk Mat", close to the Festival stage still serves the best food in the festival) just as the announcer came on stage to welcome us all. His opening line was "Hello Satan's people!" which felt beyond stupid. He did this the next day again before the Treat concert where it was no less out of place. Anyway, I caught a bit of Raubtier while eating. After that I caught up with Demon as they dedicated a new song to the Sweden Rock Festival, fittingly titled "Fill you head with rock". I wanted to see Sonata Arctica but only lasted for the first two songs as the sound was blown away by the wind and I was already starting to feel tired from my lack of sleep. So I went back to the camp to reserve some energy for my highlight of the day, Survivor.
SurvivorA few weeks prior to the festival, Survivor had announced that they were bringing their original singer, Dave Bickler along, in addition to Jimi Jamison. That was major news and I hoped for some of my favorites from "Caught in The Game", but I had the notion that Bickler would most likely only be pulled on stage for finishing the show with "Eye of The Tiger". Much to my surprise, both singers took the stage with the rest of the band right from the start. Throughout the show Dave and Jimi did several duets together and this worked extremely well. By the time the concert began, I had found Mads and Thomas in the crowd and we enjoyed the concert together.
The band seemed in good shape but Bickler could have been incorporated better into the show, as he often hung out at the back of the stage waiting to sing some more. Highlights of the show were naturally the songs I knew by heart, the first being "High On You" with its instantly recognizable keyboard opening. Jimi sang this one alone and did a great job and not even Mads and I could better him, even if we tried our best.
About halfway through the show Frankie Sullivan got the spotlight for an extended guitar solo during "Rocking Into The Night" and after that "The Singer Not The Song" showed that it was perfect for a live setting. When I heard the next song announced, I was sure I hear Jimi say "Rebel Son" but instead they played "Rebel Girl". Damn! They completely overlooked "When Seconds Count", which was a near fatal mistake to me.
I quickly forgave them because after a keyboard solo, it went into the opening of "The Search is Over", one of my favorite Survivor ballads. It was fantastic to hear this one live but it felt to me that the band played it soo slow. It was as if every note of the song was being drawn out and that took the intensity of the song down a few notches. Jimi did his best and delivered an ok version but nowhere near to what is on the "Vital Signs" album. A quite not so interesting guitar solo from Frankie segued nicely into "Burning Heart" and that got the crowd rocking again. Dave and Jimi sang a duet during parts of the song.
Their best duet, and the highlight of the show for me, came with "I Can't Hold Back". The crowd obviously recognized this one and the band delivered an excellent version, with Jimi singing most of the song and Dave joining in for the most amazing duet near the end. During the last part of the song the two singers alternated my favorite part of the song with the lines "I can see you tremble when we touch, Uuuuhh, and I see the hand of fate, reaching out to both of us" and made the most brilliant harmony together. That was perhaps the single most memorable part of the festival for me. Fantastic!
Closing the show, we got the obvious, "Eye of the Tiger", and the result was naturally a major party in the audience.
I left the show happy, but with the feeling that Dave had not been worked into the show as well as he could have been and that 1 hour and 5 minutes were way too short a time for Survivor to play. I longed for more and missed songs from "Caught in the Game" and "When Seconds Count", but I know they had to cut something out. Survivor is much more than "Eye of The Tiger" and today they proved it.
HuntressAfter Surviving the first half of the day, I decided to check out Huntress. They came from the US and had a cool name, so I figured I could not go completely wrong here. Huntress turned out to be a female fronted metal band with a lot of balls. Lead vocalist Jill had a very powerful voice and I was pretty impressed, so I stayed and listened to a few songs and decided I would have to check out the band later. I was about to leave to see Rick Springfield when Jill started telling a story of how her friend Lemmy of Motörhead had ended up writing a song for the band. As far as I understood Lemmy had only written the lyrics to the song and named it "I want to fuck you to death". Then they played it. Then I left.
Rick Springfield and a visit to the press barRick Springfield was something else alltogether and I only caught a glimpse of his show ("I Hate myself" and "Rock of Life") due to Huntress pulling me away and me being extremely tired and thirsty. Rick sounded excellent but with a taste for Jack Daniels and coke, I only made a quick stop there before heading for the press bar. I got my drink and sat down in a comfy chair, only to nearly fall asleep seconds after I sat down. With two nights of minimal sleep, I was so tired at this point that I decided to retreat to my tent to relax a few hours and gather energy for the evening. This meant that I missed out on Devin Townsend Project, which was one of the acts I was looking very much forward to seeing, but I had to lie down, so back to the tent I went, only to find it heated up to boiling point by the sun. That meant I didn't get any sleep but I did relax for a short while. Mads and Thomas came back to the camp and after a change of clothes I headed back down to the stages (8:00pm) to check out Manilla Road, a band I had heard much about but never really had checked out.
Manilla RoadWhat I heard and what I saw made me put down Manilla Road as a must purchase band and I promptly sought out one of their albums in a nearby store (Gates of Fire), hoping that it would live up the promise. As I arrived at the show, "Death By The Hammer" immediately got my attention. Manilla Road play what I would call old school heavy metal with a decidedly epic touch and a wonderful barrage of great riffs. The lead singer, Bryan Patrick and guitarist Mark Shelton alternated between lead vocals and this was quite interesting with Mark having a pretty cool gravelly voice, which suited the music.
I was immediately captured by the epic nature of the music and sat down in the grass on the hill in front of the 4Sound stage and enjoyed much of the concert. During the concert the band also hailed Candlemass and their concert the night before and I banged myself on the head for missing that.
On another note, I have been listening to the first trilogy of songs from Gates of Fire since I got home and after the first listen, I immediately ordered two other Manilla Road albums (The Deluge and Crystal Logic), as I was completely blown away by their music. Manilla Road sound like they are the best discovery I have made in a long time.
Amon Amarth and ThunderAfter this, I walked back and forth between Amon Amarth and Thunder, passing time until Kiss would take the stage. Amon Amarth put on a huge show. As I walked by at the beginning of their show, a great number of vikings were on the stage, beating their swords on their shields to the rhythm of the music. I stood there and watched the show for a few songs and was momentarily blown away by the bands immense, crushing power and terrific sound. I'm not a fan of growling vocals but there was something about this show that stuck with me and the music was absolutely brilliant. "Destroyer of the universe" in particular burnt itself in my mind. I guess I have to check this band out and give growling vocals another chance a.s.a.p.
What I saw of Thunder was excellent as well but I didn't catch much of their concert as I was on the lookout for food at this hour. I headed out to the press bar where Kiss were holding a press conference in full make up before they would take the show in little over an hour (10pm). The press tent was packed and there was a line of curious journalists standing outside trying to get a peek inside.
I hung out at the press bar for a while until it was time for Kiss. I've only gotten into Kiss recently and was looking forward to seeing how they would perform live. I found a spot some way from the stage but had a pretty good view of everything.
KISSThe light rig on the stage had been set up like a huge spider with several great arms and I had wondered about this setup during the festival. Today it showed its use. After a quick promo video on the huge screen at the side of Sweden Rock's biggest stage, the curtain fell and the huge spider was full of lights, raised high in the air to the top of the stage. Slowly it began to descend with the members of Kiss standing and playing the intro to "Psycho Circus" in the middle of this beast. Each arm seemed to have its own life and moved around on its own account. This was a pretty impressive setup.
A little more than halfway down the spider stopped and the small stage in the middle seemed to tilt slightly to one side. The band was still playing the same riff and melody over and over. I got the feeling that they should be down by now and getting on with the concert. But the spider seemed to have a mind of its own and was now descending very slowly, tilting more and more. It let off a little steam and started tilting back again as it was nearing the stage, only to stop above the stage and hover for a bit. At this point I got the impression that the band members were contemplating jumping off the spider, but it was still too high in the air for that. At last the spider had lowered itself enough for the band members to get off, but it was too late and this had become a true Spinal Tap moment for me. I couldn't help but feel that the band looked extremely comical in all their makeup and unable to get off that damn spider. Of course this could all be perfectly normal and part of any Kiss show but I sure hope not.
As the show got underway the air was frequently filled with great fireworks and Kiss put on a flashy show. I was entertained, but it was really, all a bit silly. Halfway through the Kiss show I decided to head back to camp to sleep because I was worn out. I wish I had seen the rest of the show but I was so damn tired.
Friday, June 6'th 2013
I finally got a good night sleep and woke up psyched and ready for another day. For the first time in eleven years I decided it was time to take a bath, but when I arrived at the camping ground's bathing facilities the queue was so long that I quickly changed my mind and opted for the usual trucker bath instead.
The Comfy ChairThis was a year of firsts, as I had also decided to bring a chair to the festival area, so I could sit down comfortably and watch a few concerts and avoid my usual back problems. This worked like a charm and had a dual advantage, since my chair was the only chequered chair in the festival area, so it provided us with a splendid meeting spot. I usually left the chair in a strategic position and went on my way, only to return at a later time.
A view of the festival area
TreatTreat was the first band on today's menu and they got the day off to a rocking start. This was their 30th anniversary and they were celebrating it today. As the first sounds began to echo from the stage, I was sure they would play "The War Is Over" but instead they opened with another "Coup De Grace" rocker, "Roar". The chorus made it work perfectly as an opener and Mads and I were more than ready. A couple of older songs followed and both "Strike Without a warning" and "Ready for the taking" kept the show energized and excellent. A personal favorite came next with "Paper Tiger" and I sang my heart out. It was brilliant.
Some sort of medley was up next and I definitely recognized "Sole Survivor" in there somewhere. Mads and I agreed that it was time for a beer run so I ran as fast as I could to the closest bar and when I was back again a different lead singer had taken over. It turned out that Treat had brought out a special surprise in guise of their old singer, Mats Levén to sing "Learn To Fly" and they were finishing of that part of the set when I came back.
"The War is Over" was another personal favorite, delivered in brilliant fashion. After a few more songs I headed back to my chair to watch the rest of the concert and a bathroom visit. Treat was pure rock'n roll happiness, all the way and a great way to begin the day.
Hardline and FirewindHardline were playing right after Treat and had had their show moved to the Sweden Stage because it took too long to disassemble the Kiss spider (Run away!!!), so I went over there to check out the first part of their show. I wanted to catch Firewind as well, who were playing at the same time. Hardline, however, were very sincere and happy to be there. This shined through in their performance, which was overall excellent.
"This Moment" was dedicated to the whole Sweden Rock Festival and Hardline said that they felt they had owed us this show since 1992 and that was met with a great cheer. They played a couple of songs from 1992 just for the occasion. Even if I didn't know any of their songs, I still enjoyed the show but I left halfway through in order to check out Firewind.
The Firewind lead singer wore a massive leather coat, which made me think of Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey and the joke about the totally heavy death robes, and I wondered how he could stand the heat. I was impressed. After sitting down and listening to Firewind for a while, which included a song of their debut, "Keep your head up high" and "Destination Forever" and the lead singer shouting in best Savatage fashion "Come on motherfuckers!", the urge for a Jack Daniels and coke became too strong and I went to check out the press bar. Here I texted Eric to see if I would be able to meet up with him and Dodge today.
Scotsmen, Newsted, Asia, Doro and Sweden Rock perfectionI managed to meet up with my Scottish friends right before Newsted was about to take the stage. And there was much rejoicing... We checked out the first two songs before we headed over to the Rock stage to hear Asia, who were playing at exactly the same time. That was a good decision since Asia were excellent.
We all sat down in our chairs and talked while enjoying the show. The band was playing a fantastic version of "Don't Cry". I remember this as a perfect moment in time. The sky was blue, sun shining, I was among friends, plenty of beer and completely relaxed. This is what the Sweden Rock Festival is all about and right there I felt chills spreading, in spite of the heat. This was just perfect.
The trilogy of "Holy War", "Sole Survivor" and "Heat of the Moment" ended a great show.
Doro was playing right after Asia on the opposite stage, so we all turned our chairs and got ready to enjoy the show from one of Germany's finest. When Doro came running onto the stage it was clear that she was in a great mood (Isn't she always?). She opened the show with a few older songs I wasn't familiar with but her old school heavy metal felt like a breath of fresh air.
A near fatal camera bag mistake and a surprise visit to the toiletI had to do a toilet run during Doro, but soon after was back with the Scotsmen. A few minutes went by until I discovered that my camera bag was missing. My camera bag had everything: Money, credit cards, camera, tablet, notes, phone, passport and custom earplugs. It would be quite catastrophic for me to lose that and I felt a cold wave of panic slowly rising. It wasn't long before I realized that I must have left the camera bag inside the toilet stall I had just used. I made a frantic run, heart in throat and cursing myself, back to the toilets, where a long queue had formed and ran to each toilet in the close vicinity of where I thought I had been and flung each door open. I was lucky and found the bag still located inside a toilet stall, including a surprised guy in the middle of (well, you get the idea). I quickly reached in and snapped the camera bag and made some kind of excuse to the guy and rushed away. All I could think was "Phew, that was a close one!".
This was clearly a matter of beer-induced mental lapse as I almost never forget things...
I held on to the bag a little bit tighter for the remainder of the festival.
I celebrated my luck with a Tandoori chicken among the Scotsmen while Doro was playing. Meanwhile I was talking to Sean, the third Scotsman, and made a note to check out a micro brewery in Sangstrup some day.
UFO and red wineAfter several rounds of beer, my Scottish friends went on their way and I met up with Michael and Borg to enjoy the UFO concert. Before the show we had a very funny beer/bear mixup. I'll have to finish this report eventually so I will not describe it. You really had to be there. But hey Borg: Cheers to Bakken Bears!
UFO were very entertaining and we took turns buying rounds through the concert. Several beers and a bottle of red wine was consumed and I must admit I don't remember much factual information from the UFO concert except that they played "Doctor Doctor" and made a Doro joke which included some reference to Playboy. It was one of those "in the moment" concerts and just remember it as being great fun.
Another mental lapse, a bath and Crazy LixxIt was a great idea to have brought the chair onto the festival grounds to, but unfortunately I forgot all about it, when I headed back to the camp to continue the party.
Back at the camp the party continued and I continued it myself after all the others had left for the stages. I suddenly got the idea that now was the time for a bath (at 9:30pm) and that was the best decision in a long while. After the hot bath and a change of clothes, I wanted to continue the party but was seriously hungry. The food in the camping ground shop looked like shite, so I decided to run all the way back to the festival area to get the amazing Angus burger. I ended up at the press bar for the ultimate Jack Daniels and coke. I had forgotten to bring any extra clothes and was just walking around in a shirt and starting to get cold. On the way back to camp I stopped at Crazy Lixx and watched the ending of their show where they played "21 till I die". That was most excellent and the band seemed really happy to be there.
Running back to the camp, Mads hailed me on the way and when we got back we tried the best we could to continue the party, but I was suddenly too tired and had to crawl into my tent.
Saturday, June 7'th 2013
Dodge and Eric to the rescueWhen I woke up Mads told me that he had met Eric in the morning and he had my chair. Dodge had apparently found it yesterday, all alone and saved it. That was brilliant!
After the obligatory morning youghurt to ease up the heartburn, several drinks and some music, Mads went to see Satan and I went to see Leprous. Another new band I had yet to discover.
LeprousLeprous blew me away completely. The band was so tight and had an incredibly synchronized way of both playing and moving. The lead singer had an incredible range and didn't hold back at all. He managed to sing with an incredible amount of power, while his voice felt like it had taken control of the wind and was slowly consuming it. The band members were jumping around or headbanging, all in sync. The music was complex but melodic and had some clear emotion.
During their show I headed for the Tandoori chicken for breakfast and made it back to catch the last part of their show. Along with Manilla Road, Leprous was the best discovery of the festival. A perfect wakeup call and I will definitely be checking out these guys in the near future.
Chair reunion, Jon English and Rockklassiker All StarsI hit the press tent and was planning to go back to camp but on the way I got sidetracked by Jon English, who was playing the Sweden Stage. He'd come all the way from Australia, so I sat down to check him out. After an instrumental intro Jon came on stage with the words "Please welcome..... ME!".
Right before that I'd gotten a message from Eric that he was coming with my chair. So I met the Scotsmen at Jon English, who were headed for the Rock Klassiker stage to see Joakim Cans from Hammerfall, two guys from Europe and a few others play some kind of all-time greatest hits show. I decided to go with them. The area around the stage was completely packed and the heat was searing. We stood and heard the band play Alice Cooper's "Poison" and Ozzy's "Crazy Train" before I had enough and decided to head back to camp.
The QuireboysBack at the camp, I managed to get all warmed up for The Quireboys with what was left of my box of red wine. We all (Mads and I, Thomas and Carina) went down to my chequered chair, which had been placed just next to the Tex Mex food stand, a strategic meeting point before the Quireboys concert. There we met up with Borg and Michael and headed for the front of the stage. The Quireboys were playing an acoustic show on the largest stage and that was something quite special. For the first time ever, the main stage had been closed down all day in order to prepare it for the Rush performance later in the evening. But The Quireboys had gotten an acoustic spot on it and they grabbed this chance and played one hell of a concert.
As the band members were taking their seats, lead singer, Spike came hoppling onto the stage with a cane in one hand and a beer in the other. He greeted the audience while saying "I've broken me foot". He laid down the cane and for the rest of the concert, it didn't seem to bother him. The band opened with "Don't bite the hand that feeds you" with Spike on harmonica in the opening phase. The sound was brilliant, the weather hot and the beer Thomas arrived with after the first song, very nice and cold.
I was quickly right up front with Borg and there we proceeded to sing along and enjoy the concert to the fullest. "There She Goes Again" was next and it got the sing-a-long party started in a great way. The band was all smiles during the concert and seemed to enjoy themselves immensely. My favorite part of the show came with the fantastic trilogy of "Mona Lisa Smiled", "Roses and Rings" and "Misled". It was a treat to hear these songs in such a setting. All three guys on stage were singing along and made some great harmonies and it was clear that this was real music, no tricks and no bullshit. Just pure musicianship and feeling. The Quireboys really impressed today and I had a fantastic time.
"Have a Drink on Me" was met with many cheers and a loud "Skål!" from me. During the intro to "I Don't Love You Anymore" Spike pointed to his heart and said "See that scar there? She broke my heart". The band delivered a heartfelt version of this song. "7 O'Clock" ended the show on a high note and I spent the rest of my energy jumping to this song. If you don't believe it then check this video and notice the jumping cow hat at the front, that would be me.
Civil WarAfter The Quireboys party, I headed to the 4Sound stage to check out Civil War, the new band by the former members of Sabaton. As I sat down on the hill in front of the stage, a Swedish intro began playing and I understood nada. With the band playing their opening song my first impression was that this was too much sing a long and not enough content, but by the second song they had me won over. There was some great guitar here and the third song "We Rule The Universe" was pretty promising as well.
Running out of money and RushAt some point I hit the press bar and lost the rest of my 40 Swedish crowns at a Black Jack table before going back out to see if I could find a bank without a queue. That was impossible but instead I caught a glimpse of Black Star Riders as they were playing "Jailbreak" and that sounded pretty damn awesome.
I ended up back at the camp for more clothes and then made it back to the stage for Rush, probably the band I was looking most forward to seeing on the entire festival. Amazingly I managed to get a spot right at the front, to the left of the stage, in the second row. I had a perfect view of the stage and couldn't wait for the band to go on. I talked a bit to Carl from Australia before the band began their concert.
As Rush opened with "Subdivisions", the stage was set for something amazing. Huge screens lined the back of the stage and a pretty cool lightning system floated around the stage. Unfortunately the sound sucked beyond belief and I had a hard time telling one song apart from the other. I couldn't believe it and stood my ground in the hope that the sound guy got it cleared up somehow. An example of how bad it was: I didn't recognize my favorite Rush song "Red Sector A" before it was in the middle of the second verse.
Even without earplugs the sound was no better. I tried to get the best from the show but I was utterly disappointed. In hindsight I should have moved to another location, but I didn't and just tried to get the best from the concert. The middle part of the show was made up of songs from the new album "Clockwork Angels" and for that section, the screens behind the scene showed a video specially made for the concept. It played like a movie, with a bit of Monty Python humor in there and worked really well, even I didn't quite get the whole concept.
Another thing I didn't quite get at first was the girl behind me who was hitting on me quite hard through the concert. In the end, I had to show her my engagement ring and just shake my head before she got the message. It was pretty far out. Anyway, I was seriously disappointed by the sound Rush had. All I could hear was bass and drums. So I left the Rush concert seriously disappointed. Mads later told me that he had been standing much further back in the crowd and there the sound had been perfect. I have been hitting myself on the head about that ever since.
All Hail Indisk Mat!At this point I was seriously hungry and out of money, so I walked to the Indisk Mat booth to talk with them and ask if I could borrow a Tandoori chicken until next year. The people in the booth have noticed me for the past many years and I have been a constant customer several times a day at their booth because they serve the best food at the festival. Amazingly they were kind enough to do this and I walked away with a free Tandoori chicken, which I will of course pay back next year, with interest.
AvantasiaNot being content with making a mistake just once, I did it again with Avantasia. Although at the time I did not know. For Avantasia I made it all the way to the front as well and got a spot right behind the fence at the right of the stage. As the show commenced my hopes were high but unfortunately the sound sucked here as well. However, it was better than Rush and I proceeded to spend the last of my energy enjoying this show. Most importantly with "Reach out for the light" with Michael Kiske on vocals.
Avantasia was in a word, huge. Tobias Sammet had assembled a great cast of guest singers including our own Ronnie Atkins from Pretty Maids, Eric Martin from Mr. Big, Bob Catley, Michael Kiske and Amanda Somerville among others. In the first part of the show each of the guest singers got a song to sing and were invited onto the stage in the proper way and sent back after their song had played. I feared that they would only get a few songs each but it turned out that halfway through the show everyone came back and stayed on the stage for most of the last half of the show, having fun, singing along and in general just giving the audience a fantastic time. This really worked wonders and was what I had dreamed of. Ronnie Atkins and Eric Martin especially put on a fantastic show, along with delivering fantastic singing.
The show opened with "Spectres" and was followed by "Invoke the Machine" where Ronnie Atkins made his first grand performance. That man can sing and he was amazing throughout. "Reach Out For The Light" with Michael Kiske on vocals was a highlight for me, not only because of Kiske but also because I love the first two Avantasia albums much more than the others. The song was delivered with much power, even if I could not hear it clearly. I was leaning over the fence doing my best Kiske impression at this point, of course failing miserably.
There was some great interaction between Tobias and Eric Singer and in general there was just a great atmosphere on stage and it seemed like everyone really enjoyed themselves. The "knighted by my sword" sequence was a laugh out loud moment.
Unfortunately the first two Avantasia albums were neglected and focus was on the later albums.
"Lost in Space" was definitely not a highlight of the show and I moved away from the front at this point. From way down back, the sound suddenly opened up and sounded utterly brilliant. As bombastic and full-bodied as the music demands and I immediately hit myself on the head, that I had not moved back before. I enjoyed a medley of "Sign Of The Cross and The Seven Angels" from this spot and it put a fitting, momentous closure to the show and this year's Sweden Rock Festival in general.
Mental note: Never stay at the front rows at Sweden Rock.
Avantasia Quick Review: No Chalice of Agony. WTF!!!?
FarewellWhile I was heading back to the camp, I remembered that I had forgotten my chair again and returned to the festival area to search for it. I didn't find the chair but I ran into my Scottish friends said goodbye to Eric, Dodge and Sean before doing another sweep of the grounds and then heading back to my tent at 3am in the morning.
The next day, early morning, I drove back to Denmark with Borg and Michael and the festival was over. This was sad but I was happy to be back home with my family and it seems it is getting harder and harder to leave them with each year. At some point I'll have to bring them along for the fun and perhaps cut down on the beer-intus.
The Sweden Rock Festival 2013 was an absolutely glorious time and I can't wait to get back to this small slice of heaven again.
He's leaving home
Our Camping site
The crowd at Demon
The perfect breakfast
From left to right: Dodge, Eric, Me and Sean
Yes, I love my wine
The happy crowd at The Quireboys
From left to right: Thomas, Borg, Mads, Michael and Me
A very used running order and Civil War
The Comfy Chair...
All pictures taken by Steen
Written By Steen
Online: Sunday, June 23, 2013