Hotel breakfast and buckets of coffee started Thursday, June 8th. Then it was some confusing shower experiences. No, not like that you perverts! We couldn’t figure out the taps as they possessed no markings whatsoever. And the tub was basically open in the bathroom with only a little shower curtain that didn’t even go half way around. Almost impossible to prevent a bathroom flood! We’re gonna need more towels tomorrow. And here we go, all refreshed and ready for day 2 of Sweden Rock Festival 2017.
As we start every day, once through the gates and into the festival grounds, it was band merch time. The band merchandise stand is situated over near the Rock Stage. It houses and displays merchandise for all of the Sweden Rock bands. The actual Sweden Rock Festival merch is available at different stands throughout the grounds. The merch selection has a tendency to change, sometimes several times a day. This is because bands are arriving or leaving the festival throughout the weekend or sell-outs. I make a point to circulate the booth several times per day and have spent many hours staring up at the high displays and dreaming/deciding. Usually, I abstain as long as possible before making a purchase. Saves me money if it’s gone when I come back.
Today’s overly enticing products included t-shirts from Warlock, Grave Digger, and Running Wild. Let’s come back later on and see….
GREAT KING RAT (Rock Stage 12PM)
Great King Rat were a new spot on my radar…and if not for Sweden Rock, probably never would have been. You see I was oblivious to Great King Rat. Upon their announcement, in participating in Sweden Rock 2017 a few friends started chatting about them. In fact, one friend had me purchase and transport a Great King Rat shirt home for him. I checked out some YouTube and was suitably impressed.
Great King Rat thrilled the late morning crowds with “Woman In Love”. This was followed by “Good Times”, “Loving You”, “Top Of The World”, “Bright Lights”, and “Take Me Back”. Around this time I decided to scope out Phil Campbell & the Bastard Sons for half a song over on Sweden Stage. Refilling my water bottle, I returned to finish Great King Rat‘s set. Taking position further back, I absorbed “Be My Friend” and “Bad Woman”, before they closed with “Calling for My Angel”.
Time to retreat to the VIP area and hopefully find a seat. Why am I so exhausted already today? Greeting a few media friends and fellow concerting pals we had the first drinks of the day. We even crossed paths with another Canadian. Well, it was hard to miss him wearing the Canadian flag as a cape! Eventually, the time came to move on, making our way to Hardline. On the way over, we paused at Iced Earth to catch a song. I would have liked to see more of them, but since I wasn’t overly familiar, Hardline drew a larger pull.
HARDLINE (Sweden Stage 2:30PM)
Presenting ourselves at the stage, which had drawn quite a crowd, Hardline were already into “Where Will We Go From Here”. Formerly a huge bucket list band for me, it was thanks to Sweden Rock that I finally saw Hardline in 2014. The debut album, Double Eclipse, is for me one of those “desert island 10”. While I enjoy some of their other work, that’s the crowning glory for me and to be honest, all I really want to hear. The band, like reading my mind, obliged with “Takin’ Me Down” and “Dr. Love”. But then they killed it. well, in my ears at least. A triple shot of slower fare with “Human Nature”, “Take You Home” (in which Johnny wished his daughter a happy 21st birthday) and “Trapped In Muddy Water” drove me to wander.
Drifting around between Hardline, the merch booth, beer stand and deciding on food, Hardline drew me back in with “Life’s A Bitch”. The great, although not from Double Eclipse “Fever Dreams” led to “In The Hands Of Time”. The band powered it home with four top cuts, “Everything”, “Hot Cherie”, “I’ll Be There”, ending with “Rhythm From A Red Car”. Another great set (even with the 3-pack in the middle) led by the characteristic vocals of Johnny Gioeli. This dude could sing the phone book! In fact at Rock n’ Skull 2016, he called himself “Karaoke Johnny” and sung with an iPad playing the tunes. And it was still good!
Time to refuel…on beer that is! Although I never did get that food I was considering. Time to open the addiction floodgates at Casey’s Fish & Chips! I don’t know if it’s strictly the food or just the air and aura of Sweden Rock Festival, but that little fish & chip booth has some of the greatest ever!
WARLOCK (DORO) (Festival Stage 4PM)
Probably the most anticipated set for me personally at Sweden Rock 2017. The German Metal Queen Doro Pesch appearing as Doro Pesch’s Warlock. Billed as playing the entire Triumph & Agony album, the fourth and final issued under the Warlock banner. Led by the diminutive blonde frontwoman they ripped into “Touch of Evil”. Watching Doro on the catwalk during that first song had a profound effect on me. All her regular Doro band appeared present on stage, save one gentleman who was a new addition. Playing a Triumph & Agony guitar, he was indeed Tommy Bolan who played originally on the 1987 album.
As indicated Doro Pesch’s Warlock did indeed cover the entire album, albeit in a different track order. This included two songs being performed live for the first time ever. The band ended in a three-pack encore. The Warlock tracks “Earthshaker Rock” and “True As Steel” ending with the often played Judas Priest cover of “Breaking The Law”. All of the Doro trademarks were present, leading crowd cheers, holding the mic to the crowd and of course, metal horns held high. Just like a Doro show, that I’ve seen before, but with that little something more. Perhaps because that Triumph & Agony release is held close to my own heart. For a more in-depth review/story on this Doro Pesch’s Warlock set please see my spotlight review (link).
Returning to the VIP area for a rest and to clear my emotional tears thanks to Doro‘s set, I met up with some Swedish friends. Before long members of the Decibel Geek crew began floating in and out as they departed or returned from various stages. Personally, I wasn’t overly high on any of the bands on any of the stages for the next little while, so I spent my time chatting and drinking with friends and fellow journalists.
Shortly around the seven o’clock hour, I ventured back out targeting another Casey’s hit followed by VA Rocks. I passed by Fates Warning in my travels as I consumed my fish & chips, but lingered only for a song and a half before having to pee and get to Rockklasiker Stage for VA Rocks.
VA ROCKS (Rockklassiker Stage 7:30PM)
At the 2014 Sweden Rock Festival I had watched a set by a band called Va!?. Now here we are in 2017 and on the roster appeared a band under the moniker VA Rocks. Don’t ask me why, but I had one hell of an inkling that this would be the very same ladies of VA!?. And so, showing up at the front of the stage for their 7:30 pm set on the Thursday proved that my instincts were totally correct. The all-female rock/punk flavored outfit blasted forward with a high energy right from the get-go that was infectious to the pretty packed Rockklassiker Tent. Near the end of their set, I spied the merch set up on the side. So, with no other customers there yet I seized my opportunity to pick up the CD, Pull No Punches.
The ladies ripped through a fantastic set. They had the entire crowd under the Rockklassiker Tent responding with thunderous applause and ear ringing cheers. They only briefly lost momentum with the acoustic solo ballad. At the conclusion of the set, the merch area became literally flooded with fans clamoring for the swag. Seeing fellow Decibel Geek, our ace photographer, Shawn“Animalize” Irwin in line I joined him. His words sum things up perfectly: “They were awesome” as he held up the CD he’d just purchased. He loved it so much that he even forgot to take some photos! We both waited to get to the front of the line and have the ladies sign our CD’s. And I for one couldn’t wait to get home and crank this up!
VEONITY (Rockklassiker Stage 9PM)
Veonity was a name I’d known thanks to the “Upcoming Release” section of Decibel Geek‘s website. But I’d not heard their musical product. Meandering into the Rockklasiker tent I made my way closer to the stage. This was power metal at its very definition. Great stuff, although I knew not one song. Coming in a song or two late, I grabbed a beer and caught the next half hour or so of the Veonity set before making my way to Aerosmith. I was totally struck by the vocalists powerful pipes and deemed that this CD must be hunted down upon returning to Canada.
STEEL PANTHER (Rock Stage 8:45PM)
Passing by way of the Rock Stage, I couldn’t stop myself from pausing for a bit of Steel Panther. The first time I saw Steel Panther, the jokes were funny. But after a few years and a few shows, the same old toilet humor jokes wear extremely thin. Perhaps I’ll just refer to these idiots as Shit Panther from now on…it’s more accurate. As expected, the few minutes I caught contained bad jokes about Joe Pesci and his wife Doro Peschi, which revering Doro as I do, pissed me off. Then they, as always, invited girls on stage saying something like the legal consent age in Sweden is 14! And they seemed happy about this! I don’t care if it’s a joke, they sound like a bunch of pedophiles. Disgusting!
AEROSMITH (Festival Stage 10:15PM)
Aerosmith was one of the first bands that I ever saw live. And I loved it! That was all the way back on the Pump tour. Four 16-year young country boys ventured (against parental desires) an hour south of our small town and into the big city of Toronto. A highlight was losing Dave the farmer in the Toronto subway. As we got up and exited the train he realized that he had forgotten his gloves. Running back into the train to retrieve them, the doors closed and the train moved away from the station. I will never forget the terrified look on his face through the subway car window as he was whisked away. And we laughed, and Rob chased the car down the platform waving goodbye to Dave. And we laughed. Memories.
Aerosmith brought those memories back in spades leading out with “Let the Music Do the Talking”. Next, they broke into “Young Lust” conjuring the memories of Rob‘s Aerosmith concert shirt depicting a male kid holding a banana and a female looking on. From there it was a parade of the soundtracks of my youth including “Cryin'”, “Living on the Edge”, “Love in an Elevator”, “Janie’s Got a Gun”, “Mama Kin”, “Back in the Saddle”, “Chip Away the Stone”, “Sweet Emotion”, “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing”, “Rag Doll”, “Dude (Looks Like a Lady)”, “Dream On” and of course, “Walk This Way”.
Joe Perry also took over vocals for a double shot cover of Fleetwood Mac‘s “Stop Messin’ Around” and “Oh Well”. Nice to see him doing well after hearing about his collapse on stage with Hollywood Vampires awhile ago. Two more covers worked into the roster with the probably expected “Come Together” originally recorded by The Beatles and James Brown‘s “Mother Popcorn”. Overall a fantastic time, set and a flood of youthful memories. Thank you, Aerosmith!
Knowing parts of the Edguy catalog, we dragged our tired legs over to the Rock Stage for the midnight start of their set. This band may simply be the highlight for Shawn being much more versed than I with their power metal outputs. Before Edguy started, I again felt the rumblings of a stomach requiring more delectable Casey’s Fish & Chips. Holy crap, I’m getting super fat from eating only this! Perhaps tomorrow I should sample some other cuisine…Nah. I hurried over to find the Decibel Geek crew, only having missed the first song or two of Edguy.
Vocalist and band leader Tobias Sammet informed that Edguy was celebrating 25 years and there would not be much time for talking tonight. After “Tears of a Mandrake” and “The Piper Never Dies” came “Lavatory Love Machine”. I ask, how can you fail to adore a song titled as such? In the set, they even slipped in a portion of Iron Maiden‘s “The Trooper” which I thought was fantastic. Enjoying Edguy, but unfortunately, my exhaustion was beginning rear its ugly head. I’m just not as young as I used to be! I suffered in silence as Shawn was thoroughly in heaven for Edguy. Check out his Edguy Spotlight Review.
Final Thoughts on Sweden Rock Festival 2017 Day Two
Another excellent day at Sweden Rock Festival. I just marvel each year at the level of organization at this event. Years ago I never dreamed that I’d be seeing some of these bands live, never mind the globetrotting to do so. Now I can’t imagine a June without being at Sweden Rock Festival.
And even better is spending it with close friends from around the world. I still absolutely love seeing a first timer like Ron experience it. He seems to be warming up and getting comfortable…and the Jager bar is such a plus for him! Bring on Day three!
Shawn “Animalize” Irwin’s Photo Galleries
Without a proper photo pass for Sweden Rock Festival, Shawn did his best to capture shots from the gigs that he could. Here are the links to those photo galleries from Day two that he was able to shoot. Doro Pesh’s Warlock / Fates Warning