The Melodic Rock genre is a family. In every sense of the word. Events like this just hammer that home. The camaraderie shown to every attendee (fan/band/organizer) is overwhelmingly immense. This particular event, MelodicRock Fest Scandinavia, took place in Malmo, Sweden. While there have been other MelodicRock Fests in the past in U.S.A. and Australia, this was the first in Sweden. The event started and presented by Andrew McNeice of Australia’s Melodic Rock Records saw action in Chicago just 2 weeks prior. This Swedish version was presented by Rock Stage Malmo and Roasting House Recording Studio in conjunction with McNeice. Many attended both events even though they were across the world. This was my first of the MelodicRock Festival series.
Now, many readers may know that Melodic Rock is not my chosen genre of music. Don’t get me wrong, I love many of the bands that fall into this category. But, I just don’t know the details like some of these historian fans. In truth, I enjoy a little more “heavy” in my tunes, a little more punch and definitely fewer keyboards and ballads/slow songs. That said, this may just have damn well been the best festival I’ve ever attended! Not to take away from any of the other worldwide events that I’ve attended over the years, of course. But I was welcomed here with open arms and hearts by many, many of the folks. I knew a few beforehand, but my Facebook friend count has engorged itself over the last couple days. Friends from around the globe such as Israel, Sweden, UK, Canada, Australia, U.S.A., Spain, Norway and many, many more. The kind of friends that you just know will be lifelong as they share in the same love of music. And the bond created here through MelodicRock Fest Scandinavia thanks to organizers Johan Nylen, Micko Twedberg and their team, I feel is rather unbreakable.
We come as strangers, we leave as family.
MELODICROCK FEST SCANDINAVIA 2018 – Pre Festival in Malmo
Journeying over from Canada with a friend, we arrived in good health and ready to rock. Coming in the day early was definitely the way to go as we had time to take it easy. Who’s kidding who, we were out on the town in no time searching for organizer Johan to meet for drinks. As per usual during my travels, we became slightly off course, our paper map nor Google (no internet connection) really assisting. Like magic, Johan appeared from seemingly out of nowhere to guide us. A fantastic evening of drinks at a local bar, music and meeting folks ensued in a perfect start to our trip.
Somehow we talked ourselves into helping build the festival the next day. Or did Johan talk us into it? I don’t remember. In any case, we were happy to help out. It filled our time and gave us a sense of purpose. Everything was going great as we trucked back and forth to the Roasting House Recording Studio, loading a van with merch and P.A. systems. Then things got frightening. We then were asked to assist the crew building the stage. Simple enough until twice I touched stage parts and they fell apart! Scared that our section of the stage would fall apart and injure a band we sort of ran away. OK, that would never happen but you get the joke! We then assisted in crafting the merchandise area by erecting some fence barriers and tables before quitting for the day.
After a shower it was off for dinner with some friends, Australian and British, ahead of the Little Caesar Pre-Party show. For the full story on that gig check out my article: Little Caesar – Live in Malmo.
I’ll not go into detail on every band that played each and every day at MelodicRock Fest Scandinavia. But rather try to give you an overall sense of the MelodicRock Fest Scandinavia experience. If I do that correctly, I’m certain that you’ll be lining up to buy your 2019 ticket, just as I will.
MELODICROCK FEST SCANDINAVIA 2018 – Day #1
Still walking on an air of total elation and happiness after Little Caesar, day one is where the family erupted. First order of business after checking in was to purchase my MelodicRock Fest Scandinavia official t-shirt. And then a beer, of course. The bars here only accepted credit cards, no cash. While I was at first annoyed I quickly became used to the procedure. It is something that Sweden seems to be moving towards in general as many places had signs posted indicating dates that they would be cashless. The international charges were frightening, but at the restaurant bar, you could leave your tab open for one end of day transaction and thereby lessening the conversion charges on foreign cards. But an open tab is always dangerous in other ways…lol.
BAD HABIT (VIP Only)
The day then launched into a music-filled experience not soon to forget. Starting off with the acoustic, VIP only performance of Bad Habit, you could literally feel the room swell with happiness. The band leading the way on the rise of that swell soon had folks singing along to these new renditions of their songs.
Grand Slam was the first electric band of MelodicRock Fest Scandinavia, and first on the main stage. Hailing from Malmo, they were a band I’d heard more of in name rather than music. Having been around for six years or so, Grand Slam‘s set consisted of seven of the ten tracks found on their 2016 issued A New Dawn album. I had my first taste of Grand Slam via this release on the plane ride across the pond, so not the best enviroment. Live they came out with a bit of a thunder musically, although the stage presence seemed subdued. I shall be revisiting A New Dawn in greater depth once I return home!
Unfortunately I missed Colorstone, aside from a few muffled chords as I sat in the restaurant area to enjoy some lunch/dinner. I could already tell that the social aspect of this event would be the clear standout component. And that it would detract from the bands a bit.
Arriving back into the concert area for Midnite City, I missed a little of the start (see above). This band I was really interested in seeing, having listened to the album several times sparked by a review on Decibel Geek (Midnite City Album Review). The band features Rob Wylde, frontman of Tigertailz and drummer Pete Newdeck of Blood Red Saints. They showcased songs off their debut album which was out in October of 2017 on AOR Heaven. Quickly apparent is the stage presence on these five gents hailing from Nottingham, UK. Especially the charisma of Wylde leading the way and forging a bond of strength with the audience. A very engaging, high energy set definitely sending me back to listen to the album and looking forward to seeing Midnite City again in Hull at Hull Metal Heaven in September.
Next up we were served Grand Design, the second of three bands throughout the weekend with “Grand” in their moniker. This band was completely knew to me even though there was a nagging familiarity, probably confusing my “Grands”. Surprisingly, I discovered that Grand Design has been around more than ten years and I’d heard the guitarists name, Janne Stark, somewhere before. These were not the same type of young chickens as in the previous bands on today’s roster, they certainly had some experience behind them. The music was thunderous and flowed well, my feet tapping and head bobbing all the way. Vocalist Pelle Saether showed his charisma and captivated the audience even if we struggled to comprehend the Swedish language he spoke. How had I missed Grand Design before? Can’t say, but I’m definitely gonna buy some music once home!
One Desire had garnered a fair bit of buzz around some of my music friends and so I was curious. To be honest I found the album to be nothing special. Not bad by any means but as I find with a lot of Melodic Rock (remember not my preferred genre) rather generic. That all washed away from my mind as they took stage. Bombastic and fucking impressive are some adjectives that flew into mind. These guys were amazing musically and also in stage persona, The bassist, Jonas Kuhlberg‘s headbanging was quite the display as his hair flopped and flew around. The guitars were more prominent and a bit heavier as usually the case live. And wow, can Andre Linman ever sing as well! It was awesome to watch the crowd as they hung on every energy filled, punch packed note of One Desire‘s set. Definitely have to revisit this album, perhaps as soon as later tonight back in the hotel. And One Desire announced that new music was on the way as they were working on a new album. Easily my favorite band of the day and maybe even the weekend, but time will tell there.
MELODICROCK FEST SCANDINAVIA ALL-STAR BAND
The MRF Allstar band was our next display on stage. I’m not overly an All Star band kind of guy although there is an element of fun to watching guys from different bands come together on stage. Aside from that it’s basically just a cover band if you ask me. This set was a little different though, with the song list being handpicked by event organizer Johan Nylen, so we were sure to have something a little different. Plus I had some inside info that my good friend, drummer John Parker (Talon) would be sitting in for a song or two. Other players were Jim Jidhead (Alien-vocals), Philip Lindstrand (Cruzh/Find Me-vocals/guitar), Ludde Torner (Reach-guitars), Andreas Passmark (W.E.T./Work Of Art-bass), Jonah Tee (H.E.A.T.-keyboards) and Herman Furin (Work Of Art-drums). The setlist saw songs from Giant, Bad English, Richard Marx, Survivor, Journey and Van Halen among others.
The night’s headliner and final act was Treat. I’d seen Treat before, once or maybe twice, sometimes I lose track. They are certainly infectious and I was well versed with every song they played, although I couldn’t name one of the top of my head. They are a band that delivers on album and stage, I’ve always liked Treat. Tonight was incredible. The Slaughterhouse (Slagthuset) was at it’s peak capacity for the day and everyone was fully entranced by Treat. There was dancing. There was singing (badly out of tune). And that was just me! The rest of the crowd was right there with me. I personally witnessad a friend so fully entrenched in Treat as he danced away by himself near the rear of the throng. That poor white boy has no rhythm, wish I’d shot a quick video!
Treat seemed louder than the rest and better sounding. Not that any of the bands sounded bad, but the vaulted ceiling of the venue caused a lot of “bounceback” muffling the sound that had organisers working on improving all weekend long. Opening with “Ghosts Of Graceland”, “Better The Devil You Know” and “Nonstop Madness” all from the 2016 Ghosts Of Graceland release set the tone. Other classics included “Ready For The Taking”, “We Own The Night”, “Love Stroke”, “Sole Survivor”, “You’re The One I Want”, “Roar”, “Outlaw”, “Get You On The Run” and more. But for me the choice selection was “Papertiger”. I’ve always loved that song, but always forget about until I hear it. Tonight it was the catalyst for my aforementioned dancing and singing. All in all a great set and perfect choice for headliner. And with a new album, Tunguska, set for September 14th, there’s more Treat on the horizon.
MELODICROCK FEST SCANDINAVIA 2018 – Final Thoughts
Watch for Days two and three coming soon to Decibel Geek!
Thanks once again to MelodicRock Fest Scandinavia organizers Johan Nylen, Micko Twedberg and their entire team. Thanks to all the bands for not only delivering great shows, but most of them mingled about the crowd after meeting and greeting fans (none more than Talon though, I suspect). And the attendees. Wow, I love you all so much, friends new and old, you are what keeps me alive! All in all a fantastic event that I am more than looking forward to next year. Maybe I’ll either arrive a day or two early to be able to expereince the city of Malmo a little more. No matter how you slice it, if there is another event in 2019 (and all indicators point to such), this Canadian will be there for the family reunion! Join me!
PHOTOS COURTESY of: Chari Vilan at Alraune Pix