A Canadian Decibel Geek in Sweden – Day #5 & 6-June 8th and 9th, 2013
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Well, this is the account of my last day at 2013’s Sweden Rock Festival and what an experience it’s been. So many great bands here, some I’ve been very familiar with and some that I’ve seen before, but there’s also a lot of new music to be discovered here. Bands like Imber, Days of Jupiter, Satan and Bloodbound among others that really impressed me with their live sets. So, even though this is a bit late in posting let’s get down to it with my last day of “A Canadian Decibel Geek in Sweden”.
Saturday June 8th, 2013
12pm-I really have no idea what I did before this, but I’m sure there was a little food, a freezing cold shower in the shower trailer (although I’m glad I discovered the trailer, I almost wonder if no shower would be better than the frigid ice water that’s provided here!) and some time in the press tent in the morning. Noon finds me at the Sweden Stage for the first show of the day with Satan, that’s a band, not who I was hanging out with! They hail from Newcastle, UKand I’d checked out some of their stuff before leaving Toronto. Being a part of the NWOBHM movement I enjoyed their style immediately, purchasing some of their music. After a rather long synthesiser intro Satan took the stage and the first song was familiar, but the title eludes me at the moment although it is quite good. The sun is blisteringly hot again when it peeks out from behind the clouds, but the wind is downright chilly. “Blades of Steel” was announced as the next song and was followed up by “A Time To Die” from the new album, Life Sentence. They were holding my attention fairly well and the next song was “about the future, but from the perspective of a guy who’s looking back because he’s already past that point”, sounds deep and it’s called “Twenty Twenty Five” we were told. “From the newest, we’re going back to the oldest” the singer proclaimed as they played “Oppression” next. He seems to have a kind of an Ozzy look going on about him and it works well. Next from the Court In The Act album, which I have, we got “Break Free” and I was suddenly struck by this thought: Quite often the bands here at Sweden Rock have been introduced by a pair of guys who I assume are radio DJs or TV personalities here in Sweden. It’s all spoken in Swedish, but there’s one phrase that the guy says every time in English, “Satan’s people”, referring to the audience and festival goers. Well, here it’s an appropriate statement as I’m being won over by this band called Satan. Another new one with “Incantations” was up next followed by their closer of “Siege Mentality” also from the new record. A very good set despite the weaker early day time slot.
12:50pm-after Satan I did some wandering of the grounds inside and outside of the compound, choosing to take a break from the bands, not being overly interested in the ones performing right now anyway. I did some shopping, checked the bus schedule about getting myself to the train station in time to make my way to Copenhagen airport for my flight home tomorrow (way too short of a time here in Scandinavia) and returned to DBHQ.
1:50pm-Checking out the backstage bar to see who’s around and get myself a beverage. Mille from Kreator was being interviewed by the “Satan’s people” DJ and I heard him say that he was excited to see Rush, my fellow countrymen. I tuned out, but lingered enjoying the beer and relaxing from the past few days of my whirlwind trip to get here.
3pm-after some work in the press tent, I needed some water as I find the press tent swelteringly hot and stale with little air movement. They should really put a fan in there. I cannot believe it!! The VIP bar is out of still water, in this heat that’s not a good thing!
4pm-I can hear the Quireboys on the festival stage quite clearly from the tent. They are doing an acoustic set, so there’s no need for me to rush over there, not being a huge Quireboys fan, nor a fan of acoustic performances. I have heard such rave reviews about them from the Monsters of Rock Cruise last year and did plan to catch them here as I missed them aboard ship, but the acoustic turns me off.
4:15pm-The Black Star Riders press conference was taking place now in the press tent and I listened in from my workstation, trying to note my adventures of the last few days and also pay attention to the conference. There seemed to be more buzz and journalists here than there were for Doro and there were many questions, but here’s a few that stuck out in my head:
Q: Why change the name from Thin Lizzy as you’ve been playing under that moniker for some time now?
A: It’s been 30 years since the last Thin Lizzy record and 26 years since Phil’s passing, it just wasn’t right and we all felt it. With the new name we have more freedom to explore and experiment with music while sticking to the Thin Lizzy formula at the same time.
Q: Where did you get the new name from?
A: We always watch the Kurt Russell movie Tombstone in the tour bus and it’s mentioned somewhere in the movie, but it needed something else. You go through a ton of suggestions when trying to name a band and a lot gets thrown out. We added Riders to it because we all like westerns and the whole rider gang mentality. We just do it with guitars instead of horses and guns.
Other topics covered saw them very proud of the new record and saying that they already have 10-12 songs written for the follow-up. They’re all committed to this and are willing to take it wherever it goes. Also covered were some stories of the road seeing as how many of them had also played at one time or another in Alice Cooper’s band.
4:40pm-it’s time to get out of this sweat box of a press tent, I’m getting sleepy in here. I wandered past the Festival stage and saw The Quireboys finishing up with their signature song “7 o’clock”. I didn’t stop as they were almost over and I was on a mission to get to Bloodbound, who I’d probably never have the chance to see again and were already half over. I can always catch Quireboys on the next Monsters of Rock Cruise as well.
4:45pm-refuelled with Sofiero, I was at the Rockklassiker stage for Bloodbound and they had a good crowd as I walked up. I was not familiar with the song they were belting out during my approach to the stage, but I had only briefly listened to them back in Canada. I will definitely pay more attention to their music going forth in the future. Their heavy progressive mix was working well and had the crowd clapping along with the next song “In The Name Of metal”. I could see heads bobbing and “devil horns” held high near the front as I looked on from near the rear of the throng. “Metal Monster” became the next treat, but alas, my tenure here with Bloodbound was cut short as the need to make room for more Sofiero became pressingly urgent. Choosing to avoid the port-o-let/street urinal combo that had so offended my nasal passages the other day, I headed off to the larger washroom facilities between this stage and the Rock stage. As I came out of the washroom I could still clearly hear them and I was grooving away to “Metalheads Unite” while I hung at the back of the crowd assembled before the Rock stage waiting for Kreator and I made a note to give their CD’s a proper listen upon my return home.
5pm-I had seen Kreator previously about a year ago on the Teutonic Terror tour with Accept in Toronto and they are not particularly my musical preference, but I’ve broadened my horizons since then, so I was ready to give it another go. Some of my friends would be so proud of my progress here this week, but just in case, let’s just hang out near the back…lol. Kreator took the stage and instantly drowned out Bloodbound with “Phantom Anti-Christ” which not only did I recognise, but actually quite enjoyed! My mother would call it “screaming devil chainsaw music” and it’s actually starting to grow on me! “From Flood Into Fire” was the next selection and it’s usually not the music that turns me off, but the “Cookie Monster” (you know, the character from the kids TV show Sesame Street?….It’s probably a Canadian thing), vocals that ruin it for me. I like to hear the lyrics and chorus, not just guttural, throaty growls. “Sweden Rock are you ready?” came the question posed by vocalist, Mille. “Yeah” was the unified response of the huge crowd. “Then let’s get this mosh thing going down here,” he answered pointing in front of the stage as they tore into a fast, heavy song, called “Warcurse” which musically I liked. At it’s conclusion he requested that the audience split in two down the middle and start the biggest mosh pit that Sweden has ever seen. I didn’t catch the name of the next track, but it was heavy and a little “Cookieish” for me, so absolutely perfect for moshing I expect, but after that came what I think was titled “Pleasure To Kill” and I skirted the outer fringes of the crowd, making my way over to the “Official Merchandise” booth.
5:30pm-after agonising and justifying and restraining myself for the last few days I finally made my t-shirt purchases. I was originally coveting eight shirts, but cooler heads prevailed and I chose two that likely wouldn’t be on tour in Canada any time soon with Hardline and Krokus. It did help that some of the bands had removed their swag as they had left the park, moving on to the next show or back home as the case may be, this alleviated me from obtaining Saxon, Scams and Bullet t-shirts. The others were bands that I knew I’d see in Toronto again, so I passed them up……fool, who doesn’t need more black heavy metal t-shirts to add to their wardrobe that’s already overfilled with nothing but?
Civil War (Sweden)
5:45pm-Civil War were already in progress on the 4Sound Stage and they had the biggest crowd draw that I’d seen for this venue as of yet. Maybe it was due to lack of options at this time or people just killing time until Black Star Riders came on the nearby Sweden stage. I had never heard of them, but they actually sounded pretty good with their power thrash elements as I caught the songs “Gettysburg” and “First to Fight” before moving on. Upon returning home I discovered that Civil War is comprised four former members of Sabaton and two others. I returned to DBHQ and stowed my fresh t-shirts into my backpack, heading back again to the press tent, basically I’m exhausted and need a place to sit (and have a beer to perk me up). I wanted to catch Black Star Riders, but until then it was hard to focus my attention on any of the bands currently on the stages.
Black Star Riders (US)
7:15pm-I’m getting really drowsy again in the press tent, they should really put a fan in there, or maybe I should just get some sleep and stay out of the draining sun! Only when Skid Row entered for their press conference did I realise the time and that Black Star Riders had almost finished. I rushed over there and caught “Whiskey In The Jar”, a Thin Lizzy song covered years later by Metallica. I wasn’t getting too close to the stage, but that’s OK as they did say in their press conference that they’d be touring North America, so hopefully a stop in Toronto makes the cut of cities to visit. “Kingdom of the Lost” was the next cut from the new Black Star Riders CD All Hell Breaks Loose. While they were sounding great, I had missed most of their set and was determined not to make the same mistake with Accept due up soon, so I headed off. My exit song sounded a lot like the Almighty, but that could just be the carry over of Ricky’s voice. I’m also a big Ricky Warwick fan, loving his former band The Almighty and I was so happy to finally hear (I can’t say see because I was a resident of the nosebleeders) him perform with Thin Lizzy (now Black Star Riders) in Toronto a couple of years ago on the Judas Priest Epitaph tour.
7:30pm-I’m off to check out the Accept scene for their 7:45pm start. By 7:35pm the crowd started amassing around me and filling in all the holes and spaces.
7:45pm-promptly the “German Teutonic Terror” stormed the stage tearing into “Hung Drawn & Quartered” from the 2012 Stalingrad release. They were spot on and playing with real fury and passion in their eyes. “Hellfire” was the next cut and I thought to myself that I would be just as happy if they only played the last two albums, the Mark Tornillo era of the band. This era has rejuvenated them and are some of the best releases of Accept’s career in my opinion at least. They did mix in some Accept classics as I knew they would and that was not at all a disappointment. “Restless & Wild” was next up and Mark sounded friggin’ amazing on it with the crowd singing along making great backup vocals for the chorus. With new blood often comes new life, that is often the case and Accept is no exception. The intensity on Mark’s face contradicted with the goofy expressions on guitarist Wolf Hoffman’s and was a good counter balance and showed the fun and seriousness of the new breath in Accept’s life. The overhead clapping of the crowd started off another classic with “Losers & Winners”. They are ripping it up just like they did in Toronto in Aug 2012, almost a year ago when they opened the stage for fellow Germans, Kreator and I still say it should have been the other way around with this German dynamic duo. Mark addressed the audience, many adorned in varieties of Accept wear, new and old, saying that when they were here (in Sweden) 2 years ago they were without Herman Frank who was in hospital, but he’s here with us tonight. The title cut from Stalingrad assaulted us now as the smoke machines billowed out their hazy fog. An early Accept composition of “Breaker” fit its way into the set list and then it was back to the newer material for “Shadow Soldiers” which Mark dedicated to the military forces around the world. “Bucket Full of Hate” followed and I was happy to hear it as 2010’s Blood of the Nations, the first with Mark Tornillo finds it’s way into my top 10 albums every time I name them. The next song was a bit of a surprise for me as “Bulletproof” attacked my ear drums and during the cut Wolf and
Peter Baltes (bass) have a duelling solo of sorts. OMG!! “Pandemic”, the highest energy driving rocker from Blood of the Nations came next with little to no breaks during the chosen set list treats. Back to the classics for “Princess of the Dawn” which featured a short Peter and Stefan (drums) duet with Wolf joining in shortly afterwards. At the end of “Up To The Limit”, Peter and Wolf make like they are stabbing Mark with their guitars before the “Hidey hi-ho” recorded intro announced the coming of the speed metal pioneer “Fast As A Shark”. The follow up to their iconic Balls to the Wall record was Metal Heart and it’s time that the metal heart beats again which is quite clearly the case as they ripped through the title cut from that release, including a short solo from extraordinary guitar player, Wolf Hoffmann. “Teutonic Terror”, another new selection came before the closer of “Balls to the Wall” which had the crowd jumping to this 80’s metal anthem loaded with power riffs. That was the way a rock show should be, one and a half hours straight of solid music, no muss, no fuss all rock, no time wasted with encore cheers and the like. Mark Tornillo has certainly breathed new life into the German metal pioneers and the metal heart does indeed beat again, quite strongly in fact. If you’re interested in reading my review on 2012’s show in Toronto, please check out this link: (The Metal Heart Beats Once Again)
9:35pm-still reeling from Accept’s performance, I made my way over to the Festival stage for Rush. I was a bit late in getting there as I had to make a pit stop back at DBHQ for a sweater, I can’t believe just how cold it gets here at night, quite a contrast to the heat of the day. With being late, I missed the little movie or skit that Rush often lead off their shows with, hearing parts of it as I re-entered the grounds. From there they were into “Subdivisions” as I made my way through the back of the crowd. A guy stopped me and said something in Swedish, which of course, I couldn’t understand at all. I apologised in English and just as every instance prior, he comfortably switched languages for me, stating “I only said that maybe no sunglasses tomorrow.” I felt the top of my head and realised that the sunglasses in question were perched there, obviously exposing the raccoon sunglasses tan that I must have been sporting to illicit such a comment. He used my camera to take a quick photo for me to see. As we both laughed, he also asked me where I was from. On my response of Toronto, Canada he looked shocked and patted his heart saying “and you came all the way for the festival?” seeming incredibly honoured that I would do so. Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson and Neil Peart were pumping out “Big Money” now as I tried to creep a little closer. The crowd was big, but there was some creeping room and I could comfortably see the two giant screens in the meantime. As I got quite close to the stage, “Grand Designs” was their next choice and I know that my Rush-loving friend back home would certainly be right up front for this event. “Limelight” followed and then from the Signals album we got “Analog Kid”. My favourite Rush album, one of the first I acquired in Roll The Bones was represented next with “Where’s My Thing?” and then it was “Far Cry” from the Snakes & Arrows CD. While I love Rush, my interest was waning and I decided to check out Skid Row as I can’t remember when they were last in Canada and Rush plays there all the time, being as it’s their homeland, just the same as me. In fact, they are from and I think still live in the town next to mine about five minutes down the road. And besides Rush plays 1-hour longer as well, so I can still come back to catch the rest of their set.
Skid Row (US)
10:15pm-On my way over to the Sweden Stage for Skid Row I saw my second Helix t-shirt of the festival. I don’t even see that many in Canada unless I’m at a Helix show! I made it over to the stage as they were into “Psycho Therapy” and then the hit “I Remember You”. I have heard a ton of buzz and chatter that mostly says that it’s not the same without original vocalist Sebastian Bach, but in my first experience with this guy I like him. At least he sounded good to me after five days with little to no sleep, sun-worn, filthy from the dust and maintaining a good beer buzz. During the song breaks I can still hear Rush on the Festival Stage. Dave “The Snake” Sabo took control of the mike saying, “we should have these festivals in America, what an awesome day.” I totally agree Dave, we just don’t get it over here in the US and Canada, he followed up with another sentiment that I applauded and concurred with as well. “Fuckin’ Accept! They killed it, fuck!” From the second record, it was time for “Monkey Business” and I remember when this first came out, my friends and I were certain that he says “moo cow” in the chorus, a classic case of misheard lyrics…lol! This live version included a Scotti Hill solo with Dave joining in and drummer Rob Hammersmith keeping the beat. With this they left the stage, leaving the encore possibility looming for a few moments. They did indeed return for “Get The Fuck Out”. “You want one more?” singer Johnny Solinger asked, stating that this was his fourteenth year with Skid Row. A little KISS“I Love It Loud” tease started off their set closer of “Youth Gone Wild”.
10:45pm-time to refresh and replenish with a pee, beer and kebab and head back over to Rush. They were well into “The Garden” when I returned. This may be sacrilegious as a Canadian Rock fan, but I have trouble getting into some of Rush‘s music. There are just too many slow/prog rock, psychedelic plinky plink noises and weird tangents to hold my attention, unless of course they allow me to make the set list! I still love them, but maybe I’m just too tired and beat up right now. “Red Sector A” was the next selection and I decided that I could listen from the press tent for a while and have a drink and a seat, maybe running into someone even. I lost track of a couple of songs, coming back into focus for “Tom Sawyer” and “Temples of the Syrinx” as they ended their long set.
11:45pm-it was now almost midnight and there were only two bands left playing on the stages, Avantasia and Paradise Lost, both of whom were due to start at 12am and I had some interest in both. I lingered in the press tent, determined to finish and post the next instalment of my Swedish diary and enjoy the last couple of beers of the festival.12:45am-I had already missed most of Paradise Lost and as much as I regret to admit it, I just didn’t have the stamina. I had to “tap out” here and head back to lie down, having to get up early to make my way to the train station to get to Copenhagen in time for my flight home. I paused by the back of the crowd for Avantasia, but just couldn’t find the power to remain. I listened to the remainder of Avantasia from the comfort (insert sarcasm here) of my sleeping bag and tent as I rested for a few short hours.
Sunday, June 9th, 2013
6:30am-wake and have a quick breakfast of left over bread and Nutella spread purchased at the Sweden Supermarket. After considering a shower, but not being able to face the ice water, I got to work breaking down camp DBHQ. With everything again carefully stuffed into my large backpack I set out to catch the bus.
8am-The first bus would put me at the station about four minutes before the train leaves and that was just a little close for my comfort, so I thought to check out the taxi prices as well. After asking a taxi driver and discovering that the price was 300SEK from Sweden Rock to the train station and nearly fainting at that, I resigned that the bus would have to do. A smart entrepreneur taxi driver with a mini-van approached the few people already assembled for the bus and made an offer of 50SEK per person for 8 people in his cab. I jumped on this deal, as did 7 others.
8:15am-Solvesborg train station with about 45 minutes to spare. I decided to have a nutritious burger for breakfast (also the cheapest and most easily recognised item on the menu). I wandered to the platform to await the train and passed by a guy wearing a “KIX Blow My Cruise” shirt, but was too tired to strike up a conversation with this obvious fellow Monsters of Rock Cruiser. The train arrived and was jam packed, standing room only most of the way to Copenhagen or CPH Lufthavn as the airport is called.
11:50am-there’s a sports bar inside the Copenhagen airport once I passed through the customs check and the shoes on/shoes off routine, so I bided my time awaiting my flight with another burger and a Carlsberg. After I ordered I decided to freshen up and used the airport washroom to wash my face. OMG, how good it feels to have warm water and soap!
For those that read my first Canadian Decibel Geek in Sweden instalment and remember that I sometimes have ideas (like going to Sweden Rock) that more often than not get me into trouble and I nearly lost my job over this trip (well worth every second of it, however!). Well, I just had another one……perhaps I will embark on a festival tour next summer. There are so many over here and I love the music and the travelling as well. I’m for sure, come hell or high water, returning to Sweden Rock especially with W.A.S.P. already announced for 2014’s roster, but I could also hit Download in the UK, Wacken Open Air in Germany, Hellfest in France, Rock am Ring in Germany, Copenhell in Denmark and so many more that I would have several choices each weekend. I could even make myself a Decibel Geek Summer Festival Tour shirt incorporating the Geek logo, the Canadian flag and a list of the festival dates on the back, maybe some of the top band logos……..hhhmmm I sense trouble brewing, anyone want to join my potential quest?
*****All photography (except the banner and logo at the top of the page) taken by The Meister on location in Sweden, June 4th – 9th 2013.*****
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