In a time when festivals are popping up like weeds on your newly mowed lawn, at least in Sweden, one might wonder if we’re actually crying out for yet another one. Also, many festivals comes around, stays for a couple of years or so and then disappear! The whole thing is pretty simple, you can only afford to go to so many festivals a year and as many of them take place on weekdays, you also need the time off work and many people, especially those who have families, might not want to spend their whole vacation at festivals. Still, the fact that Upplands Väsby, a suburb of Stockholm and by many hailed as the hard rock capital of Sweden, should have its own festival doesn’t really come as a shock. It’s more strange that it took so long for a festival to pop up there, I think. The reason Upplands Väsby has a good reputation when it comes to hard rock music is of course because Sweden’s biggest hard rock band ever, Europe, call it their home town. Also bands like H.E.A.T. and musicians like Opeth (and ex Talisman, ex Arch Enemy) guitarist Fredrik Åkesson are Väsby natives. But it’s not only the bands. Väsby has always bred lots and lots of rock fans, so the fact that some rock enthusiasts would try to create Väsby’s own festival isn’t far-fetched at all.
So how did they manage, then, you might ask? Well, I think this festival was very well organised as everything ran very smoothly all through the day. Of course, the odds weren’t really to the organisers advantage and that’s why the ticket sales were running low. Let me explain: The first year for any festival, especially when you niche yourself into something like hard rock and metal, it’s always gonna be tough. And the date, the first weekend in August, could really go either way weather wise. The summer weather in Sweden is very unpredictable and the further towards autumn you get, the more unpredictable it gets. That’s why a lot of people wait until the last day to buy tickets as bad weather at a location where you have no idea how it looks, with shelter from the rain and so on (we all remember Sonisphere with fear in this country). Plus, many people are still away on vacation and those who had just come home from vacation are usually too poor to do anything at all. And as I wrote, in Sweden we have a bunch of festivals that have been around for a while, most famous of course Sweden Rock, but a lot of people are also heading to Getaway and Skogsröjet and there are many more who have been trying to establish themselves. That means many a hard rock fan probably looks at this festival as something you’d might attend if you have the money and the time.
Under those circumstances, Väsby Rock was pretty successful, I guess – even though I think that the organisers didn’t make much of a profit. To be honest, I wouldn’t be surprised if they lost money on this. How many attendants that were present, I’m not sure of, but it couldn’t really have been more than 2000 people there. That meant that the quite big festival area looked pretty abandoned, at least during the day. They would have needed at least 5000 to fill the spaces, but to me, it really didn’t matter as I had a real good time there. As I said, I think the festival was very well organised, but it’s hard to say how things would have turned out had it been some 5000 there instead of 2000. It was easy to get food, cold drinks and there were no lines to get your festival passes, to get your beer and / or food. And they had booked some really good bands that seemed to have a blast even though it wasn’t exactly packed in front of the two stages that were used. Also, they were very lucky to have the weather gods on their side – the sun was shining with almost no clouds and it was really hotter than hell on this day. All this will hopefully work to the organisers advantage if they decide to do this again next year – which I hope they will. People will remember great weather, great music, good food and beer (well, the beer was cold anyway) and the company of a lot of happy, nice rockers. Fact is, I didn’t hear one negative comment during the whole day.
To the music then. 14 bands were booked for this day and to make sure we’d get the most of it, the two stages were placed beside each other and when the first band stopped playing on one stage, another band started right away on the other. A great way to save time, sure, but it also meant that in order to get food or drinks or take a leak you had to miss some bands as there were no time to do so in between bands. It’s ok, though, as that’s how it works at all festivals, but the low attendance becomes very obvious in front of the stages when a lot of the people hang around the bar. The stupid fact that you can’t bring your drinks to the stages and have a cold one while watching a band makes people drink their beers and watch the bands from afar. But that is nothing new in this country, only Sweden Rock lets you walk around the whole festival area with drinks in hand. I really can’t see any reason why this can’t be everywhere. On a hot day like this, it’s more or less a must if you wanna watch all the bands booked.
Speaking of bookings, I think that a lot of the bands booked here were among the best that at least Sweden had to offer. I think that booking mostly Swedish bands is a great way to keep the costs down, but more so to get some of our native rockers into the spotlight. The quality of Swedish rock music is sky-high. I didn’t witness one bad gig on this whole occasion. But as the attendance was low, what was missing was a big headliner. No offense to U.D.O., a good band and a great entertainer, but they aren’t really headline material. The most obvious choice would have been Europe of course, but I guess they might have been too expensive. Still, I can’t shake the feeling that the lack of a big name might have had something to do with the low ticket sales.
So before I get to the reviews I need to mention the bands I didn’t watch. The festival’s openers Billion Dollar Babies was missed because, well, I was actually late. I had never heard the band before, but now that I have checked them out online, it seems like I made a mistake there. They sound like a good band and perfect for a hard rock festival. Finnish rockers Los Bastardos Finlandeses were also missed because I had no clue of who they are and I had already watch three bands in a row without sitting down with a cold one, Swedish AOR rockers Eclipse didn’t get my attendance for the same reason, I don’t know much about them, but from what I heard , I guess I need to check them out, Freak Kitchen were watched from the beer area and my focus wasn’t on high, which was a mistake as I found them really entertaining. Next time I will definitely check them out properly. German melodic rockers Love Might Kill also had to go. They sounded ok from where I sat but friends and beer had my attention and English AOR band Ten has for some reason never interested me. I have tried to listen to them, but for me, it’s just in one ear and out the other. Besides, I was starting to get drunk by then so I also missed U.D.O.! U.D.O. were the headliners and my intention was of course to watch them, but by then, the beer and shots had gotten the better of me and I was in a conversation, that I guess was extremely important. I tried to convince myself that I had seen them lots of times before and I could therefore miss them this time. Well, well…
Before I get to reviewing the bands I did see, I would like to say a big thank you to Annika Lewin, Madde Svärd and Micke Rosengren for a great initiative. This festival was made by the sheer love and passion for rock music and these things should be supported. The festival gets thumbs up from this guy and I really hope that we will see a return in the summer of 2014.
Read the reviews:
Dynazty – click here >>>
Impera – click here >>>
Casablanca – click here >>>
Sister Sin – click here >>>
Civil War – click here >>>
Fatal Smile – click here >>>
H.E.A.T. – click here >>>
Corroded – click here >>>