June is my favourite month of the whole year. Why? Well, because that is the month when we – 33 000 of us – leave the everyday boredom behind us and start to live in a “Groundhog Day” bubble for four days. No work, no bills, no real life at all, just fun, friends, music, beer and, hopefully, sun. Since we started to fly down to Sölvesborg from Stockholm, instead og going by car, things have become way easier as well. Instead of sitting in van for seven hours or so, we sit in a plane for 45 minutes instead. That makes the trip home a lot easier, anyway. After renting a nice little picturesque summer-house for the last ten years, the place has become our home away from home. Just a 10 minute walk from the festival area and close enough to hear and smell the camping, it’s easy to get a festival vibe while still getting all the comforts – a real bed, a shower, a stove, oven, microwave, fridge – I need to be comfortable in a festival environment. Tent? Yeah, right. Not in this lifetime. To enjoy a festival properly, the weather is an important issue. Late March have been disastrous for us Swedes, so it was just to keep our fingers crossed – so hard they turned white – that the weather Gods would be with us this year. The day we arrived, Wednesday 3:rd, didn’t look good at all. It was raining a bit now and again during the first half of the day, but it was ok, I really wasn’t interested in many the bands that were booked that day anyway, except for The Quireboys and Evergrey and when the Quireboys went on stage it had stopped raining hours ago and the sun was bidding us welcome. It was a good start but as the night came creeping up on us, it got cold pretty fast. D.A.D. was the first day’s headliner – the first day is always a “half day” and not the whole area is being used and the headliner plays on one of the smaller stages, Sweden Stage – but since I have never been much of a fan of that band, I couldn’t be arsed to stick around for their gig. Besides, a huge part of their show is their two stringed bass player Stig Pedersen and he had broken his arm the week before and was replaced with someone else. It wasn’t a hard choice to head on home for a quick beer before bed.
We woke up to a sunny morning, pretty much a cloudless sky and this time lots of cool bands to watch. But we started the day in a more unusual way. The Stockholm based doom / seventies retro rockers Sideburn decided to have a release party for their brand new record Evil Or Divine (reviewed here) down by the beach and a stage was built at the local restaurant /pizza place. Smart idea. The band played a gig, talked to the guests and sold their record – both on vinyl and CD – and some merch. A great way to start the day and a party raiser. Music wise I saw most of the bands I had set out to see, but Swedish power metal outfit Hammerfall had to go, unfortunately. A tight schedule made sure that there wasn’t enough time to catch them in action. Also, Finish glam rocker Michael Monroe was missed. His gig clashed with Ghost and there was no way in hell that I was gonna miss Ghost. After a few beers at our house we called it a night around 1.30 a.m. Friday 5th started the same way as Thursday 4th, which means breakfast (coffee, toast, juice and a Fernet Branca) in the sun and after some strolling around the festival area, watching Dare, I walked pass the 4Sound Stage to get a glimpse of the reunited Rock Goddess. I remember them from back when (1982?) and I remember having a crush on their drummer Julie Turner and buying their records. I did recognize some of the songs such as “My Angel” and “Make My Night” and fact is, the girls – sorry, women! – sounded really good. A bummer that I didn’t have the time to stick around for the whole gig. I didn’t see enough of their gig to write a fair review. Dokken was another band that I couldn’t watch due to the fact that they played at the same time as Blackberry Smoke and there wasn’t a chance in hell that I would miss their gig again. I have already missed them three times and Dokken I have seen before. Besides, with Don Dokken as the only original member, I didn’t exactly cry over that. I also missed Swedish sleazers Backyard Babies concert. Too bad, but I have never been a fan even though I think they’re an ok band. But the word at the festival was that they played a really good gig. But dinner was first priority around that time. On the last day, rain woke us up, but due to the fact that there was a small (hmmm) after party the night before, I decided to pull the cover over my head and sleep until the rain stopped. That meant that I missed both Mustasch and Hardcore Superstar, both from Sweden. It didn’t matter much as I have seen both on many occasions. Besides, the latter has just released maybe the worst album of their career so I didn’t cry over that either. That said, Hardcore Superstar always puts on a great show so maybe I missed out. Samael is a black metal band from Switzerland that I have never bothered with – until just a couple of months ago when I found a burned copy of their 2004 album Reign Of Light that someone had given me at some point and gave it a go – and much to my surprise, I liked it. No, not liked – I loved it, it’s a brilliant album, so I thought I’d check them out. But they collided with Extreme’s gig and since I loved Extreme back when, I wouldn’t miss their gig for the world. I did manage to watch three songs with Samael, though and they sounded good enough. But the lack of a real drummer really takes a lot of feel out of the music. Besides, I haven’t heard a single song by Samael either before nor after Reign Of Light so it wasn’t really a hard choice. After the festival’s last headliner Judas Priest had stopped playing, we went for drinks in the VIP area before turning home to our a little house for the after party from hell. At seven o’clock in the morning I stumbled into bed.
I can’t say enough good things about this festival. I’m not really a festival person, but I could recommend Sweden Rock for anyone who is thinking about going but hesitates to do so. Music wise, there is alway something there for any rocker, no matter what your taste is, but if you’re an open-minded rocker, there are always plenty to love here. Also, the logistics are being improved every year. There are so many food stands that it’s almost impossible to choose what to eat, it gets the close your eyes and point-treatment, but there is food for all tastes, meat lovers to vegetarians. The barkeepers are all very good at what they’re doing and I didn’t have to wait long at all to be served a beer or cider. The drinks, yes. That’s the only thing I have to comment on. The beer is below all criticism, but that is being said each year. The main beer, Sofiero, is undrinkable and the other two choices, Fagerhult and Zeunerts, aren’t that much better, I’m afraid. Served in plastic bottles, well, you get the picture. That leaves the cider, made of pear. It’s ok, but much too sweet for me. Still, that’s all I drank at the festival area this year. Thank God for the VIP bar, where they served some nice drinks, my favourite was Sweden Rock Festival’s own rum with Coke. Yum. But there were other drinks for the taking, if one wanted to. They also had a really fine IPA there, which was a fantastic break from the stuff served at the festival area. There were also long cues around the lavatory facilities, which meant that dudes where shaking their snakes everywhere they could find a tree or a fence which created a not so yummy smell. Maybe some provisional urinals on the fences for next year? However, the stuff I just mentioned aren’t pivotal for the festival as everything worked really smooth and if I will be visiting the festival next year, well, that’s a no-brainer – of course I will.
To wrap this up, I have some band-wishes for next year: Trans-Siberian Orchestra,Van Halen, Kix, Faster Pussycat, Alice In Chains, Hinder, Shinedown, Heart, Saigon Kick, Halestorm, Foreigner, Journey, Dan Reed Network, Black N Blue, Warrant, Laney’s Legion, Kid Rock, Lillian Axe, Richie Sambora and if you could convince Shotgun Messiah and Damn Yankees to reunite, you’d be such sweethearts. Maybe talk to David Coverdale about giving Micky Moody, Bernie Marsden and Neil Murray a call so they could talk reunion? Only a year left until next time and until then, here’s some reviews of this year’s gigs.
I would also like to say thank you to the beautiful people who I shared the nice little summer-house with: Hanna Henrikson, Mattias Savage Wilmenius, Tallee Savage, Björn “Dödsmetal” Åkesson, Amanda Martinez Åkesson and Violeta “Chola” Martinez. Plus my old friend Björn and his wife Mia Helldén who hung out with us throughout the festival. Big thanks to all my beautiful, charming, funny, intelligent, sexy, gorgeous, kind and party happy friends who made the Sweden Rock stay so pleasant. U RAWK!!!!
Photo: Hanna Henrikson