They say time flies. Well, yeah, you can say that again. When we arrived at our home from home down in Norje Boke, it almost felt like we had just packed our stuff and left 2015’s festival. But if the year since last year’s festival had rushed by, it’s nothing compared to how fast the four days at the festival went. But the reason time flies by fast is that you’re having a blast and every Sweden Rock Festival is a blast for me – listening to great bands, drinking shitty beer, hanging in the VIP and meeting up with friends. See, quite a lot of my friends are people I get to meet once a year – down at Sweden Rock. Sure, we keep in touch through Facebook and there might be the odd gig or party night back home, but it’s at Sweden Rock you get to really get to hang out and talk all those wonderful people. To start talking about the organization surrounding the festival is always a pleasure as well because it’s an extremely well-organized festival and it feels like it’s getting a little better every year, not that there are that much to better with it. I really can’t find anything to complain about – maybe the crap beer, but since there are good stuff to digest in the VIP area, it’s something I can live with. The weather was really great as well, except for a bit of rain off and on on the Friday and since 2003 when I first sat my foot at the festival – we’re talking 13 years here – only 2009 and 2010 (if I remember things correctly) came with bad weather, so we’ve been very lucky in that department as well. Other than that, I have nothing but praise for all people involved getting this festival going. Rounds of applauds from me then.
When it comes to the bands being booked here, 2016 will stand out as one of the best for me. I might say that every year, but this year, the number of must-see bands were bigger than ever – something like nine bands a day from Thursday to Saturday, with only few on the first day. But of course, for different reasons, there are always some bands that falls on the way-side – some I damn myself for missing and some of them aren’t any I lose any sleep over. But let’s go through those before we get to the reviews, shall we?
On the first day, the only bands playing I really wanted to see was Saffire and Eclipse, both from Sweden. Ex- White Lion singer Mike Tramp was playing but I was never a big fan so I didn’t bother and the same can be said Of Diamond Head, they just don’t interest me enough and Blind Guardian are band I couldn’t care less about so nothing to write home about there either. I did miss Saffire which bugged the crap out of me. But since we didn’t manage to get an early flight down to Sölvesborg and we had to do some shopping (food and beer) plus it took some time to get our festival wrist bands and Saffire started playing at 3.30, there was nothing I could do about it. Bummer. But I did watch a bit of Tribulation, a death / black metal band from Sweden just because some friends forced us over there and they were ok, very melodic and even catchy and I even got a bit of a glam vibe from them. I also managed to catch the Graham Bonnet Band for a few songs. Since I was never a huge fan of the old Rainbow / MSG / Alcatrazz singer I hadn’t planned on watching his gig, but I must say I was pleasantly surprised – ha sang way, way better than I had expected. Besides, when I saw the set list, I regretted missing so much of his gig.
On day # 2, Thursday, I had planned on walking down to the festival area at noon to get a glimpse of Finish monster rockers Lordi, but since we had a bit of an after party the night before, I couldn’t be arsed – I prioritized an extra hour of sleep, to be honest and looking back it was a good thing since this day had much to offer. See, hot and sunny weather + great music often equals lots to drink and with not enough sleep those days could end way too early if not careful. So I had a good run of The Struts, Halestorm, Sixx A.M. and Shinedown before I headed back to our place for a quick shower something to eat and drink and then off to watch Slayer. That didn’t happen. The shower happened, the food and drink also, but not Slayer. Or Megadeth, another band on my list. The reason? A bunch of good friends having a bit of a party at our place and we had such a great time, listening to great music and drinking, so I completely forgot about it. Actually, we were actually close to missing Queen if somebody with a sharp (well…) mind decided to check the watch. Queen we didn’t miss and after some hanging in the VIP we watched King Diamond and then went home for a good night’s sleep. Yeah right! This good night’s sleep was spelled after party. Again.
So I woke up tired and a bit hung over this Friday – and also very happy as the sun was shining even though rain was promised. My plan was to take a stroll down to the festival area to watch Swedish rockers 220 Volt only to discover that I had over slept, I woke up when they started to play (sorry, Mats!). Oh, well Dan Reed Network was next, but just when I was about to start walking down to the festival area, the rain from Hell decided to tag along. Damn. See, I don’t do rain. I effing hate rain. If it rains, I’m not there no matter who’s playing – period! Luckily enough, the rain stopped and I only missed the three first songs on the Network set. Japanese metal band Loudness are a band I dug back in the 80’s and I had planned to see them. I did, but only for two songs as I didn’t like what I heard one bit, much to the fact that singer Minoru Niihara’s voice sounded terrible – so no review there. Then the rain from Hell reappeared and I found it best to seek shelter at home which meant I missed Glenn Hughes and Lita Ford. Too bad. I’m a big fan of Hughes’ voice but after reading his set list, there were way too many uneven songs included so I’m not too down over missing that gig. Lita Ford then? Well. had the weather been better I would have given her a chance even though she is responsible for the worst gig I have ever experienced at Sweden Rock. I bet she was ready for revenge, but when she went on I had already hit the shower and was in for a few drinks in good friend’s company. Which meant that I also missed The Temperance Movement, but I would have missed most of their set anyway because of the clash with Foreigner’s gig. I also missed Grand Slam, but they played at the same time as Twisted Sister and the Twisted gig wasn’t anything I would sacrifice for nothing. Besides, I heard from people that Grand Slam’s gig wasn’t all that great. Still it would have been cool to witness some old Phil Lynott tracks live. Avantasia finished this day’s festivities but being a cold and rainy day, at least partly, no one was up for a party this night so off we went to bed like the good, responsible adults we all are.
Waking up Saturday morning (and by that I mean early noon…) was a much more pleasant experience than the day before. The sun was shining and the birds were singing (yeah, yeah…), the wind was a bit chilly but that didn’t matter one bit as the rays of the sun was hotter than Hell. The downside to this morning (noon) was realizing this was the last day on this awesome festival. So it was carpe diem deluxe time. More (hopefully) great gigs was also to be watched and I’m proud to say that I got to witness all the bands I had planned to watch this day except for one. There was a clash between Gun and The Winery Dogs which was a damn bitch but since Gun started 15 minutes before the Dogs I could at least watch half of each band’s gig. After The Hooters I headed home for a quick shower, a beer or two before it was time to head back for Symphony X. Or so I thought. I made it to the shower but the two beers became at least four plus a drink or two and bam! Symphony X’s gig was out the window. I damn myself. I did the exact same thing the last time they played and I really like that band (even though I’m only familiar with their three latest records) and to make matters worse, I heard that they played a damn great gig. Oh well, I got down in time for Udo Dirkschneider’s gig, but I only got to watch a few songs because there wasn’t a chance in Hell that I was going to miss Eric Sardina’s gig – the two of them had a bit of clash, see. From what I saw of Dirkschneider, Udo sounded pretty good but even though his band were good, it sounded more like a tribute band and the big Accept feel never really occurred. The Accept of today sounds way more like Accept should than Udo’s band. Accept songs needs Wolf Hoffmann and Peter Baltes – period! Then it was time to watch King Kobra. That’s a band I was very excited to see, but I left after three songs. Normally I can’t see the point in writing a review on only three songs but I will make an exception for King Kobra. Why? well, I have too many thoughts on that gig to put in writing in this space. After watching the Michael Schenker Fest, we headed back to our place, brought a whole bunch of people with us and threw one hell of an after party to finish off this year’s festival – we all went to bed when the sun was rising and a new day had already started – we had so much fun. It was a good thing we had a pretty late flight home.
To sum this up I would like to thank everyone of the Sweden Rock Festival staff who once again gave us a fantastic festival – you guys really rock. I would also like to thank all the great people that I shared the little summer-house with – Hanna, Matzon, Tallee, Björne, Amanda, Mankan and Anna. Big hugs and kisses to all my awesome friends that I had the chance to hang out with at the festival – there are too many names to mention and I don’t wanna risk forgetting anybody, but you know who you are and you are all beautiful people.
It’s only one year left until next time and in 2017 I would like to see The Dead Daisies, Cheap Trick, Scorpion Child, Space Elevator, White Flame, Inglorious, Hinder, solo gigs by Paul Stanley and Richie Sambora and Journey, just to mention a few.
If you want to read old Sweden Rock reviews, check them out here:
Photo by Hanna Henrikson
Go to the reviews: