A year have passed since we last took our stuff and moved down to Sölvesborg and Sweden Rock for four days. To not visit the festival is not an option for me/us and this year it was 15 years since the first time I visited the place. To me Sweden Rock isn’t only about the music, it’s also four days of vacation, meeting up with friends you hardly see otherwise, partying and inhaling the positive atmosphere of the place that has been there from day one. And hopefully we get to see the sun as well. This year we sure did get great weather, it was more or less cloudless, hot and even the nights were warm – just the way I love it. Few things beat watching a great band in the sun while having a cold one in your hand. Or as in our case at times, sitting outside our cabin, blasting on music, talking and laughing and drinking when there were no band worth watching. Yes, folks, 2018 was indeed a killer festival by many standards.
The weather sure helped but also the fact that SRF finally got their shit together and brought drinkable beer for the festival area. The horrible, horrible Sofiero and the almost as horrible Zeunerts and Fagerhult had been shown its walking papers and were traded for the much better Staropramen and Bomble Bee Backyard – what a step up. Of course, they also served the less impressive Falcon but that didn’t matter one bit as I didn’t have to drink it. There were a few set-backs as well. Firstly, they decided for the first time to increase the numbers of tickets to sell which resulted in at least 3000 more punters which made the area too crowded – a bad move. Also a bad move was to reduce the number of toilets which made long cues to the facilities to occur – an even worse move. And when the weather was as hot as it was, lots of people went in to the huge toilet spaces to fill up on water which made the cues even worse. Next year, new water posts spread out around the festival era, please!
What about the music that I had planned to see but missed – and the stuff I hadn’t planned to see but did watch – then. Well, on day one I had wanted to see Brian Downey’s Alive And Dangerous perform Thin Lizzy tunes but due to the fact that we got down to our cabin a bit later than usual and that we had to prioritize shopping for groceries, unpack our stuff and pursue our festival bracelets made that impossible, unfortunately. Buckcherry were also on my list but I couldn’t cope more than three songs before I left. The sound was lousy, the band sounded uninspired and Josh Todd looked and acted like someone had forced him to get onstage. So no review there. In This Moment is an American modern Metal band that I had no intentions to watch but I was talked into it anyway. The band do put on an amazing show, I’ll give them that, but musically they did fuck-O for me. Modern American Radio Metal with a more aggressive Lady Gaga like singer just doesn’t do it for me so no review there either – I only stayed for three songs. Not my thing at all.
I can’t say I had planned to watch The Dark Element that features former Nightwish singer Anette Olzon, but I had marked them in my list. However, I’m not a huge fan and I got stuck at our cabin in the sun, drinking beer and hanging with friends so I just couldn’t be bothered to walk down to the festival area for that. Many that I spoke to that did catch them spoke of an half-assed gig with a singer that didn’t look the least natural on a rock stage so I guess I didn’t miss out on much anyway. Also Kreator clashed with H.E.A.T. and as a big fan of the latter the choice wasn’t too hard. For reasons that will be revealed in my review, I left the H.E.A.T. gig a bit early so I did get to see a little of the German Thrash icons and boy was I bummed that I missed out on that gig. Kreator were in great shape, put on a great show with the fattest and heaviest sound of the festival. Man, I must get a ticket for that band whenever they return to Swedish soil.
Madam X are another band that I had put on my list to watch but to be perfectly honest, the only reason I went to see them two years ago at SRF was that I was so curious to find out how they would sound and perform in 2018. I did buy their album We Reserve The Right back in 1984 and I dug it then but I just don’t think it have aged well at all – today I don’t think it’s that great anymore. So I just decided that sun, beer and music with my friends at the cabin was more interesting. What I do feel bummed out for missing is The New Roses. I saw them opening for The Dead Daisies back in April and they were so damn good. The reason why I missed them? I fucking overslept and only managed to catch the two last songs. To make matters worse, those songs sounded splendid and the band looked like they were having the time of their lives. Man I hate it when that happens.
Then there were bands such as Uriah Heep, Pain,Girlschool, The Darkness and Lacuna Coil that had a “watch if I’m around and is up to it at that point” note. I was probably around for some of them but was never up to it because frankly I just don’t find any of them interesting enough. One band that I did plan to see was Backyard Babies but Judas Priest had just rocked my socks off and I just wanted to have a party in the VIP area with all my friends instead – a party that ended up in our cabin afterwards until something like seven in the morning. Man, when am I going to realize that I’m not 25 anymore? Hell, I’m not even 48 anymore….
Another Sweden Rock Festival has come and went and I can’t wait for SRF 2019. Until then, let’s pray for sunshine, better lavatory logistics and a headline spot for the original line-up of Van Halen.
To the reviews:
Photo by Hanna Henrikson