Wednesday, June 6 – Swedish national day.
After only a few hours of sleep, I went straight to the train station to pick up my Russian colleague Vera (who now lives in Gothenburg) and we drove up to Sweden Rock Festival.
It was pretty early when we arrived so it didn’t take long to get our passes. Vera was going to the camping with some friends so I went to take a look around the area. It had changed a little this year – the press/VIP area had been moved and the entrances were elsewhere so I had to get reaquainted with this place that has been my second home since the 90’s. :) I can’t imagine a summer without Sweden Rock.
I quickly found the VIP area and the press tent. The first person I saw was, like every other year, the photographer from Expressen, Rickard Nilsson – he was working in there on his Mac, very concentrated on editing a photo when I walked in. :) He later on helped me get my camera batteries and laptop charged when there were just no power outlets in the press area for instance. It’s nice to have old friends there year after year, we can help eachother out.
I spent all afternoon just checking out the area, the merch, the food, everything…. And noticed a music tent that was filled with musicians every day – amateurs and professionals. The staff in there was so nice that it ended up being sort of a little “sanctuary” during the whole festival. That’s also where they had musicians from some of the bands visiting.The best thing was that nobody seemed to know about it…! The only info there was, was on a sign outside their tent, nowhere else, so luckily there weren’t that many people at the signings, which gave it all an intimate, cool atmosphere.
That first day I only had 2 shows that I wanted to see, both Swedish, melodic rock acts:
H.E.A.T and Dynazty (whose album is still one of my favorites this year).
H.E.A.T played in broad daylight but managed to really get the audience going. Just that one small detail that separated H.E.A.T from Dynazty for instance was that H.E.A.T’s guitarist walked out, went straight to the edge of the stage and took immediate contact with the audience – THAT’S how you create a connection between band and crowd.
Although it was a little bit too much melody for me, I still have to give them credit for handling the stage like real pros.
Went to see Dynazty later in the evening, and it got really cold by then. Met two ladies that I got to know at the Whitesnake-gigs last year. They were also die-hard fans and one of them show me a tattoo she got recently – of the WS-logo! Very cool.
Anyway, my friends Mari and Henrik showed up too and we ended up hanging at the barricades waiting for the show cause there was nothing else to do. Dynazty finally hit the stage.
Their gig was good – but not brilliant. And I was trying to pin-point exactly why. Cause the vocals were good, the playing was good and they obviously had a good time on stage… But – it still wasn’t magic, it didn’t give me the kick that separates a good gig from a great one. Then it hit me, it was pretty simple actually: They lacked the contact with the crowd that a band MUST have. If you don’t look at people and acknowledge their existence, you’re taking away the exchange of energy between crowd-band that makes a show memorable.
The very same thing used to bother me with Rob Halford when he went up on stage wearing black sunglasses, insisting on staring at his shoes. It was like…”helloooo, we’re here?!”
It was cold as fuck too, maybe that had a bit to do with it too, I don’t know. But for a first day this was perfect. I drove home to get a few hours of sleep before the next day when I was about to make a complete ass of myself in front of Steel Panther‘s Satchel, reporters and god knows what else…!
[to be continued..]