Sweden Rock Festival 2014 – Part 1

Sweden Rock Festival came and went, and I never really had a chance to blog about it at the time. Somehow things always pile up and you end up with a lot of “back log”. :)

Going back to the first day of the festival – Wednesday, June 3rd

That’s the laid back day of Sweden Rock. Few bands playing, an opportunity to get your pass without standing in line for an hour, to just check out the area, see if anything has changed since the year before. There’s always some little detail that’s different.

But ONE thing is always the same. The pain in the butt crew-parking… EVERY single year I get a message that the pass has been sent by snail mail, but funny enough, those never EVER reach my address. In all those 20-something years that I’ve been going to the festival, the parking hell has always been the same. If the parking pass had actually been posted and arrived at my address before the festival, there would BE no problem. But that would be too easy. :)

I got there, drove to the crew-parking, said that my parking pass was in the accreditation booth. “You need to get your parking permit before you can park!“, they said

So I went to the accreditation-entrance but I wasn’t allowed in there either, because I didn’t have my passes yet. OK, so I couldn’t park without a permit, but I couldn’t get my permit before I had the pass…… *sighhh*. I kept driving back and forth before calling the head of press to explain the situation. It wasn’t easy for him either and this circus went on for more than half an hour. He managed to fix it though – THANK GOD, but what a waste of time. Another good reason to get there on the “slow” day. :)

My plan for the day was to see Magnum and Queensryche. I didn’t try to get in the absolute front for Magnum, cause I’ve seen them so many times before. They have classic, epic songs, just amazing material. The problem though is that Bob Catley, the man with the Voice was struggling to sin those songs. I don’t know if it was just a temporary vocal problem or if it’s permanent, but it sounded so-so….

When Magnum were done, people left the area for beer, food and toilet visits, so I got in the front/middle for Queensryche. I was crazy curious about the new lineup with Todd La Torre. The weather was getting worse, dark clouds, rain was on its way… but there was no way I was moving. As I was standing there, two guys from the stage crew approached me with big smiles. I thought they looked familiar but couldn’t for the life of me figure out why.

– Do you recognize us? said one of the dudes.
I did actually, but didn’t know exactly where from…

– You wrote about us a while ago. We’re from the band Charlie & Fredrik.

BAM! I remembered! These guys were competing in a talent show (Emergenza) in Malmo a while ago and they were by far the best act. Musically, no one else came even close. If it had TRULY been about MUSIC, those guys would have been the given winners. Unfortunately, as the contest was about getting the audience to vote for you, it was almost impossible for a band that was from out of town, to compete with those who brought all their pals from school, work, families and so on…

They came in last and I thought it was absolutely scandalous. But that’s the way it works, it’s not a talent show as much as it is a popularity contest. Anyway, I heard that they had new projects in the making which I was really happy to hear. I do wish them the best, those were talented guys (and girls).

The guy standing right next to me was super excited about everything, it was his first Sweden Rock and he was a big fan of  good VOICES. So he was curious to hear what Todd La Torre would bring to the table with Queensryche. He was abit of a sceptic but still had an open mind.

It started raining when it was time for Queensryche to hit the stage, but that pretty much goes with the territory. No festival without rain! :)

And when the band entered the stage…. it was just totally worth the wait AND the rain!

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I’ve been a fan of Queensryche since the Rage for Order album. I’ve thought that Geoff Tate was one of the best in the business, and let’s face it: He was! Nothing can take that away from him, he left his mark on Queensryche and dispite all the crap and the whining between him and the rest of the band the past few years, that didn’t do anyone any good, he’s had a long career being on top with that amazing voice.

But – there’s a new kid in town. The last time Queensryche played Sweden Rock festival with Geoff, I couldn’t even stand listening to it. It was horrible. I left after three songs because it was so embarrassing that I just had to go find some other band to watch.

Now they were back with another singer. Would it be like a cheap karaoke-version of Queensryche, would it be a sad reminder of what used to be, or what would the verdict be?

I don’t have to think long or hard to answer that. It was clear from the word go that Queensryche is one of the very few bands in metal that has managed to replace their singer and get away with it. Not only get away with it – but actually WIN doing just that. I can’t think of too many bands that have been as lucky.

Todd is amazing. Nothing short of a-mazing. His voice can do everything Geoff could do – and more. And better. He’s got so much energy on stage, a presence that makes people watch him and follow every move he makes.

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There were times when he sang like such a GOD that I just wanted to HUG the guy! Oh my GOD! What a gift – what a TALENT! And to think that he’s actually…. originally….a DRUMMER! Multi-talent, indeed!!

That gig was fantastic. I loved hearing all the classics, all the new songs, hell, I would have been happy hearing Twinkle, twinkle little star, as long as Todd was singing it!

The guy next to me even CRIED to some songs, he was so moved. Yes. Queensryche knew what they were doing when they hired Todd. He’s given them new life – there’s absolutely nothing stopping them now!

Here are a few glimpses from that show! Enjoy – and crank it up!



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