Sweden Rock Festival 2009

3 June – Wednesday
The van left Sorunda (30 minutes from Stockholm) 05.00 in the morning to Sölvesborg and Sweden Rock Festival. I travelled with my boyfriend Dennis, his mother and siblings. My boyfriend’s dad traveled with his Harley Davidson, which would prove to be a rather bad choice. It started to rain when we past Kalmar, 97 miles from Sweden Rock Festival, and the rain kept pouring down the rest of the journey.

We dropped off the family at their hotel when we finally reached Sölvesborg and the rest of us (me, Dennis and his brother) drove to Sweden Rock Festival to find a place at the festival camp.

A close friend of mine had saved a spot for us at their camp. We tried to get the tent up in a hurry due to the rain, and then went to get our first festival burger for the year.

Later, we went on to the Uriah Heep signing. We decided not to buy their latest released album, instead we bought their 8th album, Return to Fantasy, which was released 1975 when the lineup was a little bit different. The price was very cheap, 100 SEK, which is a really good price for a record. That is really what a record should cost (!!)

After the signing it was time for the first (at least for us) band to play, Amon Amarth. I´ve seen them twice before (at the Arena in Stockholm 2007 and Sweden Rock Festival 2007) but I have never been that delighted with the band. That is partly because I have not listened so much to their songs so they all sounds very alike to me, and partly because I don’t like their Viking-image sometimes. Actually it is really cool but when Johan Hegg puts on the bass voice - it's so artificial and he picks up his horn in the belt filled with mead and when the whole band is headbanging together so much it looks like there are 5 washing machines on stage – then I don´t think it is that cool anymore, it is too much. However, I have great respect for Amon Amarth, who dares to do the “Viking-thing” fully, and in earnest. Despite all this it really sounds good. Dennis, my boyfriend, who never seen the band before wanted to go and listen to a couple of songs. And a couple of songs we heard, not more. That is well enough for us, as I said the songs sounds all alike in my ears.

After Amon Amarth, it was time to go and see Blaze Bayley. He is best known for his years (1994-1999) as leadsinger of Iron Maiden and of course we were prepared for some Iron Maiden songs. But Blaze began to play songs from his own records, which was not such a shame because it was really good and Blaze definitely has his voice and the audience with him – that is no doubt about that. Blaze Bayley really sounds good. Unfortunately I can not say the same thing about the band he has with him, as occasionally it really is out of rhythm. But you forget this quite quickly thanks to Bayleys outstanding effort.

When there only were a few songs left at the setlist we felt that we had to go away to get something to eat and what happens then? Yes indeed, then they play the Iron Maiden songs. So typical..

With some great food in our hands we walk out from the festival area and took steps to the Alarmscene, which is situated just outside the festivalarea next to the restaurant.

The assistant organization, Alarm, has for some years worked to help female musicians to reach out in the musicbusiness. During this year of Sweden Rock Festival Alarm would take care of one scene, the Alarmscene, during five days in which 36 bands were going to play.
Over half of these bands contain of one or more female musicians. One of these bands is Decadence. They play, with the female growlsinger Kitty Saric, melodic trash metal. The reason I really wanted to see this band is because I am a good friend of the bassplayer – Joakim Antman and the guitarist – Niklas Skogqvist. Decadence played very well, as always, and that is one thing the whole crowd seemed to agree on.

Unfortunately I was, because of the very early morning, really tired. So I did not see the whole gig. But please visit http://www.decadence.se for some really great metal. Sad to say I was too tired to even bother to take myself down to Uriah Heep´s gig, so the next stop for the night was our tent and my sleeping bag. We aimed on being alert and fresh for tomorrow´s all gigs instead.


4th June - Thursday
The weather had not improved during the night, which meant that I only got a couple of hours sleep. The rest of the night I lay awake because I was freezing so much. We decided that we were going to spend the rest of the nights in the van, which maybe not would be the warmest place either but probably better than the tent.

The band we were going to check out first this day was Rage. Rage is a German heavy-metal band which Dennis and his brother are very inspired of. I have never heard of the band before… Which was a great loss for me since Rage was pretty damn good. They played all the songs the fans wanted to hear (Dennis told me), they had very nice contact with the audience and they did a really great gig. I especially liked the song 'War of Worlds', that one is a direct hit. I was also very impressed by the guitarist, Victor Smolski, who was very skillful at his instrument. He also played some really beautiful solos. They are definitely from now on a band that I will listen much to when I come home. Rage performance was one of the best at the festival this year. I would like to recommend everyone to listen to Rage if you have not heard them before.

After that gig, it was high time for us to hit the Rage-signing too. We bought their latest album, 'Carved in Stone', which was released the 22th of February 2008. I think it´s going to be very nice to come home and listen to it. The twin brothers Dennis and David were also very pleased to meet the whole band and especially their role-model Victor Smolski which they have listened a lot to over the years.

After Rage´s signing we went to our camp for a break before we were supposed to go down to the festival area again to see Volbeat. Volbeat is also a band that I haven’t listened to that much but I think they are really cool. I like their rock´n roll sound and just like everybody else I like theirs songs The Gardens Tale and Maybellene I Hofteholder. We were down at the festival again towards the end of the gig, hoping to hear one of the songs I like or perhaps any other song we have heard before. But strangely enough they ended their gig with songs I never had heard before. That was a bit unfortunate, although they sounded good. Volbeat has only recorded two albums so far, but I really hope that they are going to keep on and record many more. Volbeat is a band that is spreading joy!

When Volbeat ended we went off to see Sweden’s hit song guys – H.E.A.T. Some of them are friends of us so I felt like I had to take a look at them. And that was exactly what we did – we just took a look. I only heard one song; I think it was called 'Cry'. I think their music feels a bit wimpy. On the other hand I really like their singer, Kenny Leckremo. He has a really good voice – but it never really comes out in H.E.A.T’s songs. However, I also must say that they gives us a hell of a live show, they´ve got so much energy.

But we left H.E.A.T and instead we took a trip down to the KingsDragon tent. There stands a man named Sakarias and sells leather pants, cowboy boots, jeans jackets and much more. He has just opened his business in East Street Piercing´s studios in Stockholm. If you ever come to Sweden, you should go there. They have a lot of cool stuff you can buy.

Next thing we had to check out was the press conference with Twisted Sister. I can not say I am the biggest fan of the band but I am really impressed by Dee Snider, he seems to be a very interesting and exciting person. At the conference they talked about (of course) that this is the last year they will be playing with makeup, the 25 years anniversary of the album 'Stay Hungry', Dee Sniders film “Strange Land”, the gig of the evening and much more. Twisted Sister was very funny to listen to and I would say it was a really good press conference. You can check that one, and all the others press conferences at Sweden Rock Festivals youtube channel – swedenrocktv.

When we got back to the festival area we were about to see ZZ Top, but we saw and heard them so briefly so I can´t say that much about the show. However, there are already many reviews to check out online if you were not there to see them yourself. The reason we had to run was that we had forgotten that Bullet was going to play. We arrived for the last half of the gig, and it was great. Bullet are new favorites of mine and it was only the second time I saw them. They did a really great gig and they spread the “Bullet-joy” they always have with them. If you haven’t heard them before, buy their album Bite the Bullet - it´s great. I can´t wait for the next time they will play here. After Bullet´s gig we were going to see Hammerfall. The last time I saw them was on their tour for the latest album, No Sacrifice No Victory. I was really disappointed after that gig. The band seemed to be so chewy, unjustified and sluggish then – so I had no major expectations for tonight’s show. But they shocked me. They had a new stage since last time and that is of course very nice. They also had a new setlist since last time, and this one was better. They played, among others, the song Life is now from the latest album, which they didn´t last time, and that song is very cool and I like it a lot. They also played many of the other good songs from the latest album, and of course they played all the classics like Hearts on fire, Renegade and Last man standing.

This time the band actually seemed to have fun at stage. It sounded a thousand times better and there was so much more energy from the members that passed on to the audience. Hammerfall was in my opinion, just like Rage, one of the best bands at the festival.

After Hammerfall´s gig it was time for the headline of the night to play – Twisted Sister. We had not planned to see the whole gig, we would rather just hear the big hit songs – I wanna rock and We´re not gonna take it. Just as if the band had heard us they played both these songs very early in the setlist. We were pleased and could return to our camp to see our friends and later, sleep in the car. A review of Twisted Sister, I leave to all the others who saw them at Sweden Rock Festival. I saw and heard so briefly and can not give tem a fair review.


5th June Friday
This day was a very special day for me because it was the day I was going to graduate from high school. But I chose not to celebrate my graduation with my classmates. I chose to go to Sweden Rock Festival instead. My classmates called me many times during the day, and at one time I was also told that I had received a scholarship for my final schoolproject, my hard rock magazine Painkiller – which you should check out!

This extraordinary day started with the Kamelot signing. The album we wanted to have signed was their most recent album Ghost Opera from 2007. It was crowded at their signing, more than I thought. Evidently, they had a lot of fans with them at the festival.

Until next signing we had a lot of shopping since we acquired more records and some other cool stuff you only can find at Sweden Rock. The next signing was the Swedish band In Flames. I really like their latest album, 'A Sense of Purpose', a lot and of course I wanted to get it signed. We went to the signing a half-hour before it started and the queue were over hundred meters long. Of course we did not get there in time and we had do go without any signings. It was too bad but I know there will be more chances for us to get one.

The first band we checked out that day was Kamelot. Unfortunately the rain started to really pour down but we found a place to stand at under a hamburger stand.

From there we could both here and see Kamelot play without getting wet. (In addition, we had an extra concert right next to us from two quite drunk men). Anyway, Kamelot plays (according to Swedish Wikipedia) power metal with elements of symphonic and progressive metal. I would say they simply play metal with a lot of attitude. The singer, Khan, really knows how to look at least as hard as the music is. They also have a very good female singer with them on stage. I believe her name is Linda. Kamelot did a great gig and you should really check them out next time you get the chance.

After Kamelot had played it was time for the press conference with In Flames. The atmosphere there was not on the top. The questions were few and the answers were unengaged. The short time the press conference was they talked, among others things, about tonight’s show and the big investment in pyro technique. Martin Forssman, press director for Sweden Rock Festival, said before the festival started that “At Metaltown last year, they had so much pyro techniques that they couldn’t even have everything on stage. This is going to be three times cooler; you can expect bombs and granades.”

In Flames could also guarantee us that we would se fireworks and firecrackers everywhere we looked. Except tonight´s gig and setlist they also talked about future plans, Anders Fridéns voice, downloading, Jesper Strömblad (In Flames guitarist who is in rehab) and his substitute Niclas Engelin from the band Engel. This press conference can you also find at swedenrocktv on youtube.

After the press conference we really started to feel the cold that comes out in the evenings. We went to get more clothes and then we took direction for Motörhead. Motörhead has through the years played as many as 7 times at Sweden Rock Festival. This time they played an ordinary gig, which is really good. Motörhead is very predictable on stage, you know what to expect – Iron fist as opening song, Lemmy will say “We are Motörhead, and we play fuckin' rock 'n' roll!", there will be fireworks and the audience are going to get crazy at Ace of Spades. There is just as I should be, but it´s good.

The last band this evening is the band I have longed for the most – In Flames. I had been so assured before the gig that there will be cracks, bombs, smoke, lights and flashings everywhere – and I wasn’t disappointed. Beside the great pyro technique, we also saw Bert Karlsson (a famous Swedish personality) on the big screens joking. Anders Fridén sang a duet at the song Dead end with Lisa Miskovsky. They played both old and new great songs.
Anders Fridéns talking between the songs was great fun but the quiet and dark breaks between the songs were to long. But this gig, as I see it, is one of the festival’s best. It was great once In Flames began with their first song. Thank you and good night In Flames.


6 June - Saturday
Here we are, at the last day on this very cold but so far successful festival. This year, the festival also ended up at Sweden’s national day. Sabaton were going to sing the national anthem for us. Anders S. Nilsson, who is host for a very well-known humor program in Sweden, came out to an audience stuffed to the gills at the Zeppelin stage. He presented Sabaton and they ran out on stage. Joakim Brodén, the singer of Sabaton, started by saying that he is so nervous that he thinks he´s going to poo in his pants and then they played the national anthem and all the people at Sweden Rock Festival sang with them. After the song Sabaton said that they are not allowed to play more… but they don´t care. Then you hear a bang and the backdrop falls out and they play one of their own songs, Primo Victoria. Sabaton who always has a tremendous contact with their audience is very entertaining to look at. I am a fairly new but very big fan of the band and I would really like (like many others) to have seen more from them and hear more of their own songs. But that would not be the case, however I met the singer, Joakim Brodén, backstage later and I also took a photo with him so I am pleased anyway.

After the national day celebration we went to see Impellitteri. But I was not impressed of that band at all and it ended up with me half sleeping half watching the rest of the concert at the big screens back on the lawn. I found it more looking like rehearsal than a concert for the band. However, the singer of Impelliteri (Rob Rock) was really good.

Next thing on our schedule was several hours ahead, but it was so important that we chose to sit and wait for it, it is noteworthy the Heaven and Hell signing this day. Both Dennis and I are huge fans of Ronnie James Dio so there was no need to argue, we will queue! And the wait was long; we sat there for 4 hours until we were told that there had been some kind of complications with the transportation and the signing would´nt take place. Perhaps, in the best case, it would be moved forward. We had already been there waiting for a couple of hours so we could gladly wait one more hour to get clearance, even though we would miss the most of Dream Theaters gig. I decided to leave Dennis and his brother for a moment and run to see if the press conference with Heaven and Hell was going to take place. And fortunately they were there, only 5 minutes late. There were very many journalists there and all of them wanted to ask questions to the band. They talked a lot about their latest album, future plans, uploading of music and videos on youtube and the band´s other projects. Again, visit youtube yourself to see the whole press conference. After the conference I was told that there will be a signing so I ran back and got my LP signed. It was just Ronnie James Dio and Vinny Appice who signed, but I was so not disappointed at all, because they were very nice to all their fans. Everyone got hugs and I also had the chance to talk a little bit with Dio. It was definitely worth the long wait.

After the signing we went to the festival area since Dream Theater soon would stop playing. We bought something to eat and saw the last songs with the band. I have seen them once before and I really hope I will get the chance to see them one more time.

Then it was time for Europe to play. Europe was also one of the bands we chose to only see a few songs of. I was hoping to hear some of the real classics as Rock the night, Carrie, Final Countdown and Superstitious. Of course they played them but they started with some of their new songs and I don´t like the hard-style they´ve got at their more recent albums. More old hits Europe!

By now, this horrible cold had arrived again and there was time to go and get more clothes to survive the last bands gig for the festival, Heaven and Hell. They played really well and I am really surprised and impressed the high standard Ronnie James Dio has after all these years.

There are few singers who can sound so good at that age. The sound destroyed the entire concert though. The guitar sound disappeared altogether and occasionally the bass volume rose to very high volume. I really started to wonder what the sound technician was doing because this was horrible and it ruined the good feeling and the great concert the band was trying to give us, and in particular it ruined the music. Unfortunately, the end of the festival maybe didn’t get through as the audience wanted it to, since a big part of the audience had disappeared towards the end of the gig. But still, Heaven and Hell did a marvelous gig and I would like to thank them and all the other bands that made this year so awesome.

Now we got a whole year to prepare for next Sweden Rock Festival, 2010. See you then!

By Tessie Ullhag