Saturday, June 8, 2013

A Canadian Decibel Geek In Sweden-Day 3, June 6th, 2013


OK ladies and gentlemen, fellow Decibel Geeks, children of all ages as the case may be, The Meister is alive and well in Solvesborg, Sweden for 2013’s Sweden Rock Festival!  Here’s my account of day three of the adventure, the second day of rock shows.

Thursday June 6, 2013

3am-I awake in a terrible chilled to the bone shiver. I've never been so cold and apparently the weather here in Sweden is just like back home in Canada this year which is to say friggin’ crazy with hot one day and freezing the next!  I don more clothing, almost everything I have in my bag and try to ward off the cold.

5am-I have given up on getting warm or sleep and decide to get up and wander the grounds, hoping to at least get the circulation of blood again flowing through my veins.

6am-The Sweden Rock Supermarket opens for business, so I bought some bread and cold cut meat and things for breakfast and lunches.

7am-I've found my way to the press tent, not sure I’m supposed to be in here this early, but it’s warm and I can use the charging station for my camera, cell phone and laptop without disturbing anyone or a hassle unlike later in the day as I’m the only one here.

9am-Ran into my photographer friend as he came into the press tent.  He had nowhere to sleep last night and ended up sleeping in one of the security huts for a while and then finishing the night in the Jagermeister backstage lounge.  He must have been cold; maybe I did not have it so bad!  Anyways, tonight my friend you may share my tent if you don’t get something else sorted out.

Mia Klose (UK)
11:30am-The first band is set to start off the first full day of rock at the festival and that honor is presented to Mia Klose on the 4Sound Stage.  I had tried to search her music prior to leaving Toronto, but could not find any for purchase.  The first song was called Open Your Eyes I believe anyway and was really good.  The attractive blonde led her band into Drive Me Crazy next and then paused to address the audience.  She let us know that the first two songs that we had just heard were from the debut release called London, so the music is out there somewhere.  They launched into what she informed us was a new song entitled Living For Love followed by Can’t Stop Me (if I had to guess by the chorus any way).  About here I lost a bit of track on Mia’s performance as
another crowd member had noticed my “Monsters of Rock Cruise” hat and he was sporting the shirt!  We shook hands and he introduced himself as Mark.  Mark led me over to another gentleman also adorned in the Monsters logo shirt and we took our photo for a countdown shot.  We exchanged numbers and will try to organise a better theme and countdown shot in the next few days.  I left Mia Klose’s show and began making my way over to the Sweden Stage for Demon’s scheduled quarter after noon set.

Demon (UK)
12:15pm-Survivors from New Wave of British Heavy Metal, Demon was a show I was interested to see, only having just discovered them recently with their newest and excellent CD Unbroken.  Starting with a recorded intro consisting of mainly guttural growling, the band made their way on to the stage, with the lead vocalist, Dave Hill following a few moments later.  As he hit the stage they blasted into Night of The Demon.  Dave informed us that the next song would be from the Unexpected Guest record as they ripped through Work Of The Devil a track that I was not familiar with, but probably should be.  When Dave asked the audience “What shall we play next?” he was given an answer that I couldn't hear but to which he responded, “No, not that”, and asking instead, “How about Sign of the Madman”?  This was a well received suggestion and the crowd was chanting the chorus along with the band.  From the Unbroken record they next went to the title track and it came off very well.  Standing On The Edge followed by Heart Of Our Time were next on the roster as Dave asked us “Are you drinking lots of expensive beer”?  “This song is about our last time here at Sweden Rock”, he said next as they charged through Fill Your Head With Rock from the newest album and it was the chosen theme song for the festival in a past year if I’m not mistaken. As they began playing Life On The Wire I could suddenly no longer ward off the pangs hunger and ventured to a nearby
 food kiosk for a hot dog.  During my snack purchase a gentleman began a conversation with me about the king of Sweden, saying that this was him as he showed me the back of a coin.  He then said he would throw it on the ground and piss on it because he doesn't like him.  Then he followed up with “I only like that he’s a drunk who goes to strippers and likes to fuck hookers”, yes that’s a direct quote!  I moved away and headed on to the next item on my agenda as Demon started into The Plague.

1pm-I walk past the Rock stage which is presently housing Raubiter and there’s a huge crowd it seems for them.  After pausing for a moment I quickly discerned that they were not my style at all.  I continued on my way to DBHQ for lunch as the hot dog surely wasn't enough and a quick change into some shorts.  I also finally found out where the showers were, thank God, it was getting rough inside the tent!

2:45pm-Feeling quite refreshed, I ventured to the backstage VIP bar to see if anyone was around.  I saw no-one about, but well, since I’m here a cold beer would certainly be in order before I head out again to catch Days Of Jupiter.

Days of Jupiter (Sweden)
3pm-at the Rockklassiker stage Days of Jupiter were already under way and commanding the stage as I approached.  Scheduled for a 40 minute set, I was about 10 minutes late in arriving, joining during Superman.  During song breaks I can clearly hear the carry-over sound from the Rock stage as they began Don’t Let Me Fall which was followed by band intros.  Crash was next and I knew the song from the music of
theirs that I had been able to purchase prior to leaving Toronto.  I first heard a sample of their music on the Sweden Rock website and liked their modern sound and compositions instantly.  It was great to see that there were a decent crowd here considering that they are up against bigger names such as Morgana Lefay and Survivor (where I’m heading shortly) all on different stages at the same time.  Still Feel You Breathe and Bury Me Alive closed out the set.  Days of Jupiter are part of NEMIS which is an acronym for new music in Sweden and it’s great to see the support for this, what I believe to be a burgeoning music scene almost similar the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal movement.

Survivor (US)
3:30pm-Survivor has a big draw at the Rock stage and it is packed near the back of the crowd.  I’ll just check it out from here as, to me, Survivor is not worth the effort of pushing forward, so I’ll save that for someone I’m more interested to see and let this one be more of a hear.  They were into High On You as I took some pictures of the giant TV screen broadcasting scenes from the stage for the benefit of those way back like me.  Rockin’ Into The Night was next and I’m mostly guessing at the song titles here as I’m not too familiar with Survivor’s music other than Eye Of the Tiger of course, finding it a bit too poppy sounding for my tastes.  They are actually rocking and I’m pleasantly surprised here.  I have no idea what the next song was, but following that was announced as Rebel Girl and I made a mental note
(which my poor memory will lose track of I'm sure!) to check out some Survivor recordings.  And then they killed all interest and momentum that they had just started building in me with a keyboard solo of all things!  I began to make my way over to investigate the official band merchandise booth (they seem to be adding new shirts each day) as the keys wrapped up and The Search Is Over began.  After tuning out a bit in my dreams of t-shirt purchasing and probably missing a song I was brought back from my reverie as the famous Eye Of The Tiger brought a huge surging charge of people as they all rushed in to join the pack.

Huntress (US)
4pm-4 o’clock found me at the 4Sound stage for Huntress.  I'm not sure where I found out about Huntress and I have an inexplicable desire to like them that is slowly succeeding, but was a tough sell at first.  I'm sure that in part it has to do with the fact that the vocalist is rather hot, but I keep listening to The Spell Eater album, trying to catch the buzz.  I'm not quite there yet, but I keep trying.  One thing for sure that I just discovered is that she sure can scream live!  I actually enjoyed the first two songs quite a bit and loved the third which may have been titled Destroy Your Life, although I didn't recognize either from The Spell Eater CD.  Ah ha!  She just announced that the last songs were from the forthcoming CD and I forgot the title basically the moment she said it, see what I mean about my memory?  Spell Eater was next and I found
myself recognizing the tune and bobbing my head along with the rest of the audience.  It sure is mesmerizing to watch and hear such an attractive blonde lady give such low guttural growls like that and then scream high pitched at the next turn.  Senicide followed which was also from Spell Eater before she announced another new one which I'm pretty sure she said was Star Bound Beast, but I could be mistaken.  Just as they went to launch into it, the bass player needed to tune, so she stalled well with a good sense of humour, reminding us that we are the first to hear these new songs played live and that they plan to be at the merchandise booth later to sign autographs (odd because I've not seen any Huntress swag over there).  I abandoned ship around this time left with the images of her crawling/crouching down all around the stage, almost looking evil.

4:30pm-I passed by Rick Springfield playing Done Everything For You on the Festival stage on my way to see the accreditation booth about something that I just remembered.  Along the way I finally found out where to re-fill my water bottle, a definite necessity in this blistering hot sun all day.  I noticed several times already that they are excellent at cleaning here at the festival.  Staff in orange vests are always raking up the plastic beer bottles and paper after a performance.  In my wanderings today I've also seen only one KISS painted face (Paul), which I find shocking being used to better than 50% of the crowd painting their faces at a show in Toronto.  I also discovered what I’ll call “The Secret Bar” on the top of the hill at the back of the crowd at Sweden stage area.

Rick Springfield (US)
5pm-Time to check out Rick Springfield on the Festival stage, but this will again be something that I’ll do from afar, not willing to make the effort to push closer.  Rick was announcing that this song he had written with Foo Fighters, Just Like The Man I Never Was as I saw more KISS faces, a group of three Genes.  I was surprised to hear a Rick Springfield guitar solo next as I lumped him in with Survivor in the too poppy for me category and it was not bad either (as guitar solos go) as he got down from the stage and played it in the photo pit.  A little Crossroads came before Don’t Talk To Strangers for the chorus of which he was again down in the photo pit with an extra mike holding it out to people in the crowd to sing the line.  Back on the stage Rick announced Human Touch next during which he was piggy backed through the audience, slapping hands along the way, to the sound booth (a fair distance away through a packed crowd).  He then climbed the rigging and sang a few lines from atop the scaffolding of the sound booth before walking back through the crowd to the stage to finish out with Jessie’s Girl.  The crowd is just a sea of
clapping hands and sing-a-longs and Rick is obviously a great performer earning a new respect from me on his stage show alone.  A beating heart sounded through the speakers giving the appearance of a looming encore.  Rick took center stage to inform his fans that it would not be the case as they had turned him off, but promising to play more the next time.  I was actually a little disappointed as I would have enjoyed to see and hear another couple songs……dear God I hope I’m not becoming a Rick Springfield fan!

5:30pm-it’s back to the VIP bar for a beverage and I see Mia Klose hanging out and getting pictures with my photographer friend.

Backdraft (Sweden)
6:10pm-I passed by the Rock stage and Status Quo, hearing Paper Plane, but I did not linger as I was late for Backdraft on the 4Sound stage.  Backdraft, like Days of Jupiter, I had heard samples of on the Sweden Rock website and prompted to purchase the music from there.  They have three albums out, but I could only find one, Here To Save You All from 2001.  I learned that this was actually their fifteen year anniversary and their third time at Sweden Rock.  I also read that they were taking the stage with three guitarists, everyone who had ever been
 in the band and true to that as I approached I counted them.  I’m not sure the titles of the first two songs that I walked in on, but I sure loved their sound.  It’s sad to see that there’s only a small crowd here for them being in competition with Status Quo, Devin Townsend Project and Imber on the other stages.  They sound great overall and are playing hard, giving the few fans everything they have.  Devil’s Hand from my CD preceded No Love during which I saw that one of the guitarists had his fly totally open, how embarrassing!  They next did a cover of The Allman Brothers song Blue Skies followed by Angels High, also from my CD.  Out Of Here was pounding out as I was forced to move on to catch Imber before they were over.

Imber (Sweden)
6:35pm-Finds me at the Rockklassiker stage for Imber.  Imber is comprised of four ladies (2 guitarists, the vocalist and drummer) and a lone, some would say lucky, dude on bass.  I know nothing about Imber, but I liked the sound and even the look (something about chicks with instruments) and will definitely try to find their music for purchase, which could be hard outside of Sweden as they are another NEMIS band.  Sadly it appeared that they would be ending their set a bit early as they left the stage after the one song that I had walked in on.  But wait, they’re back for one last song, a little Huntress style and screamy at times, but I really enjoyed it.  I’m not sure of the significance of it, but they all had black camouflage style grease paint over their arms and a little on their faces.

6:45pm-Pausing near the back of the Status Quo crowd I heard Creepin’ Up On You and In The Army Now.  They have a gigantic crowd again, but I just can’t catch their buzz at all and the drum solo killed it for me as I backed away in search of nearby sustenance in a slice of pizza.  Roll Over reached my ears as I finished my pizza and moved on.

7pm-Saw me over at the Sweden stage again to check out fellow Canadians The Devin Townsend Project.  Their heavy style was not my type, but I liked how they were all dressed in red and white hockey jerseys, now that’s Canadian!  I came in part way through a song and the next one was called We’re On A Train, but I left before it was over.

7:15pm-I passed by the 4Sound stage and got a picture of the Manilla Road banner and set-up on my way to Five Finger Death Punch on the Festival stage at 7:30pm.  Better stop by Rockklassikker for The Dead And Living first.  Dressed totally in black with their faces painted white, they did not sound like something that I was into and when they paused playing to address the crowd in Swedish I could hear Status Quo overpowering them.  This stage sound carry over is not too bad considering the close proximity, but would of course be better without.

7:40pm-Five Finger Death Punch are a bit late in starting, they have been announced, but not taken stage as yet.  A recorded intro “War is the answer” begins Burn It Down from the War Is The Answer album that is in my collection.  This Is Your Salvation was next and again this is not really my style, finding that the music is mostly just thumping noise all sounding the same with some “cookie monster” style vocals thrown in for good measure.  I keep listening to War Is The Answer trying to catch their buzz, but I guess I have some work to go as the live show is not winning me over in a hurry.

8:25pm-I saw the “Bullet Bus” on my way to catch Manilla Road and snapped a quick picture (in hindsight I should have stopped and seen if the band was on board).  They put on a great show last night and were a highlight for me, knowing that the chances of them making it to Canada are pretty slim.  One of my early Decibel Geek articles was a bio piece on Bullet and you can check out the previous day's diary for a short review on the show.

Manilla Road (US)
8:30pm-Manilla Road had been in progress for about 15 minutes by the time that I got there and they paused to introduce themselves as being from Witchita, Kansas after finishing up the song that I walked in on.  Metalstorm was next and I noticed how much older the guitarist was than the rest of the band, so I will assume that he would be the only original member, but I have not researched it.  I do know that this is their first appearance at Sweden Rock and they sounded great with a good
 mix of thundering bass and drums but audible guitar as well, sounding very much like the CD.  I’m not sure, but I would guess that the next one was titled Tonight We Fight, after which came Grey God Passes as well as Only The Brave both from the latest release, Mysterium.  They let us know that they had arrived late last night, but got a chance to watch the awesome Candlemass (which I missed, opting for sleep instead) as they broke into Divine Victim followed by Road Of Kings from the Open The Gates CD.  The soft intro of the next song from their Metal album gives way to the biting riffs as it gets going, but it’s time to move along again and catch the next in line of the bands.

Thunder (UK)
9:10pm-At the “Secret Bar” at the back of the crowd in front of the Sweden stage for Thunder.  I can still hear Manilla Road quite clearly from here, but I am surprised that there is not more carry over given the close proximity of the stages and the sweet volume of the music.  Thunder’s intro music starts emanating from the stage and drowning out Manilla, its AC/DC’s Thunderstruck.  The crowd is chanting along with the familiar recording “thunder”, “thunder”, “thunder”.  I found a little chair in front of a hot dog cart that appeared vacant and took the much needed opportunity to take a load off my feet and rest these weary bones a bit.  Thunder can be enjoyed from here, no need to stand up front (you can tell how beat I am as I usually am not interested unless I can be leaning on the stage)!  There’s a fair crowd for them as the singer, Danny Bowes, called out to see everyone jumping as they started to play.  Dirty Love was the first selection and I recognized it from my You-tubing prior to departing Toronto as Danny joined in the jumping.  I can already feel the cold seeping into my body as I sit here in this chair; I hope that expensive foam camping mat that I bought at the Sweden Supermarket does its job tonight!  River Of Pain was the next selection, followed by Higher Ground.  I checked the time and saw that the KISS press conference was in 15 minutes, but was on a first come, first serve basis and seeing as there are over 600 accredited journalists here, I think I’m too late and I’m enjoying Thunder anyway.  I don’t need to go see them answer five (that’s the restricted limit total for all journalists) questions and take a couple of pictures! What I think was called Playing on the Radio came next before I started to get lazy and drowsy sitting here, so I’d better move on before I fall asleep in this chair and freeze to death for sure, or get robbed or something.

9:50pm-Walked by Amon Amarth on the Rock stage and didn't even entertain the idea of checking out this band from the little bit that I heard on the way by.  But, I do however need to wake up a bit or I’m gonna be out for the rest of the night and they do have a cool Viking ship on stage.  OK, I can’t even last a full song, so I snap a couple of pictures and rapidly “get out of Dodge” as they say.

Jaggernaut (Sweden)
9:55pm-Let’s check out Jaggernaut on the Rockklassiker stage, can’t be any worse than Amon Amarth right?  Much better, they have a power metal-ish sound and they seemed really into their show, possessed almost.  The sparse crowd here is really enjoying it with fists in the air and heads banging all around.  After the song I joined during the middle of we got Scavengers Of The World as it was announced and then band introductions.  I’m not a big supporter of this kind of thing during a shortened set of 40 minutes as it just takes time away from the music which should be winning you over new fans.  Maybe if it was without the few seconds instrument playing when you’re introduced it would be much better, but none the less I liked what I heard and will try to find their CD’s.  Dancing Fools was a great sounding composition as I wandered off in search of food, beer and a good spot for KISS in about 40 minutes.

10:25pm-Re-fueled with sustenance I worked my way up to KISS settling for about 25 people back from the stage, not as close as I've ever been to my heroes (The club tour prior to the Revenge release saw me leaning on the stage).  The crowd was buzzing with excited chatter, which even though was mostly in Swedish with the song titles spewing forth I could tell that it was probably a bet on the opening song.  I hate to tell you folks, and you probably wouldn't understand me if I did, but KISS has had basically the same set list for a long, long time and I didn't suspect that a new, cool
looking mechanical spider would change that!  They opened up with Psycho Circus and I thought of my Decibel Geek cohort Wallygator Norton as I heard it.  You see, Wally is not a fan of that release so much, but I feel that it has a place in KISStory, more so than a few of the others that come to mind.  It’ll be interesting to see what happens in The World Series of KISS coming to Decibel Geek during our KISSmas in July.  Shout It Out Loud followed closely on the heels of Psycho Circus and got a great reaction from the audience, many of whom were now sporting the KISS face paint of various members.  I remember dressing up as Gene for Halloween a few times and I even still have most of the home made costume, maybe someone will invite me to a Halloween party one of these days and I can spend two and a half hours putting on the make-up again.  Let Me Go Rock And Roll was next and is a great favourite of mine in the KISS catalogue, but I couldn't explain why, some KISS songs just are and some are not.  I was really enjoying this and singing along as loud as I could (sorry to anyone standing nearby, I'm a horrible singer!).  KISS is my band and have prime real estate on the top of my arm in the full sleeve “in progress” tattoo I'm steadily working on, but I'm never pumped to see them until I get there and then it’s the best thing ever and I always wonder why I'm not more amped up to see them.  Paul took control of the mike for a little crowd incitement as is usual during a KISS show.  He split he audience into two halves and did the old this half cheer louder than that half routine, which when I was a kid seeing KISS the first few times was awesome and I was right into it all the way.  Now I just find it cliché and a general waste of time in which they could be fitting in a new song on the set list, something like
Parasite that they played during that Revenge club tour and came off great being another big favourite of mine or a whole host of other classics that never get the live treatment.  With that said I should mention that I was cheering and screaming right along with everyone else when Paul called for our side and happy to do so….OK, I'm a hypocrite and a bit divided here maybe as it’s cliché sure, but fun and a KISS show is all about fun.  I Love I t Loud came next and kept the crowd singing and fists punching up into the air.  I remember seeing the video when I was young and being torn.  I didn't know much about KISS then, but loved it all the way, however it appeared a little demonic at the time to me in my youth and I was torn between the fear of devil worship and parental disapproval.  I do love it loud and KISS and music defeated all else in my life in those formative mind shaping years to make me who I am today, it may not be much but I'm happy and I Love It Loud!  The new track from 2013’s Monster, the best KISS album in many years, Hell Or Hallelujah was next and the crowd kept singing along as if it had been one of the early songs and everyone knew it well, a difference from Toronto last year, maybe the track had not been out as long then, but I'm just not sure that this music has the impact in North America as it does here.  War Machine followed up and I'm glad that they play this one live as in my opinion it’s the best cut on the whole Creatures Of The Night album (and I’ll probably get some flak for saying that, but I can’t always explain my favourites as I mentioned earlier).  Then it was back to the 70’s for Calling Dr. Love, which has never been a favourite of mine, nor has the album Rock and Roll Over, but they sounded great and I sang along as they thrilled the audience.  Off to the début self-titled classic album next for another KISS staple that even though has never left the set
list would be just wrong without it with DeuceDeuce came complete with the patented (I'm sure it is if Gene can get his hands on it anyway) triple guitar swaying/bowing in unison.  The boys then threw me for a loop here with the addition of the next track.  Again I'm divided as it’s great to hear a new addition to the set list, but of all songs how the hell did you choose this one guys?  I’d rather hear Gene’s deplorable tragedy, When You Wish Upon A Star than the generic crap of the song Say Yeah from Sonic Boom.  Tommy Thayer (let’s not even get into whole costume, make-up wearing debate here) took control of the mike now for Shock Me including a medley with Outta This World, his composition from Monster in the middle.  After which we got a little duet with Tommy/Ace and Eric/Peter before Paul called out to the crowd again. By this time Paul had shouted out “All right Sweden” or other such phrases several times and every time I found it strange to hear as I'm so used to hearing Toronto in there but none the less, Gene was now prepared for his bass solo and he did so in the fine
form that has become a trademark, popping the blood capsule and spitting the fake blood onto the stage and down his chest before being hoisted up to the top of the body of the new stage set giant spider.  The spider has been moving from time to time during the set and now housed Gene for God Of Thunder before he dropped back down to the stage.  Lick It Up helped to heighten the frenzy of the audience before Paul proclaimed that he wanted to come out and see us.  These age old, never changing gags and gimmicks may be cliché and all that, but I love every minute of it while it’s in progress as Paul whizzed along the wires
 to the sound booth scaffolding to sing Love Gun.  The classic and ridiculously over played to death, but still awesome every time even though it turns my stomach Rock And Roll All Night finished up the regular set as they left the stage briefly.  Coming back and taking a couple of crowd photos, which seems to be the new “in” thing for bands to do, Paul then claimed that we were a better audience than last night’s in Helsinki and proclaimed us a rock city and they ripped through Detroit Rock City.  The smell of sulphur in the air with all the fireworks and pyrotechnics was abound, but that’s what I expect from a KISS
show.  If they’re not blowing shit up or shooting stuff into the air, it’s not KISS!  The amped up formerly disco tune I Was Made For Loving You graced us now and during the solos, I could see on the big video screen that Tommy had blood running down his hand, apparently cutting himself along the way, but not letting it slow him down at all.  Paul then gave us a short solo, which included a snippet of Stairway To Heaven, while I'm sure Tommy got patched up a bit, before they closed out the show with Black Diamond with Eric handling vox and a ton of pyro and fireworks to send us off into the night.

1:15pm-I had planned to catch the end of the Corroded show as I had quite enjoyed what I heard of theirs before departing Toronto, but I was exhausted and cold, so I made my way to DBHQ to get some sleep.  Goodnight, big day tomorrow!

*****All photography (except the banner and logo at the top of the page) taken by The Meister on location in Sweden, June 4th, 5th and 6th, 2013.*****

Cheers from Sweden,
The Meister

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