The Sweden Rock Chronicles 2018 by Anton Stenlund, part 1
It was the fifteenth time I was packing my bags before going to Sweden Rock Festival in beautiful Norjeboke, on the southeast coast of Sweden. The first time I was mere but a teenage headbanger who couldn’t wait so see the newly reunited Judas Priest for the first time in my life. By this time, I was a grown man, preparing to go to my favourite festival for the first time with a girlfriend. My dear Sara had of course visited the festival herself before, but it was still a curious feeling to attend such an important part of your life along with someone else. But of course, we couldn’t have it any other way either, Sara is my great love, and just as she changed my whole life for the better, I also hoped she would change this festival for the better, how impossible that may sound. My life is no longer a torture the way it was back in 2004 when i first visited Norjeboke and I’m grateful for that, but the fact that my life now is sustainable somewhat takes away a part of what made Sweden Rock such an important part of my life. I was ready to move on, and make Sweden Rock a part of not only my life, but also a part of mine and Saras shared life together.
So as we stood in our beautiful apartment in Malmö packing our bags and trying to survive in the heat, the expectations for our mutual festival was as high as the temperature. We made sure nothing would be left at home, my sister got the key to water our flowers, and triple-checked our tickets were in the bags. By the time we were finished, it was about 1 am in the night between monday and tuesday. We decided to drink our last drops of wine in the chill garden to cool ourselves of before putting ourselves to bed and went outside. And of course, our only key was left behind on the inside and we were locked outside in the middle of the night. Now isn’t that just the perfect way to start off a festival?
THE SWEDEN ROCK CHRONICLES 2018
After waking my sister up in the middle of the night, Sara and I had a decent nights sleep and got up the next morning to go get the car we were gonna drive to the festival. We put every single thing into the vehicle and got away about 2 in the afternoon. The weather was beautiful, the sun blazed upon us as we put on our first mixed-CD in the stereo. It was a “spex- and party”-album that mixed classic party songs by ZZ top, D-A-D and Quireboys with stupid and crazy stuff like Florence Foster Jenkins, Overdeth and Swedens most perverted schlager/folk-singer Johnny Bode. Even though we got stuck in a traffic jam whilst the stereo was blasting out Bad Craziness, the wounderful feeling of going on an adventure that song always gives provided us with all we needed for a great start. That, and the sun. Sara opened a beer and all we couldn’t believe we finally were on our way.
As always, my brother Olof was also going to the festival. We picked him up in Höör, the place god forgot about, and now things were really starting to happen. As we got closer to our goal the right feeling was starting to sink in, and when the first traffic signs guiding us to the festival appeared, we all cheered together. Soon we started to recognize the area, and could all acknowledge: We were home.
Just as we parked, and started to unload our vehicle, a familiar voice shouted at us.
Well, if it wasn’t Mårten, the dear old friend and festival-buddy who carried me through my two most drunken episodes on the festival, first the Saxon concert 2013 during which he saved my life by telling people I was laying passed out in the dark so they wouldn’t step on me, and later on the Symphony X-concert 2016, from which I have absolutely no memory. We told Sara about these episodes.
“‘Have I seen Symphony X?!'”, Mårten quoted laughing, and then helped us to carry our packings to the camping sites.
Olof wasn’t gonna live with us. Back in the days, him and me always stayed at the same place; near the waterposts by the second entrance at the legendary so called Pig Camp, famous for its sleaziness. Our camp was called Camp Fesk and consisted of 15-20 people from Växjö, but through the years, our friends at Camp Fesk has one by one jumped ship, and by now Olof and I are the sole members of Camp Fesk who still attend Sweden Rock. That has resulted in us spreading out, Olof to our old norwegian neighbors, who always used to live next door to Camp Fesk, and me to Saras camp at the Rockerdise Camp.
So as Olof left for the Pig Camp to set up his tent by the norwegians, we went to Rockerdise to find a good spot for our tent and also our camping buddies who were to appear the next day. But finding a spot for a ten people-camp one day in advance is risky business, and as soon as we stared to raise our tent, some guys started to raise a tent right in the middle of the big lawn we had hoped to been able to use.
“So typical” Sara sighed. “But maybe…”
She walked up to them, said hello and friendly started to talk about our camping buddies coming tomorrow, and the neighbors replied nicely that they wouldn’t expand further and take up any more space.
“Perhaps we can have our camps together!” Sara said smiling before walking back to our tent.
“Yes, perhaps!” they replied just as happy.
Soon, Mårten turned up and started to set up his own tent right next to us.
“Weren’t you gonna camp on the Pig Camp with Gabriel and Jandelin?” I asked, slightly surpriced.
“Nah” he replied, thinking he might as well settle down here next to us, although he quickly moved on to meet Gabriel and Jandelin, and brought them to meet us, which I was happy to do, since both of them are great friends of mine. Among these three odd fellows, Jandelin is the only one who have met Sara earlier, so it was Gabriel who was really happy to meet her, especially since him and I keep in touch a great deal across the telephone lines.
“This is wonderful, I’ve heard so much about you!” he happily claimed.
“I’ve heard a lot about you too!”, she replied, and Gabriel looked happy to hear that.
Once we were all toghether and our tents stood strong, we went to do the last thing before the party could start for real: Change in our tickets to bracelets. We met Olof and went there all together. By this stand, I also found the official guide-booklet. I quickly gazed through it, and was once again disapointed by the fact that it just sucked. These booklets used to consist of thorough presentations of the bands, information, maps and a classy schedule to tell you when the bands played. Now, it just feels like a cheap collection of advertisements. I still took it with me to my collection at home.
As soon as the bracelets were on our wrists, the party could start for real. We got our first meal (wooked moose-kebab!), and followed Olof into the Pig Camp to get the party started with the norwegians. These guys had not been at the festival much longer than us, but had already made a really genuine camp. There was a big marquee with walls, an unlimited set of chairs, and above all a big, big ice box where you could put the beer to keep it cool. It was incredibly nice, and as our beer got colder, we got really comfortable.
We hung around the norwegians all evening, until me and Sara got tired of the eternal repetition of Steel Panther-hits and decided to move on. Since this was the first time I went attended the festival as early as tuesday I really wanted to use this day to party away and meet as many people as possible. So we marched through the camping area looking for familiar faces, and ended up at the trailer park, were there was just as much party. Saras old friends Loke & Veronika were staying here, and we parked ourselves at their neighbors Camp Rock. This was quite a big camp, and Sara told me their history.
“They come here every year since way way back. See that great pink flamingo at the top of one of the trailers? They bring that every year! And in the mornings they have minttu-breakfast.”
Minttu-breakfast… Minttu hasn’t been my cup of tea since 2012, when I slipped into a minttu-race which ended up with me running around the Rockerdise Camp at five in the morning shouting “suck whorecock!” at the top of my lungs to everyone who was unlucky enough to be awake. Not my proudest hour.
Camp Rock proved to be quite a steady place. The songs playing were mostly just timeless classics, whom everyone could sing along to. I noticed one guy walking around with a guitar and an amplifier around his neck. He played along to all the songs on his guitar, but didn’t say a word. He just stood there, riffing along to Thunderstruck and other classic rock tunes, amplified by the loudspeaker hanging next to him. I saw him a couple of times further on down the festival, carrying a sign saying “Song wishes: 20 kr” followed by the adress to his youtube-channel. Was he really that such a sensational guitarist that he actually could demand people to pay for him to play? Nah, I don’t quite think so. It just felt… strange.
After a lot of beers and party, it was starting to get late, so we decided to go to bed. After all, we had a long day ahead of us; the very first day of the actual festival. And we were so looking forward to it!
Waking up in the tent the first morning was quite different from earlier years. It was quite cold, and it didn’t feel like the whole place was boiling. I had the trees to thank for that I guess, and it was nice. Another difference was the music playing in our neighborhood camps. One camp played about ten Hardcore Superstar in a row but then skipped about ten Uriah Heep-classics directly after, which must be seen as some sort of cultural crime of the worst kind. Another camp waked us to the music of old swedish patriot-punks Ultima Thule and their horrifyingly proud interpretation of the swedish national anthem. I immediately got a bad feeling about our neighbors…
But of course, the main difference this year was of course waking up next to Sara. I hugged her, gave her a big kiss and then went out for the usual morning pee. Out there I was faced with yet another difference. Unlike the Pig Camp, there was no real good pee-spot at Rockerdise. Since the fence is merely a transparent canvas seperating us from the Motorcycle Camp it felt different. I didn’t like the idea of some MC-guys watching me as I took a piss quite close to their precious bikes, so i decided that the urinal near the toilet-shack was worth the extra mile. After all, camping fences doesn’t stop bullets.
By the toilets I met two old friends, the Brodin sisters Lina and Sara, whom I used to have the habit of pouring sugar upon, refering to a certain Def Leppard song. This year I didn’t bring any sugar, it kind of felt like I killed off that trend last year when I poured it onto Lina just as she got out of the tent where she had been putting on make-up for one hour, but the sisters were still happy to see me.
“Are we neighbors this year?” they asked.
“In a matter of fact we are! We live back there.” I replied, pointing towards our camp.
“That’s great! We have a lot of people in our camp this year, some people who haven’t gone for a couple of years now. We live a little bit further back than usual, but you should be able to find us.”
We parted, and I went back to camp have breakfast with Sara and Mårten. As we ate, we were beginning to realize that our neighborhood camps music really sucked. The Ultima Thule-version of the national anthem turned out to just be the beginning. As we ate, we only heard traditional Bandit Rock-modern metal like Die Motherfucker, Disturbeds Sounds of Silence-cover, Lillasyster, the Alient Ant Farm cover of Smooth Criminal and so forth. We tried to blast it all away with our small CD-player, but had no chance. They were too loud, and we were stuck with the Bandit Rock-crap. And then, all hell broke loose.
“Is this… Limp Bizkit?”
Yes, it was. Our neighbors blasted the old 1999-hit song Break Stuff over the whole camping site. We looked at each other, terrified of the incredible lack of musical taste. I felt like I was gonna throw up.
“And to think I wanted to share camp with these people yesterday!” Sara cried out, ashamed she even talked to them.
Then finally, like a couple of angels sent down from heaven, our camp buddies arrived. I immediately ran up to Fritze, the leader of the pack, walking towards us carrying a heavy load of tents, beer and marquees.
“Fritze!!! You’ve got to save us!!!”
I threw myself into Fritzes arms.
“Our neighbors… They’re crazy! They are playing Limp Bizkit and Ultima Thule!”
“My god. That’s not cool. I guess we are gonna have to blast them away!”
He pointed towards his gigantic load, and i noticed a big, big loudspeaker. What a saviour!
We raised the two marquees Fritze brought, and made our little camp into a big and genuine camp, sat down, had a couple of beers and chatted away whilst listening to Rage, Grave Digger, Accept and other classic metal bands, far superior to Ultima Thule and Limp Bizkit. I also got familiar with the camping mates. There was us, Fritze, his old friend Bulten, and no less than three (!) couples. Even four, if you were to count us in.
Fritze marked our breakfast with bread, marmelade, advocados, creme cheese and fruits.
“That’s ambitious. My breakfast is more just a shot and a beer.”
“We’ve got shots too” I replied.
I walked into the tent to pick of a couple of plastic shot glasses and a bottle of fisk. Fritze approved.
“Do you want a shot?”
I poured three shots and in a second they all went down the hatch and I poured three new ones. The breakfast was officially over.
Fritze then noticed something on the ground.
He was pointing at the shell of an eaten advocado. I replied.
“It’s an advocado shell, but it looks like some kind of animal… Like the crossing of a hedgehog and a snail, if it were an armadillo.”
“Snigelkott!” Fritze summed, combining the swedish words snigel (snail) and igelkott (hedgehog).
“Basically, yes. It’s most definitely a snigelkott!”
And so, a new word was born, and an animal was named.
Sara and I then decided to go look for the Brodin sisters and their camp “Styxligan”. We left the camp to go looking at the place the sisters had pointed too, but it didn’t go all that well.
“It probably turns out they’re in the Ultima Thule camp” Sara joked.
“Do not joke about such things!” I replied, still traumatized.
It felt like we crossed the entire area, passing through every single camp unpleasantly scanning of the faces to find the right place. It became uncomfortable, and eventually we ended up back in our own camp. I noticed that the loudspeaker was playing the same song as before.
“Are you listening to this once again?” I asked.
“Again? No, it’s just not over yet.” Fritze replied.
Time… confusing people since the dawn of man!
After drinking a whole bunch of beers with Fritze and the gang, we rushed of to the big event of the afternoon: The Board Meeting. And no, that is no traditional meeting where a couple of blokes in suits sit around a table and discuss economics, the Board meeting is the time of the year where the people of the internet forum Sweden Rock Message Board meet in real life, laying aside their many differences to throw a party together. So at 3 o’clock, outside the big entrance to the Pig Camp, we all met up for the big meeting. There was the sleaze king of the Pig Camp, mr Mats Vogt, with his Spice Girls-t-shirt, jeans-shorts and cowboy-hat, complaining about the guitar-guy walking around amplifying his riffs all over the camping sites (“I really HATE that motherfucker!”). There was Gabriel, Mårten and Jandelin, having a good time in great company. There was moderators David and Magnus, discussing the politics of the Message Board, including a debate on what to do if “the janitor” was to find his way to the forum. And of course, our chief editor at Stargazed, mr Johan Hagberg, who showed up smiling, looking very much forward to this chronicle. I hope he won’t be disapointed!
After the meeting, me and Mårten decided to go into the festival area for the usual shopping tour. Sara only had a three day-ticket, so me and Mårten walked in by ourselvses. It was the first time I was to walk inside the gates this year, so it was quite special. But as always, it was just wonderful to see the old grounds again. I smiled as I gazed upon the great area. Eden.
Most CDs I bought this year was found in the big Hot Shot-tent on the left side of Sweden Stage. There was Magnum – Breath of Life, Uriah Heep – Sea of Light and Autopsy – Severed Survival. Going through the Doro-albums I found her classic selftitled album for only 50 kr. But wait a minute, isn’t this… ? I looked closer and realized that the album was autographed. With a silver pen, Doro herself had written on the album “für Olaf von Doro”. This copy costed just as much as the other copies of the album, so of course I picked the autographed one!
On other stands, I also got a hold of Coven – Witchcraft Destroys Minds and Reap Souls, Gotthard – Dial Hard and, later on through the festival M.ill.ion – Electric. By the time I found Praying Mantis – Time Tells No Lies, I felt like I had spent enoguh, and regretfully had to neglect my need to buy it.
Back at the camp I found a couple of new neighbors, but that was not just any neighbors. It was the Småland Warriors.
Småland Warriors is a bunch of old friends from Växjö, who all have in common a great deal of love for Manowar, metal, Manowar, Muskelrock and Manowar. There was my old friend Jonas, Axel, the Chevy Chase-lookalike Osse, and not the least the number one metal warriors of today, Gustav and Linni. These two are the founders of the number one fanzine of today, Turborock, the coolest thing since… last Manowar album. If you are into old school metal and haven’t heard of Turborock, you have got to check it out!
I hailed them all with the sign of the hammer and was pleased to see them all, and then tried to ask Linni wether or not there was a new paper coming out soon. But the beer was starting to reach my brain and i constantly kept sayning Jonas instead of Gustav and Muskelrock instead of Turborock, so I backed down and thought I might as well ask them later instead of embarrasing myself further.
By the time me and Mårten went into the festival area to watch our first show I was quite loaded, but watching Brian Downey’s Alive and Dangerous was still a nice experience. A band playing Thin Lizzy-songs of course have a really big advantage due to the fact that their musical catalogue is among the most magnificent in heavy metal-history. Since how the original Thin Lizzy cannot exist anymore, the old drummer Brian Downey tours the world with a couple of talented fellows who may be strangers to me, but can still definitely carry these eternal tunes. Although it might be the other way around too…
After enjoying marvellous songs such as Still in Love with You, the band gave a wonderful performance of the beautifully emotional Cowboy Song (the highlight of the day?), before closing it all up with the eternal singalong tune The Boys Are Back in Town. Me and Mårten left the show smiling, and we were thirsty for more beer, but also hungry. We met up with Olof and his norwegian buddy Mark to go grab a bite.
In reality, Mark is nowhere near a norwegian, he’s an american who happened to fell in love with Olofs old friend Emma and decided to move to this side of the atlantic, just aound the time a certain big baboon across the ocean took a hold of the white house. Now, he and Emma stays with the norwegians and Olof every single year at the Sweden Rock, and he’s so happy to be living in a country that still practice democracy.
Olof and Mark had just been bathing in the ocean. I got jealous and quickly decided to go swimming the next day myself. Now, we were all hungry, so we decided to eat by the stand by the road to the ocean that serves classic swedish meals. Olof couldn’t shut up about the pankakes he ate there earlier that evening, but I wanted a heavier meal, so I took a steak. Seeing how Olof had been disapointed in not finding the great steak-camp from last year at the festival anymore, ordering a steak at this place seemed natural. And sweet Jesus was it a great steak! I decided early on that this wasn’t gonna be my last meal at this stand on this festival.
The rest of the evening was drenched in a lot of beer and also some really cool shows. Quireboys is always great to watch, but in the end, we attended their concert quite late and didn’t see all too much of the show. Later on we also took a glimpse at Bullet. Now, seeing Bullet is not exactly newsworthy, it’s the kind of show where you know exactly what you’ll get, but it’s a great show. Always! This time we got to hear some of the new tracks of the very first album I reviewed for Stargazed Magazine, Dust to Gold. Tracks like Highway Love and Fuel the Fire worked great in the magic summer night, and when the best track of the entire album, the title track Dust to Gold, took off, it was pure perfection. After that we got the usual encore of classics Turn it Up Loud and Bite the Bullet, and then the show was over. No surprises, but no one was left disapointed, it was just so much Bullet.
After the show, Sara called me and told me she missed me. Whilst most people went to see Hardcore Superstar I went back to meet up with her at our camp. We sat dawn, had a couple of drinks and summed up the day. Then it was off to bed to rest our weary souls for the next day, on which Sara could accompany me on the festival area. I was looking forward to that.