The Sweden Rock Chronicles 2018 by Anton Stenlund part 3

Saturday:

Waking up to the last day, I was quite satisfied with the fact that there wasn’t too many bands to see this day. There was still so many people I hadn’t hung out with yet, so I really felt like spending my day with them instead. I suggested to Sara that we were to visit Örjans Camp, the trailer park where Thomas, Amalia, Sabina & Billy were staying.

“But that’s so far away! And I think you need a certain ticket to get into Örjans. Can’t we go to Loke and Veronikas trailer? It’s much, much closer!”

I thought about just going myself, but as you could imagine, I ended up by Loke and Veronikas trailer, with a bottle of vodka, a couple of beers and got really comfortable. We stayed there for quite some time, drinking vodka-drinks and trying to play Dolly Parton-songs on banjo and  didn’t get off to the festival area until there was time for Slade.

Now, Slade, that is one of my all time favourite bands. What’s a little strange about them is that nowadays there’s only guitarist Dave Hill left in the band from the days when the band released albums (the most recent is from 1987), and the rest of the band is a bunch of nobodys. And because of this, I had never felt the need to go see their concerts, even though I love Slades music. This time I did go, and was quite surprised. It was a really strange concert.

First of all, they weren’t very tight. They seemed a little all over the place, like a bunch of old guys playing some old hits together at a party or something. Still, they seemed happy to be there, and had a very positive energy. Loke described it as “a pub band doing a pub gig on a festival stage, being very happy to be at a festival stage”, and that was quite a perfect description. And the songs… well, the songs are just masterpieces. So in the end, I really liked the show! Sure, it was hardly the most professional gig I’ve ever seen, but I got to sing along to Far Far Away, Cum on Feel the Noize, Mama Weer All Crazee Now, My Oh My and Run Run Away, and you can’t complain with that!

After passing by Steelheart very quickly, it was time for more vodka-drinks. The day passed by very fast and I was almost somewhat disapointed that time seemed to run away from me. I was so comfortable with drinking and as soon as the clock stroke six I knew I had to stop in order to be fully functional behind the wheel the next day.

When we got back to our camp, I saw Gustav sitting in the shade at the Småland Warriors camp. It was time, so I grabbed him by the neck.

“Gustav! I want Turborock! NOW!!!”

“Absolutely!” Gustav did respond and we went to his tent.

He picked up a magazine from out of the tent.

“The very last copy” he said.

“You gotta print more. I love this magazine!”

I browsed through the paper and it looked fantastic. Once I got home from the festival, I read the whole thing in a couple of days and absolutely loved it. If you are a fan of Muskelrock-music, you gotta check out this magazine!

Småland Warriors ovarall were kind of into a nice mood, so I decided to join. I turned to Osse.

“Osse! Point Break. On a scale from one to ten.”

“The old one or the new one?”

I gave him the look of death.

“The old one, okay… Let’s see, what about… Eight points!”

I gave him thumbs up. Exactly the points I would give it too.

Osse went on the tell the camp about the time him, me and Jonas viewed Lethal Weapon 3 in his house.

“It was the hottest night of the summer, so were all drenched in sweat and had to sit without any t-shirts on. Just sitting there topless, watching Riggs and Murtaugh and sweating.”

“It was probably among the most hardcore things I’ve ever done.” Jonas added.

It all lead into a long Star Wars discussion, where the new movie, “Solo – A Star Wars Story” was surprisingly defended.

“It was OK!” Osse said. “I think people kind of doomed it in advance, but it was actually a movie worth the time.”

When it got to the older movies, people started to argue. Osse surprised everyone with not liking “The Force Awakens”, seeing it as the weakest one in the series.

“It’s just a ripoff of the original Star Wars movie. It just doesn’t work. ‘The Last Jedi’, ‘Rogue One’ and even the new one was way better, because at least they tried to set themselves apart from all that. But overall, the spinoff movies are way more interesting because there’s no damn Skywalker in those. I’m so tired of these damn Skywalkers! Like the scene in ‘The Last Jedi’ when Leia get sucked into space and just floats back by using the force or whatever… what the hell was that?!”

“Yes, she would have not only have suffocated, but also withered apart because that what happens in space!” Jonas added.

Highlander appeared, wanting to take part in the discussion.

“But she doesn’t do that, because she has so many midichlorians…”

“Whoa!” the whole camp roared.

“Dude, you said the M-word!” I said.

“You just disqualified yourself from the entire discussion!” Axel added.

Highlander backed down. No good, Highlander, no good…

It was time to stop drinking, and so I did. But now, it was time to check out the one and only Yes! Or rather… Well, since the death of founding member and bass player Chris Squire, no one dares to perform by the name “Yes” but this “Yes featuring ARW” concert lineup consisted of three very important members of the bands career, singer Jon Anderson, guitarist Trevor Rabin and the number one keyboard legend of all time Rick Wakeman. To me, this was as real a genuine Yes-concert could get these days!

The band was incredibly tight and caught me off guard with their intact vitality. Wakeman was astonishing as always behind the keyboards, and Rabin did a great job behind his guitar, but in the end, the great star of the show was Jon Anderson. Being 73 years old, having spent a great deal of years in retirement because of voice-problems, you’d expect this man to be ragged out and tired, but oh no. Anderson was incredible, his angel voice echoed beautifully across the festival area, showing no scars of his 50 year long career in the music business. His voice was magnificient, and his presence on stage was also magnificient. He was just magnificient! Apart from Bruce Dickinson, Jon Anderson was the number one showman of Sweden Rock this year.

After enjoying evergreens such as Heart of the Sunrise, And You and I and Owner of a Lonely Heart, we went back to camp to enjoy our last evening at the camp. Sara was tired and wanted to catch some sleep, so she and I parted, and I went off to the Pig Camp to look for Olof. He wasn’t by the norwegians, so I went to his tent.

“Olof! Olof!”

I heard a shruggering from inside the tent.

“Are you there?”

“Uh… Yes.”

“Are you asleep?”

“Uh… Yes.”

Damn.

I moved on and ended up on Camp A6, the Växjö camp who, unlike Camp Fesk, are still attending the festival. Old friends like Tia and Ronnie met me with smiling faces and the solidarity was strong. The guys in Camp A6 had reasons to be really proud this year: They had made the news.

“We got interviewed by Smålandsposten!”, Tia cheered.

“We are the guys that keep Sweden Rock rocking!” a strange fellow filled in.

“That’s the headline of the article”, Tia explained.

She almost jumped up and down in happiness and pointed towards a paper hanging from one of the marquees, where they had taped the article to the roof for everyone to see. I read it and looked at the big picture on which most of the members of the camp could be seen.

“We were also interviewed by the radio! They came through here with a microphone and later talked about us on the air! It’s so cool! It feels like this is a big year for A6, we have really put ourselves on the map!”

I congratulated on their succes, but didn’t stay for long. Camp A6 always had a big sinker that for always will keep me from staying there: Their music. If you have a big ass boom box, you should play great music through it, not Bandit Rock-crap mixed with swedish punk and pure sillyness. That part has never worked for me, so I never stay too long in this camp, even though I have had a lot of great times in it.

When it was time for Judas Priest I went to our camp to wake Sara up. She was still quite tired and told me to go ahead and that she would catch up with me later, so I did. When I got to the concert area, I called Thomas and met up with him and Amalia. We had a good spot in front of the stage and the concert was getting closer. Now, all that was left for me was for Sara to come. But she didn’t.

I called her a couple of times, but there was no reply. Damnit. I knew it. She had gone back to sleep.

Whilst this drama was going on, the Priests appeared on stage playing the title track of their brand new album Firepower. Then followed a really cool setlist with lots of deep cuts and unexpected songs such as Grinder, Sinner and The Ripper. Mixing this up with new songs like Lightning Strikes made up for a great setlist, which absolutely made up for the weaker parts of the show, such as the band being old and somewhat stiff, and there not being KK Downing or Glenn Tipton on stage.

When the band ended Bloodstone and the image of Stained Class appearred on big screen, me and Thomas started to speculate in which Stained Class-song we were gonna hear.

“Exciter would really be cool” Thomas said.

“Yeah, I’m hoping for that one too, even though Beyond the Realms of Death would be nice as well. But it’s definately gonna be one of those two songs.”

And Rob Halford just went “This is Saints in Hell!”

Our jaws dropped all the way down to the ground. Saints in Hell? In my wildest dream, I would never imagine hearing such an obscure track live, especially considering it’s rarely been played at all throughout the bands career. My god, this was astonishing, and I loved every minute of it!

After that magical moment, one of the absolute highlights of the festival, I just couldn’t wait anymore. I had to go wake up Sara! I explained to Thomas and Amalia and ran off. As if Rob Halford had understood the situation, the band started to play Turbo Lover. How appropriate!

After running all the way through the eternally thick crowd from Festival Stage to Rockerdise camp, I found Sara asleep in our tent.

“Sara! Wake up! Wake up!”

She opened her eyes in complete confusion and sat up in bed.

“Judas Priest have been playing for half an hour. Come on, wake up!”

“Okay, okay… I’m awake. Just go back to the show, I’ll be with you later.”

“Just don’t fall asleep again, okay?”

“I won’t, just let me wake up… Go back to the show!”

And back I went, although I wasn’t all too sure about Sara not falling back into sleep. But I heard Judas playing Tyrant back at the festival area and couldn’t wait to go back to the concert.

Judas Priest went on with their great setlist, but slowly moved into the old classics. But by the time they played Freewheel Burning, You’ve Got Another Thing Coming and Painkiller, I was just as happy, and singing along to every single word on the top of my lungs. And then Hell Bent for Leather… Halford entered on his motorbike, like the true rock star he is, with a leather whip in his mouth. God, I love that guy!

When it was time for the encore, Sara appeared to enjoy the last minutes of the show with us. The band opened this set with new song Rising from Ruins, which worked extremely well and was just as magical to hear live as any of the surrounding classics! After that he appeared on stage. The legend. The Glenn Tipton. The audience almost cried when the guitar legend suffering from heavy parkinson went up to join the band for the last songs of the show. And from there on, it was all classics. Metal Gods, Breaking the (“what?!”) Law and Living after Midnight. We all roared the lyrics and loved every single minute of the wonderful experience. It wasn’t the best Judas Priest show I’ve seen and it wasn’t the best show of the festival, but a Judas Priest show can’t be bad. They are a too good band for that.

Sara and I said goodbye to Thomas and Amalia and went off to leave the festival once and for all. But before that…

“I still have some money left… I wanna go buy the Praying Mantis-album I didn’t buy on wendesday!”

And so I spent yet some extra money, but I could afford it and never regretted it. I could finally add Time Tells No Lies to my collection!

As we left the festival area, I told Sara not to neglect the area.

“You gotta say goodbye, and thank it.”

She turned and together with me, she looked over the hills bathing in the great spotlights, seeing Rock and Festival Stage beeing mounted down whilst Backyard Babies was playing at Sweden.

“Goodbye Sweden Rock! See you next year!”

We threw the entire place two big, wet kisses with both hands and off we went.

Back at the camps, we decided to go and say goodbye to some of our friends. Seeing how we had seen quite little of Gabriel the last two days, we went to see him. Unfortunally he had already gone to bed, but as we walked by his tent he heard our voices and got out. He wasn’t all that well.

“I got burnt in the sun. Now my whole body is itching!”

His hands were scratching all over the body and seemed really pained by the burn, but was still happy to see us. We hugged and said goodbye “until next year”, and Sara added:

“Come to Malmö sometime!”

He looked happy for the invitation, and told us he’d very much like to do that. And I sure hope he will!

After walking around the camps a little more and waiting for half an hour to get a disgusting pan pizza, we went off to bed for the last time this year, somewhat melancholic but also somewhat happy for having such a nice time. Now there was only the last morning left!

 

Sunday:

Waking up on sunday mornings at Sweden Rock Festival is always a touch of melancholic, and so of course this time. We didn’t eat for that long, and there was no advocados left, so we couldn’t even have snigelkott-breakfast. We just wanted to start packing. Sara wanted to leave the tent standing, but I refused.

“It we leave it, we’re gonna regret it. Now we have a backup if we have problems affording a new, better one next year.”

I started to wash the tent off with tissues to wipe it clean of all the filth that had got stuck on it. Whilst I was doing this Cedrik appeared, whom I hadn’t seen before on the festival. He seemed to be in a good mood.

“Are you still living it that ragged out apartment in Växjö?” I asked.

“Oh yes, but it’s been renovated now, so it’s fresh as hell!”

“Really?!” I asked, remembering a nice, but not exactly model apartment.

“Oh yes, it’s really comfortable now!”

“I see. Some guys have all the luck!”

We started to get finished with the whole thing, so as everything was packed, there was only one thing left to to: My pollock!

Everyone who is familiar with painter Jackson Pollock knows about action painting and how it works. Every year I give my contribution to the action painting art form. Olof came by with his packing, and of course didn’t wanna miss this event.

Of course I knew what the main ingredient was gonna be: snigelkott! So I started with putting some tabasco on top of it, and a banana peel below it. It was starting to look like a face. I asked Sara:

“Do you think the tomatoes or the limes will make the best eyes?”

“I don’t know” she replies, modestly interested in my work. I took the limes, and put the tomatoes as cheeks.

Nuts and crisps was used as hair and beard, whilst a energy bar became the eyebrows (kind of Scrosese-looking eyebrows). And at last, I used squeezy marmalade as hair gel. The result was absolutely beautiful!

Mårten came by to pick up the last of his packing, almost stepping on my artwork.

“Don’t step on my Pollock!”

“Oh” he said, couldn’t care less.

He was just about to leave, so we all said goodbye “until next year” and hugged than thanked for a fantastic festival.

Fritze and the gang also left early, taking most of the camp with them, leaving just me, Sara and Olof. It was time for us to go too. Sadly.

We packed ourselves into the car and left the most beautiful place in the world once again. The weather was just as nice and hot as ever, and we didn’t have to wait in line for that long either. We cruised through Skåne, listening to my new Uriah Heep and Praying Mantis CDs, only stopping by a gas station to fill up the car and a truck stop to get some food and an ice cream.

Driving home, we could easily sum up the festival exerience, and we could all agree on one thing.

“It was crowded. Way crowded! I really hope they go back to only selling 33.000 tickets next year.”

Nobody argued with that. The next point was of course the toilet situation.

“What? I thought there was many toilets.” Sara said.

“Yes, but all in the same places. You had to walk across most of the festival area to get to them.” I replied.

“Yes,… you’re right, that kind of sucks.”

“There used to be toilets by every stage, even 4sound used to have something… Now there are only two big ones. Centralization…”

“And the waterposts!” Olof added.

“Yes, same thing there…”

And talking about the waterposts; the weather.

“We got lucky!” Olof said. “But it was hard.”

“Absolutely. We had to drink a lot of resorbs this year. And I still have trouble remembering something from the heat on thursday.”

“But rather this than rain or wind!”

“Definately.”

But when it came to the music, there was nothing to complain about. Every concert did sound great, and there had been so many great bands playing. I said the Iron Maiden concert was the best, and didn’t get any argues with that. But just to see this mix of different but fantastic bands playing such magnificient sets on the same place for four days… I just cannot believe how wonderful this festival is! And when the experience is drenched in beautiful summer heat, the whole thing becomes absolute magic, so we could all agree this had been a great year.

But for me, this had especially been the year when I had gone to the festival with Sara for the first time. Taking her to do all the things I’ve always done, to the place I love the most and to meet all of my weird, strange and lovable friends. It had been magic. And I loved it.

Once we got to Malmö, we droopped Olof off by the train station, said goodbye “until next year!” (not really), and went home. After we packed every single thing out of the car, Sara laid down on the bed and fell asleep in two seconds. Myself, I sat down in the couch and watched The Naked Gun, a perfect laid back movie for a perfect laid back moment. Later that evening, we went away to wash the car of all its dust and filth from the festival parking lot before we returned it to its owner. Although, I did not know how to do with the antenna, so I asked the staff at the gas station.

“Oh, just push it down to the roof!”

So we did, and went into the car wash. And of course, the antenna got ripped from the roof and stuck in the car wash machinery, so one of the employees had to go into the wash room and jump up to the machine to jank it out before we could return the car to its owner, with the antenna now lying loose in the backseat. Now, isn’t that a perfect way to end a festival?

 

Anton Stenlund,

Summer 2018

Anton Stenlund

Anton Stenlund

Writer

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