~ Once more, Savvina and Georgia went to this year’s SRF and… here are their thoughts and experience!
Just as little children are looking forward to Christmas and Santa, approximately 33,000 metalheads and rockers are looking forward to June and Sweden Rock Festival. Sold out sooner than ever, with excellent organization and a model of professionalism, but with an amateur’s pure enthusiasm and love for the whole experience, it opened its doors on a rainy Wednesday, 3rd June 2015. Of course, we were there for one more year and after being supplied with the necessary wristbands, it was time to invade the now so familiar to us fields of Norje, in Solvesborg, South Sweden. Just like every year, the organizers (with the audience as first priority), make a number of changes with the aim of offering greater enjoyment, convenience and ease, both for the fan as well as the performer. This year’s biggest change concerned the smallest of the five stages, Rocklassiker Stage, which is now an indoor one. As regards the rest four (4Sound, Sweden, Rock and Festival, in order of size from smaller to bigger) they were ready to welcome fans, or almost ready, since the two biggest are closed for the first day.
Since the festival opens at around 15:00 on the first day, we have the chance to roam outside the festival area and have a look around at the various stalls, selling clothes, cd’s, lp’s, jewellery, fancy accessories and of course food before the party starts! The first show is set for 4Sound Stage with Kee Man Hawk. For us, it started slightly later on Sweden Stage with Hazy/ Dizzy, a tribute band to AC/DC, as the name suggests, who got us into the festival mood immediately, with their two cannons on stage, as well as with the guitarist’s outfit resembling our favourite Angus Young’s. On a more than satisfactory musical level and in definitely high spirits, they got the audience involved in a great musical celebration. Unfortunately, the sudden downpour forced us to retreat, which was unfair to the band, however the majority of the people watching were more used to such weather conditions and enjoyed the full show. To our bad luck, the rain kept on and we missed the promising Swedish band LILLASYSTER, for whom we had heard only the best by people who had seen and heard them live. Thankfully, that was the last gig to miss due to the weather and around 21:00 we were ready to rock with our favourite THE QUIREBOYS. In excellent shape, they proved for one more time (not that they ever needed to) that these guys know how to party and at the same time carry the fans away with them! The day came to its end with the flamboyant D-A-D and their spectacular show that sent people to bed with a huge smile on their faces.
We were thrilled to wake up to a warm and sunny morning! The weather forecast refers to no rain for the next days, so this adds to our excitement! The day starts with DELAIN, a Dutch symphonic metal band, who clearly are as enthusiastic as the people watching! The male members of our friend group were a little disappointed by the singer’s Charlotte Wessels’ dress choice (they preferred her to be wearing less), but no one was disappointed by her incredible voice and the excellent performance of the rest of the band. What can we do, we didn’t have enough of Spike from THE QUIREBOYS, so it was absolutely necessary for all of us to indulge ourselves a little more, this time in the company of SPIKE’S FREE HOUSE, made up of Luke Morley (THUNDER), Mark Stanway (MAGNUM) and Simon Kirke (FREE), in the magic of songs by Frankie Miller as well as FREE. Needless to say, they brought the house…sorry, the festival down! After the very much needed break for lunch and exchange of views, it was time for something “heavier”: SLASH feat. MYLES KENNEDY and THE CONSPIRATORS. Mr. Slash and his friends performed their best on stage, before a huge audience that participated wholeheartedly and that acknowledges a real artist. Right after, it was time for AIRBOURNE. Following their quite familiar musical paths, they didn’t manage to excite the fans, though, without letting them down at the same time. The next performance was by a band we never expected to see live ever! Yet, TOTO set foot on the biggest stage of course (Festival Stage) at 19:00 sharp, punctual, full of energy and ready to party, it was what we call “they belong to the highest class”! It would be needless to elaborate on the atmosphere that prevailed while hearing all their classics, but also the thrill that one feels listening live to the songs that marked a whole childhood. The only way to “recover” from such an experience is to attend something completely different. Therefore, HAMMERFALL, with their more than satisfactory and trustworthy performance did the trick. Now, it was time for DEF LEPPARD, headliners of the day. We were happy and fortunate to have seen the band three times before, but this time they really surpassed themselves! Both musically and vocally, we were witnesses to a fantastic show that convinced even the most unbelieving of the quality of the band! True to the last two years’ practice, the organisers get the festival going on after the headliner’s show. On that particular day, this had a negative effect on MICHAEL MONROE, whose performance was “wiped out” by DEF LEPPARD. The guy did what he does best, but no matter how much he climbed on the stage poles, no matter how much he shook, rattled and rolled on stage, the musical level was clearly a lot lower than what we had experienced a few minutes before. Keeping only the good memories, it was bed time..
The sun rose over the green fields of Norje and we set out quite early for the festival area, because, according to the schedule, the first band we want to watch is to appear on Sweden Stage at 12:00. If you think it is too early for a rock concert, you’ll change your mind if this is about the legendary DARE. The early time didn’t bother the large audiencethat gathered, but also the band themselves, who gave their best performance offering people an hour and a half of auditory pleasure. That was the best start we could have for the day, filling our batteries with party mood and energy for the rest of the day. The festival is in full swing, people come and go from stage to stage, but also the various food vendors, offering food and drink options to suit every taste. We make our way towards the biggest stage, aka Festival Stage for the American band MOLLY HATCHET. A leading band in its kind, Southern Rock, sincere and faithful to the sound they represent, perhaps a little too much someone might say, especially when they forever wave American flags, referring to veterans and their patriotism. Had there not been so much of all this, I believe the show would have left us with a better impression. No time to waste, so back to Sweden Stage for metal- pirates ALESTORM. The banner in the background of the stage with the two ducks-bananas (don’t expect an explanation, it won’t do justice to the image anyway) gives us an idea of what is ahead. And we make no mistake, as 75 minutes of absolute craziness, alcohol, puppet show, crazy riffs and loads of jumping up and down follow. Music in itself comes second, without this meaning that it was of lower standard. On the contrary, they performed their best, satisfying everyone in the audience. Time for our first break. Food accompanied by beer or cyder and relaxation until 18:00 (time flies!), when very much anticipated DOKKEN appear on ROCK STAGE. We were very excited we were given the chance to see live one of the biggest names of the hard rock genre of the 80’s with so many hit songs. We had prepared ourselves for a party, which, unfortunately, never took place! The sight, but most importantly the sound, was so disappointing that there are no words to describe it. On multiple occasions, hit songs like “Dream Warriors” or “Alone Again” came out totally unrecognisable, to the point we had to listen to the chorus to realise what song we were listening to! Absolutely unacceptable! Finally this tragedy is over, and we make our way to our accommodation where we can spend some time not only resting, but also hanging out with good friends, old and new, because this festival is not just about live shows, but meeting many interesting people. Time passes very quickly and it’s now time for the much anticipated show by MOTLEY CRUE, headliners of the day, on Festival Stage. However, their performance didn’t live up to the magnitude of their name and their history. They gave a show that lacked enthusiasm and high spirits. There was a couple of different opinions, stating that this show was better than the one we had watched a few years before, but the vast majority left rather disappointed and long before the end in order to head off to Sweden Stage for the Swedish band HEAT. The “young ones”, grew up, matured (so to speak), but according to some are full of themselves. Our opinion is that IF they are, it is quite justified because they proved that they deserve it with an outrageous and breathtaking performance, leaving the whole audience out of breath and completely satisfied. The new blood of hard rock is here to stay! That was it for the day! We couldn’t have any more, anyway!
The final day of Sweden Rock Festival! Whether it was the exhaustion of the previous days or the sadness that an amazing 4-day-event is coming to an end, we are left with little energy for full attendance. We make the choice of going to see the one and only ACE FREHLEY at a show that got the audience all so excited with his greatest hits and great enthusiasm. Our next selection was of the American band EXTREME, band that one might not be able to see if it wasn’t for festivals like this. The forever good-looking guitarist Nuno Bettencourt and the charismatic singer Gary Cherone, moved us, excited us and reminded us of their great songs, culminating with “More Than Words”, during which the whole audience joined in the singing, creating a unique atmosphere. The headliners of the day are no other than the magnificent, metal gods JUDAS PRIEST, who will prove (as if they ever needed to) why they hold the title of “metal gods” and why we still get goose bumps listening to their so successful songs, even though the inevitable time wear has had its toll on Rob Halford’s enormous voice. Exaggeration? You wouldn’t think so if you were lucky enough to be there. At the same time (and this is one of the downsides of this festival), on 4Sound Stage, ELUVEITIE are ready to give their best. Earlier, a problem that came up for MY DYING BRIDE at the airport, caused the band to cancel their show set for that time and ELUVEITIE, who were scheduled for an earlier show, to take their place playing simultaneously with JUDAS PRIEST. Due to this inconvenience (these things happen!), we decide to split the attendance time between the two. The Swiss Folklore metallers use a variety of traditional instruments on stage, such as violins, bagpipes, accordions and others we have no idea what their name is! This is something that matters too little, as we enjoy a great performance. The final band to appear in this year’s festival is THE DARKNESS, so our steps take us to Rock Stage. Of course, we knew that we had to do with an eccentric band that tries to impress using visual ways mostly, but what we were confronted with was far from eccentric or even shocking: it was almost ridiculous! That was something that the audience easily noticed and it seemed that the band itself did too, so the decision to keep only the good memories seemed most appropriate. We made our way to the house at the sounds of BEHEMOTH playing at the distance.
Should we resort to clichés? All good things come to an end, but we are already counting the days till the next Sweden Rock Festival as our bodies return home, but our hearts remain there…
See you soon, SRF 2016…