Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails at the Hultsfred Festival

Hultsfred Festival, Sweden's longest-running and largest music event, celebrated its 20th anniversary with a show which left both promoters and the audience satisfied, and ready for more. "/>

Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails at the Hultsfred Festival

Hultsfred Festival, Sweden's longest-running and largest music event, celebrated its 20th anniversary with a show which left both promoters and the audience satisfied, and ready for more. " />


Mud and Marilyn at Hultsfred

Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails at the Hultsfred Festival

Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails at the Hultsfred Festival

Hultsfred Festival, Sweden's longest-running and largest music event, celebrated its 20th anniversary with a show which left both promoters and the audience satisfied, and ready for more.

Anyone who can picture over 30,000 people alternately baking under a hot sun or sloshing through rain and mounds of mud, weather depending, with access to only 279 portable toilets, might be able to see how a 3 day long festival atmosphere is not always idyllic.

But, according to a press conference held Saturday afternoon by festival management, Hultsfred ’05 was an enormous success. The head of police, medical chief, and festival leaders spoke of the sold out show, new attendance record, and overall fantastic atmosphere they had witnessed so far.

The attainment of such a hit show could not have come at a better time; festival management were able to see they were on the right track in their production efforts. According to festival head JP Bordahl, financial problems had recently prompted the festival’s promoters, the non-profit organization Rockparty, to make changes on an organizational level.

“The financial crisis of last year’s festival started the changes, but after this year’s record, and the anniversary festival, everything is great,” JP Bordhal said.

Hultsfred 2005, which took place from June 16 to 18, set a new attendance record, with 31,100 tickets sold.

“The display by the crowd shows the need for Hultsfred,” Bordahl said.

One clear attraction of the festival is that it caters to so many differing tastes. Swedish favorites Lars Winnerbäck and Håkan Hellström drew in loyal fans, while larger international acts Marilyn Manson, Nine Inch Nails, Slipknot, System of a Down, and Snoop Dogg drew crowds to the festival’s largest stage.

Winnerbäck, due to his popularity, made an unusual three-day run of appearances on the show’s 3rd largest stage. Every day at 5 pm, thousands gathered to hear his solo performance of vocals and guitar.

With more than half of festival-goers camping outdoors during their 3 day stay, weather can become an important factor in festival life. The weather managed to hold out, at least for 2 out of the 3 days, and when the rain and mud did come Friday night, it did little to deter the enthusiasm of the crowd.

Petter Jahnstedt, a festival veteran from Gothenburg and editor of the music magazine Zero, attending his 10th consecutive year at Hultsfred, did not see the rain as a setback. “This is the best weather I’ve seen so far,” he said.

Friday evening saw large numbers, many dressed in full rain gear garb – and some even taking advantage of their already soaked situation by plunging into the lake bordering the main “Hawaii” stage – come out to listen to Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails.

By Saturday, the weather had cleared in time for one of the evening’s large Swedish acts, Håkan Hellström. The singer failed to gather the same enormous, energetic crowd response as some of the larger international bands, but he did capture his own bright, wholesome atmosphere. The crowd was warmed up by Swedish folk music, and Hellström’s own act inspired many to dance on the stage-front grass field.

American band System of a Down, marking their debut show in Sweden, played one of the final acts on the main stage, amid a spectacular backdrop of a setting sun, a bright half moon, and a glistening lake.

Between songs, vocalist Serj Tankian seemed to take it in, and yelled out to the crowd, “Sweden, what a beautiful place!”

Despite the stench of the portable toilets and the remnants of the previous day’s mud, it was impossible not to agree with him.

Erin Earley


What are the best concerts in Sweden this autumn?

Now that Sweden has lifted its audience restrictions for public events, The Local's Paul O'Mahony lists his recommendations for the best gigs to attend over the coming months.

Crowd at a music concert in Debaser, Stockholm
Crowds return to Stockholm venue Debaser after pandemic restrictions on events were lifted. Photo: Pontus Lundahl/TT

Sweden’s musicians, concert promoters and venue operators have struggled to varying degrees through the pandemic. One surefire way to help get them back on their feet is to give organisers and artists the financial reassurance they need by pre-booking concerts. 

Of course these recommendations only apply if you feel safe attending large events; remember that you should stay home and take a Covid-19 test if you experience any symptoms that could be linked to the virus, even if vaccinated. And make sure to check with organisers if there are any specific coronavirus requirements you need to be aware of. 

Coming up: top gigs in Sweden over the next few months 

As a regular gig-goer, live music is the one thing I’ve missed most over the past year and a half. So it is with some excitement (and, I’ll admit, a degree of trepidation) that I prepare to go see Norwegian band Pom Poko this Friday at Hus 7 in Stockholm. Their melodic art-punk album Cheater sparked the year into life on its release in January. They’re also playing Plan B in Malmö on Saturday night

Plan B is also the venue when Squid hit Sweden with a thrilling dose of post-punk on October 15th. Tickets remain available for the show at the time of writing (an absolute steal at 120 kronor), though that’s sadly not the case in Stockholm where their October 16th gig at Melodybox sold out a long time ago. (Although you can sign up to be added to a waiting list). 

Another artist well worth checking out in October is Gothenburg guitarist and singer Amanda Werne, better known as Slowgold. Her live shows are great and she is embarking on a Swedish tour on October 8th. 

Emma-Jean Thackray, one of the UK’s most interesting jazz artists, will be at Fasching in Stockholm on October 15th

For the best kind of sonic assault, Anna von Hasswolff’s band Bada are scheduled to play in Stockholm, Malmö and Gothenburg in late October. 

Have any of you ever seen Gothenburg electronic veterans Little Dragon live? I haven’t but might check them out in November when they swing by Malmö, Stockholm and Gothenburg

Amason are also heading out on the road for a Scandinavian tour in November. If you haven’t heard Amanda Bergman’s voice in a live setting before this will be a treat. 

The inimitable Sibille Attar released her superb second album A History of Silence at the start of the year and she’s finally getting the chance to play her eighties-inspired gems live at Slaktkyrkan in Stockholm on November 18th

Cassandra Jenkins long lurked in the background as a musician in touring bands for people like Eleanor Friedberger and Purple Mountains. But this year’s album An Overview on Phenomenal Nature has really established her as an artist to be reckoned with in her own right. She’s coming to Södra Teatern in Stockholm on November 26th

Always popular in this part of the world, The Jesus and Mary Chain return to Sweden for dates in Stockholm and Gothenburg at the end of November

Wry Finland-Swedish indie outfit Vasas Flora och Fauna have some of the funniest (Swedish) lyrics and catchiest tunes around. They’ll be in Stockholm and Gothenburg the first weekend of December

UK experimental rockers Black Midi are also playing Stockholm and Gothenburg on December 4th and 5th. So prepare to travel if you want to catch both them and Vasas Flora and Fauna. 

As if that wasn’t enough, Bob Hund’s annual ‘week 48’ show also takes place on December 4th. But that has been sold out for ages so no decisions to make there. It is also worth noting though that Sweden’s hardest working band has also written a musical that’s going to be performed in Helsingborg (October-November) and Gothenburg (November)

Bonus: For a post-Christmas pick-me-up try to get down to Little Simz at Slaktkyrkan on January 14th if you’re in Stockholm. The UK rapper’s new album Sometimes I Might Be Introvert is one of this year’s best releases. 

Selected artists playing Sweden in 2022: Henry Rollins, Sarah Klang, Yann Tiersen, Mogwai, Pearl Charles, Wolf Alice, Lloyd Cole, Lord Huron, Future Islands, Josh Rouse + Vetiver, Tricky, Snail Mail, Porridge Radio, Aldous Harding, Shame, The Kooks, The War on Drugs, Echo and the Bunnymen, Kings of Convenience, Fontaines D.C., Alex Cameron, Lucy Dacus, The Divine Comedy, Mdou Moctar, Iggy Pop, Chubby and the Gang, Sparks, Belle & Sebastian, The National, Sharon Van Etten, Teenage Fanclub, Tindersticks, Suede, Viagra Boys, Pavement. 

For bigger arena shows, Ticketmaster covers a lot of the bases. Big-name acts with gigs in the offing include Ed Sheeran, Zara Larsson, Whitesnake and, lest we forget, ABBA

And that’s just a fraction of what’s going on. Tour schedules are busier than ever now that artists are finally getting back on the road. To keep track of what gigs are coming up I can recommend checking in with Luger, FKP Scorpio, and Live Nation. Follow your favourite venues too: sometimes they cut out the middleman and do their own booking and promotion. I also use the Bandsintown app, which comes with the added bonus of receiving messages from your favourite artists which let you pretend to be their friend. 

Enjoy the gigs, and stay safe! 

Paul O’Mahony is editorial product manager at The Local. In his spare time he plays the best new indie and alternative music as host of the Signals show on Nerve Music.