Hultsfred sets off a rocking Swedish summer

June is festival time in Sweden. Outdoor concerts, folding chairs and trailers, tent cities and traffic jams are the common themes that will unite a host of disparate entertainments, from the Monster Rock of Lordi to the more genteel option of baroque music in the royal palaces. David Stavrou picks out the best of the month ahead

American singer and song writer Lou Reed has confirmed he will be playing at the Hultsfred Rock Festival which is to take place in South East Sweden between 15th and 17th June.

Reed started his career in the 60’s with the New York-based group The Velvet Underground. His collaboration with musician John Cale and artist Andy Warhol created music the like of which was never heard before, combining avant-garde sound and daring lyrics with non compromising underground music.

His subsequent solo career produced hits including “Walk on the Wild Side”, “Satellite of Love” and “Perfect Day”. Though some of his later albums were disappointing, others are important rock milestones. “Berlin”, a dark tale of addiction, violence and despair, is a masterpiece, “New York” is an important political statement and “Magic and Loss” is a sad, mature and thoughtful album made after a friend’s death of cancer.

During the last few years, besides touring, Reed has widened his artistic activities, adding poetry and photography to his music making.

Other major acts taking place in the Hultsfred festival will be Finnish Eurovision contest winners, Lordi, American rock band The Strokes and Sweden’s favorite rock band, Kent. Swedish bands The Cardigans, The Soundtrack of our Lives and The Sounds will also be making an appearance.

Staying in the south of Sweden, the small village of Norje in Sölvesborg will host some of the loudest artists in the world with a festival focusing on what the organizers call “the heavier aspects of music”.

Tens of thousands of hard core heavy metal fans will pack the grounds of one of Europe’s main rock festivals. “The festival celebrates bands and artists with a glorious past but does not forget the talents of today, and of course, future heavy weights”, say the organizers. Glorious past bands this year include Def Leppard, Whitesnake, Deep Purple and Alice Cooper.

If you live in the far North of Sweden and want to hear screaming rock singers and distorted guitars you better start making your way down south. But if you are more of a Jazz fan, you might want to consider staying home. The Kalottjazz & Blues Festival is the largest jazz celebration in the far north. It is an international event which takes place in Tornio and Haparanda “where Finnish and Swedish cultures quite literally come together” according to promoters.

“The festival will invigorate these twin border towns for four days and nights of jazz and blues, with artists from around the globe performing in concert halls, in a jazz marquee, in town squares and in clubs”. The Kalottjazz & Blues Festival opens on the 29th of June and goes on till July 2nd.

For Stockholm music lovers, the annual “Taste of Stockholm” festival will be an exciting beginning for the summer. Located in Kungsträdgården, “Smaka På Stockholm” offers eclectic mix of music, culture, entertainment and sports from June 1st till June 6th.

Events will take place daily from noon to 11pm and will include two stages with a variety of musical shows. Swedish musicians playing pop, rock, gospel, country, jazz, classical and folk music will all take the stage. Some of the big names to appear are the duo Nordman, Little Gerhard, Sweden’s first rock king, guitarist Eric Borelius, and rock band Eldkvarn.

Stockholms Operetta Ensemble, The Royal Swedish Ballet School and The Stockholm based dance ensemble Bounce Streetdance Company, will also perform on the Kugsträdgården stages.

Sweden’s National Day celebrations, on June 6th, will be the highlight of the festival. The party will include shows by the legendary 88 year old Cuban pianist and composer, Bebo Valdes, the Electric Banana Band, and 2005 Swedish Grammy awards winner, Christian Walz.

”We support “Smaka På Stockholm” because we want to present the fantastic variety of experiences available in Stockholm”, says Annika Billström, Stockholm’s Mayor. With its hundreds of thousands of visitors, the festival is Sweden’s largest annual event.

Other interesting June gigs in Stockholm include British pop duo, The Pet Shop Boys who will play at Cirkus on June 16th, following the release of their latest album Fundamental. Cirkus will also host American singer-song writer Tracy Chapman on June 19th.

American metal band Down will give a concert at Klubben on June 6th as part of their first ever European tour. Guns’n’Roses, will play at Globen on June 26th and Canadian singer, Michael Bublé will perform there on June 5th.

For lovers of Classical music and especially renaissance and baroque music, the first four days of June offer Stockholm’s fifth Early Music Festival. The events will take place in Gamla Stan’s churches and royal halls, under the patronage of Queen Silvia. “It’s never too late for early music,” is the slogan of festival’s organizers who expect a large turnout for the concerts, events and seminars.

For more information:

Hultsfred rock festival tickets: 1360 SEK

Sweden’s rock festival tickets: three days tickets1460 SEK, one day tickets 660 SEK.

Kalottjazz & Blues Festival some shows free, others between 50-180 SEK

Taste of Stockholm festival free entry

Early music festival some shows are free, others between 50-220SEK

David Stavrou