A live music sampler for Stockholm in September

If you're looking for a way to offset the chill of September in Sweden, there is no shortage of concerts to choose from on Stockholm stages, writes David Stavrou.

A live music sampler for Stockholm in September

After a summer full of festivals, September marks the start of Stockholm’s music scene’s migration from the great outdoors to the city’s many clubs, theatres and indoor venues. One international pop legend, one prince of darkness, a Scottish singer-songwriter and lots of American rock bands are in store for Stockholm music-lovers this month.

The first big name to visit Stockholm in September is Sting, who will arrive in town with The Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra—which also accompanied him on his latest album, Symphonicities. The album is a collection of Sting’s songs interpreted as symphonic pieces, and features some of his most well-known songs, as well as some lesser-known ones, both from his solo career and from The Police days. While terrible things can happen to pop songs and to rock music when they’re given so-called classical arrangement, Sting’s album is well crafted and his music doesn’t turn banal or kitsch.

Most people attending the Stockholm show on September 9th will probably consider it a brilliant reworking of the classics (especially songs like “We Work the Black Seam”). Others might see the album and the concert as another “greatest hits” project in disguise, depriving great songs of their genuine and authentic feeling (especially police classics like “Roxanne”). For his many dedicated fans though, it’s guaranteed to be a memorable night.

The night before Sting steps onstage at the Ericsson Globe arena, the world’s largest hemispherical building will host one of the world’s most famous rockers. Ozzy Osbourne, whose musical career started in the late 60’s, may be better known nowadays for the reality series based on his family’s life and various other commercial ventures. But it will be all about the music in the September gig. Ozzy is promoting his latest album, Scream, but he’s sure to perform many of his earlier career and Black Sabbath’s metal anthems too, to the certain delight of his loyal fans.

For those who are looking for a more intimate setting than Globen to experience music, a new venue for acoustic and semi-acoustic shows will be opening its doors to the public on September 10th and 11th. Its name is Bryggarsalen and it’s located in an old brewery in Vasastan. Swedish internationally acclaimed rock band The Soundtrack of Our Lives will be there for the opening with their acoustic set.

Scottish singer-songwriter, Amy Macdonald, will perform in Stockholm as part of her current tour of Western Europe. 23 year old Macdonald released her second album, A Curious Thing, in March this year almost three years after her breakthrough first album, This is the Life. Her songwriting and her powerful voice have earned her both wide commercial success and positive reviews worldwide. Her Stockholm concert will be at Berns on September 22nd.

A few interesting concerts will take place this month further away from the mainstream. Rock club, Debaser, for example, will host many American upcoming rock bands in two of its Stockholm locations. One of them is Jeffrey Lewis and the Junkyards. Lewis is a diverse musician, writer and comic artist born and raised in NYC. He will bring his songs, with their clever humoristic lyrics and their simple punk and anti-folk influenced music, to Stockholm on September 11th.

Originally from Berkeley, California, The Morning Benders are an indie-rock group which gained some success with Talking Through Tin Cans, their first album from 2008. They have now released their second, Big Echo, which has some pretty songs and a nice, easygoing west-coast feeling to it. The band will be touring Europe during September before heading back to tour the US in October. They’re coming to Stockholm on September 17th.

Another California band to play Debaser is Citay. The band, which was founded in 2004 as a studio project in San-Francisco, has a great 60’s psychedelic folk-rock sound and it’s on its first European tour which includes three Swedish dates (the Stockholm stop is on September 25th when the band will play Debaser before Vancouver-based psychedelic group Black Mountain).

Södra Teatern will host a couple of experimental international musical shows in September. On the 14th, German composer and multi-instrumentalist, Michael Rother will introduce the music of NEU!, his highly influential band from the 70’s. The current band is named Hallogallo and it includes Steve Shelley, Sonic Youth’s drummer.

Matias Aguayo, will play also Södra Teatern on September 18th. His current musical style is hard to define. It starts out as electronic dance music but it’s influenced by both his Chilean background and his earlier techno work and it’s full of interesting rhythms and a heavy use of the human voice.

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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.