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SUMMER IN SWEDEN

MUSIC

Swedish music fans brace for summer festival frenzy

With Sweden's summer musical festival season hitting high gear, The Local's Geoff Mortimore highlights some of the hottest events taking place around the country this summer.

Swedish music fans brace for summer festival frenzy

Spending up to five days in a rain-drenched tent, knee deep in mud and facing some of the worst toilet conditions known to man, may not be everyone’s idea of a holiday, but to more and more Swedes, a music festival experience is as much part of a traditional summer as herring and singing Helan går.

Of course, the Swedish summer is often so wonderful and the entertainment so good, that some of the less positive aspects of a festival are easy to forget.

That was certainly the case at perennial favourite Sweden Rock this year, which is considered by many music fans to be the season’s annual curtain raiser.

This summer as always, there is plenty to offer up and down the country, from the bijou to the giant monsters of filth.

And whether it’s a full-on camping experience or a couple of days of cultural pampering you are after, there’s certainly at least one festival out there for you.

Starting off in the capital, this weekend sees the start of the Stockholm Jazz Festival.

Over the years it has attracted some of the world’s top performers with an eclectic mix often bordering on soul and R&B territory.

One of the country’s oldest and most well established festivals, now in its 28th year, the Stockholm Jazz Festival runs from June 16-19 with notable performances from the likes of Angie Stone, Bobby Womack, Cassandra Wilson and Chic.

Jazz fans can also enjoy more traditional flavours at the Tradjazz event from June 17-19 in Askersund in central Sweden.

If it’s the more traditional mudfest that floats your boat, Peace and Love has taken over Hultsfred’s mantle as the fastest growing biggest rock/indie festival on the calendar.

Held in Borlänge in central Sweden from June 28-July 2, it has once again attracted several big names from home and abroad, including The Strokes, Kings of Leon, Håkan Hellström and topping the bill, Bob Dylan.

Known for sometimes unconventional bookings, this year is no exception, with the reverend Jesse Jackson also stopping by for a performance.

Meanwhile, Hultsfred makes a welcome return after financial difficulties last year pulled the plug on what was Sweden’s best-known festival.

For 2011, promoters have pulled out all the stops to put together a bill which will appeal hugely to fans of British guitar and dance acts.

Suede’s reunion continues apace, Primal Scream will perform their legendary Screamadelica album in its entirety, Liam Gallagher’s new band Beady Eye play their first Swedish gig, and The Prodigy return, while dream booking Morrissey looks set to steal the show, which takes place from July 14-16.

A more intimate affair, Putte i Parken, goes on in Karlskroga from July 6-9. This much more bijou kind of festival nevertheless promises something for everyone, including The Ark, Håkan Hellström, Manic Street Preachers and a real “pop A-lister”, in Ke$ha.

The central Swedish town of Arvika also holds another long established festival, traditionally attracting a darker, more gothic crowd.

Consequently, Front 242 is sure to be a big crowd puller at this year’s festival, scheduled for July 14-16, but the likes of Adam Tensta and Royksopp will surely help lighten the mood.

Amusingly, promoters promise there will be “no quiet camping areas”!

Sweden’s oldest festival, and still going strong is Storsjöyran, which takes place from July 28-30. While not such a high-profile event, the festival has a solid history and this year will host several top Swedish acts like The Sounds, the Ark, Timbuktu, Lisa Miskovsky and Håkan Hellström along with international artists, including Peter Doherty and Marina and the Diamonds.

If camping is not your thing, then perhaps Way Out West (July 11-13) could be worth considering. The three-day-long event has become an established part of the summer circuit and as it all happens near Gothenburg, those not into slumming it can stay in a swanky hotel and just rough it with everyone else at the gigs, which include headline sets from Robyn, newly reformed Britpop faves Pulp, Kanye West and best of all, a rejuvenated Prince.

You can even avoid staying out all night at all, with several one-day festivals of note taking place around the country. Where The Action Is on June 28 in Gothenburg features Coldplay’s only Sweden show this year, ably supported by Glasvegas and Brandon Flowers from The Killers, Daniel Adams-Ray and Bright eyes, among others.

Or, on a heavier note, you can catch Slipknot’s unique take on pantomime metal at Sonisphere, outside Stockholm’s Ericsson Globe Arean on July 9, along with In Flames, Mastodon and more.

In short, if festivals are your thing, and it seems that for a large proportion of people living in Sweden, they are, then this summer you are spoilt for choice.

Happy camping!

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MUSIC

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.

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