INTERVIEW: 'Summer is the best time to see live music in Sweden'

Richard Orange
Richard Orange - [email protected]
INTERVIEW: 'Summer is the best time to see live music in Sweden'
Samira Manners performing. Photo: Nikolai Hemmingsson

This summer in Sweden music is everywhere, with more and more big festivals competing for the holiday crowds, intimate local events, and guerilla gigs by some big names. We spoke to the English-Swedish singer-songwriter Samira Manners about why Sweden goes crazy for music when the sun shines.


Manners, who was brought up in Malmö with an English father and a Swedish mother, launched her career during the Melodifestivalen song contest, when she performed her song "I want to be loved" in the second round at Stockholm's Globe Arena, since when she has launched two albums, "Samira's Little EP" and "How-to-be-decent-guide". 

This summer she's performing at the Sommar Rock Svedala festival and touring as an opening act for indie rock veterans Weeping Willows. 

"Summer is everything for Swedish performers, because that's where we earn our money," she told The Local.

"And there are only about two and a half, maybe three months of hot weather in Sweden, where it's kind of decent to be outside, which means summer festivals and summer gigs are really important, because you only get that small amount of time, and then the rest of the time, it's cold and dark." 

After the pandemic, Sweden's summer live music scene is on overdrive, with big new festivals springing up, and top global acts like Beyonce, Elton John, Bruce Springsteen, and Coldplay all playing big concerts in Sweden. 

Malmö alone now has three huge festivals, the new South Ocean Festival, which was held on the weekend, then the Big Slap house music festival at the start of August, and then the free Malmö Festival put on by the municipality itself.  

"There are so many festivals right now. Like Malmo, my hometown, is having three huge festivals, and it's just weird because Malmo isn't that big. It's only about 300,000 people. I find that very interesting." 

The Lollapalooza festival in Stockholm. Photo: Caisa Rasmussen/TT

Last week Manners went to the Lollapalooza festival in Stockholm and she's seeing Coldplay in Gothenburg this week, but she says she often prefers going to gigs and festivals in smaller cities, as the audience can be more enthusiastic. 


"For me, it's really important that there's at least two or three acts that I'm going to love or that I really like, because I feel like if you're going to spend your money, you want to spend it and know that you're going to enjoy the music. That's what I go for," she says. 

"But it's always fun going to the smaller places, because there the people are just so excited for bigger artists to come like, 'Ah, yes, finally!'". 

Festivals in smaller towns, like Sommar Rock Svedala, can be quite heavy on Dansband, the Swedish live music genre that combines rock and roll, schlager, country music and swing, she warns. 

"It's got a lot of accordion. It's quite traditional, quite old-fashioned, but very popular, particularly down here in the south." 

Then there are the more niche festivals, like Sweden Rock, which was held in the small city of Sölvesborg between June 5th and June 8th, or the Blues and Roots festival in Mönsterås at the end of May. 


"The people that go there, they go there every year and they kind of find their own family there and they're very into the scene," Manners says of this kind of festival. "It's not only about the music, but more about the atmosphere." 

The band Svenska Ghost performs at the Sweden Rock festival in June. Photo: Fredrik Sandberg/TT

Her only worry about the sheer amount of live music events being held in Sweden this summer is that, as the economic downturn starts to bite, the supply of events will exceed the willingness or ability of people to pay. 

"It's an odd thing to see how many festivals there are at a time when people are really holding their money tight," she said. "I think that they'll maybe look at who's coming and find a few they like, and they'll put their money into that. But then they might not go to other concerts in the summer. Because it's just too expensive right now."


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