Everyone knows that Sweden Rock Festival has been growing the past few years since it’s partnership with Live Nation started. Last year the growing pains were obvious to fans as the festival area was more crowded than ever before. With headliners like Iron Maiden and Judas Priest, of course it was a sell out event, but noticeable to fans was less access to toilets, longer lines to food carts and walking areas overflowing with fans making a bit of a log jam for people trying to move around the festival site.
This year had a few hiccups as well, the first major one being the entry to the festival site on Thursday. A number of the first bands didn’t have much of a crowd because festival goers got stuck trying to get through the gates. The main entry was jammed all the way back down into the walkway leading into camping. The lower entry by Sweden Rock Shop also had a long line of fans trying to get in with many upset they were missing bands they’d been wanting to see. It didn’t matter if you had a general admission wrist band or VIP wrist band, everyone was jammed up and the VIP entry was also being blocked by fans just the general area crowded in tightly trying to get it.
The other noticeable issues this year were again, the walking spaces to maneuver around the site being over crowded and the change to the main food vendor area causing it to have issues with overcrowding as well making it not ideal for hungry fans to get food. The toilet situation from last year was fixed this year which was appreciated greatly by fans.
But there were also improvements this year with an additional bar area overlooking the festival on the hill above the Sweden Stage, an option of a few new food vendors, but also the loss of a few that have been there for years that I even found myself looking for, my one tried and true safe spot to eat with food allergies was gone this year. So for me and a few others, that made navigating food options a bit harder, but was still manageable.
One thing that stayed this year was the split barrier down the middle of the audience area at the Festival and Rock stages. That’s one thing I still don’t like. Why? Because in years past the Festival stage was extended with a catwalk out into the audience allowing fans to get closer to the bands and in a giant festival like this, it makes a difference to fans who are far back and can’t see anyone on stage. I’ve always appreciated those catwalks in big events like these simply because it allows more fans to feel close to the bands. I do get the reason why they split it for more crowd control and safety, but they could still extend the stage out into that long barrier space somewhat while still keeping the barrier.
So back to the gigs of the day. The day kicked off with Canadian’s The Wild, a band I love! And while I had to miss them being stuck in the long lines to the entry, I could at least hear them. As always they sounded great!! Once I managed to get myself inside by begging people to let me past so I could reach the VIP entry, I ran fast to get to the Rockklassiker stage. For me, the Thursday of Sweden Rock Festival is always about the NEMIS bands and Studiefrämjandet! You’ve heard me talking about this year after year and I will keep doing it as long as they keep putting this one and bring local bands to perform at the festival.
This year I was there for every single NEMIS performance! There were some great bands, some good bands and one in particular that just wasted the opportunity that was given to them that so many other bands fought for and were denied. This year’s program was a mix of rock and metal with Cobra Cult, Gravestone, The Generations Army, Electric Hydra, BatAAr, In Silence, Sins In Vain and Scarlet. The highlights for me were Cobra Cult, The Generations Army and Scarlet. A mix of rock n roll with a bit of punk infusion from Cobra Cult, a massive thrashing from The Generations Army and a raging performance by Scarlet made it clear to my why I keep my eyes on this program year after year. The only band in this program that should have just bowed out and given their slot to another band was BatAAr.
Before the festival even arrived BatAAr made an announcement they were parting ways and that their last performance as a band would be at Sweden Rock Festival, yet their performance couldn’t even be classified as a performance. It was clear the band didn’t want to perform together with an uncomfortable stage show and they sounded terrible, not just off, but complete garbage. They should have had the decency to give up their slot and have NEMIS offer it to another active band who really wanted to put on a great live gig. To come this festival with the lack of respect for the program, festival and the other bands who fought to get there and deliver that kind of performance it just pathetic and should never be done. For that, I will not be following any members into their new projects, such a huge disappointment and there is no excuse for that, ever.
In between the NEMIS bands, I was running from stage to stage to catch the action. The round up of regular festival gigs included Three Days Grace, Krokus, Arch Enemy, Amon Amarth, Tenacious D, Def Leppard and of course…. Slayer. The one thing about the lineup, there will always be bands you miss! For me, I rarely get to stay put for an entire set, because I want to squeeze in many bands, so I often split sets when there’s two competing bands I really want to see but this year, I dialed it back a bit and watched much more of a bands full set than ever before! It was a different experience this time around and still enjoyable! From the non NEMIS bands I checked out, I have to say that Krokus and Amon Amarth were two of my favorite sets. Krokus, of course with them retiring I had to see them one last time, and while I didn’t get the entire set, I got most of it and what a great memory that gig made for many of the fans there wanting one last live show with them.
Then, Amon Amarth…. to my understanding there was some stage shuffling for them as Slayer was supposed to have been on the Festival stage but because of their lighting on this tour, they needed a set time after dark so Amon Amarth landed on the Festival stage, while Slayer took the Rock stage later in the evening. For me, this was AMAZING!!! AMON AMARTH on the biggest festival stage in Sweden with FULL PYRO…. I don’t normally geek out in the photo pit… but for this set with the ultimate vikings and the amount of pyro they used I was a moth to a flame! Anyone who knows me, knows that is the key to my metal loving heart! But then there is the flip side, Sweden Rock has ruined a number of bands for me over the years… Sabaton and Dark Funeral included. Why? Because I know I will never get shows like these in the USA. Pyro like this is just not something that is common in the USA. So when I get to experience the ultimate gigs with bands I dig in all there pyro glory, it is really hard to ever forget that and I know it won’t be something I’ll ever see when they tour my homeland.
There is a reason I come back to Sweden Rock Festival every year, I am hooked on world class performances, new bands I will never see back home and to me it’s the perfect size festival, not too small, but not too massive either. Day two was a win! If I’d had to go home after this day, I would have been satisfied, but…. two more days to go and some of my favorite bands to look forward to, so onward we go to day three!
Day 2 Running Order:
11:30-12:15 The Wild! CAN – 4Sound Stage
12:15-13:15 Blaze Bayley UK – Rock Stage
12:15-13:15 Lillasyster (Nationaldagsfirande) SE – Sweden Stage
12:30-13:10 Cobra Cult SE – Rockklassiker Stage (NEMIS)
13:15-14:15 Blackberry Smoke US – Festival Stage
13:15-14:15 Seventh Wonder SE – 4Sound Stage
13:50-14:30 Gravestone SE – Rockklassiker Stage (NEMIS)
14:30-15:45 Powerwolf GER/ROM – Rock Stage
14:30-15:45 Three Days Grace CAN – Sweden Stage
15:10-15:50 The Generations Army SE – Rockklassiker Stage (NEMIS)
16:00-17:15 Krokus SUI – Festival Stage
16:00-17:00 Sir Reg SE/IRE – 4Sound Stage
16:50-17:30 Electric Hydra SE – Rockklassiker Stage (NEMIS)
17:30-18:45 Arch Enemy SE/CAN – Rock Stage
17:30-18:45 Lucifer SE – Sweden Stage
18:10-18:50 BatAAr SE – Rockklassiker Stage (NEMIS)
19:00-20:30 Amon Amarth SE – Festival Stage
19:00-20:00 A.C.T SE – 4Sound Stage
19:30-20:10 In Silence SE – Rockklassiker Stage (NEMIS)
20:45-22:15 Tenacious D US – Rock Stage
21:00-22:00 Deadland Ritual UK/US – Sweden Stage
21:00-22:00 Sins in Vain SE – Rockklassiker Stage (NEMIS)
22:30-00:00 Def Leppard UK – Festival Stage
23:00-00:00 Scarlet SE – Rockklassiker Stage (NEMIS)
00:00-01:30 Slayer US – Rock Stage
00:00-01:00 FM UK – 4Sound Stage
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