HARD ROCK’S SURPRISE POWERHOUSE MUSIC FESTIVAL
Show Date: May 1, 2010
Location: Stockholm, Sweden
Venue: Gamla Tryckeriet
Reviewer: Fat Peter
Band Website: www.sthlmrockout.com
Stockholm Rock Out 2010 was supposed to be the first edition of a festival dedicated solely to hard rock music — situated in the capital of Sweden, Stockholm.
From the start the event was marked with bad luck. Thanks to the volcanic eruptions in Iceland, which basically stopped the majority of plane flights over Europe, some of the festival major stars from the United States couldn’t make it. So the organizers changed the festival formula from an international hard rock extravaganza to a one day European collection of the highest quality.
The result was that the majority of bands came from Scandinavia. First off were some lesser known openers, who would not draw much of a crowd but would give their best to arise some interest throughout organizers and their more seasoned peers. Out of these bands one particularly stood out — Dust — who, although playing for a smaller crowd, gave their best like they were playing to a full stadium.
After the openers in came the middleweights Fatal Smile. Here is what I don’t get about this band… they have it all, a flamboyant and good-looking front man, all the technical prowess and catchy songs. Why they only managed to drag in a crowd no bigger than Dust‘s is beyond my understanding. Anyway, after Fatal Charm‘s set in came one of the first Scandinavian starlets — Babylon Bombs. The band played a shortened set, and introduced their new frontman Wick, who seemed like he fit into the band well.
After their short ‘set’ in came the first local heavyweight — Chris Laney. The producer/musician responsible for some great Zan Clan tunes (with the former Shotgun Messiah singer Zinny J Zan), and who released one of the best albums of 2009, came in not only to promote his brand new CD (which at the time of the show had yet to be officially released) but to kick some serious ass. No holds barred — his performance was top notch and very energetic, consisting of songs from both his debut and sophomore album Only Come Out At Night. The biggest surprise though was that by the end of his set he introduced the crowd to his old friend Zinny, who brought along original Shotgun Messiah drummer Stixx — so the audience got a small Shotgun Messiah reunion (if you can call it that). People went absolutely crazy for this part, which only showed that memories of great hard rock acts from the ’80s/’90s still live on.
After Chris Laney in came Swedish sleaze rock veterans Nasty Idols. These guys are no youngsters, but they came out ready to show the younger bands how the rock should be chiseled. They went like a storm through their classics but didn’t forget to drop in some of their newer material from their last CD Boys Town. What caught my attention was that although in their 40’s, the Nasty Idols — particularly vocalist Andy Pierce and bassist Dick Qwarfort — were immensely dynamic. Not that being 40 means you’re an old-timer, but these guys were all over the stage putting some of their younger peers to shame and the crowd was ecstatic.
The next band on the stage was Vains Of Jenna — a Swedish act who hit it big in the United States. This show was special to them because it was the first in their home country with their new singer Jesse Forte. Before the show I was talking to some hardcore Vains Of Jenna fans who were very skeptical about the new frontman. First, he is not Swedish but American, and second he succeeded the definite crowd favorite Lizzy Devine. Needless to say the band was in for a challenge but they handled it perfectly — and Jesse Forte, a crowd pleasing animal, won the heart of the audience quickly. At times he reminded me of the golden era of David Lee Roth (sans the cheesy jokes).
After the Vains Of Jenna show ended the crowd multiplied as it was clear that the band coming next was a definite fan favorite. When the lights went out, the screams almost tore the roof off… CrashDiet had hit the stage. This fairly young band, already having quite a history behind them (three singers in tow, the first one a victim of suicide), are a hit in Sweden. They also introduced their new frontman, Simon Cruz, who looked and acted like a young Sebastian Bach. In anarchy mode the band wiped the room with their biggest hits from both their debut and the recent Generation Wild albums — the interesting thing is that they didn’t play a single song from their sophomore CD, which may be due to the fact that they recorded it with another singer and didn’t want anything to do with that… but that is just an assumption.
After the parade of the best Swedish sleaze rock acts (the only ones I can think of missing were the upstarts Crazy Lixx and the veterans Europe) in came the first foreign star — XYZ. The band, which consists of original members Terry Ilous and bassist Pat Fontaine with some ‘new’ players (with the band since 1992, but not appearing on their two original CDs) in Tony Marcus and Joey Shapiro, put out one hell of a show. It seemed like it would be impossible to ignite the crowd even more after the treatment they got from their local favorites, but Terry Ilous and the crew definitely stood up to the task. One thing came to my mind after their show — Ilous has one of the best trained and technically advanced voices in hard rock today, an undiscovered gem in my opinion.
The last band of the festival was Cardiff, UK’s very own Tigertailz. Known as one of the best, and definitely most underestimated acts of the late ’80s/early ’90s hard rock scene, they came in strong with a new bassist replacing the gone, but not forgotten, Pepsi Tate. Not a lot of sleaze rock bands have the balls to include a woman musician, but one Sarah Firebrand, the new, and permanent Tigertailz bass player fits the band perfectly. All in all the band played a well executed set to an audience which seemed a bit fatigued at the end of this very energetic night.
Two things stood out for me during this mini-festival. First, the band members were mingling with the crowd after their sets almost instantly, not afraid (nor stuck-up) to meet up with people, talk, drink, sign stuff and pose for photographs. There were no primadonnas there as everyone was very cool. Second, Sweden seems to have developed a strong scene for this kind of music. There a lot of great bands, some are better than others, and there are some outstanding ones. One particular dude, who looked like he had been in a Civil War, told me that he came to Stockholm all the way from the States to see all these young bands and he said he felt an atmosphere that reminded him of mid ’80s LA. I think this statement sums up Stockholm Rock Out very well.
Check out part two of Stockholm Rock Out, on September 10th and 11th, with the likes of Tuff, Great White, Shameless, Keel and Lizzy Borden rocking the Stage. And one evening on October 16th part three takes place with W.A.S.P., Kix, Steelheart, Dizzy Reed and many others. The Stockholm Rock out Festival really is worth a visit if you are somewhere close to northern Europe.