D.A.D. / WARNER DRIVE / PRETTY MAIDS / EBBA GOLD / CRAZY LIXX / VA ROCKS / MANNY RIBERA / CRIER
Date: 03rd August, 2017
Venue: Knislinge Folkets Park
Promoter: Helgeå Festivalen
Photos: Erika Wallberg
‘Helgeå Festivalen’ in the north-eastern parts of Skåne and is labeled as the coziest festival in Sweden. And by all means, it is a very convivial event, very relaxed and friendly, all from security to other visitors. Sure, the alcohol intake reaches crazy levels on occasion and towards the end of the evening people reach a level of drunkenness rarely seen anywhere else. It’s hysteric to watch but it honestly don’t cause any problems or disturbance to the atmosphere. The weather this year though wasn’t as cheerful as the ambiance of the festival.
Swedish CRIER opened the main stage. It’s cool to see the Swedish old-school bands reform also and get back up on stage. Perhaps these guys were more local to the south of Sweden, origin from Hässleholm, so they never reached the press up north. But better late than never... As many other Swedish bands CRIER didn’t leave much to complain about, it all sounded good. They sure have some very cool riffs and good songs. “You Better Run” being one of them. I don’t know if it was the sound that took things down a bit but everything felt very... There’s no English word for it, but nothing really stood out. The show was good, songs were good, musical performance was good... I lacked that little extra twist to knock things over the edge. I can understand that looking down from the massive stage on a sparsely crowded field isn’t the most inspiring but at least it wasn’t empty as some bands had it. I think the weather was the main reason for this, it been raining most of the day and it was still grey and it kept dripping (or more) from the sky almost all night.
Brand new “Bad Reputation” showed that the band still have their nerve and can deliver good Hard Rock songs. Also “Street Fighter” worked really well and I started to hope for I’ll get to see CRIER on a smaller stage where the sound and atmosphere can be a bit more intense. It got a little funny with “Bad Booze”, CRIER’s hit from back in the days, also released on single. The MTV power ballad type of track sounded really good, it I a catchy song but it becomes a little ironic when (with the risk of quoting it wrong) the lyrics goes something like; I will never cut my hair and the band consists of a bunch of very well cropped gentlemen. Anyway, I really liked the song and it sure made me remember CRIER so I guess it’s good with that.
But yes, CRIER left a positive impression on me and I love it that the festival pushes local bands as well and let them up on the main stage. It adds to the familiar and genuine the festival benefits from and sets it apart from many other. And CRIER did good and with that a very good start of the festival.
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Looking at the schedule, I realized there were a lot of bands I’d never heard of on the bill. In a way, this is very interesting but it also makes it harder to write about it. I decided to not check out the bands here, not more than a brief check what style they were all about and let the first impression be input for the report. MANNY RIBERA was one of those bands and the old school metalhead in me was a bit reluctant to their appearance initially. But the band impressed on the musical level. Not exactly what I listen to every day but the DANZIG-vibe in their modern Hard Rock caught my attention. Opening “Into The Great Unknown” sat a good mood from start. And it continued in the same way. The downside was that nothing really got stuck, it all sounded good but compared to CRIER, nothing stuck like “Bad Booze”...
That MANNY RIBERA is a hard working band with a plan, there’s no doubt about. Their set was really polished and they got the crowd moving with them. As they’re not local, from Enköping if remember correctly, so they didn’t have the same benefit of friends showing up like CRIER. It’s great to see that the crowd woke up and joined in with MANNY RIBERA after a few songs.
For “Keep ‘em Down”, guitar tech Mikael Åkesson was lured out on stage and got a guitar. He got to play a song with the band while Peter Larsson focused fully on the vocals. It felt spontaneous and became good fun to watch.
The fact that the band possesses great musical talent got clear as the set also featured AUDIOSLAVE’s “Be Yourself”. Chris Cornell was a fabulous vocalist with a unique nerve in his voice. But this one too sounded very good, flawless even if Peter had to work harder for the notes compared to how it appeared when Chris sung it. So it was definitely two out of two good shows this far on the festival.
I had seen so many positive posts about VA ROCKS after their performance on ‘Sweden Rock Festival’ among other things that I was really looking forward to see them. Again, I had no idea about their music and frankly, when they started I realized it’s a bit outside of what I listen to every day, a little too soft and Rock-oriented.
It was very cool to see how Ida Svensson Vollmer handled the thing though. She seemed very relaxed and comfortable up on that massive stage and performed with great ease and attitude. She’s a true talent and possesses a great musicality. But really, she was the show. Ok, the attitude all over was ok but, and I hate to say this, if VA ROCKS would have been guys they’d never have gotten to play here. Frida Rosén has good beat but she really needs to focus on playing instead of posing behind the drums. Her waving with the sticks really affected the groove and drive in the music. Perhaps it works better on small stage but here it fell rather flat and I could not keep my interest up for the whole show.
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I did know CRAZY LIXX before. I’ve seen them a couple of times opening up for major acts and every time they’ve grown, become better and better. It’s hard to let go of a first impression though so I expected nothing from them here. But damn was I in for a treat. CRAZY LIXX have become a very well oiled live-machine and they sounded fantastic. It’s tight and energetic and just adequately filthy. They managed to balance the cool with fun in a fantastic way and have just enough of that untouchable Rock-star attitude. Also, I’ve come around lately and admit I really like much of the Glam Rock, both new and old.
CRAZY LIXX also have a feature in the “Friday 13:th” video game with the song “XIII”, a very good one and it’s cool that this happens to a fairly small Swedish band. And here I started to realize I really need to give CRAZY LIXX a listen. This performance was top-class, fun to watch and truly professional and really did the songs justice. It’s a shame I didn’t know more of them though. Last one out “21 ‘til I Die” I knew though and that one too sounded much better than I remember it to. So yes, CRAZY LIXX swiped most competition off the floor with this performance but the bill featured two of my favorite bands of the Festival, could they beat that too?
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PRETTY MAIDS was one of the main reasons I wanted to go to ‘Helgeå Festival’. I got hooked from the first time I heard “Future World” and I’ve been a fan ever since. (Even if I kind of lost track of them a few years around the “Stripped” album) They’ve always put on amazing performances and I was really thrilled to see and “shoot” them here since the lights on the main stage were fantastic from start to finish. The sky turned freakishly dark though as gig time approached and a few notes into their set it opened wide, the rain was pouring down harder that a shower of full pressure. I still stayed and tried to get some good photos but it sure was hard. “Mother Of All Lies” went on like planned but a verse into “Kingmaker” the power went and everything got dark and quiet. Bummer... Getting out of the photo-pit I realized it was about 10-20cm water all over the field drowning everything and it was just to run through it trying to find some sort of shelter from the rain until the issue got sorted.
I was actually surprised that the band kicked off again about 15-20 minutes later and that most of the water had sunk into the ground. It was still a bit of a hassle to get to the front which made only the die-hard fans give it a go. PRETTY MAIDS continued in the same grand way with another new one “I.N.V.U.”. The atmosphere there in the front was fantastic, everyone present really tried to make the best of it and support the band. And with that disaster was turned to fun. It of course sucks that PRETTY MAIDS had to cut their set very short due to the power outage but the things they played and what they played was fantastic, they really gave all to make up for the time lost. Ironically “Little Drops Of Heaven” came a suitable song for the day only it wasn’t little drops... The highlight in this second half was “Future World”, I still hold that album and song as one of the best things ever released so it is always a pleasure to hear it live.
It wasn’t really the set I had hoped for of course but it turned out great anyway and it is awesome to see a band push it as hard as PRETTY MAIDS does, every time. After all these years they’re still going strong and is one of the best live-acts around.
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I’m normally not a fan of cover or tribute acts but since Peter Gustavsson is an old friend from the days he played with Glam act QUEEN OBSCENE, I had to go and see EBBA GOLD anyway. And, as the original band, EBBA GRÖN has disbanded since long this kind of serves the purpose and keeps the legacy alive about one of the most influential bands in Swedish Punk Rock history. They are well-renowned in the scene so it was a great pleasure to see it all, the songs stands strong to this day also but they certainly had the weather (as well as the storm hitting the PRETTY MAIDS show) against them. My camera started to act up and when it started dripping again I decided to walk away, unfortunately as it sounded very good. The dynamics was there as well as the attitude. I’ve seen so many others doing after-ski versions of these songs but this really felt genuine and real. But D.A.D. tempted me more and I’d rather push the extra mile for that...
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When it was time for D.A.D. the skies had cleared up and everything turned into that nice and cosy atmosphere the festival claims to have Soaking wet of course it got a bit chilly but nothing more than D.A.D. could heat up. It was hard to believe how huge D.A.D. is in Denmark the first time I saw them at ‘Copenhell’ where their stage set was massive. They’ve done big shows in Sweden too but not like that. This was a bit smaller of course but still a creative and ambitious stage set. They’re odd and fun, I mean, to have everything appear to be tipped over 45 degrees is just bad crazy.
What I loved with this show was that Jesper Binzer talked Swedish in between the songs. His accent is bit odd which he is aware of and kept asking the crowd if they understood what he was talking about. But what he said and the way he said it was so charming and really did the trick to overcome wet feet and the freezing cold.
“No Fuel Left For The Pilgrims” is an old time favourite of mine and to get some songs off of that one is always great! The crowd agreed and “Girl Nation” got a very good response. I was actually surprised how big the crowd had gotten here and how intense the support was for D.A.D. The crowds have been about the same size earlier years for the headliners too but not the response. This became very clear in “Laugh ‘n’ A Half” which was introduced as; You really like this one in Sweden. I NEVER expected the crowd to know every single word of the song. For Jesper it came natural as he just waited for the crowd to do the work and it was massive, so damn cool and the absolute best moments of the festival. 100% participation and devotion to the band from the crowd is a phenomenal experience and it came unexpected for me.
For “Scare Yourself” the crowd was asked to scare drummer Laust Sonne as much as they would... Did he really say it? That the crowd should scream so loud to make Laust do No 2 in his pants... It didn’t work as well as the singing for “Laugh n’ A Half” but almost. And it became really funny because the majority of the crowd reacted as I did. Jesper couldn’t have said THAT, could he??? But yes, he certainly did.
One of the things I really like with D.A.D. is that they come up with all sort of small things to enhance the show. For the encores, for “Sleeping My Day Away” bassist Stig Pedersen had put sparklers in his helmet and virtually became a human torch on stage, another fantastic edition to an already fabulous show. It actually felt a bit sad when “It’s After Dark” kicked off and marked the end of the show. I realized the ride had lasted for almost 90 minutes but it felt like no time at all. It felt like a very good wrap up for the first day of this Rock circus though and I, as well as the rest of the crowd was very happy with what we got.
It sure was a very good first day of the festival despite the rain. The bands did well but of course the weather affected the support the bands got. It’s never fun to hang out in the rain. I was really hoping the following days would serve better conditions but it sure didn’t look that way looking at the weather report.
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