Virtuosity, Drama, and Big Hair
The epic, annual Sweden Rock Festival attracts approximately 33,000 visitors from upwards of fifty countries. And it takes place on five stages installed on a sprawling grass field at the edge of the Baltic Sea, near the scenic Swedish hamlet of SÃ¶lvesborg. The festival is focused on hard rock and metal of the dramatic, virtuosic sort — typified by reigning superstars of the big-hair era such as Aerosmith, The Scorpions, Judas Priest and MÃ¶tley CrÃ¼e. And key to its longevity is festival organizers’ efforts to cultivate an atmosphere of camaraderie, cleanliness, and hospitality.
Founded in 1992, Sweden Rock Festival has morphed from a relatively modest, daylong affair with nine performers into a world-renowned extravaganza. In short, it’s a metalhead’s fantasy fest. Festival organizers have continuously leveraged its swelling popularity to attract increasingly prominent marquee acts and forge mutually beneficial partnerships — not least with concert promotions titan Live Nation, which recently acquired a majority stake in the company. Since 2006, the festival has occurred over four days in the summer.
Sweden Rock Festival occurs at the edge of the Baltic Sea near SÃ¶lvesborg, a historic port town with a population of approximately 10,000 that serves as the event’s main transportation hub. There are five fantastically bedazzled stages, and photos from recent years show bustling-yet-navigable grounds teeming with options for local food and refreshments amid breathtaking, lovely scenery.
Flavors of Metal
For Aerosmith’s 2017 farewell tour, the band chose Sweden Rock Festival as its only Swedish appearance. That sort of clout colors the festival’s bookings in general, which have also featured new wave of British heavy metal (NWOBHM) figureheads Venom and esteemed contemporary black metal artist Myrkur alongside heavyweights Kansas, In Flames, and dozens more. It’s the sort of delightfully geeky metal event where the festival’s website carefully parses the stylistic inclinations of each artist — from power-metal to speed-metal to thrash and grind — and the same sort of conversations occur among patrons between sets.
“Joy and community” is how festival organizers sum up “the spirit of Sweden Rock” — a calm and friendly atmosphere to represent the country to the world at this decidedly international affair. Organizers also emphasize Sweden Rock Festival’s cleanliness, with over 200 employees continuously assigned to festival grounds upkeep and maintenance; each patch of grass, in other words, is fit for sitting. And impressively for an event of this size, lines to food and facilities remain manageable thanks to organizers’ diligent planning and expertise.