Monday, June 16, 2008

Never mind the trossachs

It was an early start on Thursday and everything went according to the open-ended plan. Arriving at the Centralen just a smidge past 1pm, I had just texted (people who know me will be sniggering now) Qina as she was walking toward me. This gal is so organised she’d even found the time to collect Ollekarlsson earlier that morning.

So from there we headed for Björkhagen station and a spot of orienteering around the woods in that hood. Absolutely beautiful, like the Golden Gate park crossed with the Trossachs. Qina was looking after her brother’s dog, Nemi and a more ideal place to walk (er, maybe that should read run) an animal perhaps doesn’t exist. Oh yeah, and I was charged with the responsibility of taking Ollekarlsson to Nenne, which is something of an honour that doesn’t come along every day.

Due to a hectic schedule, this was the only time I got to see Qina this trip. She was headed for the tranquility of her summer house and I was generally headed for the opposite of that which translated into a very fine time. There was a vibe of utter symmetry to the whole entchilada, to the point to being able to meet Nick at the subway station on the way to Jocke and Hanna’s where I was staying.

From there, we headed for Solna for The Nomads show in the park where it all began, back to the source. The great Hans Ostlund still lives in that part of the city and tonight on their own turf, the band provides an abject lesson in rock’n’roll supremecy. As you know, I can bang on about how important this combo is for hours. I even talked to a guy at the airport yesterday that said he’d check them out in light of their being responsible for The Hellacopters. The campaign never ends and never shall. A lot of old faces and family was present and it was a privilege to be there.

Nenne had turned up too and I made the safe transfer of Ollekarllson, with this guy comes great responsibility. I think he was pleased to see her. I was too. Robert Johnson introduced me to Playboy Marse, the man who has joined Punchdrunks and the word on the pavie is that this is perhaps the coolest incarnation yet. Always a blast to meet up with Jens “Ubi” Lagergren and he told me they were just about to start mixing the new Hello Saferide record due in September.

Organised by Black Sheep, this is an annual event that encourages music in the area. The show also provided a platform for the debut public performance of I Are Droid.

So do they deliver? Do they meet the mighty criteria that their album suggests?? Could they???

Well of course, I’m not sure that I’ve ever seen an outright first show by a band before. Probably not. The sound of the PA was unfeasibly good for outdoors as The Nomads had just proven. It was loud and very clear, something that isn’t always in evidence.

And well. In answer to that last slew of questions, yes they do. The guys have a gig on the Friday that may determine a stratospheric rise in their combined stock. The word “agent” is involved and my opinion of that sub species is not altogether rosy. Essentially, if any prospective booker doesn’t grab the potential from the album then perhaps they require “retraining”. It’s not your average rock bluster and the show underlined that, there’s some very specific sonic alchemy at play here. My suspicions that Konie is a genius are confirmed and Peder and Frederick complete the blueprint. They should have been introduced to the crowd at Where The Action Is. Next year they deserve to be shooting up the bill. My opinion?, the Dirty Pretty Things should have been bounced to make way for them. I’m a controversial old hector innit.

So from there, some good old fashioned imbibing of alcohol in the park. Reminded me of going to see Slade and the Sleaze band in the Cally park circa 1971. Good vibes, stellar company. Alright! Saw my old pal Bengtsson too and myspace bud Janne Punk who gave me a minature of Pors Brännvin.

Next thing I recall is looking at my watch and it’s nearly 10. Time to head for Debaser and the Sakert! warm-up for Hultsfred. I’d kind of given up on seeing this in a small venue but the gods (Martina and Mr Ulf) smiled on me and gave me another chance. My excitement was palpable, even in the event of extreme tiredness. It was an utter trip meet the Razzia’s, Martina and Daniel Ledinsky run the enterprise that brought and continue to bring us the music of Annika Norlin. I’m not entirely sure we’re worthy.

The set started way later than anticipated, part of a club night called “Falling And Laughing”. The irony of this isn’t completely lost on me as I’ve never seen the fascination of the Postcard records phenomenon. Anyway, I digress, time lost all consequence when the curtain opened. The audience was 110% in from the start and sang every song like this was their last night on the planet. It was fairly overwhelming to be among it and there was more than a handful of times when I found that I had something in one or both of my eyes. By “Alt Somm Är Ditt”, I was completely overcome with emulsion. Of course you know that Annika is incapable of putting a foot wrong but the band is just so damned together. No ordinary combo in any way shape or form. Their interpretations of these fine, fine songs, sung in a language I have very little command of suggest that I’m only getting a fraction of the overall effect. I’m in trouble if Nenne gets those translations together. My plan to get Sakert! To Glasgow for Celtic Connections starts here and now. World music fused with traditional folk and pop values doesn’t come any more potent than this.

I guess I was grinning like a fool when I went back to the bar. Don’t think I’ve been in greater need of a drink in living memory. It was a perfect end to as fun a day as it’s legal to have. I felt like I’d had as good a time as Kim (of M&K) has when she plays. Off the flippin’ richter scale.

Up bright and early to start again, kicking off with a groovy walk up to Bonnier Amigo to put Ulf off his work for a bit. I really began to get a hang of where I was going without having to consult a map too much. Thought about going to sound pollution but didn’t have time.

We walked to Pet Sounds where I got the new Billie’s album and The Solution cd that came out last year. There’s a print/dvd store called Paper Cut that’s well worth a visit if you find yourself there. Managed to look some stuff that I’ve only ever seen pictures of. Nicely curated place.

Dropped the gear at Mr U’s and headed for Razzia for our historic lunch pow-wow. It was like one of those things that world leaders get involved in. The restaurant also served the finest Swedish meatballs I have ever had or are likely to. And I’ve had my share of those. Martina and Daniel have a very cool thing going on there and deserve to rule the world in terms of popular music and on several other fronts. It was an honour to visit the nerve centre and a pure pleasure to spend time with them over the course of the whistle stop.

Schlepped around a little more and got back to the most exclusive music listening zone in Stockholm. Nick and Eva dropped in during the evening and we were treated to a selection of the finest tuneage that has been created over the years. It wasn’t long until it was time to head for Debaser Medis, the site of the “I Are Debut” release party. Part of the where The Action Is “weekend”. Nice joint, pretty swanky and the room was great.

Their set was delivered in no uncertain terms. Bristling with an intensity that was like Aha if they’d been imagined by Trent Reznor. I’m convinced that their racket will be reverberating through enormodomes before too long. Small venues with little in the way of blast zones need not apply. The viceral nature of what they do came across more directly than it had in the park the previous day. Playing at night with some strategic lighting suits the heights that the material scales. IAD is a full-on rock monolith in waiting.

La Puma kind of drove us out of the building and on to Broderna Olsson and Nenne left us before we rounded the night off at Pet Sounds bar. The good times were persisting and I left Nick and Eva in the little square in front of their place and trundled off toward Jocke and Hanna’s place. They were out of town but heading back on Saturday.

My tour manager called when I was on my way to Konsum. Word was that Pascal might be playing. Turned out to be false but the prospect presented a frisson. Hooked up with Nick and Eva and went with them to pick up their son Vincent at Eva’s mums. She and Vincent had been baking Bullar and I managed to score a bag to bring home. I should have got Pölsa too but wasn’t sure how it would travel. And, just across the road from my friends parking garage, on a quiet street. It's possible to enter a 50's style Narnia called Sivletto. An entire parallel universe. They do mail order too so check out their site. Nice bijou spiral staircase entry opens out into a wonderland of everything you'd need to further the lifestyle. Even a pickup truck!?

Lot of fine food on this trip and the bolgnese pizza at Elies was no exception. I’m always bemoaning the lack of decent pizza and the quality of this went some way to shut my cakehole good and prop. A huge downpour ensued and our thoughts were with those at WTAI. Cats, dogs and plenty other animals would best describe the tenor of the rain.

Having been trounced at Wii bowling by a 6 year old, Nick and I headed for Landet to catch The Dee Rangers at 99th Floor. They should require no introduction to regulars but I’m hoping that folks around these parts might get to see them in Edinburgh. I have to contact Mr Helsing with regard to that. Anyway, it’s a fantastic room in a place that has a kind of Maxwells (Hoboken) vibe. The band hit the stage at 10pm and proceeded to instill their distinctive beat frenzy. Jocke joined Nick and I at the bar where I noticed that you could by a cocktail called a Laura Palmer. I like the sound of that.

Good to see the Vola girls (La Novocia and Doña Tella) there too, hopefully that particular phenomenon will be happening again soon. And not just in Sweden neither (right Patrick?). Spent sometime gabbing outside to some very nice folks. Most of them seemed to be surprised by the fact that I’d come to see Sakert! Mr Ericsson hailed a cab and we were soon speeding toward our final destination. The WTAI after party shindig. I met so many people there at it’s actually a blur. Mona (of The Nagz) was there and I’d completely forgotten that she had been in Glasgow with Voladoras once. I never put two and two together even via myspace and I felt like a prize putz when the penny dropped. She’ll forgive me maybe?, my being a card-carrying member of CRS (Can’t remember shit) these days. It’s an age thing.

So I remember a few beers, lots of cool people – including Nicke and Robert Hellacopter. Always a solid gas to see those guys. When I do though, it makes me think that it should be them that enjoys the stature of something like the Foo Fighters or QotSA. The rest of the world missed the real boat again, settling for burger instead of steak that kind of thing. I’m too tired to think of a veggie equivalent. The other new Punchdrunk was in attendance and PM did me the honour of an introduction to Maria (of Revl9n). I also remember dancing to Sweet Jane with a very nice young lady who wouldn’t take granpaw’s puzzled looks of “me?” for an answer. As we left, the Droid minus Konie had arrived. From there it was off into the Stockholm night in search of a cab. Soon as we got in, the cab light flashed “game over” because that it was.

And that’s just about us. I made it to the airport in half-shut knife mode and home buzzing with the excitement of it all. As total blasts go, this was the proverbial neutron bomb.

My thanks to everyone who made it such a memorable trip, they know who they are. I hope that I can reciprocate the deluge and kindness that was bestowed down the road apiece.
Photos courtesy of Ms. Nenne Zetterberg