Bråvalla Festival 2013 - The review
Bråvalla Festival 2013. Where music, rain, sunshine, and mud meet to celebrate life and share happiness.
The town of Norrköping first got invaded on the 25th of June (one day ahead of the opening) by thousands upon thousands of music lovers and festival-goers from all walks of life, all with one thing in mind; enjoy three days of music regardless of what the weather gods had planned. The invasion continued throughout all days that the festival was open and one can easily say that it was an invasion of the good kind.
A strike did not stop festival-goers from reaching their target nor did the rain, leading up to, the opening day of the Bråvalla Festival. Everyone was set on one thing and one thing only; be a part of the first-ever Bråvalla Festival in Norrköping, Sweden. Conveniently located on an abandoned military facility on the outskirts of the city. A location that offers wide-open spaces and plenty of room for tents, cars, and bicycles as well as people on foot. Some say a logistical nightmare, due to the strike on the tram line which would house the majority of the festival-goers, but the good people of Norrköping scrambled and managed to help out.
Day 1 - The Highlights
The first band out on one of the four main stages was the local hero's and legends, Eldkvarn (Firemill in English). Showing all why the city of Norrköping is such a special place and why the Bråvalla Festival is a welcoming part of the continuation of its rich history and legacy. The Gypsy punk band from the Lower East Side of Manhattan, Gogol Bordello, continued and shared their special blend of music throughout the whole festival area, serving up party for the hungry crowds that had gathered.
The Australian band Airborne showed everyone that AC/DC's four accords work well for other bands as well and delivered a high octane show with a lot of sweaty upper bodies and riffs that put some other bands to shame. While Icona Pop showed that lollipop dance music is not only popular in Sweden, but also that they can fill a massive white tent to the brim and still have everyone's attention during their one-hour long set. The rain might have had something to with it...
Later on, in the early evening, it was time for the Swedish band Ghost to scare the shit out of everyone with their masks and dark themed music and with a presence on stage that is second to none. A demanding Papa Emeritus II showed that Ghost demand perfection and delivers haunting satanic-themed lyrics in a way that pulls you in and you become a fan, even though you have never heard them before. The only drawback is that they played while it was still light out, which sort of ruins the whole theme of the band and their show, a band like Ghost needs darkness to come across and really scare you to death.
On the Red stage the band Editors, mostly known for their super-hit "Munich" delivered one of the best sets of the festival with an intimate show that invited you in and spat you out at the same time. Tom Smith's vocals were and still is one of the best voices in alternative rock today and they delivered beyond expectations a set that was all one can ask for and more.
The main attraction for the majority of the festival-goers on the first day of the festival was Rammstein and they didn't disappoint. The opening of the show sort of set the bar for what was to come. With their clinical surgical precision, massive stage presence, and pyrotechnics they showed Bråvalla why they are Rammstein and why they were one of the main headliners at the festival and every single one at the festival was participating in the experience. A show that is as rough and hard as their music, they set the bar higher than everyone else. Clearly one of the best moments during the first day of the festival.
Day 2 - The Highlights
The sun was out and the weather was great, sunshine all over and plenty of exciting bands to look at and also a chance to discover new ones. A day where one would recoup and enjoy a typical Swedish summer day and night.
Stone Sour with Corey Taylor and Jim Root from Slipknot unleashed an alternative metal rock show as well as the festival high score in saying "Fuck" the most. But, Corey Taylor shows why he is such a talented vocalist and an all-around nice guy during the show, despite saying "Fuck" every three words, but it's all rock 'n roll, right!?! The one-hour show felt like they had more to give, but they were running out of time.
One of the surprises was the Frank Turner & The Sleeping Souls that played on the Red Stage which gave more and gathered people throughout the show. A pleasant surprise from this English folk/punk singer-songwriter from Meonstoke, Hampshire. He actually sang a song in Swedish which was both fun and unexpected. Frank Ocean's show felt like he was slowly undressing everyone and was about to start an orgy with his sultry sound and sweet vocals. While Johan Dahlbäck and Danko Jones had other ideas on what to do with the crowds gathered during their performances.
The main attraction, just like day one was on the main stage in the form of Green Day, who in their own punkish rock thing showed why they are more a big festival band than a small stage band with Billie Joe Armstrong running like a mad man around the stage and thoroughly enjoying himself and at the same time entertaining the crowd in any way possible. They played the longest set at the festival and they kept it all together throughout. They even gave away a guitar and had people from the audience up on stage. Clearly one of the brightest shining performances of the festival.
Rounding up the evening was a battle between Armin van Buuren from Holland and the Swedish electronica band Maskinen. Maskinen's performance was a relentless high-speed thrashing of the crowd on the White Stage (a big White tent) while Armin van Buuren showed why a DJ can be just as exciting and exhilarating as a live band with massive lasers and visuals lighting up the sky for miles.
Day 3 - The Highlights
Rain, Rain, and even more Pain. The mud and fatigue fest had begun and now it was an all-in endurance race to the finish and what a brilliant day to end the Bråvalla Festival 2013.
The local Bob Marley inspired reggae-band Kalle Baah worked for the crowds on the Green stage and showed why Blacka Rasta (A highly local variant of Rastafari) is so good and crowd-pleasing with tracks like "Ugly Girls", "Små svarta änglar", "You Are My Angel" and "Cloak & Dagger". Kalle Baah is the Swedish equivalent to UB40 from the UK and since its formation in the 1970s continuously played and released records.
The Sounds, Mando Diao and Thåström took the festival to new heights, especially Thåström with his somewhat awkward performance that blew most of the other bands away with tracks that basically every Swede knows by heart. It wasn't as extravagant as Green day or Rammstein, it was pure, simple, and tickled that nerve that only Thåström can with his razor-sharp voice and powerful songs. Amazingly profound.
Dada Life showed everyone where the electronic cabinet was placed and they knocked it over in a blinding show that rivals the others and set the tone of things to come from the guys. Dada Life is special and special deserves a bit more space, but hopefully, they will be back on one of the bigger stages.
The main reason why the party never ended for some was and is Avicii, also known as Tim Bergling, from Stockholm, Sweden. He has over the years, despite his young age (23), conquered the world with hits like "Bromance", "Fade into Darkness", "Levels" and his new track called "Wake Me Up!". He did not disappoint at all on the biggest stage of the festival, Blue Stage. After all, he had bands like Ghost, Rammstein, Stone Sour, and Green Day perform on that very stage the previous days, so he brought out as many guns as possible to ensure a great ending to the festival.
Apart from all the artists that made the festival what it is, a memorable experience for young and old is all the volunteers and the organizer, FKP Scorpio, which made this festival one remember, not only because of the music but also because of the professionalism and sheer love that we, along with roughly 50.000 others felt during these three days in Norrköping, Sweden.
We've spoken with the police before, during, and after the festival and from their view, it has been a great festival. A fairly quiet one, as they expected more, but overall a good festival from everyone involved. The Swedish police are some of the nicest cops in the world, okay they look like Vikings, but they are nice and friendly and you can just go right up to them and talk for a bit about music and the weather without being judged, so thumbs up for the Swedish police.
The city of Norrköping showed its best side during the festival by opening up and inviting everyone that was there to enjoy themselves. There was even a retired gentleman that drove people that were going to the festival for free, just because there was a shortage of trams, due to a strike, and buses that drove past the festival site. That, if not, is solidarity and friendliness.
A festival is a celebration and even if you are not taking part directly, it's still a celebration from which everyone benefits, the community, the organizer, and the local artists. I think people in Norrköping will continue to speak about the festival until next year because if the first Bråvalla Festival was this good, it can only become better and better. Thank you Norrköping, Thank you FKP Scorpio, and Thank you to everyone else.