July 2009 sees the small locality of Kilafors, located east/central Sweden, playing host to Rockweekend for the second consecutive year, a three day festival featuring a diverse lineup of bands from rock and metal's many disparate subgenres. For a festival in its infancy, Rockweekend has rather impressively already garnered prestigious acclaim from the media as a must-go-to event on the Swedish rock/metal calendar, and is discussed alongside the much larger and well established Sweden Rock. So how has this 10,000 capacity festival forged an esteemed reputation for itself so early in its existence? The answer is quite simple. Rockweekend is by far the best organised, friendliest, most fun festival I've ever had the pleasure of attending, and I would recommend a trip to Kilafors in July each year for any discerning rock/metal fan and general festival goer.
Two large, adjacent main stages mean that there are only five minute intervals between bands which, of course, minimises delays and provides each band a longer set time. And no expense has been spared with the lighting and sound, by far the best I have seen at a festival this size on both counts. A third sizeable stage located in a huge beer tent at the rear of the festival site sees a number of other bands perform over the weekend (such as Seventh Wonder; Isole; Aeon; Apostasy; Renegade Five etc), and it too has been professionally adorned with expensive sound and lighting equipment. The beer tent (rather, a very large marquee) is positioned in a separate fenced off area that also contains various other outlets selling alcohol, manned by security with a strict age limit to gain entry. Further, apart from the campsite, this is the only area on the festival site where alcohol can be consumed and is, to my mind, a very sensible idea - one that I would personally like to see implemented at UK festivals.
So what else is worthy of mention? Security are some of the friendliest I've encountered at any festival - they actually smile at you unlike the majority of inimically uptight UK security! Also, it is pleasing to observe their swift, no-nonsense approach to the small amount of antisocial behaviour that arises - one such example being during W.A.S.P. when two guys opt to push each other around in the mud and into audience members. Security are quick to evict them which receives applause from those stood in the proximate area! In fact, this incident proves to be rare over the entire three days, as Rockweekend's audience is by far the friendliest and well behaved I've ever seen. There are none of the stupidly violent mosh pits that you get in the UK where people decide it's more fun to beat the crap out of each other than watch the bands. At Rockweekend, the audience are more appreciative of the music, and any pits that arise (including Testament's wall of death) are of a discernibly non-violent nature, and comprised of amiable participants.
Then, of course, there's the weather - that dreaded, unpredictable factor of an outdoor festival; the one element that no-one has any control over. And it's not a great start, as Thursday rains heavily from around 10am in the morning until at least 2am the following day. Green fields rapidly turn to brown as the grass dematerializes into a sea of watery mud which, by early evening, is ankle deep in certain areas. This doesn't seem to bother anyone in attendance as people's emphasis still seems to be on having fun. Some even embrace the treacherous conditions full-on by stripping naked and diving into the mud! Fortunately, the second day of Rockweekend is completely dry, and huge credit to the festival organisers for placing large amounts of straw all over the site which makes getting around significantly more manageable. The final day even has a glimpse of summer, with hot sun shining around Kilafors for a few hours.
In short, Rockweekend.....well, it quite simply rocks! Fantastic bands; great production; excellent organisation; and an all round convivial atmosphere. A 2010 edition has already been announced, so go there and experience Rockweekend for yourself first-hand. Highly recommended.
FESTIVAL OVERVIEW BELOW
Thursday 9th July - Saturday 11th July 2009
Kilafors Herrgård, Sweden
SATOR; CHICKENFOOT; GEMINI FIVE; U.D.O.; ARCH ENEMY; MUSTASCH; PARADISE LOST; CRUCIFIED BARBARA; CORRODED; PURE MANIA
NAPALM DEATH; DIMMU BORGIR; EDGUY; QUEENSRCHE; HEAT; HOT LEG; NIGHTINGALE; SCAR SYMMETRY; MEMORY GARDEN; WOLVERINE
D-A-D; W.A.S.P.; DARK FUNERAL; TESTAMENT; DIA PSALMA; LA GUNS; DEAD BY APRIL; WOLF; FAST FORWARDS; TAD MOROSE
"...a must-go-to event on the Swedish rock/metal calendar..."
Wolverine onstage at Rockweekend, Kilafors, Sweden, 11th July 2009
Photograph copyright © 2009 Mark Holmes - www.metal-discovery.com
Thanks to Gustav Eriksson for arranging & granting accreditation and a photopass for Metal Discovery
FESTIVAL OVERVIEW ABOVE
Reviews & Photography by Mark Holmes
Entrance to Rockweekend 2009
Rockweekend 2009 campsite...and mud
Rockweekend crowd during Testament
Rockweekend crowd during Arch Enemy
Third day festival fatigue
Grrrrrr....Lars, a drunk Swede
Grrrrrr...Peter, a not quite so drunk Swede
Metal Discovery webmaster attired in lovely bright yellow photovest
Stefan and Marcus of Wolverine...post-festival, and post-beer