Park Sounds Festival (Huskvarna, Sweden): Review

Dick Magnusson May 21, 2018

Around Sweden there are still Folkets Park (Volkspark in German and Google Translate calls it “the People’s Park” in English but I would say bullshit on that translation – does not sound correct) with long histories of entertainment in forms of dance and concerts. Several of the Swedish festivals were located in these parks, like Arvika and Hultsfred, which gave a nice vibe along with the fact that the old stages could be used. Huskvarna Folkets Park is no exception. It was established in 1925, and in the early 2000’s there was a resurrection as they started to promote rock concerts – just around the time I left Huskvarna (thanks…).

Park Sounds is the successor of the Popadelica Festival, a one-day festival with three stages, that booked an impressive lineup every year from 2006-2013. National acts like Bob Hund, Icona Pop and The Sounds shared posters with international greats like The Vaccines, A Place to Bury Strangers, The Pipettes, …And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead, and The Hidden Cameras. Park Sounds started in 2017 and keeps the legacy going by booking a similar impressive lineup.

Unfortunately, I could not see the first acts due to other commitments (probably a DJ-gig) but my car – a Volvo – is superfast and I made it in time to see Sarah Klang again. It seems like every time I see her, she’s getting even better. A much shorter set this time compared to her show in Norrköping the week before, but with all the highlights included – “Left Me on Fire”, “Rock N Roll Blues” and the crushing “Mind” – and a more relaxed Klang. Like in Norrköping, the mix of ages in the crowd is striking – seems like the “På Spåret”-effect (Google Translate had no translation for this) has even reached Huskvarna. She spoke more openly between the songs with quite a sense of humor and the band sounded great, despite some trouble with the sound. A great start!

One of the striking things about Park Sounds, and the previous years, is the fingerspitzengefühl (I know several German words, you know) concerning the lineup. Every single band on the poster is potentially interesting and especially the international acts are worth checking out. The Brits in Dead! unfortunately cancelled their show, but compatriots High Tyde put on a great show. They were new acquaintances to me, but once again the abundance of quality acts from Great Britain is obvious.

A clear trend in Sweden is that guitar based music is declining, both in terms of quantity of bands but also in terms of who’s playing festivals, but the Brits’ got that covered many years to come. “In Your Head” from latest release “8978-202545” kicks off the show and singer Cody Thomas-Matthews’ voice holds up surprisingly well live. “Young Offenders” from the last record was one of the highlights along with the hit “Glow”.

The festival was sold out with 1400 tickets, but the large spaces in the park does not really witness of that early on, not until Hurula plays the main indoor stage Teaterladan. The stage is what limits the total capacity, but it is really a great venue, although sweaty a warm day like this, and it’s filled to the maximum. Robert Hurula plays guitar-driven indie rock in Swedish, and his followers have grown in quantity for every release since the debut in 2014. He’s one of the main acts on the indie scene and with an excellent band, including, for instance, Jonna Löfgren in Glasvegas on drums). In the show opener, the epic “Allt ska försvinna”, Löfgren hammers away on the drums like there’s no tomorrow, followed by “Varje ensam natt” from latest EP “Oss är allt”. The setlist is a mixture from all records, but the hits like “22”, the Kent-inspired “Ny drog” and “Ont som jag” gets most of the response from the audience.

One obvious thing during the festival was that basically everyone was waiting for the headliner The Hives, and a fun incident was during “Om jag tänker alls” when bassist Manuela Iwansson gets some technical trouble and The Hives bassist Johan Gustafsson helps out. One bassist to another. Nice.

The Hurula show is great, as always, and it’s time to take the next step but it remains to see what that might look like in today’s music climate.

Next up was American veteran Jeff Rosenstock, with a past in bands like Bomb the Music Industry! and Kudrow, at the smaller stage. It’s basically at maximum capacity, just like it should at a show like this. The intensity of the show is incredible, and if the sound is a bit more polished on the record the punk attitude comes out clearly here. “Yr throat” and “Festival song” gets a great response from the audience.

What I love about festivals are contrasts. Five minutes after seeing intense punk from New York, I enter a, once again, full Teaterladan to see Swedish Tove Styrke. The contrast cannot be more distinct as Styrke’s music is more “2018”, if you excuse the expression, in the sense that its slick, well-produced pop music is something that’s getting more radio plays and streams today. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a nice show and the sound is perhaps the best at the whole festival. “On the Low” and Lorde cover “Liability” sounds great and Styrke have surely grown into a full-fledged performer that owns the stage.

After being kidnapped by locals (the authorities are informed) I missed Diskopunk, but be sure to give them a listen. As and old, old man said, “It sounds like Scissor sisters from 2018”.

Well, The Hives then. What remains to be said? They are probably the benchmark for what a great rock show should look like. Howlin’ Pelle even said it himself; that it’s empirically proven, peer-reviewed and published, that bands that are inspired by The Hives are nine time better than those that are not. I tried to find the published paper, but could not find it, but Almqvist has almost never overexaggerated things before, so we better take him on his words.

From the opening “Come On!”, via “Idiot Walk” and “Main Offender” the show is just old-school Hives at its peak. They have played some of these songs for almost twenty years at this point, but there is no sign whatsoever of fatigue or boredom, quite the opposite. However, compared to last time I saw them, at Reading in 2014, we got two new songs: “Paint a Picture” and “Stick Up”. It sounded a bit more raw compared to the latest releases, much more The Stooges and MC5. Hopefully this means that new music is to be released soon!

A massively extended “Tick Tick Boom”, including anecdotes, crowd surfing and getting the audience to sit down, ends the first set of the show. The show ends with an encore including mentioned “Stick Up” and “Return the Favour”. A great end to a great day in Huskvarna! See you next year!

Photographer: © Martin Wilson
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About The Author

Energy researcher and semi-proud owner of probably the largest collection of Placebo-records in Sweden. Spins wax, or rather clicks MP3s, under the name DJ Pappaledig. Former concert promoter that loves festivals and listens way too much on indie rock (by choice) and children’s music (well, at least by someone’s choice…).