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Tuesday, June 19, 2007

The Hultsfred Report: Day One

What an eventful past few days it’s been! Hultsfred was a blast… so much so that it’s going to take me the rest of the week to describe it in full. Luckily it only rained one day out of the three, though Swedish nights are very cold (I seem to forget this, though, every time I go to Sweden).
Today starts my round-up of the acts that I saw at the festival. And, because I’m such a fan of reviews, I’ve rated each on a scale of one to five Å ’s, just because I like that particular Swedish character (and it’s fun to pronounce!).

Maia Hirasawa

The first act of the first day, I went into this only knowing her two singles (And I Found This Boy and Gothenburg), but loving what I had heard so far. Maia was absolutely adorable, and her small but extremely talented back-up band gave the music great character, with brass, string, and even whistle sections. All in all, a lot of Hirasawa’s stuff is a bit down tempo for me, but I was quite impressed with her vocal talent and the sheer joy with which she and her band played (especially the Olsen-twin-esque girls perched on either side of her who seemed to know how to play about every kind of instrument available to them).
Best bit: And I Found This Boy, in a different league than everything else performed
Rating: Å Å Å

Helena Josefsson

I was not all that familiar with Helena’s music before seeing her, but I had heard a few songs and was pretty impressed, so I decided to stop by. I felt a bit sorry for her at first because there didn’t seem to be much of a crowd, but she didn’t seem to mind. In fact, she was a bit crazy, lurching around the stage and singing about air hostesses. The same couldn’t be said for her stoic background singer, who rarely moved (but sounded great). It was funny because at several times during the performance Helena put her hand on the background singer’s shoulder and tried to interact with her, but the girl didn’t seem to notice or care. It was all very entertaining to me.
Best bit: The frantic operatics of The Moon Is A Grain Of Sand
Rating: Å Å ½


I had been looking forward to Laakso’s performance with great anticipation, as I truly think their new album (Mother, Am I Good Looking?) is one of the best releases in recent years. Luckily, they played most of my favorites from that album, including the perfect Norrköping and the emotional Västerbron (side note: on my way to Hultsfred I actually passed through the town of Norrköping and, like the nerd I am, I was way too excited about it). Their set consisted of a nice mix of old and new (though I don’t know why Never Satisfied wasn’t played and why In My Blood -my least favorite of their singles- went on for like ten minutes). Best of all, though, they brought on Peter Jöback as a surprise guest to duet with Markus for Italy vs. Helsinki. Phenomenal.
Best bit: the aforementioned Italy vs. Helsinki
Rating: Å Å Å Å ½

Sahara Hotnights

Playing the Pampas stage (the second biggest of the seven stages at Hultsfred), Sahara Hotnights commanded their piece of the festival with a very straightforward rock show. Entering the stage in matching (very tight) shirts and shorts, they launched right into their set, which was mostly songs from their new album with a few hits thrown in. All the singles went over very well, especially Cheek to Cheek. And, despite my slightly negative review of their new album a few months ago, SH fans will be pleased to know that I’m really warming up to it now. Neon Lights was especially good live.
Best bit: Cheek to Cheek, clearly their most popular single to date
Rating: Å Å Å


The poor girl was onstage unaccompanied and with nothing more than a backing track and a microphone. Still, she commanded the stage and looked very hip, dressed all in black. She went through almost all of the tracks on her debut album and danced like crazy with a huge smile on her face the entire time. It felt a lot like an intimate club gig.
Best bit: Shark Attack
Rating: Å Å ½

Anna Ternheim

I wasn’t going into this show feeling all that excited, expecting a somewhat bland performance given the mellow nature of most of Ternheim’s tracks. I was surprised, however, with how dynamic the show turned out to be. The use of synths on a lot of the tracks gave them a huge, symphonic sound and Ternheim proved to be remarkable both on the guitar and the piano.
Best bit: Shoreline, the stripped down closer
Rating: Å Å Å


This was the discovery of the night, for sure. Expect to hear a lot about this girl on alienhits once I can figure out where to get her bloody album. I went into her show knowing only one song (the brilliant Kill With A Dance), and I was floored with the bizarre, compelling show she gave. It started out with a video screen of Pikko singing, then she entered (dressed in skintight spandex -is there any other kind?- carried by two men in suits) and did some bizarre dance moves. Then, as she sang, her two men stood on either side of her looking very concerned and uninterested (both at the same time), until they broke down with an insane dance at the very end. It’s impossible to describe unless you’ve seen it, but believe me when I say that this girl is absolutely crazy. She never once spoke to the audience or even really acknowledged us. Instead, she and her band got on with acting like aliens and singing their amazing, high pitched electro pop. It was unbelievable, and it’s a shame there were only about a dozen people there to see it. I feel very lucky to have seen it because I think this girl could be huge. Somebody else apparently does as well, but more about that in my report on day three….
Best bit: Kill With A Dance
Rating: Å Å Å Å Å

Other acts I managed to catch a few songs by:

Billy Talent - Surprisingly good
Velvet Revolver - A bit silly, really
Tingsek - Sounded alright
Korn - Giving American music a bad name...

(all photos courtesy of, who covered the whole festival)

Tomorrow I'll have all the details of day two!!


Blogger Paul said...

woo! you are back! It sounds like you had an amazing time! now i have to trawl through and check out all the acts so i can give you a more considered opinion! Addictive reading - looking forward to day two!

7:54 PM  
Blogger Nick said...

As you should ;)

7:36 AM  

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