STORIES FROM STOCKHOLM

So often we wait anxiously for something to happen for long time, and when it arrives, it’s so short and intense, all of a sudden it’s all gone, and you’re again back to your routine. Stockhom was to come, and now it’s gone. It’s been a great experience, and the city as such, I’d recommend everyone to visit.

First part of the trip, marked as a quotation, was written at an annex lounge to the actual theater, just before JTE delighted me with his show.

Here I am, sitting on my own at the Södern Teatern, waiting for Justin Townes Earle to start his show. Still don’t know whether he’ll play solo or with a band. To tell you the truth, I don’t care.

I’ve reached town a couple of hours ago, and already have some impressions I want to share, regarding Stockholm inhabitants, and the city

It’s cold indeed, but more bearable than expected. 1-3Cº. You really feel chill when you reach the gates, and because Sodermälm is a kind of slope, the breeze is noticeable if you’re not moving.

People working in anything related to customer service are very nice and very  attentive in general, can’t say the same regarding security crew at the venue, hooligans like.

I’m having a beer, name Abro. 52 sek has cost the motherfucker and is not great at all. I was warned about this. I, an avid beer drinker, sure I’d suffer the outrageous prices, but you know, again, today I don’t care.

I don’t reckon people are so friendly here. Many couples, a couple of groups of rocker boys and girls. Nobody has told me anything while queuing despite the fact that at least 3-4 people have noticed I’m not local. I’m flipping right now because they’re so talkative, the venue is pure buzz.

Guess my previous experience with Swedish people was different due to the background. We were all hanging in a neutral field, so to speak, back in London days. Same in Barcelona.

Let’s see if during the gig my luck changes…

Most boys and girls are good-looking, but, and I’m talking serious here, the handsome guys, are most definitely more stunning than women. Gotta say average Swedish girl is a type I really like: tall, strong and consistent.

A couple of months ago, a Swedish guy showed me his dislike towards Stockholm people, for being too fashion addicted, trendy and “cool”. Well, this is a catwalk of fashion trends right now. Guys are rockers or late 70’s like. Girls are Elle and Vogue prototypes.

Regarding the city, only possitive words can come out from my mouth. Having plenty of time, I’ve decided to have a walk to the venue. Unfortunately at 6,30pm, it was superdark already, and most of shops closed. Anyway, starting point was Upplandsgatan, in the city. Crossed the first bridge and walk by Gamla-Stan, which is a beautiful neighborhood, full of beautiful shops, cafes and pubs. Buildings are ancient and nice. It was like being in a tale, everything was so cute…Tomorrow I’ll check it out again, in daylight and most likely have lunch there at a veggie restaurant I’ve discovered. I might change the planning order a bit approaching light and go to Moderna Museet afterwards.


Have I told you this is my first time at a backpackers hostel? Well, it is, and I’m delighted with my corner, I’m not sleeping in a bunk bed (hate them). In the middle of the city, close to the station, very nice. Facilities are more than enough, everything’s supper clean, and I’ve had a crush on one of the attendants at the reception desk. Uhmmm, very very nice guy hahah! Well, in direct competition with the information guy at the information desk at the airport. Charming, to say the least.

Well, enough for today, 10 minutes to the show… Yay!!!

JUSTIN TOWNES EARLE, SÖDERN TEATERN, NOVEMBER 17TH

Last night show was a great one. He finally played a solo acoustic set, similar to that one I saw in NY in 2008. Obviously it was completely different, as this time he was headlining and was supported by 3 good albums.

Despite the venue was quite packed, and these Swedish are towers, I was lucky to manage to move to first row on the right side. Earle’s focus point was right where I was, so he was looking in my direction, it wasn’t me, of course. I had the suspicion that something was going on between him and a blonde super skinny girl by my side. She was kind of excited, her friends were gossiping in her ear, and when the gig was over, she stepped aside in a waiting attitude.  Serious, something weird was going on.

Justin focused on his latest album, Harlem River Blues, but didn’t forget about his previous stuff. He didn’t have any set list, and seemed that improvising according to the audience mood and his jokes and stories, he was playing with the order of the songs.

Very talkative and in good mood, the young Earle seemed to be enjoying the show and the enthusiasm of the audience.

Yeah! It was a great night, and no, I wasn’t lucky, nobody talked to me.

*******

Friday started with some wi-fi connection in my room corner, finding out on Twitter (glad I opened an account last week) that Black Sabbath are playing in Azkena Rock Festival 2012. The day couldn’t have better start.

My friend Joaquin wasn’t supposed to join me till the evening, thus, I had plenty of time to wander by the city. With my warm hat, and many clothes, I was ready to hit the road.

Thanks to the previous night walk I more or less knew where to go, thus I only had a map in my pocket and started walking towards Gamla-Stan, very beautiful area full of antique shops, pubs, restaurants and really nice corners, several churches and the Royal Palace.

Eventually I ended my first 3 hours walk at the Moderna Museet. There was an exhibition of late paintings by Monet, Turner and Twombly and there were waves of old people queuing to get in, thus I decided to have a coke and start writing my first travel notebook.

It’s shocking the honesty and correctness of people overseas. In Spain we’re more cheating and tricky. This often shocks me whenever I visit other countries, and this time, at the museum, there were two remarkable things I have to mention. On one hand, no security was at the entrance, of course I paid my ticket, but when I got in, there was no one to check whether you had purchased it or not. On the other hand, there were lockers, but not enough for all the visitors, and cloakroom was unattended. It didn’t matter, everybody was leaving their coats there, even bags and luggage, without feeling uneasy nor thinking of the possibility of getting stolen at all. This reminds me also that, the night before at the theater, I was carrying a backpack with my reflex camera and nobody bothered to check it. Unbelievable!

I didn’t like the exhibition so much, like both Monet and Turner’s earlier paintings, and regarding Twombly, seemed like a joke to me. I really don’t understand his work, and cannot figure out how this kind of paint can be successful and praised.

EN ANNAN HISTORIA / ANOTHER STORY, MODERNA MUSEET

Moderna Museet’s photography collection is said to be one of the finest in Europe, with material from 1840 up to date.

The concept of the exhibition started with the idea that an art collection can’t remain static, in order to stay alive and even evolve. Thus, by arranging the collection from a radically different point of view, it renews energy, and highlights other aspects previously unnoticed.

First step of the presentation, Possesed by the Camera, contained pictures from 1970 to 2010. Camera is used not only to emphasize the reality, but also to build identity by means of role-play. Artists such as Cecilia Edefalk, Annica Karlsson Rixon or Hirogi Sugimoto, and photos belonging to the collection New Topographics. Photographs of a Man, were exhibited.

See the World (1920-1980), had to do more with photo journalism , documentary, and surrealism. This was the part I liked most. Famous photographers such as Nan Goldin, Irving Penn, or Diane Arbus, were present. I was really shocked by the Tulsa Series by Larry Clark, portraying real white trash, full of junkies shooting and scum. The super underground atmosphere and such realism eventually turn into fiction, as our daily lives are not familiarized with such environment.

To finish, Written in Light (1840-1930) reveals the birth and infancy of photography, including mostly portraits, landscapes, nature and architecture, typical in those early years.

While moving from one area to another, there was a compilation of daily living pictures submitted by visitors and people interested in the museum activities, because, according to the philosophy of this exhibition, everyone can be a photographer. A point of view don’t think is shared by most of professional photographers.

As a photography lover I am, and starting to dig into history, names and information, this exhibition really was worth seeing.  It was long time since I hadn’t gone to a museum, and am glad I did it.

***

Joaquin came to pick me up to the hostel close to 7pm. The plan was having a walk and some drinks and go to Nalen Klubb to see three Swedish rock bands there. I knew of one of them, Marulk, because the guitarist is also an Instagramer and we follow each other. As soon as I knew his band (from Gothemburg) was playing in Stockholm on my free night, the plan was set.

We complain about not supporting local nor national bands, and it’s true, but seems that this is a common disease everywhere. It’s hard to get a name as to move 100 people to a venue, especially if raining.

The klubb night was named Pussy A Go-Go & Who Killed Marilyn, and the bands playing were Propane Propane, Lanfinger and Marulk. The first ones were like Kyuss, the second ones reminded us of The Hellacopters, and Marulk sounded more like 70’s hardrock. Gotta remark that the level was really high and musicians were awesome. Guess Dregen was right when he was saying, there was nothing else to do but playing, when he was a teenager.

It was a good night, and we got quite drunk too, but definitely we had fun, and yes, we talked to people. Surely they thought we were nuts.

***

Saturday was a very looooong day. To start, I had massive hangover. Haven’t told you at the hostel I met 5 German kids in party mood who gave me a can of beer after taking them to a 7Eleven, so had gone to sleep at 5, and girls I shared the room with woke up at 8 and were nonstop talking till I yelled at them.

We headed to the Vasa Museet to see this old vessel recovered from the sea, and had another beautiful walk by the river, because it was a very sunny morning. But after crossing a gate, we started to see record shops and couldn’t resist such temptation, and went for hunting, forgetting about the museum. Beside we had to eat something and meet some acquaintances in Södermalm for the pre-show.

Buying spree was awesome in terms of stuff, but will eat pasta, rice and lentils till the end of this month. Everybody pays the price, right?

THE HEAD AND THE HEART / MY MORNING JACKET, MÜNCHENBRYGGERIET, November 20th

Finally the day had arrived and we were attending the last show of the Americans in Stockholm, no less!

It’s curious in both shows I attended, most of the audience got in the venue as soon as doors opened.

The place was beautiful, venues there haven’t anything to do with those we are familiar with. This was a former brewery, completely reformed inside. Architecture and decoration are fileds in which Swedish are outstanding. It was fabulous. The hall maximum capacity is of around 950-1000, and obviously tickets were sold out.

The Head and The Heart were responsible for warming the audience up, but wasn’t very difficult, as many people seem to know them well already, and the response was really enthusiastic. I had only heard they belong to this new American folk wave, such as The Avett Brothers, so I was eager to discover what they were up to. So impressed I was, right after the show, I went to the merchandising stand and got a copy of their album. Not only they reminded me to the North Carolina guys, but also to Dr Dog and others. It was a very beautiful and intense show they offer. Very emotional.

At 10pm sharp, My Morning Jacket came onto stage, starting the show with the same song as Circuital, Victory Dance, which I particularly find hypnotic and really atmospheric.

Most of the set list was based on their last work, including 8 songs, but they also squeezed Z and Evil Urges most memorable themes, and 4 of It Still Moves were also included.

Some song before the encore, I had already convinced the security guy to bring me the set list, and he really did it!

Jim James wasn’t talkative at all, and wasn’t much communicative either. Considering the way these Swedish people are, probably this wasn’t any inconvenience to them. To be honest, the singer is kind of a divo, very pretentious and theatrical. I’m not questioning his talent at all, but is his attitude of I-am-freak-and –proud-and-cooler-than-you, what gets on my nerves.

We were in first row on the left, so we could see Carl Broemel perfect, and I enjoyed lots observing his guitar tech, a more than 60 year old man, tuning both guitars and bass guitars, selecting from the gear case for each song, and what was incredible, was how fast to put the guitar belt to Broemel. We are always aware of what’s going on on stage, but, back, or in this case, sidestage was as interesting and fascinating as the show.

Broemel was the real hero of the night. He really spreads elegance and class when playing any of his instruments, guitar, saxo, and pedal steel. Focused, professional, he, and the rest of the band, in a discreet position, were executing song after song with severity and perfection.  They were perfect.

It’s really taken me a couple of days to digest and analyze what I saw on Saturday. Not only because I was overwhelmed by the quality of the show, but also because the comeback, at 6,30am and what such departure schedule implied, was really hard stuff.

It’s a pity such awesome bands are not visiting us, so we have to arrange these crazy contingency plans to see bands we love. Of course, this makes the experience more intense and fulfilling, but it’s sad, we are stepping back as crabs, and Spain is returning to the era when it didn’t belong to the European tour circuit, so we were missing most of the American bands shows.

I’m very glad for having visited Stockholm and sure I will come back in the future. Beautiful city, I strongly recommend you.

3 responses to “STORIES FROM STOCKHOLM

  1. I loved the photography part of the museum and how everyone is more civil than the Spanish 😉 Cant wait to see all the pictures and things you bought!!

    http:// fromheretofashion.blogspot.com

    • Well, to be honest, due to short periods of daylight I didn’t take as many photos as I should, but definitely you can get an idea about how Stockholm is like. Editing a bunch of them these days, will upload them to Flickr the soonest possible.
      Regrding shopping, what you see in the picture is what I got, unfortunately my luggage was small and didn’t afford to get crazier, no complaints though.

      You’d love Another Story, Agnès, although it was too real and rough, and disturbing sometimes, completely opposite to what you usually like. I loved it, you know I’m more inclined to the scum of the world, if you know what I mean.

      By the way, your magnet is there… 😉

  2. Randy y Toita Monton, que no Stone

    Bonita crónica de un bonito y emocionante viaje. Aquí nos tienes en albornoz a las 12:15 pm leyendo tu blog.
    Anoche tuvimos marcha y hoy estamos con la calma. Luego unas chuletitas de ternasco y una garnacha de Calatayud y más felices que ‘El Guerra’ (era un torero antiguo que según decían era superfeliz como una perdiz) Muy chulas las fotos; ah y esos disquicos que te compraste en Stockholm ‘traitelos’ para Navidad que los meteré en mi ITunes. Kissetes

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