April 21st 2012 was my first Record Store Day and I was glad that I could celebrate it by coming to Bengans which is located in the heart of Stockholm on Drottninggatan, the street where tourists most definitely pass by. Beforehand, I had looked at the list of the artists who would have performed that day, but somehow I didn’t manage to have a listen to their music. So I left the house equipped totally with open ears and just was so ready and excited to discover great Swedish acts. Walking into the store around 11.30 am, more people than I usually saw were already there browsing through stacks of CDs and vinyls. Of course, apart from the live performances, the Day’s special releases were the main factors for music lovers and avid record collectors to swarm the place. Young and old, they grabbed new releases like The Maccabees’s Given to The Wild as well as the classics like Duran Duran’s singles collections. Everyone just seemed to want to have something to buy even if it was ‘only’ The Beatles’ huge puzzles so that they were at least not going home empty handed from the special day at the record store. With a nice sunny weather outside (although it was still a bit cold), I could feel that it was going to be such a good day.
The first act to perform way early that noon was the Stockholm’s quartet Culkin. Right after they finished their first song, I was completely impressed. I was so glad that they brought back the grunge sound of the early 90’s to the current music map which is dominated by the likes of Rihanna and Skrillex. Although it is exciting to know that some great bands like Stone Roses and Blur have reunited and that new magnificent talents keep coming out, I have to say, and someone may disagree, that none has ever relived the 90’s raw rock with loud guitars except Culkin. If you see them play, you might think that Jonas Eriksson Slove does not have that big of a vocal or that the distorted guitars are too noisy. Hold up, think again. On the contrary, those are exactly their strengths. Everything is just in place and makes sense. In the end, Pontus Wallin’s vigorous drumming, Mathias Rask-Andersen’s singing turn on Several Sundays’ awesome track, Joel Borg’s coolness on the bass and again Jonas’s subtle way of singing has won me that I went to see them again few days later at Riche which you can see the video here.
Being quite overwhelmed already only by the first band, I was thrilled to see the following performer who was called Samling. They sung in Swedish, but I got to really enjoy their 60’s and 70’s inspired folk rock and looks. I could really see how this band with seven members really enjoyed playing even in such a small space/stage. The harmony of different instruments and their rocking energy were captivating. I particularly liked the song Stackars lilla värsting from the album när mullret dövar våra öron blir vi rädda which was released on Oct 26th 2011. For information, they are currently touring Sweden, so check them out if you can!
After two rockin’ bands, Bengans’ visitors were treated a performance by a Swedish female singer with a tender voice named Sofie Livebrandt. It was an abrupt change from the previous acts, yet an endearing one. Accompanied by Lisa Eriksson who played accordion, the 40-year-old singer worked her guitar and sung very delicately and modestly like she was just telling stories. In fact, reading through her biography, I found out that she has been adding music to poems by Shakespeare, Sylvia Plath and most recently Emily Dickinson, as she has just released a new album titled Emily and I, complete with a 56-page booklet. She is genuinely unique.
As Sofie completed her beautiful sets, it was time for The Soundtrack of Our Lives or TSOOL, also one of Sweden’s dearest bands to take the stage. That time, apparently many of their fans had been eagerly waiting for them. Bengans was suddenly packed that some people could not get in and just had to stand outside to see TSOOL perform. It was then I realized that I was about to see one of the legends in Sweden. Fans who were beside me, boys and girls, teenagers and adults, were already humming their songs while waiting. I couldn’t be more excited. When Ebbot Lundberg (vocal) finally greeted the crowd and started singing, I could feel the warmth of their folk rock psychedelic songs. With occasional banter and waving to the audience outside, the interaction between the band and the fans created a really familiar atmosphere. We bobbed our heads and sung together. TSOOL definitely showed their mature and strong sound that day. Their latest album Throw it to the Universe is already in stores for you to grab!
After that, the crowd started leaving which made me realize that TSOOL was probably the highlight and the most-anticipated band on The Record Store Day in Bengans. But the day was not over yet. Aleks, the soulful RnB singer and rapper from Fruängen suburb in Stockholm, had to have also the chance to show his talent. Although he only performed two songs, unlike the previous acts who mostly did at least five songs, his vocal and ability to recite words were pretty impressive. It surely did not disappoint his fans who were mostly girls.
Thus, the Record Store Day in Bengans so far satisfied me. Unfortunately, I had to miss the last three performers that afternoon. They were Carolina Wallin Perez, Lena Svanberg and Simian Ghost who I am sure are as great as the previous performers. In the end, it had been indeed a very very pleasant day.