I’ve been to Sweden Rocks several times. It’s a huge festival that takes place over 3 days with bands playing everything from thrash to classic rock to blues. There was one year (a long, long time ago) that rocked so hard it takes multiple stories to tell. This blog post goes out to AJ Pero, RIP.
Part 1- NYC to Sweden.
I got the earliest flight possible out of JFK. The 6 a.m. flight- the one you don’t sleep the night before, you just stay awake until the bar closes. I’d have no sleep anyway out of pre-travel jitters. I was flying alone from NYC to Copenhagen and meeting friends from Spain at the airport there, with plans to drive to Sweden. I arrived at a ghostly JFK, at the ungodly hour, cruised through security and realized my phone would no longer work once I was overseas (I travel on a whim and am never fully prepared). I succumbed to fate and walked through the terminal for my usual pre-flight Bloody Mary. As I neared the bar my fuzzy morning vision cleared to I realized I’m the only person in the terminal aside from Twisted Sister. I must still be dreaming. I had a pre-flight chat with them which turned into a full on friendship by the time I got to Copenhagen.
Twisted Sister were playing Sweden Rocks Festival that day. I got off the flight and the guys insisted on putting my luggage on their bus and escorting me to the show. They didn’t want me wandering the airport with no communication to meet my ride. They took my bags, packed ‘em away and were a half second from leaving when I refused the offer. I couldn’t worry the Spaniards half to death by ditching them on the first day. I stayed at the airport and eventually met my friends who safely drove me to the beautiful sprawling countryside of Sweden and the weird and outrageous world of Sweden Rocks Festival.
We arrived at the festival and I parted ways with the Spaniards, embarking on my own adventure to meet ZZ Top. I knew they were playing the festival and had prepared by making matching custom ‘Eliminator’ themed guitar straps for Billy and Dusty. I had no special contact for the festival, no ‘in’ to meet them, just pure obsessive will. I took off towards the backstage fence which seemed to run for miles, the festival had multiple stages taking up acres of farmland. I found a piece of compromised fence and dug a hole under it big enough to crawl through. I popped through to the other side, clothing torn, a little scratched up and adrenaline fueled.
It took five minutes of prowling to find Mark Mendoza (bass player, Twisted Sister) who was stunned that not only had I made it to the festival but was there in the flesh, backstage. He gifted me a VIP pass, good for all 3 days and invited me to hang with the guys and later on see them play from side stage, with ZZ Top to follow.
….more in the next blog post!