Sunday, December 17, 2006

Stockholm Rock City

Sweden is impervious to rock and roll. It's sad but true: if you want to shake your booty in Stockholm, don't go see a rock band, unless you want to get the kind of looks ordinarily reserved for public nose-pickers, puppy-kickers and people who jump the queue at the liquor store. On this trip, what with night falling at 2:30pm, there's been a lot of sitting around sipping glogg and lighting candles. The urge to hibernate is fierce. But sometimes you just have to cut loose. So, in a fit of homesickness, I crept out Thursday night to see the Thermals. The show was at my second-favorite rock club in Stockholm. It used to be a System Bolaget. There are pix of Howlin' Pelle and the Raveonettes on the walls. When I arrived, the openers, DAP (Destroy All Planets), were on their last song. When they finished, I bought myself a $7 Swedish lager and waited for the rock.

Pretty soon a very tall handsome fellow approached. I could tell he wasn't Swedish, because despite being under 40 he actually spoke to me. "We came here all the way from Germany to see the Thermals!," he said. "I have seen them maybe like five times!" He and his buddy already had tix to see the band again in Cologne on the 19th. They were even more excited about being there than I was.

The Thermals sounded awesome, not that Sweden noticed. For half the set, no one moved at all. The singer's eyebrows outdanced everybody. Luckily, this worse-than-Portland deadness did not ruin the show -- mostly thanks to the Germans. Two songs in, they started to twitch, and their dancing quickly escalated. They hugged while pogoing! Difficult to do. After a while, one Swedish guy started jogging in place next to them, and it was officially a three-man dance-off. A ring of frosty Stockholmers stood around the dancers, looking nervous. Cartoon thought-bubbles over their heads said, "Why can't these people stand still and behave?" But the Germans kept on dancing, and the other guy kept on jogging in place. On the last song, the only punk-looking girl in the room finally moved her feet. Yeah! Partial victory. Or maybe she was German too.

"I've never seen a crowd like this," said one of the guys from Cologne, distraught. But the band didn't seem to mind. I talked to the drummer afterwards, and he said the band was psyched that people showed up at all; it was their first time in Stockholm, and at 10pm there'd been nobody there. Better a crowd of statues than an empty room, I guess. But still -- I fear for this land. Didn't the Swedes once pillage monasteries and go berserk on foreign coastlines? Didn't one of their parties once get so out of hand that revelers pelted the guest of honor to death with the bones leftover from dinner? (Yes!) Now they seem to have grown so meek they won't even dance for fear of jostling someone. What went wrong? Are Stockholmers really going to stand by and let themselves be out-danced by Germany?!?

For a better-edited review of the show, go here. (And thanks to the best-ever high-school yearbook staff for the editing! You guys RULE. xo)

1 comment:

  1. p.s. the girl in the pic w/the mad hot '80s style is not me, FYI. :>