It had been a few years since Robyn played a proper gig in Sweden and her hometown, so when it was time to end her current tour with a final gig in Stockholm, she invited some musical friends and collaborators to join her on a mini festival bill. A DJ booth in the sound tower opposite the stage was used to give four DJs up to an hour each to play a set while the stage was being set up for the next artist to perform, so from 4pm until midnight, the audience is treated to music non-stop. Slightly cheesy latin-flavoured chill-out disco from DJ Dea Barandana is followed by a slightly hit-and-miss performance from El Perro Del Mar on the stage, wearing a dress that looks part Sacco sack, part Catholic nun, part trenchcoat. Then an inspired DJ set from Zhala get many up on their feet to show their most abandoned moves, before Kindness take to the stage with an all female three piece band, a bit rusty from apparently not playing live in five years, but appreciated by the audience. Although when Robyn herself join him for two songs things dramatically improves, Kindness doing an impression of a glass of skimmed milk next to Robyn’s Mojito. Next up in the DJ booth, Mr Tophat is too busy knob-twiddling (literally and figuratively) to make anyone dance to his unmelodical bleeps on top of humdrum beats, going on for an eternity. But it certainly makes everyone happy to see the next stage act, which is Dungen – a personal favourite, but their set is a bit too short, the sound not ideal, and (as it turns out) there is very little overlap of Dungen and Robyn fans, so large parts of the audience are talking through most of the set. But I get glimpses of their normal brilliance and enjoy myself in spite of being surrounded by people loudly asking ”Who are they?” and giggling hysterically when Gustaf Ejstes picks up his flute. But I can’t complain – they play two of my absolute favourite songs, and even manage to get some slightly positive verdicts from the non-believers around me in the end. The final DJ set before the main event of the night comes from Olof Dreijer (of The Knife fame) and gets everybody dancing non-stop until the gig we’re all waiting for, despite a distinct lack of standing room to move in. Finally – there she is (again), in proper stage costume this time around and with a ton of energy ready to explode on the stage. A small but excellent band and one male dancer accompanies her, and the audience goes bananas, dancing, jumping, loudly singing, shouting, whistling and having a fantastic party. When ”Dancing On My Own” starts, all 22 000 in the audience sing the chorus so loudly that she stops, overwhelmed by the response and the love, and waiting for her to compose herself we sing it again. A beautiful moment, and we don’t even care that it’s beginning to rain. Her charisma on stage is glow-in-the-dark mesmerising, her voice is the best I’ve ever heard it, tracks that are so-so on record now sound like masterpieces when you’re part of a gigantic dancing crowd, and her own dancing, with or without her (brilliant) dance partner, makes the stage show a cut above the rest, and inspires us to join her in even wilder dancing. For almost two hours, with a couple of short breaks for costume changes/dramatic purposes, we are the happiest people in the world. Thankfully the rain only comes down as a light mist until the gig is over and we start trying to get out from the concert area, when we collectively get our rain ponchos out of our bags and proceed towards the city centre looking like a procession of very happy Halloween ghosts.
All ages, in the end 22 000 of us, but when I arrive at 3pm it’s almost deserted, more and more people trickling in over the following hours – those mainly interested in Robyn show up quite late. Apparently the lines to the different food booths/trucks had been endless, but coming early (and not eating) left me oblivious of these problems, standing right in front of the stage from the start.
It made me think..
I really should know better than going to a gig with cash only on me – of course they only took card payment and I had to pay 50 SEK to a stranger to buy me a small bottle of water (she didn’t have change) so I wouldn’t faint from dehydration… Top tip if you visit Sweden: lots of places don’t take cash (I live here, and I still managed to forget this fact for some reason – usually I don’t even have cash on me EVER!)