Space And Rock Festival - Rocksjon, Jonkoping, Sweden 8/14-15/98

by Scott Heller
Photos by Scott Heller and Henrik Hallgren

From Aural Innovations #4 (October 1998)

The best Space Rock Festival ever put on, that no one came to....

The music at this event was really incredible but there were only 46 people to observe and document the event. I believe that Carl Anderson and I were among perhaps 15 paying people and the rest were the members of the bands that played at the event. It was an incredible disappointment for the bands and especially Evert, who spent a lot of time and money to pull this event off and no one came. Dietrich Pless and his wife drove 16 hours from Germany for the event, a British guy living in Trondheim (Norway), Andreas from Germany, and a few Swedish rock fans had traveled from Stockholm. But that was about it for the paying fans.

August 14:

SEAMONSTER- 25M local band
EVIL KNIEVEL- 25M Goteborg
THE MOOR w/Nik Turner- 90M Falkoping
MAN- 75M (Nik on Encore) Wales

The Rockjon was a beautiful place. A fenced off area right on a lake with bathroom and shower facilities, as well as a little place selling drinks and some food. We were able to camp right on the grounds behind the main stage. We would have gone swimming but the weather was not that great, with a temperature of around 60F (14C) and raining on and off, mostly on..... Anyway.... The place was set up with two stages. All the local acts except Ryno played on the second stage. They tried to time it so one band would start soon after another finished. Seamonster, a local three piece band played very heavy psych. They played all instrumental numbers, some reminding me of the Japanese noise bands like Fushitsusha. Pretty cool band. Next up was Evil Knievel from Goteborg, Sweden. They were an all instrumental four piece including a female organ player which made their sound a bit more 60'ish.. They had really great bass lines and some pretty spacy stuff. These guys are really young and this was their first show, so we might want to watch out for them.

The MOOR were next and sounded really great! They played about 55 minutes of their own music and then they were joined by Nik Turner and played some of his numbers from Xitintoday like Thoth and Pyramid Spell. The MOOR were really excellent today, much tighter than when I saw them in Hamburg in January. The recent flux material was very heavy live. For those not familiar with the MOOR, they play a heavy gothic spacerock. The vocals are spoken words in which the singer (Hans) improvises a bit, sort of his own brand of poetry, making social commentary along the way. The guitars can be quite heavy (almost metallic) using wah wah and phaser at times. Kenneth lays down an excellent synth sound (very rich) providing the backdrop for the excellent rhythm section of Stefan and Ulf. Great band who have two CD's, Every Pixie sells a Story and Flux.

The set list was: Candlelight, Now, Stay, Body, Soon, Bell, Consider Death, Suck, Dream Worker, Pyramid Spell, Thoth, Watching the Grass Grow, Bucket on my Head.

MAN closed the show this first night, which for some included the hangout with the band after the show. I had never seen MAN live and neither had nearly anyone else in the audience. The last time they had played in Sweden was 1973! They were playing without their keyboard player (who lives in Denmark), so this limited the set they could (or would) play. The band opened up with The Ride and The View and that really got things started. The thing you noticed right away is that these guys can really play and there is a great interaction between each instrument. We had Martin Ace on Bass, Mickey on guitar and vocals, Deke on guitar and Terry on drums. Next up was a killer version of C'mom lasting over 20 minutes. The slide opening by Micky was great and then the guitar kicks in and everyone is moving. Excellent jam. The band followed with Do it and Many Are Called But few Get Up. These were both great as well, with crunchy guitar riffs. They closed their set with a 20 minute version of Spunk Rock with Nik Turner sitting in on sax. This was the first time Nik had jammed with the band since 1974! Everyone was talking about how great MAN was after the set and many headed into a small tent behind the main stage to party with the band. I had Deke sign his book, Rhino's, Wino's and Lunatics. He was a very nice guy. We spoke a bit about some of the things in his book and then Carl and I called it a night. If you have not read this book, you must. It is one of the best music biographies I have ever read.

August 15:

CHoUAGHAH- 20M local (horrible)
RYNO- 60M (w/Nik Turner) local
MAN- 75M Wales
PSEUDO SUN- 32M Stockholm
DARXTAR- 30M Sweden
DARK SUN- 60M Finland

Chouaghah, a female trio of bass, guitar and drums started the music off at around 4pm (2 hours late) and were really amateur, and the guitar player had a really bad amp that kept feeding back all the time driving the soundman mad. Ryno played next on the main stage and were a guitar and bass duo who were joined by Nik for the entire set on sax and flute. The band played mostly cover songs by Dylan and Neil Young but a few originals as well. They were enjoyable but nothing very special. Nik sounded really great on some of the songs like I Shot The Sheriff and Like A Rolling Stone. The band also played Rockin' In The Free World, and All Along The Watchtower.

MAN were up next on the main stage and seemed a bit tired but still jammed nonetheless. The band played most of a song off 2 Ounces Of Plastic ( It is as it must be) during the soundcheck but would not do it for the audience. The band opened the set again with The Ride and the View and went into C'mom, which was three minutes shorter and the guitar solos not as hot as the night before. After Do it and Many Are Called But Few Get Up, we got a great version of Bananas! This song has the great lyrics, "I like Bananas 'cause they ain't got no Bones, I like marijuana because it gets me stoned". They followed Bananas with a short blues number. Still a great set, but not quite as inspired as the first night. I was a bit disappointed that a band that has been playing together on and off for 30 years would not play a different set of music knowing that the audience of 40 was the same as the night before. Oh well...

After MAN, we sprinted over to the side stage to check out PSEUDO SUN. This is the band that Juba Nurmenniemi formed after leaving Darxtar. They are a heavy 3-piece band of bass, guitar and drums, with Juba handling the vocals and running the pre-recorded sequences (which you could not really hear at all except at the beginning of the set!). The band started off with a new song called Mutiny. This was a great song with a heavy bass line and a long solo by the guitar player (Bjorn Jacobson). This was followed by the excellent Signs of Life from their CD. This songs was like 15 minutes long and really spacey at times. They closed their 33 minute set with Atmosfear, another new song. The 20 or so people who watched their set were quite impressed and everyone was talking about them afterwards. A band to look out for, especially live!

Next up were the SPACIOUS MIND from northern Sweden (Lovanger and Skellefte ). This is a band that I have been waiting to see for a long time. Their CD's are really incredible psychedelic mindfeasts. They don't play very many live gigs so this was quite special. It was dark enough now that they could utilize the light show and theatrical smoke as well. The band started off with a killer 32 minute song (sorry I don't know the title). This was just totally amazing. Thomas, one of the lead guitar players provided the psychedelic textures, while Henrik, who handled the vocals, played the more intense guitar lines and some leads as well. Jens was just truly a synth keyboard organ wizard creating so many interesting and ever changing organ to synth textures and sounds. This song was really incredible. The band followed that with a song off the Cosmic Minds At Play CD called House In The Country. They dedicated this song to me, which really touched me. The song again was quite stretched out and moved through several transitions in which the band would come back into a heavy guitar riff. Very cool. I should mention that the bass player and the drummer were really excellent, flowing exceptionally well in and out of the various psychedelic moods that the bands created. The set ended with a 22 minute version of Interplanetarian Love Machine off the Organic Mind Solution LP, in which Nik Turner joined in on saxophone. He was able to squeeze the sax playing into a unique niche within the wall of sound that the band created. It worked quite well most of the time. Nik incorrectly thanked the band for the jam calling them the Spasms, a punk band that would play later in the night! That's Nik for you!

While Darxtar were setting up, the SPASMS played a wild and crazy set on the side stage. They were like a cross between Blue Cheer and the Dwarves. The singer was just completely mad and had most of those watching laughing quite a lot. I thought the guitar riffs were pretty cool but it was pretty much over the top.

DARXTAR, another band I have been waiting many years to see started their set with a killer spacey version of Breath Messages. The band has such a great mixture of spacey guitar sounds and synths. I really think the synth player is excellent. He provides a very spacey sound. Not super complex, but the right sounds. The bass player is really good but he does not have as heavy a sound as Juba, so the bottom end is not quite as heavy as it used to be. The band followed that with "7" from the Sju release and this was great as well. I really like the guitar solo in this song. The band closed it's 35 minute set with an excellent version of Eternal War from Daybreak. I was very impressed with them but was disappointed that they did not play any longer. The band was now joined by Nik Turner to create HAWXTAR 1998! Because we were running a bit short on time and Dark Sun were to play last and they had traveled all the way from Finland, the Hawxtar set had to be trimmed down. They opened up with Sonic Attack, which was mostly spoken words as Jens (from the Spacious Mind) and the synth player worked on getting the audio generator/synth up and running.. The band next launched into a great version of You Shouldn't Do That. I have seen Hawkwind (90's), Nik and Pressurehed, and Sun Machine all perform this song but never has anyone done such a rendition that was so true to 1971. Really amazing... wow... Next up was Kadu Flyer. Musically this sounded great but Nik got confused and had forgotten where the lyrics fit in and this really threw the band off and so the rendition was a bit strange. Jens was creating some really amazing space sounds to augment the keyboard lines for the song and were a bit too wild maybe. A very strange version. The band moved back into Brainstorm, a song Nik could do in his sleep! Again, the band really reproduced the 1972 sound with amazing clarity! The band ended their set with a great version of Master of the Universe. I really think that Jens was incredible during this song going really over the top. Really great set of about 40 minutes. The band had planned to play for 90 minutes and do Paranoia, D-Rider, You Know You're Only Dreaming, Children Of The Sun, Time We Left and Silver Machine, but there was no time if Dark Sun were going to get to play.

DARK SUN came on about 12:20 or so and started the show with a improv jam that just sort of materialized out of the soundcheck. The band opened the set with Iskariot, a new song that the band has written. The song starts slowly with some very nice space sounds and chirps and 12 string acoustic guitar. The vocalist, Janne has a really excellent singing voice. I really love his vocals, combining power and finesse. The song really builds up to a climax and then spaces out again. The acoustic guitar player, Ylli, is really good and was dressed in a traditional Finnish costume, which was cool. The band also had various painted wooden symbols and cardboard figures of people up on the stage, which was an added touch. Kari, the lead guitar player was excellent, but a little too low in the mix. I really liked the way that Mikko used a lot of sampled sounds from MD and CD and then played layers of keyboard and synth over the top. The band then performed another new song called Ethics about a man who went out to space and never came back! The band then played Abduction Files from their excellent (sold out only 1500 copies) CD called Feed your Mind. This version was over 10 minutes and was one of the highlights of the bands set. This was followed by another new song called Dream Circuit in which Nik Turner joined the band. This was a very cool, song with an excellent almost funky spacerock groove to it. Having Nik playing on it and not really knowing the song certainly changed the arrangement a bit. The band closed the normal set with great versions of Psychedelic Warlords and Hassan I Sahba! The band really wanted to keep playing so the soundman cut down the volume of the PA and the band played another new song called Wooden Man. Really excellent vocals on this song. The band tried to start up another song but it was already near 1:30 and the town has a sound code regulating music after 1:00 am and we were already well after this, so the soundman killed the PA and the band played on for several minutes until Janne realized that his vocals were not being heard at all and he called it quits. Ylli kept on playing the acoustic guitar and Nik kept playing as well and they did a bit of Silver Machine and the audience sang along and it all ended well. The party continued for several hours and everyone hung out and had a good time.

Evert Wysell must be congratulated for the effort that was put forth to make this event happen. It is quite a blow that so few people showed up and that he lost a lot of money but one can never know why there were not 100's of people. Anyway, this was an incredible weekend of music and one that I enjoyed as much as any I have ever experienced. I met many incredible people (Evert, Henrik, Jens and the Spacious Mind, Deke, Kenneth and the MOOR, Janne and Dark Sun, Andreas, Juba and Pseudo Sun, and Soren from Darxtar). I did not mind that only 20 people came, like Martin Ace from MAN said. " It's very nice to be here amongst so few beautiful people. But don't forget, you are the ones that are here and everyone else is nowhere, man!".

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