Stockholm Music & Arts took place from the 29th to 31st of July, gathering a broad audience with a mixture of all ages, all styles and all tastes. But they all shared the same energy and spirit, inspired by their love for music and arts.
The first day saw it’s highs with the likes of Cat Power, Rufus Wainwright, Titiyo, Cherrie, Patti Smith and Ms. Lauryn Hill, just to mention some of the artists to grace the stages.
It was the first time I had the chance to see the legend and godmother of punk Patti Smith, and nobody would question me if I say that her three unique shows during the festival were life changing experiences – if not altogether enlightening. She held the public in a firm grip from the moment she set foot on stage and started gliding around with her messed up hair. She was so kind than even when she spilled a cup of tea on stage, she hugged the technician who came to clean it up and said repeatedly she was sorry. Then she added “It’s good to have a man in the house” – just to make light of the the incident. All three of her concerts were a conjugation of poetry readings and empowering music, with which Patti Smith shared a message to her audience: “You must not loose your courage.”
The first evening saw a well curated chain of powerful female acts. For example it offered us Cherrie‘s angelical voice and strong lyrics. She was also joined on stage by raprer Linda Pira giving us all adrenaline kicks and chills all at the same time. The sets of Titiyo and the big star of the night Ms. Lauryn Hill brought the rhythm and blues to out ears.
Everybody who grew up listening to The Miseducation Of Lauryn Hill knew we were all in for a treat when she came out to perform. And we were not disappointed as she played her greatest hits such as “Ex Factor” and “Doo Wop” from that, her debut album from 1998. She also treated us to Bob Marley’s all-time hit “Could You Be Loved”.
Turning to the second day of Stockholm Music & Arts, we had another variety of musical styles with more grunge, rock and atmospheric thrills courtesy of Max Jury, Patrick Wolf, Ane Brun, Dungen, Grebnellaw, plus others. We had our senses amused by quite impressive visual performances as well from Mogwai and Sigur Rós.
Mogwai performed the soundtrack of the film Atomic by director Micke Cousins made of archive material confronting the pros and cons of atomic energy. With images from protests calling for nuclear disarmament, atomic bombs explosions, rockets, nuclear reactors and then isotopes producing miracles in the fields of medicine and biochemistry like radiation treatments. It kept the audience hypnotised with this controversial film about a force that can lead to both life and death. Now mash that up with Mogwai‘s atmospheric and epic music and you get a totally gutted audience (in a good way).
Sigur Rós were nothing less than amazing, beginning their show behind a fence of led lights that only opened at the end of their second song Starálfur, which saw a set of several gridded structures with led lights in diagonal across the stage. The screen behind them had light projections that made us feel like contemplating the universe. That’s exactly what happens in your mind when you listen to the ethereal music from Jónsi Birgisson, falsetto vocals, and bowed guitar, Orri Páll Dyrason, drums and Georg Hólm, bass guitar.
We also had the chance to chat with some of the people from the audience about their highlights of the festival – watch the video below:
The closure of Stockholm Music & Arts on the third day couldn’t have been more spectacular than with the 3D show offered by the electronic quartet from Düsseldorf, Kraftwerk. The 3D projections on the screen behind them went from old films to archive shots from the Tour de France, an animation of a car going on the highway to an animated train to an U.F.O. heading towards the Earth and descending into Stockholm, not before passing above the audience’s heads. It was also pretty trippy in itself to turn your head at the public and see everybody wearing their 3D glasses.
Other artists who joined the task of closing the festival included Suzanne Vega playing her hits “Luka” and “Tom’s Diner”, as well as Naomi Pilgrim, Wintergatan and AIR, among others.
Besides the musical performances, the festival had a theatre that offered several presentations, yoga sessions, guided tours to appreciate the art installations around the festival grounds and the works of the famous visual artist Yayoi Kusama inside Moderna Museet. It was inside the museum’s cinema where one could also take a look a the photographic work of the late artist Olle Ljungström, whose life was exactly what Stockholm Music & Arts is about, a relationship between art and music.