by Ken, guest contributor
I finally got to do it; I photographed a concert in Europe. This has been a dream of mine for years and getting to live it out was…it was beyond unreal. I’m quite glad that my first Euro concert experience was with Bastille, who are a band that I have been hoping to do work with for some time now. I missed them when they played NYC earlier this year and since then their reputation for being a brilliant live band has only soared.
My flight landed in Stockholm an hour before the show started and the whole time I was on the plane I was worried about making it to the gig. I literally ran like the roadrunner from the Arlanda Express to my hostel and then shoved my bags into a locker and rushed into a cab to make it to the venue (anyone who knows me won’t be surprised to read any of that). I made it with nearly twenty minutes to spare.
Arenan-Fryshuset became my first European venue that night and I was gobsmacked at it the second I walked inside. It’s a massive room that is a music venue converted from a high school basketball court; the layout of the place still had many of the distinct features of a basketball court that gave the venue a unique charm. The opening act, To Kill A King, played a heavily passionate set where I noticed the band members being taken aback by the fans of Bastille singing their songs back to them. The front row was filled with girls extending their arms in the hopes of touching the members of To Kill A King and judging by the energy the guys displayed on stage the admiration from the girls was more then appreciated.
I knew that Bastille was popular among girls in particular but it really is one of those things you have to witness to get the full understanding of it. For a second I felt I was at a pop show but once the guys from Bastille emerged from the side of the stage any chance of having a coherent thought was quickly diminished. The second the Londoners took to the stage an onslaught of screaming and cheering began, and never once did it falter during the band’s set. Though I have to say, all of that screaming felt fitting.
They have the songs and they play them well, and best of all they add so much passion to how they perform their songs live; especially frontman Dan Smith. Their debut album, Bad Blood, has grown to be one of my favorite releases of 2013 and seeing it performed live was beyond a treat for me. It’s one of those albums that was made to be performed live, made to be sang to and it was amazing to see how it’s grown into it’s own thing by a crowd halfway across the world.
Something people will ask me when I get back to New York is ‘how do the crowds in Sweden differ then the crowds in America?’ and my answer to that will probably be; Swedes are insane (in a beautiful way) with their thankfulness. In New York a live show can feel like a ‘regular business’ type of deal but in Stockholm I felt constant energy coursing through the room of Arenan-Fryshuset, which was an amazing thing to take in. People made sure to let their joy come out of them and that can be a bit of a shock to someone from a city where everyone tries to look cool at concerts (I’m looking at your Brooklynites).
You can see more of Ken’s pictures from the show (including some of the opening band) on his tumblr.