The festival, Trästockfestivalen (a Swedish play on Woodstock), is one of the year’s absolute highlights. It’s Sweden’s largest open (i.e. no entry fee) festival, with a great mix of acts both large and small, both local and global – and many would say that this is where you find the freshest music experiences.VIDEO: WELCOME TO TRÄSTOCKFESTIVALEN
“If you ask me, you can see the true spirit of Trästockfestivalen at around 2:00 in the morning”, Agnes says with a smile, looking dreamily up at the ceiling. “After the last gig, there are about 100 volunteers, maybe more, finally catching their breath. We’re all dead tired, but we soldier on, starting to tear things down, the stages and festival area. It’s sun rise again and you’re embraced by a powerful sense of satisfaction. You are right there, right then. Nowhere else.”
Agnes Lundmark works for the Mullberget Culture Association and is responsible for Sweden’s largest free festival – Trästockfestivalen. She has been a volunteer too, many times.
No, Trästockfestivalen is nothing like many other, large festivals in Sweden. It goes its own way, it always has. With a mix of the large and small. The Swedish and the international. No entry fee, no alcohol. “Trästockfestivalen is created by and for the grassroots. The music is central, but we give room to all kinds of cultural expressions.” In the early 90’s, the Skellefteå music scene was flourishing. That’s also when the first Trästockfestivalen was organised, in the open green areas of Nordanå.
“Back then, things were very informal. For instance, there was no designated festival area, but the desire to create a space for the local music scene was enormous. As time went by, Trästockfestivalen grew, organically, by itself. “Yeah, maybe even too much”, explains Agnes and tells the story of how in 1997, the festival had to take a break. Things needed to be formalised.
A year later, they were back with a clear vision and organisation. “The festival knows its roots, what it is, where it comes from”, says Agnes. “Even when things needed to change.” The stories surrounding the festival are many – some truer than others. One of many is when band, Totalt Jävla Mörker felt that the festival had become too commercial. Rumour has it that they organised their own, alternative festival. In a bush near the entrance. As a comment on the overly organised order of the day.
“It sounds like something popularly known as Buskfestivalen (the Bush Festival)”, Fredrik Lindqvist, the band’s vocalist, says with a laugh. “I don’t know if our criticism was very serious but yeah, we were a group who occasionally played in a bush near the entrance.
However, Fredrik does remember that a couple of years earlier, the band had planned a guerrilla gig on a tractor trailer near the festival exit. “We thought they’d never book us and sort of wanted revenge…” But there was no tractor trailer gig. Instead, the band played their first show of many to come at the festival.
Yes, Trästockfestivalen has always been open to new, not yet established acts. “We want to be a springboard”, says Agnes, and they have been. Many musicians have played here before shooting to global stardom. “First Aid Kit, The Hives and Cult of Luna are just a few of all the amazing musicians who have played Trästock early in their careers. Everything we do in the association throughout the year is a build-up for two days of festival”, Agnes continues. “And all those who contribute are given a chance to get up on the stage. It’s a simple principle. You build the stage you play.
Trästockfestivalen is held at Nordanå 20-21 July. Check out www.trastockfestivalen.se for all you need to know about Trästockfestivalen.