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The opening words

The town of Falun is located 220 kilometers (140 miles) northwest of Stockholm in the province of Dalarna. The festival area with its two stages is sighted right beneath a pair of ski jumping towers at a local, yet well known winter sports center.

I visited this rather small festival for the first time last year, when it was run in late May. An awesome event then and I knew on my way back home that time, that I was going back to Falun for a second time for the 2012 edition. Last year, a two-day festival, now extended to three days in Thursday through Saturday with the first day functioning as warm-up. I skipped Thursday's festivities due to, in my opinion, a somewhat poor lineup and trouble getting shit together. I arrived on a sunny Friday afternoon instead, well ahead of schedule, so I had plenty of time before I would catch a set.

Reviews by Tobbe

Friday August 17

Band: Circle II Circle
Bandit Rock Stage 18:30-19:30

I checked out a couple of bands for a while here and there, before I went to the second stage in wait for Circle II Circle. I already knew that they were here to play their The Wake Of Magellan-set and even if that Savatage record is fairly good, I prefer main man and lead singer Zak Stevens' work in the 2000's with Circle II Circle.

Due to many local visitors finishing their daytime jobs and to the pretty early hour, the crowd was anything but huge during the set. A few diehards up front were rocking out to band heavily, whilst the rest seemed to just check them out. I would count myself to the latter group of people, because as written above, I was not too pleased with their decision to play that entire album.

Their stage performance was nothing but good, but with a couple of hired guns, a total of six musicians filled the stage floor to its limits and left no space for movement. However, much to my appreciation they closed the set with the title track of the first CIIC album, Watching In Silence, but then I had already left the front rows and saw the show from the bar area instead.

Performance: 5 chalices of 10
Stage sound: 6 chalices of 10
Best: Zak
Worst: I would have preferred a Circle II Circle set.

(sorry, no setlist)

Band: Iron Savior
Bandit Rock Stage 20:45-21:30

Iron Savior, a band that generally don't visit Sweden a lot and in fact hardly ever tour. As I had only seen this band once before, I was excited to see what they could achieve ten years later, so I headed down to the Bandit Stage well in time to not miss one single second of their set.

I was hoping for a kind of a best-of set when they were back after many years. Instead Piet Sielck and his boys chose to promote their latest album The Landing, released last November. With only forty-five minutes of playing time, the set included four songs off that mentioned album, most of them probably unknown to the main part of the audience. Good songs, but a festival set is better off with their better known songs to get the crowd going.

Songs like Coming Home and Condition Red as well as the last part of the set with songs off their debut were highlights and I stood there quite satisfied when the last tones were fading out, but for God's sake Piet, button your shirt next time you're on stage. Your chest is in no condition for the crowd to lay their eyes on.

Performance: 6 chalices of 10
Stage sound: 6 chalices of 10
Best: The band being back in Sweden.
Worst: Too many songs from their latest album.

The Arrival (Intro)
The Savior
Condition Red
Break The Curse
Hall Of The Heroes
Coming Home
Heavy Metal Never Dies
Iron Savior (2/3)
Watcher In The Sky (1/3)
Atlantis Falling

Band: Iced Earth
Main Stage 21:45-22:45

As I had never seen new lead singer Stu Block live before, I was curious to see how he would carry the weight on his shoulders and handle his predecessor Matt Barlow's legendary status. Main man Jon Schaffer, now with black hair and beard, instead of his natural gray, have had four frontmen in his ranks before, so we'll see what happens to Mr. Block in the future.

After a tentative start with Dystopia and Burning Times, who usually are great songs, the gig ignited. The new lead vocalist is just as good as Mr. Barlow when referring to technique, empathy and compassion, but he is also a natural metal singer, meaning his moving pattern is way more interesting and wild, when comparing to the two latest singers. I would say he acts like he has played in Iced Earth for decades and his performance was far beyond my expectations.

I'm always overwhelmed by the riffs Schaffer plays and on many of their gigs I just follow his moves to see what he presents. This was indeed a very good performance, even if they could have scratched Boiling Point and the closer Iced Earth and replaced them with better songs to make it an even greater experience.

Performance: 8 chalices of 10
Stage sound: 6 chalices of 10
Best: Ten Thousand Strong, V
Worst: The song Iced Earth, Boiling Point

1776 (Intro)
Burning Times
Slave To The Dark
I Died For You
The Wolf
Ten Thousand Strong
Boiling Point
Watching Over Me
Iced Earth

Band: D:A:D
Main Stage 00:15-01:45

Friday's headliner, Danish hard rock veterans D:A:D entered the stage a quarter past midnight as the temperature was slowly falling. I had already seen this band twice on their latest tour in support for last year's release Dic.nii.lan.daft.erd.ark, so I knew this was going to be a good show, if they wouldn't fuck things up totally.

It didn't take long to see that these professionals would go through this performance as good as they usually do. With a mix of songs from almost their entire catalogue, lead singer and guitarist Jesper Binzer have a firm grip on his crowd, even though it was only the first twenty-five rows of people who were rocking out to this show. I was going to the can somewhere in the middle of the gig and farther back, the crowd looked like they were attending a funeral.

I don't have to tell you twice that I'm an objector to one man solos and especially guitar solos, but if someone play it like Jacob Binzer does in Grow Or Pay, I'm the first to stand in line to see it. Even if he made a few mistakes, it's awesome when he just extend it in near perfection. I wish other guitarists could learn from him.

Performance: 7 chalices of 10
Stage sound: 7 chalices of 10
Best: It's After Dark, Evil Twin
Worst: Riding With Sue is not a good song.

A New Age Moving In
Isn't That Wild
Everything Glows
Girl Nation
Riding With Sue
Monster Philosophy
Grow Or Pay (w/ extended guitar solo)
We All Fall Down
I Want What She's Got
Drum Solo
I Want What She's Got (continued)
Bad Craziness
Evil Twin
Sleeping My Day Away
Laugh 'N' A 1/2
It's After Dark

To the top

The closing words

I was supposed to stay for Saturday as well, but due to family matters I left in the afternoon that day. Remembering Sabaton's gig at last year's festival, I would have loved to stay to see what they were up to this time. I have talked to some people about their gig and they all say it was a stunning performance from the Falun natives.

In my opinion, this festival has too many bands playing for audiences that mainly are locals coming there for the event, rather than to see their favorite bands. A lot of people show up early evening after their jobs or just sit at home getting hammered before heading for rock 'n' roll.

Due to shitty Swedish politics, alcohol is only served at one place, caged in on a small hill, but with visibility over both stages though. The organizers have no voice in this decision whatsoever and this results in people hanging in the bar area and leaves empty spaces in front of the stages. Not bad though for people more interested in the bands than in alcohol, as it never gets overcrowded. Later in the evening, I tried to order three beers, but were told that I could only order one beer at a time and if I wanted to buy more, I had to bring the people I was buying to. The reason for this was that people were getting too smashed and the staff wasn't allowed to serve any alcohol to wasted persons.

Due to many one-day tickets sold, mostly because of the good weather I presume, there were some lines in the bar and not enough toilets. One mishap occurred when the restrooms at the bar area had to close for maintenance. Nothing serious though, as this is an open air festival and we all know what men do when they see a fence.

In conclusion: Even if my closing words seem somewhat negative, this is indeed a pleasant festival, which I'll visit again for sure. The tickets for 2013's edition of Rockstad are real cheap this fall and if you hurry up you'll get a very fair deal, as the price slowly escalates when the festival approaches.

~ Tobbe

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