Toreboda Festivalen, Toreboda, Sweden, 2-July, 2015

Well, well, well babies. Here we are in one of my favorite places: Sweden.  And let me tell you, I didn’t think anything would top Bulgaria’s show, but the little town on Toreboda blew US away. Let me back up, here.

After another 48 hour work day, we landed in Gotenborg Sweden, a really fun little, active city that was host to the international youth handball team championships while we were there.  Let’s just say it smelled like teen spirit. A lot. My eyes were watering in the elevator on many occasions.

We had three glorious days of rest, and believe me, we needed every single moment.  The crew and band were simply spent, and the first day of arrival was pretty much sleeping, showering, eating and more sleeping.  Twisted Sister’s road crew works incredibly hard (even on day’s off) but we were treated to a rare play day! In the a.m., our lighting engineer, Johnny and his lovely lady Sofia, invited us into their home for a traditional Swedish brunch, full of mouth water delicacies–by far, some of my favorite cuisine of the trip. We then joined rock photographer Tim Tronckoe (from Belgium) and we spent the rest of the day riding roller coasters in a nearby amusement park!  But our playtime was short lived–early to bed for everyone because the next day was a show day.

We boarded our transport that morning after checking out of our rooms and took a two-hour drive across the beautiful Swedish countryside, once again, wondering if the festival gods didn’t just drop a dart from a passing satellite and said: Here. Have the festival….here!  We passed a lot of farms and livestock, finally arriving in a town so small that the bus we were riding had difficulty navigating through the streets.  Yes, babies, welcome to beautiful downtown Toreboda!  A sleepy rural township of about 4,000 occupants–maybe 10,000 in the entire province, they told me.  As we prepped the stage, I realized that we were playing the town square.  On two sides of us, were apartment complex balconies, with puzzled neighbors waving from the windows as they hung their laundry out to dry.

While the Twisted crew tuned guitars and set up the drums, elderly men strolled by with their walkers, women pushed baby carriages and locals walked their dogs, who howled as the guitars screamed through the amps. I had doubts.  Who was going to come to this?  Did anyone even know who Twisted Sister was?  The dressing room was converted from the top floor of the local library, and as I hauled the bags up two floors of winding stairs, I was starting to wonder if it was worth it. “Long Way to the Top” seemed completely appropriately every time I huffed and puffed up those stairs. And I was dealing with a painful health issue during this show–I was starting to wonder what ring of Dante’s hell we had descended. (or in this case, ascended)

Then, the two very nice, properly dressed ladies assigned to our hospitality suite, pulled me aside. The one whispered to me: “I hate to ever ask for anything. But please…could you get this signed for me?  It has been so long since I’ve seen Twisted Sister, and they are such a big part of my life!”  She handed me an original 1986 Come Out and Play Tourbook…and I realized, how appropriate that we were in a library: You really can’t judge a book by it’s cover!  This town was FILLED with Twisted Sister fans.  It was like…they were all S.M.F. super heroes. By day, mild manner townsfolk. By nightfall, they transformed into crazed, screaming S.M.F.s!  I got a good vibe that this show was gonna be special.

Even the guys in Twisted were amazed. After a whole day of folk music, local music and some stuff I can’t really even describe (although I did enjoy meeting some Olympic Swedish Figure Skaters who were MC’ing part of the day) when TS took the stage, not only was the festival town square packed so tightly you could barely move, but it spilled into all of the surrounding streets. Every window had people in it. Every balcony had scores of folks hanging out and off of it. There were people climbing trees, hanging off light poles– I think the entire town just shut down and showed up. Babies threw the horns from their buggies. I may have even seen a cow out there, but don’t hold me to that. I was really tired by that point.

The show TS delivered was equally matched by the audience.  They were chanting, singing and screaming before “Long Way” even blared. They sang the words to every song, they screamed louder than the enormous crowds at TopFest and Kavarna.  The Swedes are all about their metal, and this little sleepy town was no exception.  When a crowd is this good, the band is even more motivated to give just a little bit more. Twisted always plays 100%…but man, they gave at least three rounds of “We’re Not Gonna Take It’ and the crowd kept chanting, “One more time…one more time…”

All I can tell you, is that A.J. would have been really proud.  These shows in his honor truly served as fitting tributes to the man we love so dearly.  I would be lying if I said that we didn’t notice the difference.  But it’s just too painful for me to talk about, even now.  A.J., brother, we played a good run for you!

But no time to dally, my babies.  We had 30 minutes to pack up and run! And run we did….we had a 2 1/2 hour drive to the airport to catch an early flight back to the states.  We made it just in time, thankfully, and before long, your Twisted lot were in deep slumber in flight.

With that my babies, I finish this entry off…will likely post it upon my return with the others when I have faster wifi connections.

This was an incredible run of 5 Euro shows….2 of which were back-to-back in different countries….the road crew and band had to dig deep a few times but overall, I think these shows were a fantastic success. Thank you Toreboda!

And thanks to everyone local (and afar) who made it possible.

Armadillo…trotting off to find a doctor, a shower, a sandwich and a bed….but not necessarily in that order.


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