Saturday, September 16, 2017

Ripple Field Trip - Ripple Fest Sweden 2017

Here is a funny story. Last year me and Mrs. Void were supposed to meet up with big Ripple Music label boss Todd in San Francisco as we visited the city on our vacation. All was set but when the day arrived it all fell apart because of the San Francisco Marathon that clogged up the whole city. So we never managed to get together.

One year later in Stockholm. We arrive in the Swedish capital in the afternoon to attend the first ever Ripple Fest in Sweden. Todd and his lovely wife Corrine (aka Mrs. Ripple) are traveling the Scandinavian peninsula. To celebrate that three of the Scandinavian Ripple bands, Vokonis, Craneium and Kingnomad, are putting together the Ripple Fest event. Perfect time to try again to meet up with Todd.

As we make our way through the city we notice that lots of streets are being closed down for traffic. When we arrive at the hotel the hotel manager asked if we are staying for the marathon. It turns out the track runs right through central Stockholm and as it turns out right outside our hotel and Todd's hotel over in the Old Town. Oh, the irony.

Anyway. After finding our way to Todd and Corrine's hotel happy greetings and hugs were exchanged. We went for a dinner with very traditional Swedish cuisine (and schnapps). Meeting Todd is like finding my lost twin brother. Lots to talk about. And Mrs. Ripple and Mrs. Void quickly connected sharing the same traumas of living with record collecting and nerdy husbands. Good times.

Later on. We ride the subway to Copperfields that is the venue for the evening where the Ripple Fest is going down. Now I have attended lots of gigs in my days but this turned out to be something very special. Minutes after arriving all wet because of a wonderful autumn rain we see Johnny from Kingnomad. Todd and Johnny look at each other and just smile. The rest of the nomads arrive and a big jolly hug bonanza commences. Epic moment. The dudes from Craneium join the fun and more hugs are being exchanged. I have never hugged so many bearded men in one night in my life. Love is everywhere.

Enter Simon and Vokonis. This is really special. One year ago Simon and I were standing in front of the stage at the Wizard Of Fuzz Festival talking about Vokonis needing a record deal for their second album. I told him I’d tell Ripple about them and he kind of laughed it off. Well I did just that and you all can guess what happened next. “The Sunken Djinn” is one of Ripple Music's heaviest releases in 2017. I still can’t believe that all that happened but I’m happy it did.

Anyway. The band enters the venue dripping wet from the pouring rain and more epic moments happen. Seeing Simon and Todd hug each other is one of the sweetest moments I have ever witnessed during my years as a writer and radio DJ. It’s like they've known each other for an eternity.

Then I get to hug even more bearded men, meeting lots of cool people from Domkraft, Nekromant and other power players in the heavy underground and even more love is in the air.

After inspecting the official event t-shirt, the wonderful blue vinyl second pressing of “The Sunken Djinn”, discussing new music with Kingnomad and planning the next Craneium release it’s about time for some live music right? You bet.

First band of the evening on stage is the mighty Kingnomad. They deliver a truly stellar set nailing all the details in the songs from the album without losing the power and might of the tracks from “Mapping the Inner Void” and then they premiere a brand new track that is just as good as everything else they've ever released. The band rocks the Copperfield so hard that I’m starting to wonder how the hell someone is going to be able to top them.

Well Craneium takes the challenge. Our friends from Finland put on a spectacular live experience with their heavy, fuzz driven stoner rock. The guitars are loud and distorted and heads bang furiously. Very impressive.

The clock has passed well beyond midnight when Vokonis enters the stage. Now once again I am wondering how the hell someone is going to top the previous band but I do not need to worry. At all. Vokonis is just crushing it. Simon's riffs are ten ton hammers and Emil and Jonte are laying down the groove of doom. More headbanging in front of the stage and the total love for Ripple Music is in the air. You can inhale it.

After the gig we all get together outside Copperfields and more hugs are exchanged. As we gather for a group picture of the Scandinavian Ripple Family I just feel happiness. Just pure happiness. I’m happy to get to meet Todd and Corrine, Vokonis, Kingnomad and Craneium. I’m happy that music can unite people from all over the world. I’m happy that I got to be a part of all this.

It is called the Ripple Family. Because it truly is.

-The Void

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