A Royal ABBA Salute And Other Scandinavian Musical Delights

Categories: On the Road

Royal band.jpg
Photos by Brittanie Shey
The Royal Band outside Stockholm Palace
Välkommen from Scandinavia! More specifically, Gothenburg, Sweden, the country's "second city" and home to some of Rocks Off's favorite bands from recent years, including El Perro Del Mar, The Soundtrack Of Our Lives and The Knife.

This is our second trip in the last year to Gothenburg (Göteborg, if you're Swedish) - Rocks Off's SO is here on business and who can say no to a nearly free trip to Europe? - and in the four total weeks we've spent in the west coast city (and a few days in Oslo and Stockholm) we've come to the conclusion that Scandinavia is an underrated hotbed for musical discovery.

Musicians from elsewhere in Sweden include one half of The Knife: Fever Ray, The Hives, Peter Bjorn & John, Robyn, bob hund, Lykke Li, The Sounds, Sahara Hotnights. We could go on. Don't even get us started on the rest of Scandinavia. Shoegazers Mew are from Copenhagen, our favorite garage-rock podcasters The Dorktones are from the Netherlands and Low Frequency in Stereo are from Norway. Folkie José González is Swedish of Argentine descent.

Rocks Off just realized that a glimpse at this list pretty much sums up the bulk of our musical tastes. And that's not even counting the more established bands from Sweden. Your mom probably still has her Ace of Base CD. Yngwei Malmsteen leads the neo-metal movement, and Europe has been performing for 20-plus years.

Just take a look at this extensive Wikipedia article. Seriously, what's with that? Is it the Viking thing, or that fact that winter lasts 20 hours a day for nine months of the year here?

And don't even get us started on that one band. You know the one. The Holy Grail of Swedish music, and one of the top-selling musical acts in the history of music. Yep, we're talking about ABBA.

Over the holiday weekend, Rocks Off took a four-day trip to Stockholm where we had the intention of checking out the ABBA Museum to see if we could try to... understand... the international obsession with the long-defunct band, an obsession that has spawned movies, musicals and countless numbers of less-than-stellar imitators.

Unfortunately, ABBA The Museum has been beset with financial difficulties from its inception, despite the fact that at least one member, Benny Andersson, is quite successful in his second career as a hotel owner, and that both Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus receive royalties from the co-writing of the musical Mamma Mia.

ABBA The Museum was initially set to open last year, but the date was pushed back to "early 2010" until the space that was reserved for it, a 700-year-old dockside building, was re-imagined as Stockholm's first photography museum. Instead, the massive collection of ABBA-phenalia is currently on tour. In Australia.

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