Anna (of The Swedish Shortsnouts) wrote the following report of her journey along Harry and the Potters who toured the Scandinavia in August. She tells about each of their shows, and also about what else they did on their road trip.
This is one of those things I'll be telling my grandchildren about!
A report from Harry and the Potters' Scandinavian Tour
- summer 2010, told by Anna Fahlén
If someone had suggested it to me, I'd have called it impossible. How likely is it that an American Wizard Rock band would tour in Scandinavia?
Not very, if you ask both us Scandinavian Harry Potter fans and Harry and the Potters themselves. It wasn't something that either party thought would ever happen, because it honestly doesn't sound quite reasonable. In these countries, is there really an interest in Wizard Rock big enough for a band to tour?
It was probably because of all these near impossibilities that Harry Potter fans here in Scandinavia felt that something really special was about to happen when the plans for the Scandinavian tour were announced. It smelled like Once in a Lifetime from miles away, and therefore many fans decided immediately that they wanted to attend several shows. Me, my brother Erik, our friends Li and Jimmy and our dad Mats were no exceptions. We decided to go on a road trip and attend seven!
Tuesday, August third, Trondheim – this one we missed!
Sadly, we didn't manage to attend this show. It got confirmed really late, and I'm not sure if we would have been able to attend if it had been announced earlier, either. The people who did attend (some of whom we had the pleasure of meeting at the show in Oslo) thought it was a very nice show. A few visitors also had the clever idea to film it. Here's the first video:
The video also shows the Potters' first attempts to sing and speak some in the local languages, and those attempts were continued with increasing ambition as the tour went on.
Wednesday, August fourth, Östersund – “Jag är en trollkarl”
This show was in a venue called Gamla Tingshuset and organized by local fans, some of whom also drove the Potters on this tour. We spent most part of the day getting ready for the show. Me and my brother have a wrock band, The Swedish Shortsnouts, and we were one of the opening bands that night. My brother was also going to play with our fellow opening band, Solitary Snape. The drummer of Solitary Snape, Jimmy who went with us on our trip, also played with the Potters that
night during the electric part of their set and with us during our songs – he played with all three bands!
Some of the more experienced wrock concert attendees danced with all their might to the opening bands, and the rest of the audience overcame their initial shyness when the Potters went on. The acoustic part of their set was very amusing, especially when the younger Harry kept saying “jag är en trollkarl” (“I am a wizard”). They had also managed to learn “Accio Hagrid” and the refrain of “Save Ginny Weasley from the Basilisk” in Swedish, translations which worked really well and were performed at all of the other shows in Sweden.
When the electric part of their set started the mood was already great and the audience was more than ready to rock out with Harry Potter! People had been dancing earlier, but that was nothing to the enthusiasm which everyone in the room showed now. The energetic finish of that show served as an amazing start of the Potters' shows in Sweden!
To me, this show was special long before it happened. Bäsna is the village where me and my brother grew up. We started our band here and have for a couple of years been travelling to different parts of Sweden to play shows. This night, for the first time, we played in Bygdegården in our village, and we did so when opening for Harry and the Potters. Some of my oldest friends were there, and our neighbours and even our kindergarten teacher who once upon a time suggested to our parents that they “buy those Harry Potter-books for your children, I want to know what all the fuss is about”.
I knew on beforehand that some of our local friends and some really big fans were coming, but I definitely hadn't expected there to be around fifty people in the room when the concert started. This is a village of about 700 people we're talking about!
Us Shortsnouts opened, and given the crowd I was rather nervous, but it went well and we had a lot of fun introducing our friends to Wizard Rock. The Potters' then went on. This was an all acoustic show, and the interactive, fun experience was definitely a surprise to most of the audience. A few songs into the show, somewhere in the middle of the song “Phoenix Tears” with all the sing-along stuff going on, the audience had caught on to the fact that they were part of the performance, something they enjoyed very much.
The concert had a very cosy feel to it with some really great moments. Me and Erik joined the Potters on trombone and trumpet during “Save Ginny Weasley from Dean Thomas” and “Accio Hagrid”, something which we would continue doing at later shows. I got goosebumps when the Potters' fulfilled a request to play “The Godfather: Part II” and the show ended with “Voldemort Can't Stop the Rock”. I don't know about Trondheim, but during all the other shows this song wasn't performed.
Seeing my more or less muggle friends stand in line to buy Wizard Rock CDs after the show felt a bit unreal and very amusing.
We left Bäsna in the morning and went by car to Gothenburg. For lunch we stopped at Ikea in Örebro for meatballs.
Prior to this show, on the Facebook event created by the venue (Lokal Sinnet), there had been a lot of people I didn't know set to attend. This is something unusual when it comes to Potter events in Sweden as us fans here are a relatively small group of tight-knit people. Sinnet had invited a lot of people and some of them had apparently become interested, so we expected to see a lot of new faces at the show. We did, but there were also a fair amount of fans we knew there.
Solitary Snape, who opened the show in Östersund along with us Shortsnouts, opened here as well. They did their first acoustic show in several years and were very well received by the audience who especially liked their catchy song “Amortentia”, which lists all the things the love potion Amortentia smells like. Example: “Amortentia, it smells like a little penguin and Amortentia, it smells like epic win! And it smells like wooh-oooo, it smells like the things you like to smell.” After the show, Solitary ran all out of CDs.
Like Bäsna, this show was all acoustic. The Potters begun their performance with inviting the audience to stand all around them on the stage. The audience definitely enjoyed the Potters' playful, interactive performance at first, but it was when Harry year four started telling Hogwarts jokes that everyone became really enthusiastic. Gothenburgh happens to be a city known for loving puns, and so when Harry year four told them that frogs, they don't go to Hogwarts, they go to Frogwarts, everyone cracked up.
Harry and Harry then wanted to know how frogs sound in Swedish. In English, frogs say “ribbit!” and in Swedish, frogs say “quack!” There is a Swedish song called “Små grodorna” (“Little frogs”) which contains a lot of quack sounds, and as everyone were already saying quack-quack it wasn't long until someone started singing this song. It's an old, traditional folk song, complete with silly dance moves to illustrate how frogs have neither ears nor tail, and it is sung (and danced) at Swedish midsummer celebrations every year. There is not one person in Sweden who doesn't know this song, and as the entire audience joined in the singing, waving their hands and jumping up and down like frogs, the Potters watched, completely taken by surprise.
After that amusing interlude, the show continued. Me and Erik played trombone and trumpet again. The show ended with the whole audience asked to come up on the relatively small stage, with an energetic sing-along to “The Weapon”.
Saturday, August seventh, Oslo – City of Werewolves
This show was organized by the publisher of the Norwegian translation of Harry Potter, Cappelen Damm. At the entrance, all the attendees were handed one out of “Rumpeldunk Gjennom Tidene” (“Quidditch Through the Ages”) or “Fabeldyr og Hvor de er å Finne” ("Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them”) for free! The crowd was big, about 150 people, and this was most likely due to the Oslo show being one out of only two in Norway and that Cappelen Damm's involvement had helped let a number fans know about the show.
I had a lot of fun hanging with the Norwegian fans before, during and after the show. We Swedish fans live so close to them but we rarely ever do fandom things together. I think we should, and ideally we should involve other European countries as well, because I'd love to meet fans from a lot of different countries and rock out together! We could throw in a few discussions about our different translations of the books, while we're at it.
Anyhow, the show. When the Potters urged the audience to come up and stand all around them on the stage, everyone were a bit hesitant. However, when Harry year seven said “think about it, this is your chance to stand on stage with...” people practically ran up on the stage before he could finish his sentence.
During this show, the Potters quickly discovered that out of all their audience participation stuff, Oslo loved the werewolf-check (“Aoooo!”) the most. This crowd howled with feeling and enthusiasm like no other city had, and the Potters soon named Oslo “the City of Werewolves”. They sang a couple of songs in Norwegian, among them “Accio Hagrid” (“Accio Gygrid”), and
although the Norwegian fans aren't all that fond of their translations (basically, every name have been translated) they still enjoyed hearing the Potters make the effort to sing in their language.
During “Stick it to Dolores” the audience had so much fun jumping while the Potters sang “oh my God, you look like a frog” that Harry year seven stopped the song to tell a story about how the first time they performed this song live had been at a kid's birthday party. Their (very, very young) audience had loved the “look like a frog” part of the song and had therefore forced the Potters to play that part over and over again, much like the Oslo audience had been reluctant to stop singing that particular
At the end the entire audience were invited up on stage for The Weapon, and then someone had the brilliant idea to take a group picture. After the show the line to the merchandise table seemed endless, and this was definitely one of the shows where the Potters sold the most stuff.
There was no show in this day. Our group spent the day playing tourists in Oslo. We saw the castle and some really great fountains. In the evening we went aboard a boat, and the next morning we woke up in Copenhagen!
We spent the day in Copenhagen, seeing some of the town (only got lost once!) and visiting the Guinness World Record Museum. They had a Harry Potter doll at the entrance! I can't recall which world records the Harry Potter book sales had broken, but it was undoubtedly cool and stuff.
The show that evening was organized by the Danish punk band De Høje Hæle. The audience consisted of a mix between punk fans and Harry Potter fans, plus a few people who were there to listen to the first opening band, a Balkan group who played with a lot of enthusiasm. They were a lot of fun to listen to, and then the De Høje Hæle went on and rocked the place with an intense set of punk songs.
They kicked off their electrical set with “New Wizard Anthem” and even though the hour was getting a bit late all the psyched Potter fans, taken by surprise punkers and enthusiastic folk music people ended the night with rocking out and dancing together!
Tuesday, August tenth, Växjö – The show with the must umlauts!
This show was organized by local fans and took place in a venue called Musikhuset. Me and Erik were opening again. Before we arrived we had thought that we wouldn't be able to use much of the equipment there, but as it turned out we managed to use some big amplifiers and the drums there. That meant both us Swedish Shortsnouts and the Potters could play some electrical songs.
We had a lot of fun opening, and then the Potters started with an acoustic set. This was the first show where it was obvious that a lot of the attendees had already been present at a show on this tour. In Gothenburg a couple of people were already familiar with things like cat-check and the sing-along parts for “Phoenix Tears”, but here a big part of the audience were evidently rocking out with the Potters for (at least) the second time.
In the Potters' electrical set, in the middle of “Stick it to Dolores”, they had snuck in “Små grodorna”, the traditional Swedish folk song about frogs. That caused a lot of laughter from the audience who happily sang along to the very familiar song and did all the dance moves together. Me and Erik played trombone and trumpet again during four songs, now joining the Potters
for “New Wizard Anthem” as well.
After the show the organizers had arranged it so that the attendees and the Potters could stay the night in a nearby school. If you've ever been to any kind of Harry Potter sleepover, you'll know how nice and cosy that was.
Wednesday, August eleventh - Another travel day
Both our group and the Potters spent this day getting to Stockholm. Once we arrived we were very tired and didn't join the local fans and the Potters for a game of “Brännboll”, a sport which is a bit similar to baseball. Those who did attend said that it was a lot of fun!
Thursday, August twelfth, Stockholm – The final one!
This show was in Nya Folkets Hus in Rågsved, Stockholm, and it was organized by local fans. During the afternoon everything was on a bit of a tight, eventually late schedule. The Potters and the organizers of the show put their best effort in to get instruments, microphones and what not transported to the venue on time, and I got the feeling that before they knew it the show had started and the opening band, The Proper use of a Rubber Duck, went on.
The Proper Use of a Rubber Duck are a duo of girls (this time a third girl stepped in to help a bit) who sing witty lyrics in beautiful harmonies. They performed a new song from Dudley's perspective about how Dudley wants to have more presents than Harry, wants Harry to stay at home when they go to the zoo and so on. The lyrics were really clever and the in-character performance was very entertaining!
Then the Potters went on, as usually starting off with an acoustic set, and at this show it appeared that more than half of the audience had already attended at least one show. Those who didn't know what cat-checks and so on were prior to the show soon caught on, and the ensuing, amazing sing-along experience had a strong feeling of all of us coming together. People had travelled from all over Sweden to join the Potters and the fans of Stockholm at this show, and the never ending enthusiasm from everyone in the room was nothing short of mind-blowing.
When the Potters started their electric sets they were joined not only by Jimmy of Solitary Snape for all songs and us Swedish Shortsnouts on brass for a couple of songs, but also by Solitary Snape's bass player CH for a couple of songs. They played “Små grodorna” in the middle of “Stick it to Dolores” again, and they played “Dumbledore” towards the end of the concert. I especially liked hearing “Smells like Harry Potter” as well, with Erik playing a solo on trumpet. Rocking out together with the Potters and an audience full of jumping and screaming fans was insanely great!
At the end of the concert I think we were all sweaty, exhausted and a bit emotional. This tour would truly have been close to impossible only a couple of years ago. Back then, us Swedish fans hadn't connected as much to each other. We didn't have a network of people who could help organize shows, and so we would have been a lot less able to welcome the Potters over here. Back then people started saying “nobody is going to organize fandom events for us, so let's start something ourselves.” Now, after numerous efforts by dedicated fans to meet, have events and connect, we have our Potter community here. As of this summer, the efforts made by fans here have connected us with some of what we always knew we would never reach. The feeling I had that night, after sharing that experience with the Potters and many of the friends I have made during my time in this corner of the Potter fandom, was unreal, hard to comprehend and utterly amazing.
After the show, outside of the venue, the Potters signed CDs, took pictures, and eventually started saying goodbyes to people. It was a kind of bitter-sweet feeling, because the tour had been so great and now it was suddenly all over, but both us Scandinavian fans and the Potters had long before this final show started talking about how great it'd be to do this again sometime.
This was an amazing nine days, a trip I most likely will tell people about for years and years to come. It was a lot of fun, we got to meet a lot of amazing people and most of all it showed me that seemingly impossible things can happen and will happen. All we've got to do is make them happen.
Thanks Anna for this amazing report!