A November guide to live music in Stockholm

Contributor David Stavrou checks out some of the highlights awaiting Stockholm music lovers in October.

A November guide to live music in Stockholm
Canada's Cowboy Junkies perform at Stockholm's Södra Teatern on November 11th

November, unlike previous months, won’t be a month for musical giants on Stockholm’s music scene. While no stadium-fillers are booked at the bigger venues, the absence of the likes of U2 and Bruce Springsteen might be a blessing after all, since November offers an unusually large number of smaller gigs and lesser-known acts from all over the world.

The first to benefit from November’s packed musical calendar may be those who grew up in the 80s, who’ll be able to enjoy a brief return to their youth, particularly if it included a liking for the more alternative side of the decade of synthesizers and drum machines.

English singer-songwriter Lloyd Cole who was front-man of Lloyd Cole and the Commotions in the 80s has been a solo artist for the last twenty years. He’s now touring Europe with his Small Ensemble after releasing a new album called Broken Record a couple of months ago.

“I had written some songs which demanded a beat, and I was having great fun with my new acoustic trio,” Cole said in explaining the genesis of the album.

“Why not make a rocking record, or whatever it is that 49-year-olds make when they try to do that?”

Cole will play at Söder Teatern on November 18th.

Another 80s band visiting Södra Teatern this month is Cowboy Junkies. The band became famous worldwide in 1988 after the release of their acclaimed second album, The Trinity Sessions, which was recorded in one day with a single microphone in a Toronto church. Since the early-90s they have seen less commercial successes, but they continue to record and perform constantly and their current European tour brings them to Stockholm on November 11th.

As the 80s closed, the era of grunge music began, with the emergence of bands like Nirvana and Pearl Jam. Hole was another grunge band popular at the time and the band has recently resumed activity after their 2002 breakup. While Hole isn’t currently on tour, one of their ex-bass players, talented Melissa Auf Der Maur, will be playing Debaser on November 21st.

Another musician who broke through during the eighties and is visiting Stockholm this month is John Hiatt, an American songwriter and singer who started his career in the early seventies, and who will appear at Nalen on November 9th.

Formed in 1980 in the western side of Berlin, Einstürzende Neubauten represents a more experimental side of the 80s. They are still alive and kicking and even making very interesting music. As part of their 30th anniversary they will play a full concert at Cirkus on November 7th following a special evening featuring their music as well as films and solo shows in Södra Teatern on November 6th.

Södra Teatern also offers its usual colourful international selection. Some highlights are: an evening with Iranian, Kurdish and Indian music on November 2nd; Deolinda, a fado inspired Portuguese band on the 3rd; exciting Colombian 12 piece band LA 33 on the 4th; an African festival on the 5th; Mexican ska band Panteón Rococó on the 11th; experimental German pianist Hauschka on the 24th and on the 7th, Nasser Shamma, an Iraqi virtuoso player of the oud, a pear-shaped stringed instrument commonly used in Middle Eastern music, takes the stage. A couple of more modern-sounding oud players, Palestinians Kamilya Jubran and Hosam Hayek, will play on the 19th and the 28th.

More Middle-Eastern musical roots can be found in Debaser where Los-Angeles-based Fool’s Gold will play on November 5th. The group, founded by two Israelis who immigrated to the US at an early age, blends pop music with African and Middle-Eastern influences. Other shows on the international front at Debaser are Icelandic multi-instrumentalist and composer Olafur Arnalds on the 16th and French pop trio Yelle on the 20th.

As usual some UK acts will also pay a visit to Stockholm this month. Teenage Fanclub sounds a bit like a California 60s band though it’s from 90s Glasgow. One of their many fans was the legendary Kurt Cobain, who apparently called them “the best band in the world”. Teenage Fanclub will play Debaser on the 19th, the day after another British act – Field Music, an indie pop group from Sunderland. Marina Diamandis, better known as Marina and the Diamonds, a new wave pop singer from Wales will play Nalen on the 22nd.

And Stockholm-area guitarists and guitar fans won’t want to miss the chance to see one of the fastest guitarists in the world when Paul Gilbert visits Göta Källare on November 20th. The performance will feature his famous signature series Ibanez guitars and a set-list from both his 2010 album Fuzz Universe as well as older material.

Guitar lovers will also be glad to see Dweezil Zappa returning to Stockholm. Dweezil’s father, Frank Zappa, was arguably one of the most original guitarists in rock history and definitely one of the twentieth century’s most important musicians. Since 2006, Dweezil has been leading a tribute act devoted to playing the music of his father, who died of prostate cancer in 1993. The project, Zappa plays Zappa, has already given a couple of great concerts in Stockholm, and this time Dweezil and co. will play at Filadelfia Kirkan on November 12th and the show is set to include the classic album Apostrophe (‘) played in its entirety.

Another famous relative playing in Stockholm this month will be Sting’s daughter, Eliot Sumner, performing under the band name I blame Coco. Her debut album The Constant was recorded in Sweden and will be released on November 8th. She plays Strand on the 26th.

The constant stream of heavy metal and hard rock bands pouring into Stockholm continues during November too. Job for a Cowboy, a death metal band from Arizona will play at Debaser on November 24th and hard rock New Jersey band Monster Magnet will play at Fryshuset on the 12th. Fryshuset will also host American bands Avenged Sevenfold on the 20th, Deftones on the 29th and Stone Sour on the 18th. Bullet for My Valentine, a heavy metal band from Wales, will play at Annexet on November 16th, a day before neighboring Hovet will host Rockstar Taste of Chaos, an international hardcore tour featuring 8 bands such as American heavy metal band Disturbed and hard rock bands Buckcherry and Halestorm.

Other notable concerts this month will be given by American folk singer Mary Gauthier who will play at Bryggarsalen on November 7th, folk rock singer Lissie who will play at Debaser’s Slussen location on the 10th while indie rock band Beach House will play on the same night in the Medborgareplatsen venue. Debaser will also host American Idol finalist, Adam Lambert on the 9th, Sleepy Sun a psychedelic rock band from San-Francisco on the 19th, NYC electronic music duo Ratatat on the 7th, LA rock band Autlux on the 30th, electronica Toronto based Holy Fuck on the 13th and Jesse Malin and the St. Marks Social on 26th.

While most of these musicians are in their 20s and 30s, some old timers will also grace Stockholm’s stages this month. Mavis Stapels, a 71-year old R&B and gospel singer and civil rights activist, will play at Nalen on the 19th. Göta Källare will host R&B and soul veterans Tower of Power on the 5th as well as the “father of Ethio-Jazz”, Mulatu Astatke on the 4th.

Swedish artists performing this month in Stockholm include indie singer Lykke Li who will play at Södra Teatern on November 8th, singer Moto Boy who will also play at Södra Teatern on the 21st and singer-songwriter Anna von Hausswolf who will play at Bryggarsalen on the 30th. Swedish band Bo Kasper’s Orkester will play two nights at Cirkus on the 28th and the 30th, The Shout Out Louds will play Berns on the 20th, The Concretes will play Strand on the 27th and Imperial State Electric will play Debaser on the 26th.

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What are the best concerts in Sweden this autumn?

Now that Sweden has lifted its audience restrictions for public events, The Local's Paul O'Mahony lists his recommendations for the best gigs to attend over the coming months.

Crowd at a music concert in Debaser, Stockholm
Crowds return to Stockholm venue Debaser after pandemic restrictions on events were lifted. Photo: Pontus Lundahl/TT

Sweden’s musicians, concert promoters and venue operators have struggled to varying degrees through the pandemic. One surefire way to help get them back on their feet is to give organisers and artists the financial reassurance they need by pre-booking concerts. 

Of course these recommendations only apply if you feel safe attending large events; remember that you should stay home and take a Covid-19 test if you experience any symptoms that could be linked to the virus, even if vaccinated. And make sure to check with organisers if there are any specific coronavirus requirements you need to be aware of. 

Coming up: top gigs in Sweden over the next few months 

As a regular gig-goer, live music is the one thing I’ve missed most over the past year and a half. So it is with some excitement (and, I’ll admit, a degree of trepidation) that I prepare to go see Norwegian band Pom Poko this Friday at Hus 7 in Stockholm. Their melodic art-punk album Cheater sparked the year into life on its release in January. They’re also playing Plan B in Malmö on Saturday night

Plan B is also the venue when Squid hit Sweden with a thrilling dose of post-punk on October 15th. Tickets remain available for the show at the time of writing (an absolute steal at 120 kronor), though that’s sadly not the case in Stockholm where their October 16th gig at Melodybox sold out a long time ago. (Although you can sign up to be added to a waiting list). 

Another artist well worth checking out in October is Gothenburg guitarist and singer Amanda Werne, better known as Slowgold. Her live shows are great and she is embarking on a Swedish tour on October 8th. 

Emma-Jean Thackray, one of the UK’s most interesting jazz artists, will be at Fasching in Stockholm on October 15th

For the best kind of sonic assault, Anna von Hasswolff’s band Bada are scheduled to play in Stockholm, Malmö and Gothenburg in late October. 

Have any of you ever seen Gothenburg electronic veterans Little Dragon live? I haven’t but might check them out in November when they swing by Malmö, Stockholm and Gothenburg

Amason are also heading out on the road for a Scandinavian tour in November. If you haven’t heard Amanda Bergman’s voice in a live setting before this will be a treat. 

The inimitable Sibille Attar released her superb second album A History of Silence at the start of the year and she’s finally getting the chance to play her eighties-inspired gems live at Slaktkyrkan in Stockholm on November 18th

Cassandra Jenkins long lurked in the background as a musician in touring bands for people like Eleanor Friedberger and Purple Mountains. But this year’s album An Overview on Phenomenal Nature has really established her as an artist to be reckoned with in her own right. She’s coming to Södra Teatern in Stockholm on November 26th

Always popular in this part of the world, The Jesus and Mary Chain return to Sweden for dates in Stockholm and Gothenburg at the end of November

Wry Finland-Swedish indie outfit Vasas Flora och Fauna have some of the funniest (Swedish) lyrics and catchiest tunes around. They’ll be in Stockholm and Gothenburg the first weekend of December

UK experimental rockers Black Midi are also playing Stockholm and Gothenburg on December 4th and 5th. So prepare to travel if you want to catch both them and Vasas Flora and Fauna. 

As if that wasn’t enough, Bob Hund’s annual ‘week 48’ show also takes place on December 4th. But that has been sold out for ages so no decisions to make there. It is also worth noting though that Sweden’s hardest working band has also written a musical that’s going to be performed in Helsingborg (October-November) and Gothenburg (November)

Bonus: For a post-Christmas pick-me-up try to get down to Little Simz at Slaktkyrkan on January 14th if you’re in Stockholm. The UK rapper’s new album Sometimes I Might Be Introvert is one of this year’s best releases. 

Selected artists playing Sweden in 2022: Henry Rollins, Sarah Klang, Yann Tiersen, Mogwai, Pearl Charles, Wolf Alice, Lloyd Cole, Lord Huron, Future Islands, Josh Rouse + Vetiver, Tricky, Snail Mail, Porridge Radio, Aldous Harding, Shame, The Kooks, The War on Drugs, Echo and the Bunnymen, Kings of Convenience, Fontaines D.C., Alex Cameron, Lucy Dacus, The Divine Comedy, Mdou Moctar, Iggy Pop, Chubby and the Gang, Sparks, Belle & Sebastian, The National, Sharon Van Etten, Teenage Fanclub, Tindersticks, Suede, Viagra Boys, Pavement. 

For bigger arena shows, Ticketmaster covers a lot of the bases. Big-name acts with gigs in the offing include Ed Sheeran, Zara Larsson, Whitesnake and, lest we forget, ABBA

And that’s just a fraction of what’s going on. Tour schedules are busier than ever now that artists are finally getting back on the road. To keep track of what gigs are coming up I can recommend checking in with Luger, FKP Scorpio, and Live Nation. Follow your favourite venues too: sometimes they cut out the middleman and do their own booking and promotion. I also use the Bandsintown app, which comes with the added bonus of receiving messages from your favourite artists which let you pretend to be their friend. 

Enjoy the gigs, and stay safe! 

Paul O’Mahony is editorial product manager at The Local. In his spare time he plays the best new indie and alternative music as host of the Signals show on Nerve Music.