Way Out Ahead

The Hultsfred Festival organiser’s belief that the event went down partly because of increased competition in Sweden was probably reinforced when its competitor Way Out West sold out for the fourth year in succession.

Rockparty chairman Tony Bohlin says one of the reasons what was once the country’s biggest festival collapsed was the geographical disadvantage of being staged among the forests and farms of Småland, in southeastern Sweden, while Way Out West and Peace & Love are in more densely populated areas.

This year’s Hultsfred crowd may have been as low as 5,000, had the event been allowed to go ahead, while Way Out West pulled 25,000 per day to Slottsparken in central Gothenburg. That’s how many Hultsfred was getting a decade ago.

Way Out West founder Ola Broquist has so far resisted the temptation to try to grow the event to the same size as the 40,000 per day Love & Peace Festival in Borlänge or the 33,000 per day Sweden Rock Festival in Solvesborg, believing such expansion would fundamentally change the character of the event.

Last year the Swedish newspapers were saying it’s the country’s “best and most interesting festival,” and they’ve lavished similar praise on the 2010 edition.

The Luger-organised event has made use of its urban format to tap into Gothenburg’s music scene, with acts playing the city’s clubs and cultural centres before and during the festival. This year Way Out West opened a day early to allow more Swedish talent to play a bigger stage.

“The club concept is a crucial part of Way Out West and strengthens the urban feel of the festival, and has been really popular,” Luger press officer Joel Borg explained. The festival runs alongside Gothenburg’s annual cultural festival.

The acts playing the city’s Slottsparken Aug. 12-14 included The Chemical Brothers, Iggy & The Stooges, Marina & The Diamonds, Pavement, The xx, and Soundtrack Of Our Lives backed by the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra.