Sometimes I really have good luck. I went to Sweden earlier this month for work, and, because I’d never been there before (amongst other reasons), I decided I’d better take some vacation afterwards to poke around. I didn’t do very much planning in terms of what I wanted to do and see, or where I might stay, but I did do a cursory check before leaving the States to see if any Swedish bands that I like might be playing while I was there. “And what did you learn in your cursory check?” you might be wondering. Well, oh boy! Regulations were going to play, on my very first day of vacation! Pretty sweet. A day earlier and I wouldn’t have been able to go. So, as if it weren’t good enough luck that I got to go to Sweden in the first place, I was also going to get to check out Regulations, a kind of retro-style, snotty punk band, while I was there.
I had a brief email exchange with the guitarist from Regulations (www.myspace.com/regulationshc), Marcus, to ask him some questions about the venue (did I need to buy tickets in advance, what time would the show start, etc.), and he was super helpful. I was unsure about how popular Regulations are or are not in Sweden, and I didn’t want to not buy a ticket in advance and end up somehow missing them. As it turned out, you can’t even buy tickets in advance at the club they played at (Debaser http://www.debaser.se/), and, I think because I was there early (wanted to make sure I could find the place, having never been in Stockholm before), I ended up somehow not even having to pay at all! Pretty nice, especially considering that everything else in Sweden was very expensive (curse you, lame American dollar!).
Two bands played ahead of Regulations, but I’m afraid I can’t really comment on them, other than to say that I wasn’t too into either of them. The first band was okay, but the second band, well, suffice it to say that I was outside most of the time they were on. They were a little too metal for my tastes. I would note also that they had three guitarists. Three! Why?! For bombastic assurance, I suppose. Regardless, their three axemen did nothing to endear them to me; in fact, I would go so far as to say it had the opposite effect.
However, one plus about their set is that it did give me the opportunity to have a chat with a guy sitting next to me, who—as it turns out—had just recently moved from San Francisco (the environs in which I currently live) to Stockholm. Small world, right? But not only that, in further conversation I learned that he had grown up in northern Virginia, which is also—yup, you guessed it!—where I grew up! Crazy! What are the chances?? Quite a coincidence. So that was pretty nice, and he was very cool. We had some dork talk about DC hardcore bands, later in the week I met him for veggie food, and he also invited me to a (Swedish national league) soccer game, where there was much Hammarby worship and chanting and good times in general.
But anyway, Regulations were fantastic. The only complaint I have is that it seemed like such a very short set. Way too short! I know that in true punk rock style, a band could actually play fifteen songs or so and still finish in about thirty minutes or something ridiculous like that, and indeed, I believe that’s what Regulations did. But jeeeeez. It seemed to go by so quickly! In fact, the whole thing caused me to wonder if anyone has ever done a study on the perception of time when an individual is listening to a three-guitar-not-very-interesting band versus a fun, super-charged band that one is more enamored of. It seems like it would be a worthwhile research project.
Unsurprisingly, Regulations played many good songs, including numerous from their latest album, To Be Me. Although the album has been out for quite awhile now, I am relatively unfamiliar with the second side, because I was stuck on the first side for so long that I haven’t given the second side it’s proper due yet (I really like this new(ish) album, in which it seems to me that they broadened their style a little). I was particularly happy that they played the title song, because that is a fucking good one! They also played “Police Car” and “We’re Blank” (amongst other tunes) from one of their earlier albums, Electric Guitar, which I also think is a great record. They were tight and there was a minimum of tomfoolery between songs. Well, actually, I may have missed some of the tomfoolery, as the singer was speaking mostly in Swedish and I could only catch a little of what he was talking about now and then (when it was sprinkled with English).
I was surprised that there were not very many people there and, although the people there were enthusiastic, there wasn’t much dancing of the slam variety, despite the fact that Regulations played a lot of fast stuff that seemed to lend itself to getting down.
After the show, I had a chat with Marcus about various things and he was super nice. I learned that their singer lives in Stockholm, while Marcus (and I think the rest of the band) live in Umeå (approximately eight hours or so (by car) north of Stockholm), which is one reason there was such a delay between their albums. However, I believe all of the members are in other bands as well. Marcus is, apparently, in loads, including Instänged and Tristess, and he also sometimes plays guitar for Masshysteri, who the Regulations bassist (Robert Pettersson, who was also in the Vicious) sings for. The drummer (Jens Nordén) played in a Refused side project (Final Exit), and is also in AC4 (a hardcore band with other former members of Refused). Oh, it is a total punk rock party over there in Umeå. Good stuff!
I happened to also inquire about whether Marcus and/or any other members of the band like D.I. (southern California punk band formed in 1982), because there is one song in particular on To Be Me that has vocals that remind me a lot of the D.I. classic “Richard Hung Himself” (originally recorded by the Adolescents when the singer of D.I. played with them). I learned that Regulations were actually planning to do a D.I. cover in their set that night (although I cannot now remember which song) but then decided not to. Too bad!
Of course, when I looked up the Regulations page on MySpace in order to add the address to this “review”, I noticed that D.I. is actually listed as one of their influences. Duh!
As I was talking with Marcus the venue was in the process of switching from a show to a dance party, and it was getting increasingly more crowded. The DJ was playing what I found to be an odd selection of dance music, including Fleetwood Mac, the Hives, and the Eagles. It seemed crazy to me that there would be so many more people there to hear that than to see Regulations; however, at the same time, I was not terribly surprised, as that is so often the case with fantastic punk bands. I was just glad I got to see them, even if their set did seem to fly by too quickly. Tack själv mycket, Regulations!