Lollipop Festival Stockholm

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The Independent Culture
For a festival in the wastes of southern Sweden, this is some line-up: Beck, Bob Dylan, Black Grape, The Prodigy, Wu-Tang Clan to name a few. TLC and the Manic Street Preachers pull out (the Manics at the last minute and allegedly because they "can't be bothered"). If only they had known how "unfestivaly" this festival is.

The sound is good, the organisation is top notch, the timing is imaginative (last band is on around 4am) and even the food is delicious. Sofas scatter the thick, dark grass, fairy lights hang from the branches of trees. After the harsh tarmac of Phoenix, it is breathtaking to watch your favourite band play at two in the morning against a backdrop of looming pines and a vast, clear lake (The Prodigy, now the best pop group in Britain).

The Manics are replaced by Teenage Fanclub. As the sun sets and naked Swedes splash about in the lake, Fanclub's mellow country rock is the ideal soundtrack. Bob Dylan fares less well, despite deigning to play "Maggie's Farm". The three-hour set is, to be frank, dull, especially after the awe-inspiring loopiness of Beck.

The genius of the Wu-Tang Clan is that because they are a collective of about 15, they could play six different festivals across Europe simultaneously. Tonight it's supposed to be Raekwon, Method Man and Ol' Dirty Bastard, but it sounds more like Raekwon's chiropodist and some guys who may once have met Method Man's cousin. Despite having made some of the funniest and most complex records of the last few years, live they fall into the classic hip-hop trap: they are just some men shouting.

The Swedes are a musically eclectic and obsessive bunch. The Heavenly Social - a club in London's Farringdon - is so revered among the Swedish hip, that the Heavenly tent is full to bursting. Pete Wiggs and Bob Stanley of Saint Etienne play obscure early 1970s girl group records to wild-eyed enthusiasts. Primal Scream's Bobby Gillespie has also been flown over to DJ and the up-and-coming Richard Fearless steals the show with his fat beats and groovy rhythms. Before the night is out there are tales of naked DJs on acid. It is certainly true that, during Underworld's set, Richard Fearless is so overwhelmed by their heart-pounding "Rowla", he actually stage dives into the throng.

Other delights include the Memphis Revue tent, which was put together by Elvis biographer, Robert Gordon. It consists of 60-year-old men on electric guitar and 80-year-old drummers who have lived the blues. People have no idea what to expect but are blown away by the raw energy and feedback. Lollipop is a complete success and the reason is simple: this is a festival put together not by cynical promoters eager to book the biggest crowd-pullers, but by genuine music-lovers.

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