Big men, beards, long hair, tattooed bodies and kilts. Death’s heads, 666, stone-hard music from the hip and lots of alcohol. Even the Prince of Darkness (Ozzy Osbourne) was there. Had I landed in hell? Quite the opposite. I was at Sweden Rock in Sölvesborg and was beginning to understand how world peace can be achieved.
For a few days more than 30 000 people were gathered to listen to music, drink and just socialize. Despite this great multitude, guards and police had very little to do. A few who had had too much to drink and started brawling, others suffered from heat exhaustion. The officials of Sweden Rock did their jobs elegantly and helped as quickly as they could. The Red Cross and many other volunteers did a wonderful job to make sure that everyone had a nice experience. By and large, everything was peaceful and calm. How is that possible?
The explanation is spelled homogeneity. Headbangers belong together and stick together.
How is it possible for so many people to gather for days within a confined space without knocking the daylight out of each other? People who have everything and yet nothing in common? It isn’t that complicated because it’s based on something fundamentally human.
Common interests, companionship, fellowship and homogeneity are key words.
Big men with gigantic beards, tattooed arms, women with dazzling hair styles – everything held together with a laugh and the kind of unspoken agreements that certain people enter into.
Here you will find no roles artificially created by academics. Nobody is parading his or her “imagined sexuality”. Nobody runs around screaming that his or her sexuality should enjoy special privileges.
Among headbangers one is first and foremost a human being among other human beings. No banners are on display, no torches are lit for groups of people that ought to be pitied. Here nobody claims to be the most maligned in the world. People simply come here to be together.
For sure, to a headbanger the music may appear to have almost religious significance but it never becomes absolute. You will see death metal people jump around to the beat of Volbeat, and you will see people laugh when a new musical style has penetrated their hearts. Probably nothing unites people as much as rock music. The sludge-punkers, the guitars, the base, the gestures from the stage and the sing-along. Everything brings people together – it is love and folksiness at their best.
Nobody get any points by beating up others even though it happens. Out of the more than 30 000 participants, very few – all in all ten – had to be subdued. Compare this what happens when the activists from far left meet. The police have to be present in numbers that make one believe that an invasion force is on its way.
Theoretically one might imagine that the headbangers would have a lot to argue about. There are many different styles and certainly discussions arise about which is best. Which base player, guitar player or singer? Whoever has set foot in the world of rock and become absorbed by its deep culture will forever ponder such questions. Rock is totally dynamic and free and constantly changing. It is real diversity and it works
Can we learn something from these rockers? Absolutely! They prove how important it is to have a common culture everyone will defend. It is the sort of thing that builds self-confidence and strength. Though the rock culture moves in different directions, it doesn’t create fissures, which is to do with the fundamental fact that hardrock at its best spawns community.
This community is real and not based on crazy theories concocted at some university or in accordance with some political ideology. Rock evolves around people and is for people.
Let hardrock take over the world – and peace will ensue before people have realized what has hit them.