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Linkoping, Sweden
8-9 March 2002

For the last four years a group of Christian metalheads from Sweden have organised a festival called Bobfest with two nights of cool music and a day of teaching. The festival name is a variation of the Tomfest in America, with it being named after the main preacher, pastor Bob Beeman from the seminal Sanctuary music ministries in the US. This year was my third year of going and one of the best. 16 of us from the Asylum church in London managed to get cheap flights so it helped make this year one of the best I have had so far. The following is a vague diary of what happened.

Friday was a day of traveling! We all got up at 5am and made it to a 7:30 flight... After a taxi ride and God delaying the bus so all 18 of us could get on, we arrived at Pintskyrkan in Linkoping at around 4pm. All the non Swedes would be sleeping in a room in the church where the main meetings and seminars were. This meant we were sharing floor space with Poles, Norwegians, Germans and of course each other, which was fun but meant little sleep! We survived though...

Once we had arrived, had a nap and registered, it was time for the first meeting. All those going to the fest (nearly 400) gathered to hear what was in store. Two of the organisers, Daniel and Olov took it in turns to explain the practicalities in both Swedish and English. After this Pastor Bob let us know that we would be hearing things from God that would change our lives forever.

After catching up with lots of old friends from previous years and meeting lots of new friends it was time for the short walk to Skylten where we would hear the music. Inside the venue were two parts; the front where the bands played and the back which was a lot brighter with lots of tables and chairs. There were merchandise and music stalls from lots of underground Christian companies including Nordic Mission (Norway), Fear Dark (Holland), CL Publishing (Sweden) and The Underground Record store from Finland.

First up were Soniferous from Norway. Musically they were still a young band playing a mixture of death and thrash. A lot of riffs were Slayerish and I guess with time they will mature and develop more their own style. They gave their all for the show though.

After a short break came the mighty Veni Domine from Sweden. They embarked on a colossal hour and twenty minutes set. It wasn't the best I've seen them with the singers voice not a strong as last time and a couple of bits that weren't as tight as they could have been. Their set covered all albums plus two new songs that were slower and had more of a jazz (?) influence!

Oblivion (Sweden) started with a cover of Living Sacrifice's 'Reject' which may have been a bad choice as the rest of their set then sounded pretty similar making it easy to guess their influences. As it was late I left after the first song...

After food at Burger King sleep beckoned...

Saturday started fairly early at 9am for breakfast. After this we had the first meeting where we sung some praise and worship songs and prayed for each other then Bob spoke on the church and how religion and tradition is hated by God as much as some people hate it. He emphasised how being a Christian is about a relationship with God and not about following religion.

After lunch there were three different seminars we could chose from. The first by Morten Holmquist from Subchurch / DP fest Norway was about praise and worship. The second was by Karl Walfridsson was on the subject of sex and love. The last was by Pastor Bob and was on the subject of God’s grace. This was the one I chose. Bob talked about how God’s grace being God giving us something we don’t deserve. He talked about the importance of seeing ourselves as God sees us, not as forgiven sinners but as saints and God’s dear children. He talked about how God forgets that he forgets our sins. This doesn’t mean we can do what we want though! Bob talked about focusing on Jesus so the desire to do things that upset him grow weaker.

After this there was another meeting and Bob talked about Jesus’ parable of the prodigal son. He talked of how the jealous older son would have been like the religious leaders at the time who though God owed them something and didn’t understand God’s gift of grace. After some more worship we got ready for the events of the evening…

First band of the night were Jambo Garden who I managed to miss but from what I heard were not to my taste at all. Anyhow, I had to save myself for the next band who I was looking forward to immensely…

Immortal Souls failed to disappoint and ploughed their way through a mixture of songs from all their releases. The sound could have been better but a moshpit started regardless. My favourite was the creeper ‘Painthings’

After this I had no energy to watch the next band though I wish I did now…

From what I could hear in the back room Sanctifica whipped their way through a brutal set, destroying with old songs and entrancing with new ones from the ‘Negative B’ album that was released that night.

Seventh Avenue played a set of power metal finishing with a cover of ‘Run to the Hills’ by Iron Maiden. Not being a power metal fan I saved myself for the next band who would be my highlight.

Extol rocked seriously. From the second song on the whole front of the venue turned into a giant moshpit and there was fun had by all. They played songs mostly from the ‘Undeceived’ album with a couple from ‘Burial’ and ‘Your Beauty Divine’ from the recent ‘Paralysis’ EP. The set finished far to quickly for all of our liking with a cover of Vengeance’s ‘Warfare’. The band also announced the news of their recent signing to the Century Media label.

Selfminded came afterwards but I was in no fit state to watch anyone! From what people said they were excellent, played well and put on a good show. Guess we’ll have to take their word for it…

Thus the night ended…

The next day I woke up with a pretty bad neck ache which is always a good sign that the night before was worthwhile. We joined the church were we were staying for their Sunday service and Bob gave a short history of His life and ministry.

After lunch we went to another church service, this time a bit more informal where Bob preached for a longer period of time on the need for the church to accept those who look or act differently. It was a good clear message and I think made a lot think, including us! Alter that night we relaxed and ended up in the evil McDonalds as there was not much else to do in the town on a Sunday night.

The next day we helped clear up and said a sad goodbye to all the organisers and those who had looked after us. With 18 of us on a small plane it was sure to be a fun trip back though I’m not sure the air stewards enjoyed it as much as us!

We all came back encouraged and inspired by the festival and all God had let us see, hear and experience. Leaving felt like going away from your home and family, knowing you would have to wait another whole year to have it all again… Unless our Lord comes back first, then we will be with our family in perfection forever. But if that doesn’t happen yet we will look forward to going home to Bobfest next year. Bring it on!

If you can come then please do!

See you in the moshpit…

Bobfest website