When we think of music from Stockholm, Sweden, the Billboard charts might point you to ABBA and the legacy they’ve curated over multiple decades. Ask a Gen Z, TikTok-enthused teen and they might steer you over to the Drain Gang and a similar love and emotion for the Swedish collective.
Though not as notable to older generations, over the last few years, Drain Gang have made waves across the U.S. for their catchy and hypnotic, hyperpop-infused rap. The niche group have garnered fans not only for their unique sound but their styles both in fashion and art. With extensive lore and multiple monikers to remember, fans were excited to hear that the members would grace the streets of New York City.
Benjamin Reichwald and Jonas Rönnberg, best known under their respective stage names Bladee and Varg2, opened their first New York art exhibit at The Hole in Tribeca. The first collaborative exhibition between both performers decided to bring their twisted minds to life with various art pieces, some resembling celestial beings. With a different Swedish artist being displayed right above, Reichwald and Rönnberg’s pieces fit uniquely in the basement level of the Tribeca Hole — accidentally replicating the atmospheric nature their fans have in the mosh pit at many of their concerts.
[Photo via The Hole]
Their rainy and humid May 20 opening night for the “Fucked for Life” exhibit was invite-only, with only a link being spread through certain fans and whoever could get it leaked to them on time. Many other fans online wanted to get their names on the list in time in hopes to see their favorite artists. The Drain Gang fanbase, best known as Drainers, can be best spotted by their sensual cybergoth outfits and star-studded belts. Considering the collective isn’t American-based, it’s best warned that the Drainers are willing to learn the lyrics of a completely different language for artists they truly adore.
From 6 to 8 p.m. opening night, Drainers in their high platform Demonias and Y2K-inspired digital cameras perused the pieces. Some were familiar to earlier artistic works seen on album covers, some vamped up with gloss and gold, and some completely out of the ordinary. Pieces made fans talk and wonder what their inspirations could’ve possibly been. With the exhibit having only a few pieces up to see, fans waited to see if the real stars of the exhibit would show.
Both Reichwald and Rönnberg were in attendance alongside Zak Gaterud, best known as Ecco2K, to talk with fans and loved ones about their pieces. With a traditional complimentary wine and a giddy nature to be standing in front of their Spotify Wrapped No. 1 artists, fans were quick to take pictures to commemorate the moment. Alongside Instagram posts in front of the graffiti-inspired art came the usual questions from the fans: “What’s your favorite piece?” and “When did you start this?” But most importantly, “Why is it called Fucked for Life?”
[Photo via The Hole]
The name refers to an old robbery crew from Stockholm, aptly named Fucked for Life, but the motif heavily stands with Drainers for their already joie de vivre personalities that best represent FFL. With their music ranging from topics such as mental health to romance, fans not only enjoy the relatability but the talent that comes with openness, something that was well reflected in the FFL exhibit.
“I loved seeing the art. It was really beautiful, they told me it took about a year to make,” Victoria Nyguen says, a fan who has been following the group since 2020. After taking a few pictures and getting a few CDs autographed, she was able to experience the true FFL journey. “It’s really inspiring seeing that,” Nyguen says. “I want to create art and music like them, too, eventually.”
No upcoming projects or releases from the artists or collective have yet to be announced. Considering the Drain Gang’s base in Sweden, the opportunity for idle worship is rare. Pop-ups like these establish stepping stones for more notoriety in the U.S. especially. With the FFL exhibit closing June 2, those who were able to interact with the exhibit live received further insight into the artists they stream every day. Now with the archived exhibition available on the internet and multiple platforms, fans can still take these art pieces in as a new project that isn’t out of the norm from the Drain Gang collective. Much like their music, their art allows fans to garner more love and inspiration from their favorite artists.