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This is what could happen to a STALKER crew who just want to enjoy a festival ”incognito”, without camera-carrying / from-gig-to-gig-jogging / critically-viewing / carefully-scheduling-beer-orders to be able to get from A to B(because in Finland the higher spirited areas are strictly separated from the rest of the festival) … Dark River Festival turned out to be small but so nice that we just have to mention it here...
The idea came about 2003 during the local beer festival, where rockfans from Kotka decided to organize a small festival themselves. The first Dark River Festival took place indoors in 2004, but the audience interest suggested a bigger venue. The following 2 years the yard of the local community center was used, after that the skiing center at Laajakoski was discovered as the ideal location, as in 2008 Dark River grew bigger once again... a good sign for a nice small Rock festival targeted towards a nice small crowd of 3-400 visitors per day. A family meeting, so to say.
And the location as such is appealing, especially when WALKING there, through the woods, along Dark River Kymi – a nice adventure, to be combined with e.g. fishing, mushrooms/berries picking or the new extreme sport “escaping from Kotka Death Riders" ...
To be noticed at once as INGENIOUS SOLUTION was the partition of area in front of the stage – the anti-alcs on the left side, alcoholics behind a fence on the right side. Hence it was possible to combine cheering to your heroes directly at the stage and drinking beer at the same time – therefore in my opinion Dark River deserves a 10/10!!
photo: Sanna Vornanen
The atmosphere was relaxed, on and off stage, even the police seemed bored during their routine check. There was plenty of room in a beer tent or at tables with sun shades – which provided also protection from short weather discomforts. The bands enjoyed to mingle with the crowd, so if you kept your eyes open you could simply meet&greet your heroes. Soundwise they found a nice – clean&clear -balance, no need for ear plugs.
"Dawn" Festival Apropos bands – there was a nice balance of well-known acts, local Heroes (like Manitou) and Newcomers – this year the line-up starred Blake, Insomnium, Domination Black and Before The Dawn. Besides the latter also Amberian Dawn and At Dawn They Sleep, so you could have called the motto of this year "Dark Dawn Festival"... Band photogallery – by Ville Huovila - can be found here
Another plus – the prices. The festival ticket for 2 days and 13 bands was available for 15e, 4,50e for beer (indeed 0,5 l), 1e for coffee, 0,50e for tea, not so many options for food, but nice and home-made, e.g. sausages for 1e, sandwiches for 1,50e, local gastonomic specialities (fish soup) for 5e. Who decided to fill up beforehand somewhere else, be warned of the family-size pizza they offer at the restaurant near Korkeakoski – that one is supposed for about 9 people... A negative surprise were prices for bus tickets... so if you´re a group of people, rather consider renting a car.
PS: Big thanks from my side here to the tireless BTD warrior crew and the honor to hold Juhani´s penis (the legendary Monster-size plush penis that was mentioned already in STALKER report about Tuska-Festival 2008... or what did you think???) KW
Kotka Sightseeing Even after curfew the party continued. In this laid-back coast town – not even the seagulls dare to make much noise – you´ll find several locations for the rock´n´roll kind, like Back Room bar at the bus station, Hevimesta (Kotkankatu 12) or Yellari (Kymenlaaksonkatu 16). Fishermen and fishermen friends probably rather curse the festival, because which fish would enjoy a Dark River? Nevertheless, Salmon & Co have now plenty of time to re-claim their habitats, and we really consider another trip to Kotka and Dark River Festival next year. (KG)