In Summer the festival fever is present all over Finland. And Metalheads, you better check out the smaller ones, too, because not far from Helsinki you might get a chance to see bands who do not play that many live shows.
Heinola near Lahti offered “Lights of Heinola” for the fourth time, with many concerts in various city venues from Thursday to Sunday. “The night of bad music” might be an event to go to – and indeed it drew again a lot of audience. Hard to believe, but the bands THEMSELVES enrol for the competition, where they have to perform “The Final Countdown” and one of their own songs, as bad as possible, in front of a tough jury. This year Black Night from Hollola, Chicks and Cocks from Jyväskylä, Mullets and Bullets (Joensuu), Rangaistus (Tampere) and Ryhmä Yölintuja Sinä Iltana (VantaaLahti) participated, the latter became the worst band 2007 and won a gig at Helsinki´s Tavastia Club.
Saturday the main concert (pääkonsertti) at the area of the railway station offered the atmosphere of a family picknick. Audience of all ages, fans of different genres, in a park that could host perhaps 500 people in front of a small stage, a beer tent, various food kiosks, good organization – and good sound, not too loud, so you could risk to be in the very front without permanently losing your hearing. Only the lights (valot) were not as promised, finally rain clouds won the weather battle.
ARF are a competition for the Sturm&Drang teens, and not only regarding their ages (I heard the drummer was only 12). The guys (and the girl) played an Old School/Progressive Metal mix, with Maiden guitars, growls and clean vocals.
The local act Riverside Syndicate offered Before The Dawn guitarist Juho Räihä the opportunity to warm up in front of an audience (fingers and neck muscles). Musically the quartet can be characterized as 80s Metal, concerning their own songs and e.g. cover versions (Priest´s “Freewheel Burning”).
The following band Kerho with rrrriot front girl Pauliina played an energetic Old School Punk show. After that people secured their places in front of the stage, although with respect to the visitor numbers it was not really necessary...
Before The Dawn had to deal with a short and light rain shower, but nobody in the audience seemed to care. Lars promised to refrain from comedy, but he could not help making funny comments. A funny bone seemed to stick in all band members that day, Juho and Lars fought a guitar duel, and even though a string broke, Tuomas could be spotted having a laugh.
The setlist contained Morning Sun, Faithless and their radio hit Deadsong from their new “Deadlight” album, but also classics like “The Darkness”. A great show which alone was worth the trip, and unfortunately those guys are not that often playing live. And they were really lucky – less than five minutes after their gig it rained cats and dogs!
Remarkable was the wild program mix, the local act Jope Ruonansuu & Loiventajat was rather pop/country music, in Finland this means a touch of Tango. Metalheads, beware! Stalingrad Cowgirls however played rather Old School punkish, but both bands required a pretty waterproof audience.
Entwine filled in for Bloodpit, and they too had deserved much more audience, although the area was pretty full now. No matter if monster stage like Sauna Open Air or this one, fronter Mika managed to excite people, and among their highlights also my personal fave “Still Remains” from the DIEversity album. A higher amount of air humidity and cold wind had me leave the area a bit earlier, and I had to catch the last bus to Helsinki, so I could neither see the headliner Sir Elwoodin Hiljaiset Värit, nor the final show with four bands in Club Night Life. But maybe next time!