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It´s already the 26th Down by the Laituri Festival, also called „festival of love“, which is the central topic this year. There´s even a marriage taking place at Aurajoki, which parts Turku and where the festival takes place on the Western shore. Besides Rock, Pop and Hiphop you can also hear Tango and dance music, many restaurant boats and catering stands outside the festival area supply to the needs of visitors.
Wednesday July 24 - Rock´n´ Roll
Wednesday is the Rock music day. While bands are playing already, the festival area is still under construction, and some communication channels don´t work properly yet. Only due to Johanna´s persistance it finally turns out that photographers can indeed use the security pit. The concerts take place at Alue stage, mainly focusing on dance music, Telta-stage in a big circus tent and at Olut-Huone.
Timo Rautiainen & Neljäs Sektori are opening the festival, well known in Finland but still today only attracting a small crowd. Nevertheless those professionals deliver a solid show.
Next are Gangster of Love, with their Rock-Country-Hillbilly Mix definitely worthy to be checked out. Singer Hank has an interesting voice which reminds you of Country Legend Willy Nelson, and he fills the stage with his charisma. The music, however, does not capture our attention fully, we leave the hot and stuffy tent to check out the festival area. Still under construction, there is not much to see yet, though, and we feel a bit bored.
It´s surprising that The 69 Eyes haven´t got a headlining slot, as they could have played much longer. Unfortunately it is not one of their best shows, the musicians seem a bit tired. Which can be understood looking at their current schedules, also concerning their other projects – plus wearing leather outfits in temperatures that felt like +60 C. Still those guys are worth to be checked out, even though it´s not all working out smoothly.
As we both are not quite die-hard Mokoma Fans, we prefer to follow their show from the outside via the big screen. A good option, because hardly anybody could fit into the tent at this point. Yet also Mokoma have played better shows before.
Finally it´s time for the local Hardrockers Kilpi, but we decide to leave earlier, as Turku offers more to see than this small festival in familial atmosphere, and several night clubs offer more concerts for those who don´t want to go to bed yet.
Thursday July 25 – Suomi Pop
This day is dedicated to Finnish Pop Music, the program starts at 15.00 h with Korroosio and Pop starlet Laura Närhi and other happenings on the now completed festival area. After checking out sightseeing highlights - e.g. Suomen Joutsen ship, the huge sun flower in front of the maritime center, Turku castle - we arrive at the area for the third and very promising act:
Negative front man Jonne Aaron, who is playing with his solo project, is first trying to break a world record – performing on a platform up on 104m. Unfortunately you cannot see much, because despite the presence of many cameras, nobody considered putting one on the lifting ramp with him too. After one song he comes back down, mission and a new world record completed. Well done! Right afterwards Jonne and his band deliver a fantastic show. Besides his own songs, he performs also Dingo covers, which are sounding better than performed by the originals the following day. The audience is singing along, and everything goes well until someone shouts „clothes off“, which Jonne does not take too well. Still the whole band seems to have a lot of fun on stage and entertain us with a fantastic gig.
After that it´s time for Anssi Kela and the Finnish diva Paula Koivuniemi, who both seem to break the attendance record of this festival day.
The evening continues for us at Apollo Club, which is basically a disco where sometimes live bands are playing (usually under stuffy and overcrowded conditions). Tonight THE Finnish newcomer act is playing: Santa Cruz!!! Those 4 are quite young, around 21, and very talented; you could not possibly avoid hearing about them. I myself cannot quite understand the hype around this band – they are good but still need to grow with their music a bit more, and improve their playing and singing live a bit. Still those guys are fun with their Rockstar Attitude, for sure, although the club is not as full as usual. The final act of this evening is the cover song set of Rock’n‘ Roll Sensation featuring singer Pekka Heino (Brother Firetribe) and Ilari Hämäläinen (Siberian Jay) on Bass.
Friday July 26 – wedding and Taivas lyö tulta….
This day is dedicated to Finnish legends, and weddings, which are taking place only 100m from the festival area at the Laituri, where 2 couples celebrate a pretty public wedding ceremony. Chapeau, that requires courage.
Meanwhile in the tent, Dingo , the Finnish legend from the early 80s, give their performance. Their fans are enthusiastic and appalled at the same time, depending how badly the singer takes it over the top. The band was supposed to play last year, but had to cut their gig short due to an approaching thunder storm. This time the weather conditions are dryer, and the show is solid but maybe also too dry.
The following act surprises us, because neither me nor Johanna knew what to expect from Olavi Uusivirta - who takes us by storm. His genuine attitude on stage, which is interesting and entertaining, he captures everybody´s attention and he performs with a lot of charme and humour and involves the audience too. His songs are quite well known but sometimes drag a bit – but he makes up for it with his performance. Finally he even invites a fan from the pit to dance with him on stage – a real treat, so even if you never heard of this guy, you should check him out live.
A quick changeover, then it´s time for the 10th anniversary gig of Finnish Manowar, Teräsbetoni! Basically the band is on hiatus, but I bet this show inspired the musicians once again. Many fans have travelled from abroad to see them, and when singer J.Ahola enters the stage, you feel like at a Backstreet Boys gig: people are chanting „Jarkko, Jarkko“, and every song is welcomed with enthusiastic cheers. Moreover, the audience sings along so loudly and perfectly that the band can have a little break. I have never seen a Teräsbetoni concert like this, and I think the band enjoyed it a lot, too. A nice setlist selection added to this fantastic feeling at an even more fantastic gig.
For us this was a brilliant festival finale, therefore we leave the area before the show of Big Band Jean.S. For us the festival was over, but DBTL offered two more days with a great program, bands like The Blanko, Paleface and Sleepy Sleepers, on Sunday the teenage girls got the chance to watch the Finnish Justin Bieber, 13-year old Isac Elliot.
Despite some minor problems – e. g. communication between festival organisers and crew - Down by the Laituri 2013 was a full success, and this small festival in familial atmosphere is definitely worth to take a trip to Turku.