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Ilosaarirock (= Fun Island) Festival in Joensuu had its 36th anniversary (!) this year, and like in the past decade, 20.000 tickets had been sold out in advance. About 70 bands within three days, various styles and locations (providing several club shows besides the official festival program) – naturally our STALKER reporter had to be selective ... here some of her impressions:
Finland is not only a land of thousands of lakes and forests but also a land of festivals. Each summer dozens or even hundreds of festivals are being held all through the country. Some are tiny, some are not. If I should recommend one festival to visit it would definitely be Ilosaarirock in Joensuu, about 400 km Northeast from Helsinki.
Saturday, 14th July 2007
Luckily the weather forecast was wrong, instead of ”cold and rainy” the sun was shining, and all in all throughout the festival, the weather was just perfect for rocking.
This year there was five different stages in the area of Ilosaarirock, offering everything from sentimental Jazz to scream-your-lungs-out Metal. Most bands at Ilosaari were from Finland. At first I found it quite hard to choose bands I wanted to see, so I decided to go with the flow and see what would happen. That was a damn good decision!
The Finnish band Sara played somehow really heavy music, but at the same time very touching with interesting (some would say weird) lyrics. In the huge YleX-tent, in my opinion, the sound system wasn´t too great, the gig could´ve been better but t was an ok start for the day, with a kick-ass evening program!
Straight from the beginning it was clear that the gig was going to be a good one. The singer Tony Kakko was in a good mood, and it was very nice to see how he had contact with the audience most of the time. The nicest moment of the gig was when Sonata Arctica played ”Tallulah”, and the whole crowd was singing along while waving their hands ...just beautiful! Heavier songs that drew my attention were “Victoria´s Secret” and “Full Moon”. A little trivia: The winner of 2007 Finnish Idol competition, Ari Koivunen, sang “Full Moon” when he tried to get into the competition.
The next band on the main stage was PMMP from Finland, with two female singers, Mira and Paula, who were once again adorable. It´s pretty hard to describe their music but it´s definitely more Rock than Pop, or even some kind of Punk-Rock. The gig itself was really energetic and the audience loved them. But...there was something that many people had been waiting for the whole day, coming after PMMP... Something that is a very rare sight in Finland, unfortunately.
HIM I could hardly hear my own thoughts through the yelling audience when each guy of HIM came on stage. The gig started with a new song called “Dead Lover´s Lane” and continued with songs like “Right Here In My Arms” and “Soul On Fire” that totally rocked. Ville Valo seemed to be relaxed and his voice was better than in a long time, I guess that´s because they haven´t had that many gigs lately. During the show HIM played two other new songs called “Passion´s Killing Floor” and “Kiss Of Dawn”. Personally I thought that the latter sounded interesting whereas “Passion´s Killing Floor” was more typical for the band. “Join Me” made people go nuts and the whole song was a huge sing-along. Valo´s humour was once again pretty ironic, before “Killing Loneliness” he wanted to dedicate the song to all the lonely people of the night, hehe. And the irony continued in a way, because the moment when I actually felt like crying was just before the first tunes of “It´s All Tears”. It was also the last song of the gig, so before it Ville talked about the very first time they were playing in Ilosaarirock and thanked all the people who have been supporting HIM throughout the years: ”The last song is dedicated to you, lovely people!” All in all the gig was good, the guys seemed to enjoy playing together, and Ville Valo didn´t act like an arrogant asshole, haha. Afterwards the whole sky was filled with beautiful fireworks, what a great finale!
Sunday, 15th July 2007
Soilwork from Sweden started my Sunday and woke me up again. Even though the audience in Ilosaarirock had been great on Saturday, it seemed even greater on Sunday, especially during the Soilwork gig. During every small break between the songs people started clapping their hands and screaming god-damn loudly, that felt amazing and I´m quite sure the guys of Soilwork felt it too. Bastard Chain made people totally insane and it lasted till the end of the gig. I must say that Sweden has a damn good Metal scene!
Continuing with harder stuff I went to see Sick Of It All from the US, a quite unknown band for me, but it was a positive surprise. The whole gig was chaotic in a good way, but at some point I started to get tired of screaming and decided to go to see something else.
That ”something else” was Magenta Skycode from Finland. They surely gave back to me a certain peace of mind with their unique, sentimental show. The atmosphere in the smaller tent was just indescribable - I just recommend to check out this band!
The rain that had kept away the whole weekend came on Sunday evening and made everything and everyone muddy. There were still bands to see, for example Opeth from Sweden that play Progressive Metal, and a ”girlband” from Finland called Tiktak. I must say that both of the bands did a good job in their own ways.
This weekend confirmed what I said in the beginning: One festival to visit is definitely Ilosaarirock. If you want to have fun, enjoy the great music, meet nice people and be close to the city centre, it is the right festival for you! See you there next year and until then, keep on rocking!
More festival photos:
and then click on “kuvat” on the right side