Festival Report: Sauna Open Air 2013

After a year long hiatus, Tampere’s Sauna Open Air festival returned again in 2013 for a weekend that consisted of mainly Northern European acts like Nightwish, Children of Bodom, Opeth, Volbeat and Sabaton — with the only US visitor going by the name of Hatebreed. The festival also saw other changes. Instead of being ushered into a park setting, the party was held in a sports stadium and rather than doing three full days, there were only two. And we were there.

by Mikko K.& Matti Manner

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Stam1na and an entertaining show? You don’t say.

Mikko: It wouldn’t be summer without at least seeing either Mokoma, Amorphis or in this case, Stam1na — who had the pleasure of opening the main stage for the day. While there’s many jokes to be had about the band appearing in every festival and wedding, there group’s work ethic leaves no one cold. I don’t think it’s possible for Stam1na to have a bad show. It also helps that they’re always spicing up their shows intentionally and unintentionally. Today’s theme was a beach party with inflatable palm trees, beach balls and hula dresses. No matter the clothes, the band slays on stage and I’m still surprised Kai-Pekka “Kaikka” Kangasmäki (bass) still has his head on after years’ worth of furious headbanging. The crowd also got to hear a new track “Routasorkka” which, according to one audience member, sounded “pretty okay!”. The band heard it too.

— Hyrde, you’ve written a “pretty okay” song
— Yeah. That’s the goal. To write a “pretty okay” song.
— I said “that was pretty okay” when I left the sex and drugs party last night.

And that’s the thing with Stam1na. They always put on an entertaining show with good crowd interaction and personal, physical torture by headbanging. The funniest incident happened when the Kaikka kicked the beach ball straight into some fan’s face.

— Now she’s bleeding all over the place
— I’m glad she doesn’t understand what kind of money she’d get if she sued us
— Come to the signing session and we’ll give you a shirt
— …for 15 euros
— Hey what’s your name? (no answer) Speak English? (no answer) Like Volbeat, yes?

The chatter eventually lead to “Arveton on Arvoton” (Scarless is [or equals] Worthless) and one of Sauna Open Air’s best gigs.

I did say.

Matti: Stam1na never fails. There’s not much to say that has not been covered already in our previous festival reports. So why beat the same dead horse? A hat tip towards the band and let’s move on.

Omnium Gatherum. Oh yeah, that’s who they were.

Mikko: I saw Omnium Gatherum for the first time some years ago at Sauna Open Air and back then, I was surprised that they didn’t sound like shit (something about their old vocalist made me press the stop button every time their song was on). And guess what? They weren’t shit either this time around. Instead, they seem to be part of that group of bands who seem to deliver time and time again in a live situation. Granted, I haven’t gone out of my way to really listen to them on CD because of it, but I can appreciate the good set they always seem to put on.

Matti: I have seen Omnium Gatherum at least five times live and they always get the same response from me: I remember that I have seen them before, but that’s about it. For some odd reason I never remember anything about them and soon after seeing them, yet again, I forget what I saw. Repeat ad nauseum. In that way they are a somewhat unique band to listen to. It’s always new. Many of my metal-following friends think and talk highly of the band, but I just can’t get any kind of a reading from their material or overall presence. I guess it’s just my personal loss that the only bell they can ring between my ears is that which chimes of amnesia.

Hardcore Superstar know how to work their audience.

Mikko: Call me cynical, call me an asshole, but I think Sweden’s Hardcore Superstar is a good example of a band that has the power to make you hate all music. If Lost Society provided a glimpse of authentic love for the music, Hardcore Superstar is the exact opposite. Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure the band loves what they do and they’re having the time of their life… but it comes across as smug, calculated and without a hint of integrity. It’s like the group has studied all the possible live videos from ‘80s glam metal and rock acts to form the best battle plan to conquer as many sweethearts as possible. Too bad they had not sought to find the fountain of “good songs” and instead offered a potpourri of shit you’ve heard done better before. The kids ate it all up though and a few panties got wet when the band decided to bring a few girls up on stage for a shared moment and a shot of alcohol (I assume). Which is interesting as the two girls didn’t look like they were of age… and that sentence in turn makes me sound like an old person with a tight moral rod up my arse. Which I am, so fuck you.

Then there was an episode that summoned the judgmental asshole in me and made me curse “us” so-called “journalists”. The drummer threw his drumsticks and to protect myself from a head injury and other unfathomable things, I almost caught one in self-defence but it bounced off and some other journalist dashed for it in a frenzy, clenching it like it was a huge hunting trophy. Me, personally, I would have thrown it to the fans in the front or back who would have appreciated it more rather than be an entitled asshole. But hey, it’s not my fault I’m an awesome personality. Sure, if it lands on you or falls into your pocket, whatever but the very feral and physical way that she lunged at that wooden stick was just sad. You’re in the photo pit to do a job so try to act like… I don’t know, like a decent human being.


Matti: I will be first to call you on being cynical asshole — for it takes one to know one — but I think that does not make you any less wrong about this pompous and stinking pile of cow manure. The singer whose name I refuse to go and wiki-seek had definitely watched and taken to heart all the vintage Axl Rose stage moves. Only thing left missing was the snake dance, but doing that would have been far too obvious, right?

The “Let’s go for alcohol” song and the following stunt you already mentioned was a sad and painfully awkward thing to watch unfold. Such an overly contrived and uninspired sideshow stunt. And the two girls? Happy? Most definitely. Underaged? Most likely. Real alcohol? I believe so, as my fine-tuned palette got hint of Jägermaister from the plastic cup that swirled past my ear as it was being thrown off the stage.

What comes to case of the Miss Piggy who hogged the drumstick, I still want to believe she was an exception among us privileged to roam the stage trench. At least there was this other guy who handed over a plektra that did not reach the crowd to one of the fans on the first row during Stam1na’s gig. Even so, shame on her for not having enough sense to rely on higher standards etiquette.

James Hetfield.

Mikko: Another Swedish glam, sleaze whatever rock band, CRASHDÏET, were to play on the 2nd stage right after, but since Hardcore Superstar had turned us into judgmental assholes, we looked at the fans and the band’s soundcheck and decided that watching the whole set would have pushed us over the edge — even if they’d been better than the band before them. Instead, we went to look for food and drinks, but while it all looked attractive and spicy, the prices killed our hunger and thirst. So we figured we’d boil in self-contempt instead before the third Swedish act of the day.

Matti: The front row truly looked like some kind of Pokemon parade that had gotten lost on their way to anime-con, so to avoid the wrath of such monsters of Caerbannog I gladly chose to take a leave of absence than to face the odds of losing any of my limbs to such foul beasts. Wasn’t this the band that we scouted to have exploited The Exploited by stealing their iroquois-wearing skeleton head for some parody-like shirt?

0,4 litre of tap beer going for 7 euros and hand-sized plate of fries in chili-sauce with few slices of cheap sausages consisting 60% of flour tagged with 8-9 euro price tag can only make sense in Finland, where the average customer has tanked more than enough already on taxed beer and booze for hours before appearing to the festival area. To help the organizers get the biggest sell out of their otherwise overpriced beers and other beverages, this year’s festival ticket granted only one-time access inside the closed-off area. I heard some moaning deriving from this change from previous years while walking among the festival crowds.

Sabaton approves bestiality.

Mikko: After feeding ourselves with hate, Sabaton, whom we caught last year at Tuska Festival, took their arms up on the main stage. Unfortunately, unlike a year ago, the band didn’t have any pyrotechnics. Guess all those flames and explosions would have made the festival headliner, Volbeat, look a bit lame later on. The Swedish fighting force seemed well oiled and in good morale, bombarding a show that seemed to be the main event for many in the crowd. On a curious side note, Snowy Shaw (known from King Diamond, Dream Evil etc) helmed the drum battery.

Joakim Brodén was still as charismatic of a frontman as ever, running, goofing and making bestiality jokes (somebody threw a stuffed moose on stage) around the stage all the while singing about death, war and killing to a power metal soundtrack. There are some elements to Sabaton’s show that seem to carry over from show to show and if there’s one hope that I might offer to them, it’s that they’d avoid becoming the broken record that Manowar became at some point with their stage antics. Do what Louis C.K. does and write new material for each year. Be that as it may, there’s still plenty of unscripted interaction and Brodén seems like a quick-witted person, so perhaps my fears are unwarranted.

Most importantly. the group still put a hell of an entertaining show and again, the Finnish crowd was easily rallied behind a metal cause with such glamoring songs as “The White Death” and “Winter War”. It also helped that Brodén joked at the expense of the Swedish language and how soft it sounds next to Finnish; “Hejsan Tammerfors… how the fuck does that sound compared to TERRRVE TAMPERE!”

While “Final Solution” still evaded the band’s setlist yet again, as did many good sing along songs like “Cliffs of Gallipoli” or “Price of a Mile”, Sabaton once again came through and threw an enjoyable experience that, despite the serious themes for their songs, isn’t all that serious. Good, metal fun.

Matti: I guess all band members are more than used to Mr. Brodén’s endless need to horse around the stage. The whole band seemed to have fun performing despite all the workplace sexual harassment. While delivering vocals, Joakim ran around the stage trying to ass-rape and dry-hump any- and everything on sight. Even that poor little toy moose got its share after getting thrown on Joakim’s pit of earthly pleasures. “Who told you guys that I prefer animals?” Brodèn yelled before some suggestive hip thrusts towards the already stuffed animal’s rearend.

I guess it was all good spirited fun for them too. Even when you leave those extracurricular antics aside, it is hard to argue that the man in charge of this Swedish war-bound metal panzer is nothing but animated and entertaining on stage. Few metal singers can turn their stage performance into such molesting cross-fit sessions to the same extent that Brodén can. Except GWAR. While I might be suffering from some yet clinically unnamed disease that could be named cynical-piece-of-shit-syndrome, and I’m generally not that fond of power metal, it’s still really hard not to like Sabaton… It’s just such a silly band.

Hatebreed seems to do their thing.

Mikko: After fighting through the trenches and barbed wire, the festival’s only non-Northern act Hatebreed took their street warfare to the second stage. Supposedly they should have been on the mainstage, but due to scheduling issues and having only just arrived to the scene, the second stage was all that they had. It didn’t matter though, as Jamey Jasta’s merry band got the audience pumped and behind its moshable cause quite easily. The last albums I’ve heard from the band were Under the Knife and Satisfaction is the Death of Desire but I couldn’t make out if any of the songs in those came up or not, but I didn’t mind.

Matti: Pretty much a Tuska repeat. They came to play and got an appropriate welcome. I still feel like before last year’s gig at Tuska, Hatebreed was a really no-name/no-following band here in Finland, but it seems like that’s starting to change. I heard about them when their The Rise of Brutality record came out and pretty much never heard of them again outside of maybe few remarks in some loosely related conversation. I think the band also recognizes this, as Jamey Jasta himself acknowledged what maybe one of the bigger reasons for this phenomena by declaring “For a long time nobody recognized us as their own. For we are too heavy metal for hardcore and too hardcore for heavy metal. 20 years of doing this and we are still paving our way.” There’s probably some truth in that. It’s always somewhat heartwarming to see bands that have been going at it for a long, long time get some notoriety outside their homes. And at least on stage, they seemed more or less genuine with what they were doing — unlike some others.

“Like Volbeat, yes?” -Stam1na

Matti: Volbeat definitely had the biggest following out there on Sunday, as about half of the band shirts walking inside the arena had their name branded on them. Volbeat seems to have found their niche from being a metal influenced rockabilly-pop band that can craft well produced hit format songs for mainstream radio and make it seem like you’re listening to something with an edge. Objectively I can’t say if this is a good thing or a bad thing, but my blunt personal opinion is that I do not care about Volbeat and I wasn’t interested in re-evaluating my opinion this time around, either.

To the band’s credit, they provide a solid background for anyone tuning their mid-life crisis V8 engines or polishing off their knock-off Harleys without the fear of having to answer some obscure music trivia about the ‘50s rockabilly scene. Volbeat provides a time portal for those looking for a more meaningful “substance”; it’s easy to reminisce the days that never were with your retro-hobby buddies about how easy it was to ragdoll your cheeky wifes and be a rebel without a cause. But before I get completely carried away with philosophical inequalities, I’ll get back to Volbeat and their gig.

The show started with what felt like an awkward grasp at something meaningful. Leadman Michael Poulsen walked to the center of the stage, picked up a bottle of Jack Daniels and put it on his lips as if he was to show everyone that this rock’n’roll was authentic. It was hard to tell if the liquid was indeed 100 proof, but the man seemed to care even less about it than I thought of them. As for the show itself, well, it sort of felt really acted out (or already set in routine?) with plenty of rehearsed facial expressions, posing and acting dangerous while being clean-shaven all the way to the balls.


While leaving the festival area, I could heard Volbeat riffing “Ring of Fire” from the distance for a brief second. At that moment I looked at the sky and saw a vision: In the clouds there was an inverted horizon that formed a desert. On the distant dunes, four horsemen rode while carrying white pole banner flags in their hands. And then above them appeared head of Johnny Cash. His face looked old and fragile and through what seemed to have been great pain he uttered: “What the fuck have I become?”

Then there was only silence before the the sky broke and with it this vision disappeared.

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  1. Commented by: Apollyon

    More photographs from Sauna Open Air 2013 available on our Facebook page @ https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10151772485129391.1073741828.101088749390&type=3

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