Festival Report: Tuska Open Air 2017

So it’s winter. 2018. New year, yet mankind is consuming the planet, waiting to be devoured by global warming and other cataclysmic events. So what’s a good way to get rid of all that negativity? Look back at the summer of 2017 and Tuska festival’s 20th Anniversary.

by Mikko K.& Matti M.

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Throes of Dawn

[MK] Unfortunately I ate something inappropriate at some point or something, and the morning came with a sense of dread that kept me out of the game, missing a good chunk of Mokoma’s gig. Not that there was that much room to go and listen to them at that point either, as they had filled up the tent quite nicely. Luckily I got to see Throes of Dawn in the dark hall as they were able to set the mood right once again. Hearing “Entropy” and say, “Lifeless” (from 2016’s Our Voices Shall Remain), were just what the doctor ordered. Love this shit!

  • MM: Speaking of shit, you really should see a doctor. Your morning didn’t sound healthy at all.

Timo Rautiainen telling nazis to fuck off

Next up was Timo Rautiainen & Trio Niskalaukaus who were one of Finland’s biggest heavy rock acts before they went onto a break back in 2004. A main attraction at Tuska for many years too. They finally came back to the scene again in 2017 with new music. Timo has always sung about social injustice and the wrongs of the world, but I suppose that got lost in those 13 years to parts of the band’s fanbase as the TR&TN’s latest single “Suomi Sata Vuotta” (“Finland 100 Years”) caused an uproar in some snowflakes as it took a strong anti-racist stance, shaming skinheads in the process. Back in 2004, I also thought the band had run its course as things just seemed so formulaic with the group, but seeing them live didn’t cause any negative emotions. Seemed like they continued with where they left off, if not a bit harder even. I suppose the current times have given Timo something to sing about again…

Lost Society

Second stage was reserved for Lost Society. I think I’ve always intended to check out their discography but I never have, since to me, it appears that they are ultimately a live band first and foremost. So probably I never will? You’d think that as the band grows older, they’d slow down at least in some way, but according to their live shows, they’re still slamming pedal to the metal, providing excellent energy throughout with their thrash. Even if you don’t know a single song from them, their live show will entertain no matter what. Props for having Body Count’s “Talk Shit, Get Shot” as their intro.

Soilwork again

Soilwork, on the other hand, are the complete opposite. I’ve listened to their albums quite a bit but live wise I just can’t connect with it at all. I don’t get it. There isn’t anything ‘wrong’ with the band in a live setting, at least that I can analyze and point out. Yet, every time I’ve seen the band live, I’ve kinda drifted away onto other things. I really don’t fucking get it.

Electric Wizard bathing in light

[MM] Electric Wizard made good use of the Väkevä tent’s stage setup to frame their music with complementing aesthetics. The side screens played creepy clips from 70s soft-porn horror movies and crossfades of psychedelic shapes, patterns and colors. The stage pushed forth smoke, making the band look like moving black silhouettes over the blood red backdrop provided by the strong lights. The visuals, combined with the heavy heavy, slow sounds of their music made for a very brooding atmosphere. The jarring buildup opened with “Witchcult Today” transitioning to “Black Mass”. The set broke into its payload groove around mid-part, during “Return Trip” and turning from there back to another few songs from the Witchcult Today with the final stop being “Funeralpolis”. In whole, Electric Wizard were a constantly moving flow of mass that consumed all and everything.

  • MK: I suppose Electric Wizard showed why the tent stage is set up. A wall of light! A wall of sound!

For an old band, Amorphis still going strong

Demonztrator played some Airdash too.

[MK] I’m not sure how planned it was, but in the boiler room Demonztrator brought a balance to the table. Whereas Amorphis were performing their most modernized versions on the main stage (with Olli-Pekka Laine on bass again), Demonztrator’s only goal was to put history on display. The purpose was to play old tunes from old, now-defunct bands and forgotten demos of those that still might roam the streets. Not only that, the stage was shared with some old school players such as The Hirvi’s Juha Virtanen and one Sami Yli-Sirniö (who also performed with Jimsonweed on Sunday). As the place wasn’t packed to its brim, the show turned out to be, pretty much, a hidden gem. Also, Tony Taleva,one of the original guys behind the Tuska-concept gave a heartfelt speech, also announcing his departure before introducing the band. It was a nice touch and I believe ‘thank yous’ for the service are in order!

Triptykon played in a tent.

Last year Triptykon baked itself in the sunshine of South Park Festival in Tampere, where their performance reached mainly confused ears that didn’t seem to know the band, the material nor how to feel about the sonic oppression. At Tuska, however, the audience seemed a bit more in tune with the band under the tent and strong stage lights — but at the same time, with the easier setting the band felt a bit more happy, relaxed and content. I’m not sure if it made a better show in a sense. The South Park show was quite bleak, minimalistic and straight to the point so I think it served the music better. But, if it was an especially good day, then who am I to take that away from them? I’m not that big of an asshole. But even hearing “Aurorae” felt slightly anti-climatic and less emotional (but still absolutely fucking good).

[MM] If I compare this to last year’s South Park set, this one was a ‘very good’ showing, whereas the previous one gets a ‘great’ rating from me with it being the best gig I had seen in a long time. I have to admit that the heights that were achieved last time were hard to top. I did not get that similar emotional response of sombering solitude that I felt from their previous set in an outdoors summer rain surroundings. When it came down to executing “Aurorae” I actually think that it ended partly flat because Santura was tripping over his loop pedals. All in all Triptykon is one of those bands that can create a lot more emotionally impactful experience without any extra gimmicks other than their inherent musical prowess. Take note Mayhem.

Ville Valo and HIM.

[MK] This was my first and the last time seeing HIM live as after almost 30 years of love metal, they’re finally closing shop with a bunch of farewell gigs. Despite my general indifference towards the band and most of their output, them going out solidifies an end of an era where MTV still played music and Bam Margera was a big star. Remember him? Unfortunately there’s no real nostalgia to be had there for me or rose tinted glasses to wear.

Sex symbol extraordinaire, Ville Valo, stood on stage without the trademark glass of red wine. The years had apparently taken a toll as his voice didn’t quite go as deep as it once did and his mannerism portrayed on stage was stripped down despite some dancing here and there — a stark contrast to bassist Migé who thumbed around, slamming his bass guitar like it was going out of fashion — like corporal punishment at home. In a sense, everyone seemed like they were somewhat happy (if not somehow bittersweet) to be there but perhaps even more happy to also put an end to the whole thing; enjoying the last few moments of this particular saga — each in their own way before moving on. Needless to say, all the classics were played so those fans who came to see HIM specifically, most likely got what they came for, but personally it didn’t inspire me to go back home to spin those old records.

[MM] I vaguely remember seeing HIM on a small obscure venue after their debut album Greatest Lovesongs Vol. 666 somewhere around 1998 or maybe even as late as 1999 (before Razorblade Romance). I have little recollection about that gig since I was still an underaged brat who experimented with alcohol before shows. All I really remember is me puking my guts out outside the venue… and that’s about it. Not sure what that has to do with HIM though… but it makes me  feel old. At that time anyway, as an angst driven youngling, the first album had some kind of a place in my CD player but when Razorblade Romance came out (and really rocketed the band to the stratosphere), I had already paddled myself away from the love metal wave that had gushed all over Europe before eventually reaching the US shores.

Looking at the stage now, Ville Valo felt uncharismatic and kinda lost prancing around the stage. I am not sure if it was lack of motivation or in his case, ability. His singing efforts sounded mediocre at best. I guess the moaning-shtick still worked OK-ish, but his range feels very limited for someone who has had this long and lustrous career in leading such a popular band. Maybe it was the semi-depressing walk down memory lane that seeing this band put me in an inescapable notion of passage of time… I had real problems enjoying this show. Everything felt old, unmotivated and disconnected. When I get into these moods, the best thing is to notice that there were more than enough people who can clearly see and feel things differently… but indeed, perhaps it was time to lay HIM to rest.

  • MK: At least there were fireworks in the end!

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