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Tuska Festival

HIM, Sabaton, Mastodon, Apocalyptica, Devin Townsend Project, Suicidal Tendencies, Amorphous, Mayhem, Triptykon, Dirkschneider, Timo Rautiainen & Trio Niskalaukaus, Soilwork, Electric Wizard, Anneke Van Giersbergen's Vuur, Sonata Arctica, Wintersun, Baroness, Mokoma, Insomnium, Lost Society, Brujeria, Rotten Sound, Avatarium, Battle Beast, Brother Firetribe, Impaled Nazarene, Jimsonweed, Barathrum, Baptism, Ornassi Pazuzu, LIK, Trap Them, Ratface, Kohti Tuhoa, Pekko Kappi & Khhl, The Raven Age, Huora, Amendfoil, Demonztrator, Fear Of Domination, Mind Riot, Sleep Of Monsters, Throes of Dawn, Paara, Where's My Bible, Alabama Kush, Solmusali.
in Friday, 30 June 2017 at Tuska Festival - Suvlahti
by Anamaria Carla Ionita

 I’ve always wanted to go to Tuska Festival, ever since I was a little girl, and after years of waiting, 2017 brought me to Helsinki. To be honest with you, ever since I heard that HIM are breaking up and announced their farewell tour, I kept looking for a concert near me, I wanted to see them one last time. Yes, you may laugh and call me mini-metal but I don’t care, I grew up with HIM and after a lame show where Ville was drunk and forgot the lyrics to “Killing Loneliness” (Artmania – Romania 2006) I wanted a redo, I needed closure. This is the story of how I got to Tuska.
This year’s Tuska Festival gathered record crowd of 37.000 metalheads in Suvlahti- formerly an energy production area, a present-day venue for festivals, flea markets and graffiti, located in Helsinki's Sörnäinen district; over the weekend 30.06-2.07.
In a 2016 interview with Festicket, Tuska organizer and promoter Eeka Mäkynen talked about how it started: "The first Tuska was held at a club in Helsinki with a capacity of 750, and they had two stages over two days. The guy who owned the club and ran the festival realized that it was growing and so already by the second festival it was arranged outdoors for a couple of thousand people per day. It started to blast off really quickly from then."
The festival has been growing slowly but steady and I am curious to see where it will go from here.

The first thing I do when I get to a festival is hitting up the merchandise booth, which to my surprise was almost inexistent. There was only one booth with the official festival t-shirts that had a couple of shirts with the bands that were playing and only two other shops, one with army attire and one with CD’s. What the hell? I am a woman, I need some more shopping choices, I have hard-earned money to spend. If that wasn’t enough, 60% of the official merch was already sold out by the end of day 1.
After failing miserably at shopping, I joined the CEO of the festival, Eeka Mäkynen for a ‘sightseeing tour’ of Tuska, which was amazing, and there should be more festivals to do it. Mäkynen showed us al the coolest places, talked about how the festival was brought to life, and brought us backstage while BROTHER FIRETRIBE were playing.

 You probably know by now that Finns love their sauna, so it was obvious that one should be present on the festival grounds. I am a huge fan of saunas, and of course I had to get naked and try it out myself… when in Finland. After this experience, I must say that all the other saunas I have tried are just hot rooms, this one was amazing, and even more amazing was the fact that it was in a tent!

I’ll talk more about the festival atmosphere a bit later; let’s talk about some bands.
ANNEKE VAN GIERSBERGEN took over the tent stage a little over 3pm and I was eager to see her. I was a fan of her since AGUA DE ANNIQUE and THE GENTLE STORM and haven’t seen her live in some years. Her performance was full of energy and she was a smile the entire time.

 WINTERSUN started guns blazing in their usual way, vocalist Jari Mäenpää kept the crowd up on their toes, in an electrifying concert of skill and showmanship. They started with “Awaken From The Dark Slumber (Spring)” and moved through “Winter Madness”, “Beyond the Dark Sun”, “Starchild”, “Sons of Winter and Starts” and “Time”.

 SUICIDAL TENDENCIES gathered a huge crowd in front of the main stage of Tuska and by the end of the show, we all had to pledge allegiance.

DEVIN TOWNSEND PROJECT was purely DEVIN TOWNSEND, the guy started off with… dick jokes. As those progressed, he put on his angry face and started off with a duet with ANEEKE VAN GIERSBERGEN on “Rejoice”. Throughout the concert some songs have been spiced up with the help of ANEEKE’s voice, which complemented very well with DEVIN’s harsh voice and grumpy stage face. On one side of the stage you had the lovely ANEEKE, all happy and smiling and on the other, you had a bald weird looking dude, the once upon a time STRAPPING YOUNG LAD. Although the concert was electrifying and flawless from an instrumental standpoint, the veteran fans were a bit disappointed by the lack of older, very loved songs such as “Juular”, “The Mighty Masturbator” and others.

 Once upon a time, I was a die-heart MAYHEM fan, now, black isn’t my cup of tea, but I couldn’t say no to seeing the guys live for old-times sake. The concert started with a warning: no pictures, no video, please turn off your cellphones not to disturb the performance. WTF is this, are we at a classical concert? I found this really weird and kind of pathetic. The lightning was just horrible, and by that I mean there was no light… Attila’s mic was off for almost the entire first song, and altogether was a really bad performance.

Tuska festival decided this year to finish off the first day with the band that could gather even the last drop of energy from a tired crowd and using it well to their advantage, and that band is SABATON. From the first few seconds of “Ghost Division” the tired crowd felt like it gotten an adrenaline shot. It was amazing to see the band again, to see Joakim, after all this time, after all of this continuous touring, still happy, still thrilled every time he saw the crowd loving his songs. Although the setlist was almost the same from quite some time now (yes, a few additions from “The Last Stand”) even repetitive I might say, it still manages to electrify and to be enjoyed by everybody of all ages. Their shows are just one of the rare ones in which musical genre preferences, style or taste become irrelevant and everybody just enjoys it. As you would expect, the tank was on the stage, and as any war metal band that respects itself would do, the show was accompanied by flames, fireworks and war scenes in the background. The display behind them was perfectly chosen and arranged to describe visually, each and every song. Of course, Joakim’s pants had another wardrobe malfunction, the god damned metal machine keeps popping out, but it is a fun incident and we’ve all grown accustomed to it.
As an international reviewer, that is not a Swede, I felt as few others around me did, a bit disproving of the request of singing “Gott Mit Uns” in Swedish, and let me just tell you, it is god damned difficult to sing along in English when the band is singing in Swedish.
The downside to all of this was that as soon as the ending flames stopped and SABATON left the stage, the euphoria and energy that SABATON gave the crowd quickly dispersed, and we all turned into a giant band of zombies struggling to move our legs on our way home.

 AMORPHIS drew out quite a numerous crowd the following day. With their “Under The Red Cloud” tour, of course they started the show with the song-title, followed by “Sacrifice” and “Silver Bride”. Tomi Joutsen was in top form as always, charismatic and full of energy the entire time, what I could say is that one might miss his dreads. They finished off with a crowd pleaser and a hit for that matter: “House of Sleep”.

 HIM were the headliners for the second day. Following a long radio silence, Finnish rock giants HIM have announced a farewell tour, closing the final chapter on their 26-year career."After quarter of a century of Love and Metal intertwined we sincerely feel HIM has run its unnatural course and adieus must be said in order to make way for sights, scents and sounds yet unexplored. We completed the pattern, solved the puzzle and turned the key. Thank you." Says frontman Ville Valo. Over the course of eight studio albums, HIM captured the hearts and minds of fans across the globe, drawn by their irresistible and inimitable style. Under the banner of their Heartagram logo – a potent symbol encapsulating the juxtaposition of the light and dark, the fierce and forlorn, and the evil and love found in their music - HIM filled venues and crashed charts the world over, collecting numerous awards, gracing countless magazine covers and becoming the first Finnish act to achieve Gold status in the USA.
Now, four years after the release of their last studio album ‘Tears On Tape’, HIM are saying farewell, taking in 14 countries across 35 shows for their final goodbye.
The band walked on stage on THE EVERLY BROTHERS song “Bye Bye Love” an epitaph to their ending journey.
It was weird seeing Ville not smoking and what was even weirder was the fact that there was no cohesion between the guys whatsoever. Yes, there were occasional laughs between Ville and Mige but everything looked so rehearsed and one could tell that they had no chemistry left. Nonetheless, Ville was sober this time, got all the lyrics right and played hits after hits including Chris Isaak’s “Wicked Game” and Billy Idol’sRebel Yell”.
An almost 2 hour long show, over 20 songs and a 5 minute mesmerizing fireworks show, drew the line on their Tuska appearance.

 Last day, BATTLE BEAST killed in the Tent stage, Noora Louhimo was incredibly charismatic and had the crowd in the palm of her hand. The setlist contained songs like “Black Ninja”, “Touch In The Night” and “Bringer of Pain”. My favorite album from them is “Unholy Savior” and was a bit disappointed that they did not play “Lionheart” or “Madness”.

 In APOCALYPTICA’s case I had such great hopes for a spectacular concert, unfortunately instead of singing their own songs, they sang shitty-assed METALLICA covers with their “Metallica By Four Cellos” tour. They sounded better than METALLICA to be honest, but still… who would want to see that?

 Tuska was a success this year; it’s a festival where you feel at home. The people were incredibly nice and outgoing, the food was great (huge shout out to Black Dining), there were no lines for booze and the entertainment was great. As previously mentioned, my only complain would be the lack of merchandise booths, so if anyone from the organizer group is listening, please bring more stuff next year!

To anyone in doubt about the festival and its worth, trust me, you need to experience this at least once in your life.

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Edited 15 August 2020

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