When it comes down to punctuality I do my best, but apparently, at festivals, the universe has different plans for me. I keep on missing the first acts. TEMPLE BALLS is a band I got acquainted with because of them being the support act for Battle Beast. Their hard rock tunes are pleasant to the ear and often catchy, proof of that is the song “Hell I’m Feeling Fine”, which apparently was also the last song they played. As I marched my way to the festival grounds, I at least heard that song resonating through Suvilahti. Cheering from the audience immediately followed the song. A great success? Even though I didn’t witness it.
Opening the Helsinki stage were the hardcore act from USA STICK TO YOUR GUNS. As I headed my way to the photo pit, the security made sure I understood the risk of being taken away from there, as a possibility came for crowd surfers to take advantage of the situation. I couldn’t help but laugh because when I came there were about two rows of the audience. Were they just gonna jump over the fence that separated us? The audience got bigger and bigger and Stick To Your Guns soon could enter the stage. Personally, I’m not a big fan of hardcore. This might explain why I was a bit less excited about the Sunday program. However, I have to admit that the audience definitely enjoyed the show. Eventually, the show looked like an irresistible scene of mosh pits, headbanging and shouting, that ensured the band’s setlist was worth the while.
I marched my way to the Inferno Stage for a band called BLIND CHANNEL. I guess they’re pretty popular around here. I hadn’t really looked into them before, but I know they combine poppy sounds with metal. I didn’t know however the front row would mostly consist out of screaming teenage girls that really have affected my hearing ever since. This kind of let out what their target audience probably mostly consists of. However, the problem arose that I couldn’t really make anything out of the music, even though the performance was energetic. With the girls screaming in my back when their favorite guitar player would come in front of the stage and the loud drum set, the sound got a bit lost in translation. Judging by the crowd’s reaction, however, the first three songs of the show must have been very good. This was a bit unfortunate, especially because of my tight schedule where I can’t spend too much time with every band. I have heard a lot of good things about this band, so I hope I will see them once again during other circumstances.
Next up on my list were the Swedish classic rock legends of EUROPE. Who needs an introduction? I bet no one does. But other than “Final Countdown” I didn’t really know any other tracks. Or at least, I thought I didn’t. This band actually has a lot of classics in their repertoire that I didn’t know were theirs, eg. “Rock The Night”, “Cherokee”. The band recently released a new album called “Walk The Earth” and they played a couple of tracks from that as well. I did miss “Carrie” in their setlist. The performance of the Swedes was definitely one of the most memorable ones. All the songs sounded equally tight and their performance was really energetic. “The Final Countdown” obviously marked the end of the show. A song everyone knew and could enjoy.
Apparently, I was supposed to know about CLUTCH. It seems like I have missed an entire part of metal history in my life, without knowing about this band. The hard rock band from the USA, made a stop at Tuska, so that I could get to know them a bit better. The band ensured an energetic live performance and I even noticed a people dancing to their tunes. After all, when something has a certain groove and funk, how can you stop your hips from moving sideways? The band successfully closed down the Helsinki stage.
Where did the budget go that the festival could have invested in other amazing acts? Two words: PARKWAY DRIVE. Obviously, from the first minute, Parkway Drive managed to convince the audience and photographers, even though we were startled by the firecrackers at the beginning of the show and because of the wind the stage was quite smokey. As soon as the intro started the audience chanted “Parkway Drive” loudly and the band came to the stage, where they played their first energetic track of the set “Wishing Wells”. The band clearly has gone crazy on their budget of how to make their show cool. The Australians clearly have a pyro-technician in their close circle who got a little bit too excited. I don’t know where they got the idea from to trap their drummer into a spinning wheel, but I kind of feel sorry for him having to sit one hour and a half in a steel cage. I mean. How the hell did they come up with that? Did the conversation perhaps go like this? “Guys, our music is kind of aggressive, but our show is too minimal. Let’s blow things up during our show and let’s put our drummer in a steel cage, where we spin him around the whole time. Oh, wait… My mistake. Spinning him around won’t do it. It’s not enough. Let’s put him on fire as well!”. And that’s exactly what happened during the highlight of the show “Crushed”. Lighting, firecrackers, smoke, pyros all of them were too minimal. They needed extravaganza and they decided to use their fierce drummer for the purpose. I personally would have been scared as fuck, but drummer Ben Gordon just went on with his job, playing as tight as he could possibly do. The show ended with in comparison to the show during “Crushed” sad fireworks after “Bottom Feeder”.
With the last notes of “Bottom Feeder” Tuska 2018 officially ended. As I mentioned during the review of the first day, it was my first edition. Having gone to bigger and other festivals before, I do have quite some experience, however. I can say that Tuska Festival has for me been one of the best-organized festivals that I have visited in the recent years. I was amazed at how smooth everything went. Very little queues, a lot of space, drinks, and food are relatively the same as if you would eat out. The only thing that annoyed me a bit during the festival was the overlapping schedule of such many great bands. This clearly isn’t really their fault. However, it’s a fact that most of the bigger festivals already start in the morning and this could probably also avoid having to choose or packing your schedule with too much to do. The second stage being in a tent, doesn’t allow the best acoustics and dare I even say that in case of disaster (Pukkelpop 2011, anyone?) it definitely isn’t the safest option. Overall, the festival was a positive experience for me. The crowd was very kind, welcoming and had respect for one another, especially in mosh pits, which often fails in other parts of the world. The festival is not too crowded, there is still a lot of room to breathe and is mostly clean. There was a huge variety of bands, almost every subgenre got covered and there were some surprising acts on the roster. One thing I have to talk about though is that the photo pit at the Inferno stage is way too narrow, making it very difficult for us to not only take shots and to move around but when bands had smoke machines, it would be so near the photo pit, that it makes me question if it’s actually healthy to be photographing at the Inferno Stage. All-in-all Tuska was a great experience, where I got to know a lot of new bands and had a lot of fun. As a first-timer, I can hardly imagine myself not going to the festival again next year.