After 2 years, Sideways Festival came back with their now familiar setup, split between Helsingin Jäähalli and the surrounding parking area, for five stages in total, and a variety of artists of different genres. Many of these were, of course, overlapping in time over the weekend, so we will focus on our own personal highlights. The festival took place over June 16th through 18th. Read about day 1 here and check out the gallery here.
Along the same lines of the first day, Friday was possibly even sunnier and warmer, although luckily almost devoid of queues, which was quite the feat if one considers that the festival announced their record attendance during the weekend. Similarly as the previous day with 22-PISTEPIRKKO, LXANDRA was more of a background soundtrack that helped with getting into the festival mood before visiting the Sahara stage for the first time, situated in a small space squeezed between the other side of the hockey arena and the football fields, for the colorful hippiness of ASTRO CAN CARAVAN and their cosmic jazz. Beautiful music and good entertainment for the people present, while after a quick stop at RYLEY WALKER’s show we dove back into our favorite basement to see K-X-P (or not see, since the show was mostly in the dark and the two drummers were covered in their respective hoods).
Again like the previous day, it was easy to see on people’s faces how much they had been enjoying being able to participate in a music festival once again, and the audience was incredibly varied, so you could see, for instance, extreme metal T-shirts, extravagant, glittery outfits, or shirts with whimsical motifs. All of that was of little importance, as long as people were able to express themselves, dance if they wanted to, and have fun along the way. The arcade area played also a big role in the latter, being constantly crowded with nostalgic playing old-school videogames. There was also the “mini cruise”-club experience, where people would be thrown for a few minutes in a setting eerily similar to those Baltic cruises’ nightclubs every Finn needs to experience at least a few times in his/her youth. Last but not least, let’s not forget the Royal Club area on the other side of Jäähalli, with panel discussions and karaoke sessions.
So there was really a little of this and that for everyone and all tastes. But back to the music: seven little piggies came to town. This is not the beginning of a fairytale, but we are talking about PIGS PIGS PIGS PIGS PIGS PIGS PIGS (also known in a much more convenient way as PIGSX7) who came here from Newcastle, UK, to entertain us with their noise/extreme/krautrock/doom/punk-influenced heavy metal (yes it is as confusing as the band’s name). With their singer performing in yellow shorts covered in ripped eyeballs, just to add to the overall quirkiness, the resulting gig was loud, erratic, entertaining, and, well… at times very weird. One could not have asked for more, especially when you see the band itself having so much passion and giving it their all.
Because of this – at least that’s a good running theory – MOGWAI didn’t sound as interesting as expected when playing shortly after on the main stage, or at least it felt like a stark contrast with the earlier energetic bunch. It was actually quite nice to see a glimpse of VESTA later on the Aurora stage. After witnessing this artist twice in the same festival (earlier as the last band on the Black Box stage), it’s clear that she has her way to capture her fans. A good live act despite being far away from our traditional musical spectrum. The following KISSA was in this regard both entertaining and right on the spot, flamboyantly rocking their way to the audience with their catchy tunes and contagiously fun attitude.
The later shows tended to cause a lot of unintentional (and uncomfortable) gathering in front of the door leading to the Black Box stage. For some reason this was always kept closed until only a few moments before the show. As such, it was a relief once the gate opened and we could finally flow inside towards the stage for the last performance of the day with UUSI FANTASIA. This band is famous for their collaborations with popular Finnish musicians (e.g. Freeman, or more recently Lassi Valtonen), and they hadn’t been seen live in town for a long time (if memory doesn’t fail, even since their earlier Sideways appearance in 2015), so it’s only natural there would have been quite some expectations. These were fully met in their show, combining electronic sounds with violin, cello, guitars and drums, this ensemble delivered a fine conclusion to this second day of festivities.
Text & photos by Marco Manzi