Not too many bands get to celebrate their 20th anniversary before a crowd of dedicated fans who sing along to their songs by memory. When you can do that and while remaining largely unknown to the mainstream audience, there’s something exceptional on hand. So we headed out to Korjaamo in Helsinki to see what SYDÄN, SYDÄN does and what makes them an absolute favorite to some, yet largely unknown and too weird to many.
When it comes to musical genres, its hard to put your finger on the Finnish underground veterans SYDÄN, SYDÄN. Their 20 year anniversary shirts say “Nu Metal Never Dies,” but just as so many other other aspects of the band stand on a thin line between tongue-in-cheek and very serious, so does the slogan. By no means can you put them in a tight slot like nu-metal, but they do have some great nu-metal songs too. Then again, they play everything from schlager to metal, so it figures there’s a nu-metal song in there too. In a weird way though, they manage to sound like themselves, whatever the genre might be.
SYDÄN, SYDÄN are known for shows that do not follow the standard rock show script. They are known to cook porridge for the audience, have a crowdsurfing swimming competition between band members, and play naked. This time was different in a new way. It all started with a chamber music concert. The band brought an orchestra onto stage and the band members – vocalist Tuomas Skopa, bassist Tomi Flyckt, drummer Mikko Rekonen, keytarist Jussi Liukkonen, and percussionist/second guitarist Ville Leppilahti – formed a choir that performed a few selected songs, including the painfully current “Rauhaa, rakkautta, heviä” – a song that sends an anti-war message entangled with trust in the strength of camaraderie in taking over your troubles.
After the chamber orchestra, there was a moment of storytelling – a character called Kai-Jorma told a lengthy story of a boy called Jimi and an insult from a circus clown. The book in his hands was a Jimi Hendrix biography, but the story seemed to have little to do with Hendrix and more to do with passing the time needed to reorganize the stage for the main event. Nevertheless, it had the audience reacting to the story’s boy going through a traumatic experience of being ridiculed in front of others and finally returning the insult by means of an obscenity.
Finally, it was time for the much expected rock concert. It was easy to see that the people in the audience had a feeling of coming home. Song after song, the crowd was singing along, dancing, and jumping. SYDÄN, SYDÄN played a set of songs that ranged from some of their very earliest pieces, such as “Arvaa miltä musta tuntuu” to the best known songs off their latest albums, like “Ikuinen hehku” and “Ensin täytyy laulaa laulunsa.”
Now, no anniversary would be perfect without a reunion, so fortunately, in the latter half of the show, the crowd was treated to the band’s original guitarist, Juho Minerva, joining the band on stage – naked and body painted like they remember him. Between the set and the first encores, the crowd actually chanted his name instead of that of the band.
After a full set and a second encore, you could say SYDÄN, SYDÄN left their audience glowing, with a warm feeling of homecoming and belonging. Even though there might be a weird uncle shouting obscenities in the corner, it somehow just makes it all feel more like home.
Here are the photos from the concert.