GALLERY: 24.5.2024 Black Totem, Pääkallo, & The Coffinshakers @ Bar Loose, Helsinki

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On a warm evening in late May, on May 24th, 2024, darkness and gloom descended on Helsinki in the form of the Swedish horror country ensemble THE COFFINSHAKERS. The chilling winds were not enough to cool down the atmosphere, as the night got really sweaty inside Bar Loose, which sold out as expected.

But let’s start from the beginning: after a weird acoustic solo show upstairs by a local musician, surrounded by middle-aged people singing along and applauding, we descended to the lower floor of the venue. There, a big animal skull at the front of the stage introduced us to the Turku-based BLACK TOTEM. A mixture of dark goth rock/punk/blues with a doomy attitude, the band was a fitting warm-up for the night, getting people in the mood for what was to come. The band members’ attire was also interesting, with the second guitarist sporting a black hat with shorts and boots, while the frontman and the bass player had a more horror/goth style. The music was pretty interesting once you got into it, but their set was rather short.

The night continued with the connecting thread of swamp blues toward more occult rock-sounding melodies when PÄÄKALLO, hailing from Kuopio, took the stage next. Confusingly, the skull that was on the stage got removed before their show (“pääkallo” is Finnish for “skull,” if you don’t get the pun), and the night shifted to more JESS AND THE ANCIENT ONES-like vibes. Surf-rock guitars, a tambourine, and a charismatic vocalist are the formula the band counts on. As the venue filled up, they had the chance to present their latest record from last year to the crowd, which seemed to appreciate it to the extent that some were even trying to dance a bit to their rhythm, defying the hot temperatures.

Finally, after a short changeover where the guys put up the band’s banner, it was THE COFFINSHAKERS‘ turn, welcomed by the cheers of the audience. It’s always a pleasure to see Rob Coffinshaker sport his acoustic guitar and sing with that distinct, solemn voice of his. With new material that just came out a few weeks back, the set was a mix of new songs and the band’s classics (“Last Night By The Grave,” “Walpurgis Night,” and “Black Sunday,” to name a few) – the kind you cannot stop yourself from singing along to while being amazed at the emotionless expression of the bass player on the side.

For about one hour of sweaty performance, and with some hiccups with the sound from the monitors on stage (which seems to be happening at almost every gig at Bar Loose these days), the four entertained their fans throughout their repertoire as well as with Rob‘s short introductions between the songs. All in style with what the band has gotten us used to. When the conclusion came with “Evil,” it was difficult not to head home with a smile on your face after such a nice evening. Bonus points to the guys for hanging around once again, taking photos, and talking with the fans after the show. Check our photo gallery of the evening here…

BLACK TOTEM

PÄÄKALLO

THE COFFINSHAKERS

Photos by Marco Manzi