Rock in the City 2022 (Kerava): Afterthoughts

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When you offer up big bands like URIAH HEEP, ACCEPT, and DEEP PURPLE at your festival, you’re going to pull a crowd no matter what. So, how did the Kerava edition of Rock in the City, which took place over July 29th-30th, 2022, hold up to other festivals this year? Read our afterthoughts report to find out!

Check out the reports from day 1 and day 2, and stay tuned for the galleries.

Rock in the City has been going on for some time, throughout various cities in Finland, though we’ve only had our photographers attend in towns like Lappeenranta before now. The festival was set in a pretty quaint park next to a school, really near to the train station, which was a bonus if people were coming from outside of Kerava. The town – an admittedly cheap and dingy area of Finland – isn’t the nicest spot in the country by any means, yet this festival event tends to always bring their biggest acts to Kerava for some reason.

Admittedly, the atmosphere of this festival was a bit dank, especially on the first day. Most of that probably just relates to the setting being a bit dismal, but on Friday, we found everything to be kind of grey and limp – almost every band was maybe at 60% of their usual energy. The area was mostly full of daytime drunks on Friday, which is always a bit hard to be around for a variety of reasons and may have had an effect on the bands and their energy. Myself, I was particularly disturbed to see one woman there, clearly several months pregnant, heavily drinking and chain-smoking. I’m not sure, legally, if there was anything to be done about it, but the fact that the people at the bar were selling her alcohol while noticeably pregnant was extremely disturbing.

From the start, we were a little bit annoyed that the entrance guards were being extremely aggressive with us media reps – we understand that Kerava is a small town with an alcohol problem, but it’s important to understand the difference between your event’s audience and its guests. We understand the need for aggressive pat-downs when letting people into the event, but even huge events like Tuska Festival don’t fully rub-down their media reps – it wouldn’t hurt to show some respect, especially since none of us were drinking/drunk. For example, one particularly anal young fellow at the doors came to harass our photographer because she was taking pictures of a rainbow; this same kid came to harass me the next day. This was really annoying because we had already shown our passes on entrance, meaning that he was just roving the festival area, policing media reps, when surely he might have better spent his time, I don’t know, making sure pregnant women don’t get pass-out drunk?

The selection of food and drinks was actually pretty good, though I’m starting to get aggressively annoyed with the appearance of the hatsapuri cart everywhere this summer… this is not good festival food. Actually, it’s not good food in general (the dough is too thick and the cheese is too greasy) and the makers are not making anything remotely close to what actual Georgian khachapuri should be. It’s way too much, way too filling, doesn’t taste good, and no one can finish it, so people are forced to carry a greasy box around with them all evening. It’s also heinously overpriced to boot. Please, Finnish festivals, make this stop. No one is happy.

Otherwise, we made repeat visits to the crepe stall – they were pretty bad at cross-contamination between their salty and sweet crepes (though they did check for allergies, so props for that), but the staff were pleasant and the food was really good. The pig roast is always a good place to stop for a heavier meal for a pork pita or meat plate, and the twisty fresh-cut fries (made of potato, sweet potato, and/or beets) are always a great salty snack. Other options that we didn’t try included burgers from Burger5 and paninis from another food truck, as well as an ice cream truck that seemed to close extremely early on Saturday. The pork was fantastic, but we did note that the place that served fries was using plastic forks – this goes fully against EU legislation right now.

The overall layout was pretty decent, considering the small space, with band merch at the entrance – POPEDA, as mentioned in the report, had had their own merch booth on Friday, which was a bit strange but also kind of amusing (never seen this before at a festival, especially of this small size), and I’m disappointed (but unsurprised) to have noted yet another novelty-item shop on the other side of the entrance near the toilets. I hate having these booths at festivals – the concept of selling overpriced trash is so eco-unfriendly and so few festivals seem to care about that – but people did seem to be enjoying the LED-lit pikachu hats, if nothing else. As for the toilets… well, we all legitimately avoided them for the whole weekend, so no feedback to give on that front.

Perhaps one of the biggest issues was in that the organization was poor. The sound and lights were barely keeping their heads above water on Saturday, and we heard some word that the layout in general was pretty packed, so there wasn’t a lot of room to move around behind-the-scenes. There were constant delays, resulting in some bands starting late or awkwardly, while other artists got cut off for the sake of bigger acts starting on time. While the overall experience was a generally positive one, it seems like the organizers have a bit more work to do in making the festival run smoothly. Nevertheless, if the bands are right, a festival near enough that you can hop on the transit home is always a nice option, so perhaps we’ll be back again next year!