Ozzy Osbourne, JUDAS PRIEST, MEGADETH, Marilyn Manson, AVENGED SEVENFOLD… RockFest promised a lot of classic bands in 2018. It was with some hesitation that Musicalypse decided to attend, because the first year’s organization in 2017 was about as bad as it gets. Nevertheless, RockFest had such a great roster that we had to know how year 2 would fare against the complaints of 2017. So we packed our bags and drove up to the Hyvinkää Lentokentta [airfield] on June 6th, 2018, for 4 days of heavy metal fun. Check out the gallery here!
We arrived at the venue right around 18:00, missing the first act of the day, TIMO RAUTIAINEN & TRIO NISKALAUKAUS. It was misty, quickly turning into rain, as we were ushered through the empty VIP line because the regular lines were moving too slowly. There seemed to be a considerable amount of confusion regarding the cashless wristbands, as not only half my group, but a considerable queue of people were looking to get help with the system. Instead of concerning ourselves at that moment, we headed to the Perkele stage to see KILPI.
KILPI was a completely unknown band to me, though my friends assured me that the chance to see them live must be taken, as their classic power metal has always been underrated. The Perkele tent stage was quite packed, likely in part due to the rain. On the plus side, it was not too difficult to find a spot where we could see and enjoy the show. The band was already playing some chugging, fist-up-worthy power metal when we got settled into a good place where the mix was clear and the stage was at least partly visible. They had a good dose of energy, but didn’t seem to move a lot on stage, focusing more on playing well than showmanship, though there was some behind-the-head shred from one guitarist at least towards the end. They greeted and hyped up the crowd approximately every third song, including even a shout-out to one band member’s father-in-law’s 75th birthday that day. Overall, for an unknown band, it proved to be quite good, enjoyable oldschool power metal.
STONE SOUR was next up on the Radio Rock main stage. I, unfortunately, spent 90% of their set waiting in line to find out what was wrong with my wristband, like many, many others. Nevertheless, SS‘s set sounded clear and energetic and as I joined the party toward the last few songs, the stage was full of sparking pyrotechnics. I know Corey Taylor‘s voice quite well, but I’ve never heard him live before (not even with SLIPKNOT), so it was a pleasure to get at least a few songs to hear him roaring out over the sea of people – the man is basically made out of stage charisma. I wasn’t there long enough to know if the huge wacky waving inflatable tube men (is that their real name?) had been there for the whole show, but it was a bit funny of a stage adornment in the last songs nevertheless. “Take care of yourselves; take care of each other,” Taylor said at the end, and so we headed back to the Perkele stage for some BFMV.
I am definitely okay with BULLET FOR MY VALENTINE continuing to come to Finnish summer festivals more regularly, as they put on a good show, don’t tour here too often, and are a bit on the pricey side, ticket-wise. As the first notes played, the screams rose all the way to the back of the tent. “Hello my friends, how are you fucking doing tonight?” vocalist/guitarist Matt Tuck shouted after a song or two. He confirmed that the crowd was ready to get weird (or was it wild?) before continuing, and the response was a very enthusiastic yes. A special mention to Jamie Mathias, the new(ish) bass player – we met him back in 2015 right when he had joined the band and he fits like a glove… and also seems to be one of the best showmen in the band these days! They played a good mix of classics, like “The Last Fight” and “Scream, Aim, Fire,” but also included some of the best new songs, like “You Want a Battle (Here’s a War).” They had ended the set with “Tears Don’t Fall” and “Waking the Demon,” but at that point we had left to get some food so we’d have time to get a good spot for Ozzy‘s set.
The festival area had a fairly decent-looking food court, with impressively few of the sketchy paellas and some really intriguing offers, like cricket dogs and a lot of pulled everything – a new staple of Finnish festivals. Knowing Papa’s Smokery (wasn’t that Fafa’s Smokery last year? I could’ve sworn it had the same name as that falafel chain…) from Tuska, it was essential to get a burger there, and the pulled beef and chicken disappointed exactly zero people. If they continue to be at festivals, we can surely say they will continue to keep getting my money. The cricket dog from the smokery next to them, I was informed, was a bit of a disappointment, but at least it was cheaper, so they weren’t charging for the gimmick.
The crowd area of the Radio Rock main stage filled up quickly, and some opening videos and dramatic music with hints of “Crazy Train” played as the crowd chanted, “Ossi! Ossi!” Ozzy Osbourne appeared, ready to let the madness begin. He looks pretty stiff and old these days, rarely standing up straighter than a 45 degree angle, but the big smile never left his face. A surprise for me was seeing Zakk Wylde on stage with them – I hadn’t been aware that he had joined this “last” tour, but as I’m not a huge fan of BLACK LABEL SOCIETY, it was nice to get a chance to see him strutting his stuff at least once.
Much to our amusement, Ozzy was about as easy to understand as you’d expect him to be. He mumbled some greetings and introduced “Mr. Crowley,” which was really cool to hear. If Ozzy can’t quite rock a stage physically, he’s putting all his focus on his voice, because it sounded great pretty much throughout the set. Ozzy continued to mumble now and then between songs, and Wylde took pretty much every possible opportunity to solo. Ozzy teased him by introducing everyone in the band except Wylde, in good humor. Another incoherent speech introduced “War Pigs,” which, I kid you not, must have been about 15-20 minutes long and was 80% Zakk Wylde soloing. I love a good guitar solo, don’t get me wrong, but “War Pigs” is already a bit overlong at 8 minutes and this was pure overkill. At least the crowd was singing along enthusiastically (in the minute or two when there were vocals) – to the point where I couldn’t even hear Ozzy‘s voice. “Crazy Train” was the end of the main set, but Ozzy ends shows like he ends his touring career, and came back again for “Mama I’m Coming Home” and, to everyone’s delight, “Paranoid.” And so, with a good number of classics and a few songs I didn’t know, we called it a night and returned home to get some rest for our busiest day to follow.
The weather promised to stay windy but stop raining for Thursday, which was a potentially good thing – no one wants to be too hot or too cold at a festival for too long. While the wind was strong, it wasn’t too chilly – at least early on in the day – so long pants and a hoodie was enough as we approached the Radio Rock main stage for TWILIGHT FORCE.
We have a passing familiarity with TWILIGHT FORCE because of their opening set with Sabaton some years ago. They came out on stage, if even a little early, in some basic medieval outfits, ready to play some fast fantasy power metal. If I’m to paint a semi-accurate picture, the drummer was a ranger, the keyboardist a druid, one guitarist a masked elf, a masked wizard on the other guitar, a man-sized hobbit on bass, and a member of the Night Watch was on vocals. The overall feel was of some once-young fellows getting excited about BLIND GUARDIAN and/or RHAPSODY, and steered their style into pure high fantasy power metal… and if possible I mean that in a good way. Though the singer did most of the talking to the crowd, the keyboardist greeted the crowd at least once in a funny, raspy voice. Though the audience was moderate at best, everyone present was 100% enthusiastic about their music. The performance was tight and full of wanky shredding, and the content, if cheesy, was beautifully executed. It was a fun set that I rather enjoyed.
While my friends stayed behind at TWILIGHT FORCE, I left a few songs early to get a good spot for SHIRAZ LANE – a task sadly far too easy, as the crowd at that point medium-sized, yet steadily growing as TWILIGHT FORCE‘s set closed out. I haven’t seen these guys live since the release of their sophomore album, “Carnival Days.” Enthusiastic to hear some new material, I waited near the sound booth for 17:15 and their set to start. An eastern Indian theme introduced the band, who came running out to cheers, as the music built up and Hannes Kett pounced out and the music changed to “Carnival Days.” Kett gave us some, “Hey, hey, hey, yeah,” singalong before continuing with some seriously funky music in the second track. A cover of “Black Betty” (RAM JAM) acted as a live intro to “Tidal Wave,” which was pretty cool as well. What can I say? These guys play catchy, uplifting music that makes you feel good in spite of the grey, windy sky.
I soon left the Kivi stage and moved over to the VON HERTZEN BROTHERS, who I must assume put on a pretty good show, as I found myself (as usual) a little uninterested in the music, but having a good time. They had a decent amount of energy on stage and clear, sharp playing. I didn’t stick around too long though, as we needed a bit of a break and some food.
One somewhat strange area at the festival was the carnival place, where there were a few basic rides set up. Of course the usual slingshot and bungee jumps were there, but there were also carnival games where people could win stuffed animals and Marabou chocolate bars; I never saw anyone playing these games, but I did see a few of the prizes being toted around the crowd. As well, we discovered a secret Jägermeister bar hidden behind the toilets near the main stage. When BEAST IN BLACK started their set, we decided that it’d be most fun to hear their music from a flailing carnival ride, and we were right. They went well together. BIB is a fun band with fun music that I find, actually, a fair bit less annoying than BATTLE BEAST. Yannis Papadopoulos (vocals) has a bit of a young Halford thing going on, and Atte Palokangas is always fun to watch on drums. “The Fifth Angel” was said to be about betrayal and other nasty things, while they asked permission to take it slower for “Ghost in the Rain,” before closing out with “Blind and Frozen.” They’re a pretty fun band and definitely worth trying out in a festival scenario at very least.
We took a break at this point, grateful for the water points and rather plentiful toilets, before heading back to the main stage for CHILDREN OF BODOM. They put on a standard, energetic BODOM set, with a lot of good music and black-nail-polished shredding. Daniel Freyberg seems to be fitting in well with the rest of them still, while Jaska Raatikainen is looking like a delightful happy tonttu [gnome/elf] with his beard these days. While I presume there was a bigass moshpit somewhere, I was sadly not near it and didn’t get to have my usual rampage, but alas, there was plenty of music still to save my energy for.
I swung over to see HAPPORADIO, as I have a bit of a soft spot for them and it’s been over 5 years since I’ve seen them. They had an impressive crowd already for a pop-rock band at a mostly heavy metal festival, and they immediately took the stage and began playing unfamiliar songs to me (I’m a bit behind on their discography, to tell the truth) that sounded like standard HAPPORADIO. Their stage presence was laid-back, and unfortunately the stage lighting was a little bit lame. After hearing “Tavikset,” “Olette kauniita” sounded a bit weak at a festival, and could’ve been replaced with something more upbeat in such an early song slot. Fortunately, it was followed by “Hirsipuu,” but alas, at that point I had to make my way to the Perkele tent stage for something a little heavier.
Okay, SONATA ARCTICA isn’t that heavy per se, but they are still heavier than HAPPORADIO, and I could hear the “Can-Can” intro during “Hirsipuu” as I transferred stages, and on arrival, Tony Kakko seemed very happy and energetic and more than willing to get the crowd hyped up. I was very excited to hear “The Last Amazing Greys,” one of their best songs per my opinion that I couldn’t say when I’ve last heard live. “Paid in Full” was also a treat, and it was cool to hear “Candle Lawns” (for the first time in Finland) as opposed to the unnecessarily popular and very similar “Tallulah.” I’m also continuously pleased at the lack of “I Have a Right” in their sets this year. I hope they keep it up, as this was the most fun I’ve had at one of their shows in a while now.
At last, it was time for JUDAS PRIEST, whom I had personally not seen since 2005, so I have been way overdue for a repeat viewing. A nice piano intro (the “Firepower” intro?) opened into “Firepower,” and I admittedly haven’t listened to their new album, so this show was wasted on me in a small sense, as it is part of the tour for that album. Rob Halford did a dramatic turn-around with his opening wail, and I was pleased to see him looking, interestingly, a lot more mobile than he was back in ’05. If Halford seems a bit on the oldish side, mostly focusing on wailing as opposed to prancing about, the rest of the band took care of the showmanship for him, with Richie Faulkner proving to be an excellent performer. Glenn Tipon, sadly, is not playing live due to his recent Parkinson disease diagnosis, but Andy Sneap did an admirable job in his shoes.
With Halford‘s range, it was also nice to note that the man knows his mic technique, and when to blast his vocals and when to pull back, never once ruining our ears throughout their performance. A nice sunset appeared as Halford said that it was the 40th (holy shit!) anniversary of “Stained Class” this year, and played “Saints in Hell” in its honor, complete with a video on screen featuring bats and other heavy metal staples. This was followed by “Turbo Lover,” and the crowd was more than willing to help Halford with the lyrics, not that he needed it. Of course, Halford came out on a motorbike with a riding crop for “You’ve Got Another Thing Coming,” and I noticed by “Hell Bent for Leather” that, much like in ’05, Halford‘s jacket had changed multiple times. Halford then told the crowd that it was great to be back in this beautiful country, and that he had a very serious question: “What do you want to hear?” The response was universally “Painkiller,” and PRIEST delivered. This ended the main set, but as the headliner, of course they came back, starting with “Rising from Ruins,” and correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe Tipon himself came out to play a bit. I was also impressed that Halford let out a pretty good growl, considering it’s not something he’s known for. “Breaking the Law” was a huge nostalgia trip, and Halford made his last outfit change into an oldschool jean vest with PRIEST patches for “Livin’ After Midnight.” It speaks of their show (or of the train schedules) that fewer people bailed out early on their set than the previous night. They really put on a great show.
Every night offered two midnight bands after the headliner finished, and on this night, the temptation of KLAMYDIA was very alluring to my group, and since I’ve seen LOST SOCIETY plenty of times at festivals, I opted to join them, as the band is known to me exclusively by name, not sound. They were immediately less hardcore than I had expected – closer to APULANTA than IMMORTAL as I had imagined. Their playing had classic, if somewhat ripped-off riffs from the ’80s and ’90s. The singer was shouting, “Hyvinkää,” perhaps a bit too much, but the band was an otherwise pleasant surprise. A few people clearly took “Vaatteet pois” [clothes off] a little too seriously at the end of their main set, though, as skin became more and more evident suddenly. We left before the end, however, to get in the line for a cab before it got too long. There were still 2 days left, after all.
As much as we had hoped to see ARION, and as admirable an effort as we made to be there on time for their set, were were about 30 minutes too late on day 3 to enjoy it. Instead we went to find some food, and encountered a terrifying cheesecake that was more like a piece of brownie hidden in what might be runny neon blue and pink cheesecake batter, covered in cookie chunks and a donut. It was a heart attack in a cup and really stretched the word ‘cheesecake’ to its limits.
Once the shame-inducing horror dessert had been consumed, we went to the main stage in time to catch AMORPHIS‘ drum-heavy intro as they came out on stage. They have changed up their set in promotion of “Queen of Time,” starting out with “The Bee,” which was pleasantly heavy and energetic. The additional vocal and instrumental embellishments were a nice touch, even if they came from a backing track. Tomi Joutsen is still so cool, whether he is singing clean or growling. The man has a voice. “Sacrifice” is still very much a radio hit, but I don’t mind it live as it has a good groove. Joutsen proved that he can still transition between clean vocals and growls as naturally as can be. “Death of a King” remains a personal live favorite and they closed out with the ever-popular “House of Sleep.” The set was pretty chill energy-wise, but I wouldn’t say it was lacking, and the crowd seemed to agree, with many hands up clapping throughout.
I didn’t bother to go to the stage, but made sure to listen to RROCKLESS LOVE from the bar tent. I was glad to hear “Monster” live for the first time, but it must be said that their sets are a little weak, as they stick mainly to their mediocre radio hits, like “Beautiful Bomb,” “Edge of Our Dreams,” and “Hot,” which was the unfortunate closer as it’s such a generic song. “Animal Attraction” and “Night on Fire” remain fun though, so I suppose it’s a matter of taste.
I’d never heard of PHIL CAMPBELL & THE BASTARD SONS (who are, as far as I know, not actually bastards, but are, in fact, his sons) before, so this was an opportune moment to learn more. They played a fair balance of their own music and MOTÖRHEAD covers, which was nice. “Born to Raise Hell” was perhaps their best song of the day.
We didn’t stay in the Perkele tent too long though, as we had to prepare ourselves for the night to start winding up. MEGADETH was one of the two big names on Friday, and we were treated immediately to the wonderful guitar wankery of “Hangar 18” and Dave Mustaine‘s bouncing curls as they took the stage.
The mix was sadly off at first, with the vocals essentially unhearable. Mustaine greeted the crowd after three or so songs and mentioned that their latest release had hit #1 in Japan, which the crowd responded to with ample cheering. Later on in the set, Mustaine said that the numbers don’t matter, “as long as we have each other,” referring to the crowd. Visually, these guys were not the most enthralling band by any means, but the music itself was top-notch, and the furious fretwork did not disappoint. “Symphony of Destruction” and “Peace Sells” were two must-have fan favorites; for those who have seen MEGADETH many times, they might’ve wanted a change, but for me seeing them the first time, I enjoyed it quite a lot.
Since MAJ KARMA wasn’t much our speed (even if it was neat to hear “Ukkonen” live once), we opted to get some more burgers and listen to the end of TURMION KÄTILÖT‘s set. I’ve seen these guys many times now, but not since Spellgoth left the band and Saku “Shag-U” Solin took his place. He is a perfect addition to the band’s roster, and his style blends into TK seamlessly. These guys are a bit of a festival staple, so it’s nice to see them even if for just a few songs whenever possible. Olli Herman [RECKLESS LOVE] even made a cameo on stage to give them their gold records for what I can only assume was their last album, but I was too far away to know for sure.
And then it was time for Marilyn Manson, a band none of us listen to, but with enough inside jokes, you can make anything awesome, and our psych level was pretty high for the day 3 headliner. The Antichrist Superstar came out to the “Irresponsible Hate Anthem,” in his usual whitish face paint, with a black profile outline drawn on one side. After two or three songs, he greeted the crowd, saying it was good to see Finland again and, “Are you guys ready to fuck shit up?”
Frankly, much to my surprise, I was quite pleased with the show he put on. As one of the original shock-rockers, it was no surprise that he might be rubbing his belly or touching his groin, but I was still impressed that he sang with his entire body and managed to be quite mesmerizing. “The more you [clap your hands], the more songs I’ll play,” he announced, and switched into a long sleeveless red jacket before “Kill4Me.” He only told a few stories between songs, but in spite of this being a part of the Heaven Upside Down Tour, managed to play all the best classics like “This is the New Shit” and “mOBSCENE” (though I’m not sure if he played “Tainted Love” or not). His famous cover of the EURHYTHMICS‘ “Sweet Dreams” felt strangely more erotic than normal in a feather coat, and he created a drum sound in “The Beautiful People” by whacking a guitar with some drumsticks. He played two encores, the first with “Antichrist Superstar” and “The Beautiful People,” and then gave us a rather dramatic exit following the second encore, a cover of Gerard McMann‘s “Cry Little Sister” by simply walking off stage. No bowing or pandering for cheers. Overall, it was pretty cool, and I have to say that, in a weird way, this show had one of the friendliest crowds of the weekend.
By Saturday, we were running on fumes – I’m not sure how people survive Metal Days in Slovenia, but perhaps the attendees are a fair bit younger than I am. We had plans to perhaps catch STAM1NA and BROTHER FIRETRIBE in the early afternoon, but couldn’t rally until 18:00, which was when AMARANTHE was set to take the stage.
My feelings about this band continue to get more and more mixed as their fame increases. I’ve made no secret that I was no fan of their last album, nor was I particularly impressed by their last headlining show at The Circus on the Maximalism Tour. While they did play a few solid tracks, I’m starting to get the feeling that vocalist Elize Ryd is not actually an especially good singer, but everyone is constantly distracted by her tiny pants and how pretty she is. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to shame her for her sexuality or for being beautiful… it’s just that I’d like to see her put more effort into singing well than just looking good. Even the band seems focused on reminding everyone that she’s attractive, at one point even saying that she’s the most desirable woman on Swedish dating sites. Furthermore, this show seemed to be bogged down by sound problems. While “1.000.000 Lightyears” and “Hunger” sounded actually quite decent overall, and Nils Molin still appears to be holding up well as the clean male vocalist in the band, Ryd‘s vocals were all over the place and out of tune half the time. Perhaps the highlight of the show was during the encore when guitarist Olof Mörck brought his girlfriend on stage to propose, to which she replied, “Of course!” – a cute moment that was definitely worth seeing. Ryd then serenaded her with their least-interesting ballad, “Endlessly,” which was nice for the moment even if that song is about as generic as love songs come. They then continued with “Drop Dead Cynical” and promised “The Nexus,” but as far as I could tell they didn’t play the latter, though setlist.fm tells me it was an “acapella snippet”; I’d be more inclined to believe that they just gave up due to technical problems, since we didn’t hear a note of the song from where we were standing.
After their set’s abrupt end, we avoided KOTITEOLLISUUS, continuously baffled by their fame, and took a break before finding good spots for OPETH, a band I personally haven’t probably seen in a good few years at this point. An intriguing instrumental intro played as they took the stage, and some heavy progressive music started them off, though the bass was far too loud and the vocals couldn’t be heard. The music got heavier and the crowd began to pack in during “Sorceress,” and the sound cleared up by the second song. Vocalist/guitarist Mikael Åkerfeldt‘s clean vocals remain as mysterious and wonderful as ever. The band was in a bit of a poor place in the festival, as their long proggy songs would’ve worked better on Wednesday or Thursday when the crowd had more energy left – not their fault at all, but this slot could’ve been used for a more upbeat band to keep the crowd alive. As per the usual, Åkerfeldt teased the crowd a few times, notably saying at one point that they were from the superior hockey nation, but continued with, “Let’s not talk about this, because who cares,” after thanking everyone for coming out to see them. He also mentioned that they had just arrived today, and asked if Ozzy and PRIEST had been any good. He then told a story of “Ram it Down”‘s release, and how he waited in Stockholm to get it signed, though probably sold it later to buy drugs. At the end, he said that they would play one more song; “It’s not really our fault. We’re not on tour. We’ve been writing new shit and haven’t really been on stage much in the last 6-7 months.” They finished with “Deliverance,” a song “made back in the anus of Sweden: Gothenburg.” The set was short, with the songs being rather long and all, and ultimately it was easy to relax and melt into their music, but hard to keep the energy up.
I popped out a bit early to make my way over to the Kivi stage because I wanted to see what sort of a crowd BLIND CHANNEL would pull. Clearly there was some anticipation, as there was already an eager audience, and the BC Squad’s screams were audible as soon as the lights turned on and the first notes played. They appropriately started things off with “Trigger” and I was amused to see that the era of tight pants may have begun for them. These guys were a much-needed energy boost following OPETH, and were clearly pretty excited, as the playing got fractionally sloppy; however, Niko “Nc Enroe” Moilanen was really letting loose with the vocals and even dropped some spontaneous growls here and there, which was pretty great. “Deja FU” remains a good summer party song, and they were able to get most of the crowd to get down on the ground for “Enemy for Me” and jump up. It was nice to see that, though the crowd was still mostly of the female variety, some big hardcore-looking guys were still willing to let loose and party to the songs. They were able to get an “eeey-ohh” singalong going prior to “Out of Town,” and on the whole I was a bit surprised at the songs they chose, going with more of their poppy stuff at a hard rock festival. I was also rather upset that they dropped “Giants,” which is probably their best song right now. Maybe they should consider dropping “IDFU,” which is an okay song but definitely not the hard-hitting penultimate song they would need. I would also like to point out that they had a surprisingly brutal mosh pit, but that was due to a bunch of assholes trying to trample the “less hardcore” people. I’ll touch on this later, but this festival disappointed me on the whole attitude-wise.. The band closed out their set with “Wolfpack,” which featured Philip Strand, the vocalist of Normandie (who played after midnight) and was the hard-hitting closing song they needed.
After BLIND CHANNEL finished up, we took one more break to refuel and headed to the Radio Rock stage for AVENGED SEVENFOLD and our final band of the week. We were all pretty burnt out at this point, but there was still enough energy left to create a bit of enthusiasm for this band that none of us listen to more than casually. They started off with “The Stage,” complete with the music video on the backing screen banners, and M. Shadows greeted the crowd and said it was great to be back in Finland, what he believes to be the home of heavy metal. Their set was full of fireballs, which started already in “Afterlife.” Shadows said that they had been at Download Festival the night before and had to give a big hand to the crew who didn’t sleep in order to get the stage set up for this night, and also thanked the crowd for still being there on the 4th day of a festival to see them. “Have you had a good time? I like this band but there’s no fucking way I’d stay for it after 4 days. And it’s 23:20 and still light out. This song is for you guys,” he said, before they played “Hail to the King.” “Welcome to the Family” followed and was great headbanging fun, and the crowd began to squish forward quite a bit. Shadows thanked the audience for helping carry the music because his voice was, “wrecked from lack of sleep.”
I’d have never personally expected Shadows to be a great frontman (though in hindsight I learned that he was voted one of the top 25 by Ultimate Guitar magazine), but on this night he was very gracious and grateful, which was refreshing. They played perhaps a few too many slower songs, but perhaps the band needed to take it a bit easy, and after all, they still played quite a few crowd favorites, like “Nightmare” and “Bat Country,” the latter of which closed out the main set. They also played some older tracks that they didn’t play at the last show in Helsinki. I wasn’t actually personally familiar with either of the encore tracks, “Shepherd of Fire” and “Unholy Confessions,” but I was extremely surprised that they didn’t play “A Little Piece of Heaven” – I thought that was their live show staple, so I’m always impressed when that song gets left out. Ultimately, in spite of the last day and the low energy on both the band and crowd’s behalf, they managed to pump it out and get a worthy response, and we left the festival feeling pretty satisfied, especially after their set concluded with some nice fireworks.
So how was the festival otherwise? Well there was certainly plenty to do. The standard bungee jump seemed actively in use the entire weekend, as well as the… inverse bungee slingshot thing? The carnival rides never had too much for lines, which was nice for those who wanted to use them, and I have no complaints about the food or selection (though it was pretty mean to sit the Ruis Herkut [garlic-fried rye bread snacks] stall right next to the wristband recharging station, taunting those in the queue eternally with its potent garlic-y scent.
The cashless wristband system was decent, and it was nice not to have to bother with wallets – we were comfortably able to leave them in the coat check every day as the festival also appeared to be K18. It did seem that there was quite a lot of confusion surrounding these wristbands though, and at least on the first day, I didn’t seem to be the only one who missed out on a band only to be told that everything was fine and I should just go charge it up.
Perhaps my biggest complaint about the festival overall was the audience. We’ve constantly praised Tuska and Nummirock for having the best festival crowds; RockFest had perhaps the worst I’ve seen. Instead of kindness and brotherhood, there was drunkenness and aggression. Sloppy drunks stumbled constantly through the crowd annoying the rest of us, and we saw at least a few fights break out. I already mentioned the assholes in BLIND CHANNEL‘s moshpit – moshpits are about rocking out and adrenaline, not about stomping on people smaller than you, and that’s not an attitude anyone appreciated. Don’t get me wrong, it’s fun to be smashed around – if I didn’t enjoy it I wouldn’t go into moshpits. It’s when people are clearly hunting you down for being female or young and trying to actively hurt you that you get labeled as a piece of shit person.
So overall, the festival was a pretty rousing success. Most of the major issues were going on behind the scenes for the photographers, but for festival-goers, the festival was pretty damn fun. The headliners were all top-notch, and the overall program was pretty well tailored to just about everyone. While the crowd was unfortunately full of bitter old sad drunks who like to make other people miserable as well, there were at least a few kind souls out there that you could rock out with. The food was good, as was the variety, and ultimately, we all had a pretty great time.
Written by Bear Wiseman
Photos by Janne Puronen