Ruisrock is a reputed name in European rock festival history. Being one of the oldest festivals, next year it is going to celebrate its 40th birthday and already now this event is expected to shake Finland, even though absolutely nothing has been announced yet. In summer 2009, Ruisrock’s lineup outdid all of the other Finnish summer festivals. Having such names up their sleeve as SLIPKNOT, FAITH NO MORE, CHILDREN OF BODOM, GOGOL BORDELLO, DISTURBED, IN FLAMES, and many more; you couldn’t help but put it on top of the list of places to be. [ed 2021: we’re still looking for the gallery, check back soon!]
On Friday, July 3rd, the most loud, most metal crowd of people was brought to the city of Turku by various means of transport from all over Finland and its neighboring countries. All of them were heading to the beautiful and usually peaceful island in the archipelago called Ruissalo. Every summer, for three days in July, this picturesque creation of nature becomes a place to be for all the fans of heavy music.
Friday was relatively a short day as the program started at 17:00, but it surely kept everyone busy as all of the bands that day were worth seeing. VIIKATE gathered a crowd in front of the Beach stage (Rantalava), followed by the guests from Sweden – DEAD BY APRIL, who were quite a rocking pleasure to see. Before people even managed to take a breath, the deadly glamorous DEATHSTARS went on stage. The sunshine and general happy atmosphere didn’t do much justice to the band’s dark image and music; they play better gigs when the time is right. After DEATHSTARS finished their set, we could only grab ourselves and run as fast as possible to the main stage (Niittylava) as CHILDREN OF BODOM were about to start playing and missing their shows is a crime against nature. It hurt to look at the stage because of the very bright setting sun, which gave us just the right ingredients for a CoB gig: hatred and pain. Apparently CHILDREN OF BODOM were so grand that even SLIPKNOT‘s legendary drummer, who is also a friend of the band, Joey Jordison, quietly came on stage to share everyone’s excitement.
As the blast-of-the-huge-names wasn’t over yet, as the next band to strike us was DISTURBED. Draiman‘s impressive vocals could be heard all over the area together with the voices of the crowd singing the songs. Then it was the time for the headliners of the first day and probably the most awaited act: SLIPKNOT. The sea of people was endless and the energy filling the air was insane. Just a while before the show, the band was relaxing backstage playing some tabletop games and one could never guess that in a short amount of time, those guys would be literally shaking the ground. Slipknot brought Ruisrock to its knees with their performance. Many of their old hits were included in the setlist, like “Duality,” “People=Shit,” and the newest “Psychosocial” and “Dead Memories.” From far away the main stage where the band was playing, it looked like an enormous roaring ball of light. When all hope is gone, all you can do is surrender.
Saturday, the 4th of July promised us bands like IN FLAMES, MEW, THE SOUNDS, LADYTRON and some popular Finnish acts, like KOTITEOLLISUUS, DISCO ENSEMBLE, TEHOSEKOITIN, and so on. As always, on the second day the festival area was the most crowded and it was hard to move through the endless amount of people. However, with great live music one can endure anything. CMX gathered a big audience at Paviljonkilava (Pavilion stage), from which they were playing some of the best Finnish rock music ever. After paying a proper tribute of “dance till you drop” to the band, our next stop was DISCO ENSEMBLE at the main stage. It was impossible to stand or sit still to this outstanding punk rock phenomenon, even if one really wanted to, as the ground and the stage itself were jolting to the rhythm of music. They surely brought some light to that cloudy day.
A short while later, the legendary TEHOSEKOITIN entered the Beach stage. This summer they have been doing a reunion festival tour and all of their old fans have been quite eager to see them live once more. All the space in the close distance to the stage was filled with dancing and singing people. Even the fact that most of them had to wear raincoats or stand in the mud under the pouring rain didn’t stop anybody from enjoying their favorite band. After TEHOSEKOITIN, there was a short time to catch our breath and go to the main stage to meet our guests from Sweden – IN FLAMES. The audience clearly shared our excitement about this band; a lot of people came to check out their performance and feel what it’s like to be “in flames.”
Closer to the end of the second day, KOTITEOLLISUUS took over the Paviljonkilava. This summer they have played most of the Finnish festivals and surely couldn’t miss Ruisrock. It was getting quite cold, but those guys definitely helped everyone to warm up. The headliner of that day was the Danish band, MEW, who is quite a frequent guest at this particular festival. They created a relaxed, and at the same, time somewhat magical atmosphere and basically lulled everyone after the long and exhausting day, every moment of which proved to be worth the effort.
Sunday, the 5th of July, was the last day of the great festival fun. The close farewell was inevitable, so we decided not to let it spoil the festival mood. After all, FAITH NO MORE was playing that day and you don’t mope about anything when Mike Patton is on stage.
We started that day with APULANTA at the Niittylava. Three handsome men, one unique microphone stand, and a rocking crowd – this is what you get at APULANTA‘s performances. They know how to make the usually stubbornly quiescent Finns sing and jump. Right after that, Ruisrock‘s audience got to be a part of a historical moment as THE CRASH played their last gig ever. Their performance was rather touching; many people were not able to hold back their tears. After 18 years of being together, THE CREASH have built a solid fanbase in Finland and all over the world, so saying goodbye was not easy.
After a short break for people to wipe away their tears, AMORPHIS kicked off at Paviljonkilava. Being the “cordon bleu” of Finnish metal, this band always knows how to own the crowd. This summer they have been doing the festival tour with their new album, so it was possible to see their shows all around the country. From the smallest stages in the backwoods of Finland to the biggest European festival names, their performances are always on top, showing the remarkable level this band has achieved through their history. Next on the list was the multinational band from USA and one of the highly-awaited acts: GOGOL BORDELLO. I think there must be some kind of wicked magic in their music, especially live. During their set there was not a single person backstage, on stage, or off stage, who wouldn’t be standing still to the music, regardless of what they were doing.
Finally, the time came for the moment we had all been waiting for – the endlessly respected fathers of FAITH NO MORE. Most of the big Finnish bands who were playing these days came back to see their idols. Mike Patton went on stage wearing a pink suit with a walking-stick in his hands and without any further ado, they rocked everybody out of their shoes. FNM played most of their great hits, like “Midlife Crisis,” “Epic,” “Evidence,” and so on. It was an incredible experience to be able to witness it all with our own eyes and listen to it all with our own ears.
Unfortunately, as all good things come to an end, the festival had come to its finale, leaving behind the best summer experience and the brightest of memories. Ruisrock 2009 will be something to tell your grandchildren about. Be sure not to miss it next year!
Written by Tanja Caciur
Photos by Jana Blomqvist