Another year and yet another Tuska Festival. We’re not really complaining, after all, we’ve been going to Tuska since the late ’00s and it’s always been a consistent event. Taking place during its usual post-midsummer weekend of July 1st through 3rd, 2022, at the now-traditional location at the Suvilahti industrial site, this year’s event boasted an all-new layout, as well as headliners like KORN, MERCYFUL FATE, and DEFTONES. Don’t forget to check out the full festival reports from Day 1, Day 2, and Day 3, and stay tuned for the galleries!
The biggest change from Tuska 2019 was the fully reimagined festival layout. On the whole, this was a positive change, as it allowed for more space between stages, as well as a better bar layout to fix the shenanigans from 2019 when they made the festival K+18 and it became a total clusterfuck. The mainstage now had an obscene amount of space around it, much of which was fully used throughout the weekend, but it was never overcrowded or impassable, which was a real bonus. On the flipside, however, it seemed that the smallest stage moving into Tiivistämö was a mistake – perhaps they should have stuck with Kattilahalli, even if it has worse sound quality, simply because it’s a far bigger space and more people would be allowed to see the artists, as the 120-person capacity of Tiivistämö was not enough for bands like SHEREIGN, HUMAVOID, or ONE MORNING LEFT, who can draw a pretty good crowd.
The design and layout of the festival was also nice, as they pay a lot of attention to detail, with a variety of things to dress up the industrial site to be a bit more “metal,” like the wooden stakes decorating the poles in the tent stage, or the runic markings around other poles throughout Suvilahti. Even the sound booths had some nice adornments to make them look good for the festival.
Food-wise, Tuska has also been the big winner so far this year. Apart from picking classic awesome festival places like Papa’s Smokery, their own burgers were okay (not their best, but decent) and there were plenty of alternate options. We were able to try everything from loaded fries (which looked far better than they were), Treffi Pub’s bacon burger (maybe the best food of the weekend), to Georgian hatsapuri (which tasted fine but was a terrible choice for festival food as it was way too heavy, and became a horrid, greasy box to carry around all day if you couldn’t finish, and you definitely couldn’t unless you were way too hungover), halloumi and falafel wraps, sweet potato fries, chicken wings, Asian food (that was over-priced and bad quality), and more! While not everyone was a winner, the selection was excellent and the quality was on the good side, as opposed to many of the other festivals we’ve attended. If there was one unfortunate setback here, it was that most of the festival (but not all?) operated on some sort of swipe-card system. First of all, this was annoying, because it took a while to get the system up and running, meaning I waited 10 minutes at two different places just to get a Coke, as they both had the same start-up error. Then, perhaps the biggest issue of the weekend (besides the indoor stage) was the pantti system [bottle exchange]. In the past, the festival has charged 1€ extra for the pantti, but on this occasion, you could only get your money back by returning the card that purchased the drink to the bar, meaning there was no coin return and if you were collecting all the cans for your group, well, you were shit out of luck trying to return them. We had to do an obscene sorting of our cans, trying to find out whose card went to what can, before we fully gave up and decided that it wasn’t worth it. If that isn’t an ecological slap in the face, I don’t know what is, as the whole point of having the pantti system in place is to encourage people to return their cans. It felt like the whole point of the swipe system was to make sure people couldn’t collect cans at the end of the night, but if that’s the case… why not? The point is that the cans are returned, right? Who cares if some people get to make a little money off it? And if you’re going to charge an obscene price for the bottle return, you better make it easy for people, because drunk festival-goers are going to stop giving a fuck very quickly (our group quit returning their cans after about two bands on the first day, for example).
On that note, however, one of the best things about Tuska is that they try to be more eco-conscious than any other festival we’ve seen. There is a distinct lack of bullshit stalls that sell cheap festival garbage that ends up in dumpsters afterwards, and this year they included bio waste in their trash bins. In fact, there was very little bullshit merch at all, which few other festivals can claim.
Speaking of merch, the main merch booth sat right around where the main stage used to be and had a nonsensically big queue on the first day that was far more manageable on days 2 and 3… though we hope you got there fast if you wanted a Devin Townsend shirt because they sold out days before he even played. It seems a bit like the amount of merch needed for a festival of this size is getting to be a bit much, though I’m not sure how to remedy that. Perhaps dividing merch booths per stage?
Of the shops that were present, it was nice to see that, rather than picking stupid nonsense, Tuska pays attention to what’s both popular and relevant to the scene. For example, the Kaamos Oy pop-up in the expo room is a perfect example, as this small local company makes corpse paint soaps and masks and is endorsed by many local and international metal artists. The stalls with leather and drinking horns, and blacksmith forged jewelry and trinkets, all made for excellent browsing for souvenirs; even if they were a bit more expensive choices, what you were getting was worth buying.
Overall, despite the fact that Tuska Festival has grown obscenely since it began, the festival has always taken the time and effort to care about their attendees and making the festival exciting, relevant, and fun for everyone, regardless of whether they’re listening to the music or just hanging out with the friends they only see once a year at the festival. We hope to be back again in 2023!