JURASSIC ROCK 2008 – 8-9.8.2008

by KASSU KORTELAINEN & MARKO “HERKKUSKLUDDA” KORHONEN

In the summer of 2007 Jurassic Rock Festival in mid-finnish city of Mikkeli was a truly enjoyable event. Not just because of the fine array of bands and the general good time, but also due to a constant sunshine that made the beautiful green grasslands where the event was organized seem like the best possible festival environment imaginable. So, with only positive memories from the year before, the trip back to Jurassic Rock this summer seemed to promise another couple of days rocking in the blazing summer heat. The idea couldn’t have been further from reality.

Kassu: August 2008’s Jurassic Rock was a flood. From the first hours of the festival till the very end the skies above Mikkeli were grey as granite and the heavy-hung clouds unleashed constant rainstorms upon the festival goers. As a result what had been a serene field of green grass the year before, quickly turned into a brown, sticky mud that spread wider by every person who trod on the sticky surface. At times the rain got so intense that the organizers had to dig ditches to lead the water masses away from the area, especially from the backstage which started to turn into a big bog as the weekend grew older. Reports about numerous tour buses and staff vechiles getting stuck into the mud circulated around the area and the festival crew was hard pushed to build makeshift bridges over biggest areas of mud and water. Quite a different scene compared to the previous summer indeed!

But was it still fun? Hell yeah! Jurassic Rock 2008 showed that when you assemble together a happening with a number of interesting bands and lots of enthusiastic fans, the weather really doesn’t slow things down. The mosh pit looked more like a mud wrestling arena, and people leaving it for a breather or a beer came across as shambling zombies risen from their sludgy graves, clothes covered with dirt and shoes sucked into the ground. But the faces were smiling and the heads banging. The air might’ve been filled with water but even more with true festival spirit!

The Steel Mill festival squad arrived to the scene on friday around eight and the first band we caught in the act was the group Stam1na. Playing super-energetic finnish thrash, the band has become one of the leading domestic metal groups in Finland and thus lured a big amount of fans to mosh with their music. The going in the ‘mud pit’ got vicious, as people were flailing themselves around like true maniacs, being possessed by Stam1na’s fierce music. Needless to say, the atmosphere was electric and truly kicked the festival in full gear. The fact that the band’s material is in finnish obviously makes them rather unknown outside their home grounds, but anyone interested in good modern thrash and not scared by the strange language, is well advised to check the band out and find out themselves why the audience at Jurassic Rock was driven to a total frenzy.

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Marko: If the Stam1na guys had electric sockets in their asses, the costs for electric bills on next year’s festivals in Finland would already paid in full! The fact is, one doesn’t have to be any Einstein from Jyväskylä to understand Stam1na being one, if not THE best and most energetic bands in the country as we speak. The audience was completely insane throughout the whole show and I can assure you no plant will grow in front of the festival’s main stage for at least a year! The circle pit was rotating during every single song and paused only for the Wall Of Death: at the beginning of song ‘Lääke’ a couple of poor dudes decided to stand fast in the middle of the trampling death walls and I’m sure some pain medication (lääke in finnish) was needed afterwards.

The choice of songs was perfect, half the songs from the new ‘Raja’ album and a good bunch of selections from band’s older material completed the setlist. Bassplayer Kaikka jolted around the stage like an animal and spun his head like a spinning top. With that neck he could probably lift up a couple of other bands worth of guys! The vocalist Hyrde sillfully narrated his way in people’s hearts and caused a lot of smiling. The song ‘Viisi laukausta päähän’ that included a little tribute for co-headliner Stone ended the show and the Mikkeli dickheads got the goods delivered!

Alas, as you get to see a sea of fists in the air, a vicious circle/moshpit, wall of death and a flagellating frenzy by the band members on stage, IT CAN’T GET ANY BETTER!

Kassu: The main act of friday was swedish ‘math metal’ ensemble Meshuggah that performed just after midnight when the rain had mercifully ceased. Meshuggah, however showed no mercy to anyone. Their furious brand of experimental metal stormed over the audience like a wave of pure anger and hammered into the night as a heavy wall of sound. Personally, I found the band uninterestingly monotoneus and aimless, but luckily our photographer was more into Meshuggah’s rampage and has a more detailed view to the gig.

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Marko: Oh yes indeed boys… these swedish guys have been sitting at the front at school’s math classes. The dividing calculations have gotten spot-on so they have gotten the bars right. The guys grasped the Jurapark of Mikkeli under their command to close the friday night. With the bombardment of bass hell upon the large audience who had arrived to witness this wonder family from Sweden! The band used mostly material from their latest album in their set and in the glare of red stage lights and about ten smoke machines the new stuff worked brilliantly live. I’ve never seen Meshuggah live, but there was something I found myself missing… maybe the frontman should’ve packed more action to his proceedings than just marching about with arms stretched wide and head nodding up and down… although if anyone in the audience had lost the pace, that ensured they reverted back to it soon enough. But all in all… Messshuuggaah delivered a powerful set with good songs!

Kassu: Saturday dawned with slightly less clouds and rain but unfortunately the heavy beating of water the day before had left the air damp and chilled. The festival area, however was just as full of people and heated with the rock ‘n’ roll energy as the day before and so the proceedings continued in a very good fashion. Due to sleeping late (cheers!) and not intending to see the few pop, reggae etc. bands playing at the festival before the evening, we decided to opt for some good barbeque and cold drinks instead. Our good mate Pasi had booked a nice sauna at a beach just on the other side of the lake by which Jurassic Rock was held, so as we lazied around chatting with friends, eating, drinking and bathing we could listen to which ever band was playing at the festival – the sound being carried clearly cross the water.

Due to the sauna schedules we unfortunately (and originally unintentionally) missed (to see) Amorphis and Turisas that gave good shows by the sounds of them, but arrived back to the festival area soon after the last battle cry of Turisas had vanished from the area. Our timing wasn’t the best for a metal fan, as the next couple of groups performing were misleadingly named swedish hip-hop posse Looptroop Rockers and similar finnish artist Asa. But as those bands’ fans kept the energy level of the festival high, waiting for more appealing artists went on in a general crazy festival haze.

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Closing to midnight the main stage saw rare visitors as finnish thrash pioneers Stone stormed the barricades for what was one of the very few shows of their brief reunion tour after years of inactivity. The band showed good skill and attitude proving that had the international marketing been stronger in Finland in the 80’s Stone could’ve had the goods to rise amongst the bigger thrash names of those times. As things turned out, however, the group was disbanded at the start of 90’s leaving behind only a national cult status and a reputation that was strong but gradually sunk back in time. However, the reunited band’s gig at Jurassic Rock presented Stone as a solid metal force that still packed a good punch and knew how to make thrash songs. Some of them sounded maybe a bit dated, but the overall sensation was positive and the audience received them well. Another band worth checking out, especially for any Children of Bodom fans who would like to hear some of the Stone/COB guitarist Roope Latvala’s earlier work.

Danish “elvis-metallers” Volbeat were supposed to perform at nine but their show had been postponed to start after Stone, as the festival’s last band, due to some transportation issues. Originally the final band would’ve been shoddy finnish humour act Eläkeläiset, so one got to think maybe the organizers just came to their senses and switched their place with Volbeat to give the festival a proper ending. Whatever the case, that’s just what Volbeat delivered.

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It was way after midnight and since it was already august the finnish midnight sun held no longer it’s power over the night. So, as Volbeat marched on stage and the stage lights beamed upon the valiant audience the moment was thick with anticipation. Volbeat seized it – with the first riffs and singer Michael Poulsen’s recognizable yells the danes kicked into the action and rocked the Jurassic Rock with their ever more popular becoming mixture of metal, rock, punk, country, rockabilly and whatever else. Band was on fire and their stage show was filled with good time energy, channeling into swinging of guitars, leaps and dashes through the stage, funny comments between songs, seamless connection with the audience and of course – some kick ass music. If the audience was tired after two nights in mud, rain and beer-induced coma it didn’t show when Volbeat was shredding the night away.

Marko: Imagine a plate full of delicious mashed potatoes and some boiled peas… first of all the potatoes, in other words the music that Vollies churn is damn good and tasty, more rock flavoured heavy metal than vice versa. In live setting the dudes kick ass in excellent way, which surprised me very positively because I hadn’t gotten quite as powerful kick out of the albums. On CD all the songs sound more or less alike, mainly because the style of singing (the boiled peas, that is!)… but live, those thougts were washed away. The show was reckless and it was only a matter of moments till my head started to shake all by itself to the music. The speeches in between the songs hit the spot as the frontman Michael Poulsen turned out to be a funny guy and praised Finland as a nation of true rockers, which of course is 100% true. So… the visual side in the shows has an impact and means that the boiled peas go down with the mashed potatoes without whining and actually tastes damn good!

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Kassu: And so the Jurassic Rock 2008 drew to an end. After two years of existence the festival has showed itself in both beautiful sunshine and punishing rain. Yet, on both cases the festival has rolled on regardless of the obstacles and provided excellent time for music fans. Definitely a place to stop if you end up anywhere near Mikkeli next summer!

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About Kassu Kortelainen