MYÖTÄTUULIROCK 2011 – Vantaa July 2011

Text by MARKO KORHONEN

The summer. Warm, beautiful and all too short season in Finland. For a heavy metal fan, besides all the excitement and adventures, a big part of the nordic summers are of course the outdoor festivals – thanks to the only few months suitable period to have them – being organized almost every week at some corner of the country. To bring you the latest impressions of some more orless known, exciting metal bands in live action, the Steel Mill guys conquered the great Sauna Open Air in Tampere, while a week later our trusty guest contributor and heavy metal incarnate Marko “Skludda” Korhonen was dispatched to the city of Vantaa, where the annual Myötätuulirock festival was being organized.

Dive into the fray and read Marko’s personal narrative from the rainy but heavy three day festival! Here we go:

At home.

Friday morning 11.17 a.m. and I’ve got a night shift at work behind me. Not a moment of sleep since my thoughts were already tuned to the upcoming gigs. At night I went through the list of bands booked at the Myötätuulirock festival, rolling on from today till sunday evening at Vantaa, Finland. It seems to be a tough as nails array of performers and the most metal soaked one in the history of the event, so I am expecting to find a lot of happy people and ghosts dressed in the colours of the night, all in good terms with each other.

My heart is beating fast but it should be ground to a cardiac arrest by sunday evening when swedish powerhouse Soilwork delivers the final show of the festival. I, at least, am hoping to see a true spectacle since sunday will mark the first time I get to witness the Soilwork gentlemen live and their latest album ‘The Panic Broadcast’ is a truly magical metal album.

Since the return of guitarist Peter Wichers, Soilwork’s been back on right tracks and his presence on the band’s music brings more strength to their sound. That having said, I’ve just learned that for this weekend’s gig, Peter is on a sick leave due to back problems and his good mate David Andersson steps to fill in. David’s been playing with Soilwork before, so I believe we’ll witness a killer show despite Wicher’s unfortunate absence.

But let’s not pile all expectations on one band – after all there are many bands performing at MTR. From finnish savonian monsters to the pounding of war drums of forest trolls from Estonia and Finland. The weather forecast predicts both sunshine and rain, which I hope to mean sunny drops, just short showers and sun shining in the middle. So I’m off to the festival area to see how things are going to kick off. Let’s ROCK! \,,/

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Turmion Kätilöt photo by Marissa Vuori

Myötätuulirock. Day one.

Just as I had slipped my media pass round my neck, a van pulls next to me and the voice of my friend Kimmo Pulkkinen shouts it’s friendly orders: “Get in, you faggot!”. So I jump into the car and spot the lead vocalist of finnish band Turmion Kätilöt (also performing on the festival) Petja Turunen sitting next to me. “We have to pick some guys from the train station” he states and powerless to resist the stares of these two weirdos, I had no options but to obey.

The van pulls over to the Tikkurila train station and after a short wait another Turmion Kätilöt (which freely translates to Midwives of Destruction -ed.) member, bassist and general joker Hannu Voutilainen jumps in and we head back to the festival area.

The night at MTR begun with Moonsorrow and the festival drums started to pound. And not in a bad way at all. I hadn’t gotten to know this band before as their style hasn’t been among my favourites but their tonight’s performance surely changed my mind. Whatever their genre is in the end… folk-influenced tree-stump throwing music… I strongly advice to check them out.

The night rolled on with the help of estonian folk metallers Metsatöll, the guys played very well although I had no clue about the lyrics… damn that there wasn’t any opportunities to learn other languages than english and swedish in my school days!

More folk metal to follow. In the form of Korpiklaani. Watching their show made me ponder a very fundamental question – which came first: tequila or ale? The latter, obviously – as Korpiklaani performed with an attitude that at this point I would’ve understood even if they had been singing in portuguese!

Next it was time for Turmion Kätilöt. Despite I haven’t born in the finnish region of Savo, I consider myself a savonian and maybe that added to the effect these dudes from the same region had on me. Damn, their techno-metal worked like perfection. Their latest ‘Perstechnique’ album has even further widened their delivery and though the guys have sometimes received some bad press because of their rowdy stage shows things were more ‘friendly for the wider audience’ now. Not that I minded the old ways, bands should be allowed to show their own style on stage.

Boston Bruins had just won the Stanley Cup in NHL against the Vancouver Canucks, but in Vantaa it was the maple leafs that were dominant. Canadian ProgressivePunkRockHeavy cohort Protest The Hero started to play in ominously blowing wind and like predicted the rain finally came down on Myötätuulirock. The audience didn’t seem to mind, Protest The Hero took command over the audience with a proper attitude. The bass sound was too dominant in the mix, not too annoyingly but enough to make me think whether the bassist had the bad time of the month and thus having the right to crank the sounds louder than everyone else. All in all, young guys and very talented, if their tour comes your way I suggest you to go and see them. You might be astounded to see how much beard twenty year old guys can have!

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Profane Omen photo by Marissa Vuori

Myötätuulirock. Day two.

After being at work the night before and friday’s rockings on top of that I was truly exhausted as I got home. Getting some well-deserved and -needed sleep, I slept long on saturday and headed back to the festival by the time Profane Omen started their show.

As you guys are reading this report, I would like to say that if you get the chance to see this band, do whatever it takes – pick apples to get some cash or whatever – to see this band live! The stage performance of this guys is amazing. Singer Jules Näveri is praised as a killer vocalist and quite deservingly so! Just as I will see the Animal from Muppet Show from now on whenever I see the drummer Samuli Mikkonen in action. The material was very strong and the whole gig was highlight material. See them!

After that it was due time to sit down and enjoy a couple of cold pints with my friend Kimmo and chatting with other people as well. At the same time bands Battle Beast, Brymir and Crimfall played and of those I should bring up the vocal talents of Crimfall vocalist Helena Haaparanta. Her voice is impressively beautiful, bringing light and balance to the songs while other vocalist Mikko Häkkinen draws from the darker side, sort of Dimmu Borgir style tones. Works well. I wonder whether Helena applied for the job when Tarja Turunen left Nightwish… If you ask me, the job would’ve been hers! But what the hell, time for another beer and on to see the main acts of the day!

The second last band of saturday was swedish Sparzanza. The hit songs were nice and it was a nice nod from a swede when the guitarist dressed in Team Finland hockey jersey at some point… but still, I can’t help myself but the band didn’t really work for me. There should’ve been more energy on stage. Now it was only momentarily there, but not enough.

But then, to close the show for saturday – another group from Sweden: Mustasch. It was like a rabbit had switched it’s fur from winter colour to summer. The energy absent previously, exploded instantly when vocalist Ralf Gyllenhammar and his companions stormed the stage. Everyone in the audience was pushed to tap their feet and to continue the rabbit metaphor, it was like an army of bunnies in heat had been throwing their paws into the air. Not that the Mustasch boys needed any lucky rabbit’s feet. The guys know what they’re doing and they know what we like! Ralf was so full of energy that at some point he jumped into the audience and shared some drinks from his bottle at the front row. A perfect finish for saturday, thank you Mustasch!

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Mustasch photo by Marissa Vuori

Myötätuulirock. Day three.

With my ‘wingman’ Kimmo, I made it to the festival by the time finnish FM2000 was at it’s half way mark. And good thing we did. Those who felt fresh at that early (after 1 pm) were already jumping and dancing like no tomorrow to the tunes of this ‘Finland’s System Of A Down’, making most imaginary formations for their group dance. And at some points running into each other like aiming with a bad radar. Well, they had been shaken for two days already so no wonder their bearings were already lost at this time, causing them to bump around. Or maybe it was some sort of a moshpit… not very big one, but that was quite understandable. After all the early playing time took it’s toll in participation and since an amazing light phenomenon called the sun was blazing at this time, the most zombified attendants probably were shunning away from it.

Next patient in to the rafters of Myötätuulirock. Kiuas. Mikko Salovaara whipped the audience with some tasty solos and the mood of the day begun to thicken. Their new singer Asim Searah got the audience to laugh a few times, throwing witty remarks at the people sitting motionlessly at the back of the crowd.

Mygrain picked up from where Kiuas had stopped. Just some new logs into the fire, that all it took. And though it was already well past noon, the audience hadn’t gotten much bigger, there could’ve been a bigger attendance at this point. But as the night rolled on more action started to develop all around the area.

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Kiuas photo by Marissa Vuori

By the time swedish industrial metallers Pain took up the stage, the atmosphere was already completely different. Peter Tägtgren’s cohorts need little introduction – their latest output ‘You Only Live Twice’ works like a toilet in a dutch train: like a clockwork and leaves no-one feeling down. Goddamn, these dudes played on ten live, and I started to enjoy pain more than ever before… fuck, spank me right now!!!

After that, at least for me, the anticipation started to boil inside: Next up was the final band of the festival and the one I personally wanted to see the most, my long-awaited spectacle! Soilwork stormed the stage and I was on fire! Damn how good it looked and sounded! Vocalist Björn “Speed” Strid delivered his vocals as well live as on the albums… hell yeah! But then… something happened that I have never, ever, witnessed on any gig, in a club or on a festival. When the song ended came… silence. Imagine the air standing still. The time had stopped.

The Soilwork guys turned their backs to the audience, walked to the drums to pick up some towels and water bottles. There they chatted with each other in low voice, about what… nobody knows. Did they forget we were all standing in the front of the stage? On the flip side, the audience didn’t say anything either, as opposed to usual reactions at a gig, shouting and cheering… but no. Fuck me, how strange/disturbing/unpleasant situation! After a while Speed turned back to face the audience and started to make some contact… probably wondering about the silence too. Only some odd shout or two rising amongst the petrified crowd. Well, the show went on again – next song started and the going was fierce once again like nothing had happened, band playing tight, audience (myself included) moshing away. And when the song ended… damn! Again! The same thing that happened after the first tune happened again! Good heavens, this can’t be true!!! And all this happened so many times during the show that at the halfway point it was making me laugh… the band of this caliber and something like this keeps on happening.

I wondered why… was it because the crowd was smaller than for example at the Mustasch gig? Or was it because the weather wasn’t too good at this point? Or did they wear their underwear backwards? Every artist should be aware that whether the crowd consists of 50000, 20000, 10000, 1000 or 66 people and a hangaround number 6, you have to play your show like your life depended on it, and that’s a fact! If someone begs to differ, I’m ready to set up a proper debate face to face. I’ll give a big minus to Soilwork for this sort of behaviour and truly hope they won’t make the same mistake on the future concerts. I demand an extra stagedive from Speed for the finnish audience to make things right with me 😉

But in any case, all those things excluded, the gig was good, the songs work very well and these swedish metal pioneers know how to play well!

The Aftermath.

Okay… Myötätuulirock 2011 is over. Time to sum up the totals. The festival had about nine thousand visitors during the weekend… the weather conditions had their effect to this, and the fact that another national festival Provinssirock was held at the same time. Despite the smallish attendance, the going was very good and everyone were at their best behaviour. Mustasch, Profane Omen, Pain, FM2000 and Soilwork (when it comes to the music) were my favourites of the happening.

And that’s all from me. I’ll give my thanks to K.K. and the Steel Mill gang for the opportunity to bring this raport to the readers. Also thanks to my wingman Kimmo Pulkkinen for the good company and keeping me sane. Hats off also to MTR backstage crew (the last can of Karhu was the best, Emma!) and Marissa Vuori for the pics. See you again, cheers skluddas (Marko’s own special word for good people -ed.) and keep on rocking!!! \,,/

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