TUSKA OPEN AIR 2014 – Day I – Helsinki, Finland

TUSKA OPEN AIR 2014 – Day I – Helsinki, Finland

The seventeenth edition of Tuska Open Air from Finland took place between the 27th and the 29th of June and gathered around 24 000 metalheads. Like in the last few years, the festival was held in the Suvilahti region of Helsinki. This area seems pretty fit for the event, being spacious enough for all the three stages, the food stands, the alcohol-zone and for all the people participating.

One minus of Suvilahti would probably be all the dust some 50 meters in front of one of the stages, namely the Inferno one. However, Tuska’s dust problem was far from being as major as it was at other outdoor festivals, so I wouldn’t complain that much about it. As during the last year’s event, besides the food stands, there was also a small convenience store that allowed people to get what they needed at cheaper prices.

And speaking of prices, I heard a lot of people being bothered about the price on beer, namely 7 euro. I agree with them in that it was quite expensive, but luckily that didn’t stop the thirsty mouths from buying their desired alcohol. On the bright side, for those who like Coca Cola, there was also a stand offering free mini-cans of Coke and Coke Zero, which came out very handy, especially in the first two days of the festival when the weather was ‘typically Tuska weather’ with a lot of sun and warmth. Unfortunately the last day surprised us with rain, wind and cold. And this is probably also the reason why the festival area was almost empty that day until about 17.00.

But enough about generalities. Next I will talk about each day of the festival and about the concerts that I got the chance to watch.

ENSIFERUM live @ Tuska Open Air 2014
(Photo: Andrea Chirulescu)

My first concert of the day was that by Ensiferum. Although I’m not a big fan of the band, I was very interested in seeing them live in their home country and in observing the crowd’s reactions to their conationals on stage.  And I was very pleasantly surprised by the big number of fans the band gathered in front of the main stage. Even though they began playing at 14.45, being the second band of the festival (the first one, Psykoanalyysi, beginning at 14.30) the people were already in their festival mood – dancing, headbanging and singing along. Ensiferum also did a nice job on stage and all in all they convinced me to give listening to their music another chance.

Next band to rock the festival was Ville Laihiala’s PoisonBlack. Their typical Finish gothic metal style managed to delight especially the ears of younger female listeners with their approximately 35 minutes concert. Not surprisingly, but definitely warmly welcomed, this band sounds very much like a continuation of the now-split band Sentenced and their show made for sure many old Sentenced fans, but also new PoisonBlack ones very happy.

PHIL ANSELMO & THE ILLEGALS live @ Tuska Open Air 2014
(Photo: Andrea Chirulescu)

The second band to play on the Radio Rock Stage (the main one) was Philip H. Anselmo & The Illegals. I’ll start talking about them by saying with regret that the concert was sort of disappointing: Phil did not seem to be in his best shape probably due to being drunk or high…or both. His voice was still very good, but it seemed out of place and not very synchronized with the instruments. Besides, many Pantera fans were quite sad that they didn’t play any of the classics of Phil’s old band. They also played about 10 minutes less than scheduled. In that time, instead of getting off the stage, they could have played at least two Pantera songs just to satisfy their fans. But that didn’t happen, leaving the crowd rather displeased.

Other than that, both Phil and the Illegals seemed to have a good energy on stage and I especially enjoyed Anselmo’s funny and sometimes mean remarks on other bands, especially the ones with, I quote, ‘pretty boys’ in them . He also mocked Metallica (which he called ‘Tallica), as well as his own band and image, repeatedly stating how ugly they were and how bad their music was. I guess Anselmo’s speeches were the best part of the show.

Nails is the Californian band that took over next the Inferno stage. They had a lively and rather young audience that was not reticent to getting into some good, old-fashioned mosh pits in the dust, on hardcore rhythms. I, however, got too hungry to stay for the whole concert and went to one of the many food stands to get something to eat.

CHILDREN OF BODOM live @ Tuska Open Air 2014
(Photo: Andrea Chirulescu)

After filling myself with delicious food, I went to see Children of Bodom, a band that needs no introduction, especially not on Finish soil. The first thing I noticed was that they had a huge banner behind the stage on which it was written ‘Bodom Beach Barbeque’ on a pink/violet background. Getting closer to the stage, I also saw that they had three older/classical cars decorating the scene; one of them was used as a bar, one as a barbeque stand and the other, well, was just there, without any purpose that I am aware of. The band also invited other people on stage, among others the guys from Lost Society and the ‘queen’ of Tuska (a woman dressed as a queen, carried earlier by her ‘slaves’ and her ‘fool’ through the crowd in a sort of carriage. I still didn’t find out why the festival needed a queen, but she did contribute to my, as well as other people’s good mood, so that’s what’s important). Children of Bodom’s intention with bringing many people on stage with them was to recreate a metal barbeque party. And they managed to do that very well. They even had lots of drinks up there and hot dogs that they were either eating themselves or giving to the public. The concert was really fun to watch and the music also sounded very good. I am especially happy that they played some of their classics like Lake Bodom, Are you Dead Yet? and Bodom After Midnight.

CARCASS live @ Tuska Open Air 2014
(Photo: Andrea Chirulescu)

The next band taking over the festival was Carcass. They were also the band that I was most looking forward to see that day and my expectations of them were high, but they successfully managed to live up to them. The show was impeccable and professional, the sound was amazing and the band members were exciting and lively. At such a concert it is hard not to go in front of the stage and enjoy every moment. Therefore I can understand why Jeff Walker seemed somehow irritated by the people who did not leave the alcohol area and watched the show from a distance, with a beer in their hands. Unlike at many other festivals, at Tuska it was not possible to drink alcohol unless one was in the age-restricted zone. In a way I do understand this regulation. After all, there were a lot of under-aged metalheads there. But at the same time, drinking closer to the stage also contributes at building the right festival atmosphere. Plus, it lets you drink and enjoy your favourite bands from a closer radius. Anyway, leaving the booze issue aside and getting back to Carcass, I can only say that I’m extremely glad to have seen this amazing band live again and I only wish they played for more than 55 minutes!

DIMMU BORGIR live @ Tuska Open Air 2014
(Photo: Andrea Chirulescu)

Finally, the last band of the day was Dimmu Borgir. Their set list included many of the songs that made them the big band they are today, such as Progenies of the Great Apocalypse, Puritania, Kings of the Carnival Creation, and Mourning Palace. During their 90 minutes on stage the audience could experience a nice show abundant in pyro effects and crazy lights. The songs were delivered accordingly and the band members’ outfits and make-up were, as always, cool to look at.