TUSKA OPEN AIR 2017 – Day III – Helsinki, Finland

TUSKA OPEN AIR 2017 – Day III – Helsinki, Finland

Sunday started a bit slow, but as the sun showed up and triggered the happy centers it was quickly back to good mood in the festival area. Where is my bible was performing as we entered but it ended rather soon so I have no recollection nor impression about their music. So I focused more on the fierce performance of Battle Beast, a band I’ve watched several times at Tuska and who constantly seems to be on their way up. Not necessarily my kind of music, but I surely respect the passion they put in their show and the dedication of their singer, Noora Louhimo. She’s one hell of a woman with more balls than probably half of the men in the audience. And they do gather quite an audience for such an early hour on Sunday, but it’s surely worth watching these bastards sons of Odin and their strong stage presence.

Main stage was reserved to Udo Dirkschneider who, despite former announcements, keeps performing Accept songs and this is not bad at all since it surely keeps the crowd cheering and smiling and singing along. I stay in front for 5-6 songs, but the sun is too powerful for my untanned skin so I move back to the sitting area. I also can’t say I can digest that high pitched voice for too long. It’s fun with classic tunes, but in Udo’s case, only in small doses. Yet, the almost cheesy synchronized moves of the band members, taking you back to some old videoclips ideas are surely entertaining to watch and it’s still cool to note the influences of some of the newer music out there.

Baroness had a big show this year at Roadburn and after seeing that, it felt a bit minimalistic to have them play on the smaller tent stage. But it is quite a packed tent as this band is surely delivering some dose of fresh music and with a fresh guitarist – Gina Gleason, who does one hell of a job both on guitaring and on singing along the tunes. I checked and saw that she does have experience performing with skilled bands or musicians such as Santana or Jon Anderson and it’s no surprise that she pulls off such a relaxed attitude and great skills with a band with quite high standards. Kudos to her for that, I think she stole this show at least.

APOCALYPTICA Live @ Tuska Open Air 2017
(Photo: Jesse Kämäräinen)

Back to the sunny main stage where a drumkit made of huge pipes had been setup and it was waiting for Apocalyptica‘s 4 cellos who were going to perform Metallica songs. And so they did, starting with Enter Sandman and Master of Puppets, going through One and Nothing Else Matters – I got goose bumps hearing the crowd chanting on this one. But it got boring rather fast, even if Apocalyptica was one of the bands I wanted to see the most. Maybe it was the performance in the strong sun…maybe the lack of drums (although the boredom didn’t go away when the 5th band member started playing drums). So I decided that Apocalyptica is mainly a band to photograph and to listen on the background, rather than to watch live and so I went inside the Inferno stage to watch Oranssi Pazuzu. The perfect choice. I’ve seen these guys growing from a shy show where they’d barely move to this explosion of insanity on a Sunday afternoon in the middle of Helsinki. It was the most evil gig of the festival, they delivered a ritual to invoke all demons and then to make them leave in shame as they’re too nice compared to what these guys are performing. And it’s not that they play black metal or so. It’s just…so insanely intense. I thought I’d dislocate my neck due headbanging, but it’s impossible to stop, once they finish the long lazy intros of the song and flow into the repetitive mean ritual. And through messed up hair I noticed that the guys on stage barely take a break from headbanging themselves and it makes me wonder if they are even aware of the sounds they are making. Totally mindblowing performance which I had to leave before the end so I wouldn’t faint due the heat. Glad I’m seeing them soon again at Dark Bombastic Evening in Romania in August.

SONATA ARCTICA Live @ Tuska Open Air 2017
(Photo: Jesse Kämäräinen)

Another band this weekend managed to take me back to my younger days, maybe not necessarily to the age of 15 but somewhere in my 20s – Sonata Arctica. After spotting the really bad hair style of the singer Tony Kakko, I decided to pay little attention to the stage show and just try to enjoy the songs and dance a bit if possible. To my surprise, they seem to have quite a number of new albums, since I didn’t know a good deal of the performed songs, but hits like Fullmoon, Tallulah (and the long haired drummer verse that sticks with your brain after this song) or Don’t say a word were surely bringing back tons of memories and I am really happy they didn’t get butchered. I could have lived with less keyboards volumes at times but I left the show with good mood and nice memories. And now the band got announced for next year’s 70000 tons of Metal cruise, so I hope to catch more familiar songs there.

MASTODON Live @ Tuska Open Air 2017
(Photo: Denis Goria)

This year’s Tuska is headlined by Mastodon. Interesting choice as the Americans with their blend of heavy/sludge/stoner rock and metal might not be the most entertaining live act ever as far as I remember, but I did stand corrected by a never-standing-still Troy Sanders. Their music surely is heavy and deep and easy to capture you and take you places, which explain why they deserve the headliner spot. I was surprised they put Divinations and Wolf is Loose so early in the set but it was a good wake up combo and it did heat up the crowd. Another way to stay alert during their show is to watch the insanity in Brent Hind’s eyes when he is singing his parts. He’s quite hypnotic. And unlike the last times I saw them, they’re more chatty and entertaining between songs, without losing the massive atmosphere that they have been building from the first guitar riff. I didn’t stay til the end since the big group of people got a dinner reservation, but I heard the band even did an encore, which is a rare sight for Mastodon live. So they did really enjoy performing there on Sunday evening.

The concerts on Sunday end at 9PM, leaving people time to try to get back to real life before Monday morning kicks in and they have to go to work or fly back home. Blessed are those who still have holidays and can sleep in. I could have totally used 3-4 days of sleep in afterwards.
Now, one week after the event is over, I’m looking back at it with a big smile on my face and I’m grateful to have witnessed it once again. And I’m sure I’ll go back again and again, at least as long as they do not add an extra stage and overcrowd it with too many performing acts. I wished more festivals would settle for such a decent size, where you feel treated like normal people instead of sheeple who provide the money for paying the biggest artists and who barely get to enjoy what they paid for. I wish Tuska to survive at least 20 more years and to enchant us with beautiful concerts and memories like they did this year.