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Tuska Open Air 2017 (30.06-02.07.2017) - 6/30/2017 - Suvilahti - Helsinki


This year marked the 20th anniversary for Tuska, and despite the weekend saw also other big events such as Guns’n’Roses gig in Hämeenlinna and Danzig’s show at Provinssirock - both on Saturday - still the festival managed to reach sold-out on the same day, largely thanks to Ville Valo’s HIM.
Arguably the line-up gathered for this important anniversary doesn’t have any particularly “huge” names, but overall the focus is mainly on popular acts and Finnish favourites such as Sabaton, Apocalyptica, Sonata Arctica, or Anneke Van Giersbergen and Devin Townsend. Personally the bands I was more interested to see were just a selected few, leaving much room for a way more relaxed weekend than my usual spinning around from one stage to another for the whole three days.

Crowd Tuska day 1

Nonetheless there are always some bands you don’t want to miss, and so I am off to an early start on Friday with the very first act of the day: Rotten Sound. Under an uncertain weather threatening towards heavy rain - which luckily will be for most part just a threat - Keijo Niinimaa knows how to stir the audience and get the first comers straight into festival mood. It’s not the first time I see Rotten Sound tasked with opening up the day during a festival, and I can say it’s always a good fit for the job at hand. After their show there is time for scouting the area, which this year has a whole new dedicated food section, further increasing on the offer from the previous year. One can say that in this regard we moved leaps forward compared to just a few years back, considering that the typical Finnish festival food choices - nothing wrong with it of course - were mostly fries and sausages, wok and fried vendace. To keep up the spirit after this short break, I find my way to the indoor stage for Kohti Tuhoa, a band I am quite familiar with and of which I can only appreciate their infectious energy on stage, and so does the growing crowd.

Rotten Sound Tuska 2017Kohti Tuhoa Tuska 2017

It’s then time for unleashing the first of the “big guns” for today: first Anneke Van Giersbergen, coming back once again in front of Tuska’s audience with her new project Vuur, shortly after followed by Jari Mäenpää’s Wintersun. This sets a completely different tone and atmosphere compared to the previous two shows, but I must say it’s always a pleasure to see Anneke perform, and so is being able to see Wintersun perform something new live, as they just released not the (way) long-anticipated “Time II”, but instead “The Forest Seasons”. Both bands have a very dedicated fanbase, which is quite vocal during both gigs in displaying their excitement.

Anneke’s Vuur Tuska 2017Wintersun Tuska 2017

It’s time to change musical direction again and head inside an incredibly crowded Kattilahalli for some proper Black Metal with Lord Sargofagian’s Baptism.The amount of audience just testifies how well-received the latest record of the band has been, and needless to say the guys deliver a good show, including the guest appearance of Mynni Luukkainen (Horna, Ajattara).
Passing by the tent stage I quickly check out Brujeria, although I am not really impressed by the show and move along until it’s time for Suicidal Tendencies. Now with no other than former Slayer Dave Lombardo behind the drums, Mike Muir’s band - new for 3/5 compared to the last time I saw them back in 2012 - pulls an entertaining performance, heavily focused on the early days, bringing back memories to the nostalgic, a bit older thrashers present today, and shaking the audience of the main stage.

Baptism Tuska 2017Suicidal Tendecies Tuska 2017

A brief parenthesis into Insomnium, with ”Winter’s Gate” performed in its entirety for the joy of their fans as well as the darker and more wintery part of the crowd, leads towards more Black Metal when Barathrum takes on the third stage, once again in a totally cramped hall. Honestly this is probably one of the best shows I have witnessed from this band in the last few years, who returned with a new full-length after a 12-year-long wait. Barathrum is now enjoying a sort of second youth, bringing together old and new fans, and it’s really good to see all this people at their show.

Insomnium Tuska 2017Barathrum Tuska 2017

Finland loves Devin Townsend and he seems to love Finland, given the recurrent appearances in the country and the special treats given to the local fans over the years - like the “Ziltoid” show still here at Tuska, now several years back. The show itself is what one can always expect from him, an exuberant display from a multitalented and incredibly creative musician, of course accompanied once again by Anneke’s presence on stage for songs such as “Supercrush!” and “Ih-Ah!”. The evening soon takes a darker tone again with the awaited performance of Mayhem, playing “De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas”. In the thick smoke engulfing the entire stage, Necrobutcher and his fellow bandmates offer a much better performance compared to the last few shows I witnessed, leaving little room for complaints even to their biggest devotees. My evening ends with this gig, leaving the area in search of a warm meal and some afterparty while today’s headliner, Sabaton, hits the main stage.

Devin Townsend Tuska 2017Mayhem Tuska 2017

Crowd Tuska Friday

Click here to see all photos from Friday Saturday

Nothing’s better than a few hours of sleep and a late breakfast to get you on your way to another festival day. Today’s more menacing weather suits well the first band I am covering today: it’s in fact time for some doom with the Swedish Avatarium. The performance of the singer Jennie-Ann Smith is simply outstanding, mesmerising the crowd and surprising those yet unfamiliar with the band. One of the personal highlights of this day.

Avatarium Tuska 2017Crowd Tuska 2017 Day 2

No time to rest because next on the main stage is Impaled Nazarene. The band is always a guarantee of a good show, and despite the audience still being half-asleep and/or dealing with their hangover, it does a good job in waking things up. Their set also includes a dedication to Lemmy with none other than “Motörpenis”. After this gig I allow myself I have a long break until I briefly have time to check out Sleep Of Monsters taking over the indoor stage, unfortunately barely enough for a “I need to give this band a listen” before it’s time for Lost Society, returning once again in front of their beloved Tuska audience. One thing that immediately stands out is how the first rows are almost entirely made of young people, and Lost Society is indeed nowadays a symbol of a new, younger generation of Finnish musicians. The band has grown so much since their early days and one can easily see that in how they play and move on stage.

Impaled Nazarene Tuska 2017Lost Society Tuska 2017

This year more than in many of the previous editions I can finally take time to appreciate more the atmosphere of the festival and observe the fans, rather than focus almost entirely on the bands on stage, which makes for a much better experience overall.
Ultimately, however, I have to come back to live shooting duty with Electric Wizard. The guys are back to Tuska to hypnotise the crowd with their groove and doomy melodies, as well as the psychedelic visuals projected on screen, before Amorphis grabs all the attention on the main stage with a classic Amorphis show: fire, flames, passion, and music that enchants their die-hard fans for the entire hour of the set.

Crowd 2 Tuska 2017 Day 2Crowd 3 Tuska 2017 Day 2

Electric Wizard Tuska 2017Amorphis Tuska 2017

We are nearing the end of this second, sold-out, day of Tuska. And I deliberately haven’t been focusing yet on the main courses. While each stage has their last act performing, first is time for a quick visit to the Kattilahalli for Demonztrator, a tribute to Finnish Thrash Metal performing songs from band like The Hirvi and National Napalm Syndicate. The highly awaited Swiss Triptykon is then closing on the tent stage: Tom G. Warrior’s iconic “Ugh!” kicks off the show, which begins with Celtic Frost’s “Procreation (Of The Wicked)”, in a setting that thanks to the tent atmosphere almost isolates from the rest of the area and resembles more the intimacy of a club show. Moving between Celtic Frost classics and songs from the latest “Melana Chasmata”, the gig is solid, and definitely delivers on my expectations.

Demonztrator Tuska 2017Triptykon Tuska 2017

It’s now time for the most anticipated act of the entire festival, the reason that made today so special to many is in fact HIM’s big farewell show, closing in on a career that marked in one way or another the teenage years of most of the people present here. The huge "heartagram" that takes over the main stage is the background of this very emotional conclusion of the day, as well as of an highly acclaimed career. I am not a HIM fan, I have never been. But over the years I have seen people going completely wild for them, people queueing for what seems like an eternity just to find themselves in the first row in one of their famous Helldone festivals, and today many of those people crying while watching this band perform for one last time, as the fireworks lit up the sky once it’s over.
Except that right after the show the band will announce yet the last Helldone for the upcoming New Year’s. Not maybe the classiest move after a “last show ever”, but it does give yet an extra chance to who wasn’t able to grab a ticket to Tuska, to see their favourite band one (truly) last time.

HIM 1 Tuska 2017HIM 2 Tuska 2017

Crowd HIM Tuska 2017Crowd HIM 2 Tuska 2017

Click here to see all photos from Saturday Sunday

After the intense conclusion of last night, Sunday is typically the most laid-back day of this festival, which begins in the sign of Heavy Metal thanks to Battle Beast and yet again Udo Dirkschneider with his namesake band. Considering how the first has played along Accept in the past, it makes sense to have the two follow up in succession, with the Finnish band giving to their fans an energetic and passionate show. The German counterpart on the other hand offers one Accept classic after another, leaving little time to rest to a dedicated audience, finally under the sun and a more summer-like setting.
The final notes of “Balls To The Wall” leave room to the American Baroness and their Sludge, well fitting of the mellow Sunday afternoon. The band itself seems quite entertained during the show, which represents another positive note as we are drawn towards the conclusion of the festival. Battle Beast Tuska 2017Dirkschneider Tuska 2017

Crowd sun Tuska 2017 Day 3Baroness Tuska 2017

I made a choice to remember Apocalyptica’s performance of the songs from “Plays Metallica by Four Cellos” as it was back in the day, when I first saw the band not in the nineties, but right after the turn of the millenium. That made it much easier for me to focus on Oranssi Pazuzu (which I would have probably done anyway, but still). The band has been on a roll since the release of “Valonielu” in 2013, and has now finally reached the fame they deserve. Fun fact: the first time I ever saw them was back in 2010 after the release of their first album: I didn’t know anything about them, I had a free night, and I spotted a gig from a band with a strange name, so I decided to give it a shot. I have been a fan ever since.
Again the Inferno stage gathered a full crowd, as it’s very difficult to move around, but this is justified by the magic of the psychedelic music echoing in the hall. Seeing this band live is always a great experience, nothing else to add.
After Sonata Actica wraps things up for the tent stage, it’s finally time for Mastodon, the last headliner of this Tuska 2017. Last time I had seen this band is 12 years back, following the release of “Leviathan”. A lot of time has passed, the band has aged, but not too much has changed since then in their live performance. Mastodon is perhaps not the “top tier” kind of headliner of the biggest festivals, but does an excellent job in giving the crowd what they want in the over 80 minutes at its disposal. An appropriate ending to another successful edition of the festival.

Oranssi Pazuzu Tuska 2017Mastodon Tuska 2017

Crowd 2 Tuska 2017 Day 3Crowd 3 Tuska 2017 Day 3

Over the years, Tuska has become a mainstay of the Finnish music scene, a place where Metal lovers and festival-goers from Finland and all over the world gather to find each other again and again each year. This is sign of dedication as well as loyalty, and I would say that these two qualities come when events are well organised. Even better, Tuska has been praised from the police for not having had even a single accident during the entire weekend in the area. Let’s just hope after this 20th anniversary, the festival will keep going strong for many more years to come!

Click here to see all photos from Sunday
Click here for the full crowd gallery

Report a cura di Marco Manzi

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