The word “sauna” is almost holy in Finnish vocabulary and calling a festival that, means a whole lot more to a local metaller, than any other music enthusiast can imagine! Also note that ´sauna´ is the only international word that exists in this difficult northern language. It takes a while for the actual sauna to warm-up and so the festival took off also easy, developing into a warmer 2nd day and a burning hot final show. When going into the sauna, the person leaves everything else behind, not just the physical clothing, but also thoughts and worries and then enjoys the bathing process. When going to the Sauna, the person also lets go of all common daily bothers and gives in to the vibes of the event. During the three days we came across many different kinds of such sauna-goers, from cowboys to sparkling Glam-rockers, from spooky Goths to innocent children with Halloween attire: in the sauna no age or gender really matters, the main purpose is to get rid of all the unnecessary dirt and renew both, body and soul.
Interactive photo gallery at the end of the text
Day 1 (8th June 2006): HARD ROCK
The start of the day and the festival was not promising at all, chilly, very gray and rainy afternoon in Tampere had no feel of the festival and the amount of the audience also didn´t suggest any huge event. The first day was sort of easy, a couple of bands per stage and shorter opening hours. The day needed a major force to change this feeling and set the mood for the rest of the festival…
Iggy & the Stooges
Age is just a number… a number of highly aerobic movements a human (rocker) man can perform at every 30seconds: Iggy is simply unstoppable and no stage or an open-air-festival is a limit for a true punk at heart! I was getting dizzy, trying to keep up with Mr. Pop´s jumps from the set of speakers to the stage, running to the opposite side of the stage, doing a few jumps there, sprinting back… Poor assistant was running out of breath too, following Iggy and untying his microphone wire along the way.
On the other hand, the Stooges themselves were not as mobile and remained more aside, giving the Iggy-force the space to act. The widest and whitest American smile and tightest blue denim are the unchangeable attributes to drive the crowd. Audience of all ages enjoyed the performance even more when Iggy suddenly invited everyone onto the stage with him and within a few seconds there were dozens of dancers, whom Iggy gladly joined, no matter how closely some were trying to approach the singer, take a photo, give him a hug or a kiss… And being even more driven by this hyper audience reaction and such warm reception, Iggy became even more communicable and to a crowd´s request “Show us your pen*s!” he responded very openly and generously to shock us all!
Day 2 (9th June 2006): GOTH&METAL
The way down to the Sauna venue looked like one long continuous funeral procession: all black-haired and pale creatures dressed in black in various forms and generously decorated with chains, corsets, whips, cuffs, spikes, lace, etc. The day was ruled by Goths alone, so even the weather didn´t dare to show a slightest glimpse of sunlight or warmth.
This is one band with heavy attitude from the first chords and don´t mind their age or short presence in the scene: flow of energy, electricity and current on stage was easily sensed even at the very last rows of the audience. Kiuas totally live up to and represent their title – hot sauna stones! Perhaps because it was the first performance of the 2nd day and people were tired and hangovered, or on the contrary, too overwhelmed with the band´s passionate play, but audience was not too expressive of their heavy-metal emotions.
This inactivity didn´t prevent the warrior souls Kiuas from playing with their full force nonetheless. The set was mainly comprised by the older works from their first Ukko-dedicated album, but also mixed with newer songs, among which the most memorable pieces were “Bleeding Strings” and one collaboration with fellow death-metaller Niko Kalliojärvi from Amoral, “Black Winged Goddess”. Those northern sons will be big before you´ll even learn how to pronounce their name correctly, so make sure to catch their next live appearance before it´s too late!
With their 4th studio album “Till Death Unites Us” Norther returned with quality melodic death metal and gloom dark lyrics. However by their stage performance and level of activity you would never guess just how dim and depressed their music is! The guitar players were constantly switching places, running from side to side and headbanging continuously – how ever did they manage to play at the same time I´ll never know!
This Finnish symbiosis of American Marilyn Manson and German Rammstein every time brings something different and unimaginable to their show, but always bloody and always medical, in one way or another. It´s amazing what creative and memorable costumes those musicians can arrange with such low-budget materials: black duct tape, old cut tights, used stained butcher´s aprons, old nursery equipment and some white lab coats. On top of that is also the makeup of white/red/black combinations – simply no comments! The entire set was of very upbeat danceable tracks, which would make an excellent EBM/industrial party, regardless whether their weird Finnish lyrics are understood or not!
During this three-day festival, Turmion Kätilöt was one among the few artists whose performance was energetic enough to be ´caught´ by the crowd, so that it merged smoothly with the five men on stage and became one whole with the audience. To really warm-up the main stage for the day, a minor s&m activity was going on towards the end: metal sparkles from an electric polishing tool were showering one singer, who later in return used a whip to get back at his naughty colleague. No musicians were hurt during the performance and all concluded happily, as was clearly seen during the following exciting signing session. Even if you are not into this kind of music, it is definitely worth seeing at least once for the experience.
Cradle of Filth
The British nymphetamine addicts made two appearances: once at the lengthy signing session in the early afternoon (when it was practically impossible to recognize any band members without their common stage makeup – to my surprise there was a 2nd female member, COF´s newest acquisition, the touring keyboarder Rosie Smith) and of course the actual performance. Sauna stage was too small for any usual Cradle show items, so this performance was modest in effects, but for that, well-compensated in the setlist and twice comeback to encore. This band might be claimed to be commercial and sold-out, but they do deserve respect, at least for creating their own image and sound (which in spite of everything else, remains their own and strongly recognizable among all other ´true black metallers´), and their overall stage appearance immediately crates the sense of The Band as a whole: very harmonic and extremely stylish.
The gentlemen in long leather skirts over their complete bondage outfits looked stunning at that fine Finnish dusk. Their dark audience was taken over at once with the opening “Guilded Cunt” and continued well into the evening with all-time-favorites “Cruelty and the Beast”, “Nymphetamine”, “Thank God for the Suffering”, “Babylon AD” and closing “From Cradle to Enslave”. It was surprising though to see not that much movement from the audience, even though the floor was relatively full, nonetheless the fan behavior was unexpectedly calm with only a few headbanging enthusiasts at the front.
Although the new album “Thornography” is to be released any minute now, none of the new material was presented, which on the other hand leaves the hope for a more lengthy full tour later on.
Day 3 (10th June 2006): GLAM, GLITTER & MORE GLAM
I was logically (and naively also ) thinking that bands like Cradle and Iggy would attract the most attention and attendance during the previous two days – after all this is a Heavy Metal event, but I was proved wrong: with the rising popularity of the Glam genre in Finland and the return of 80s, Glam-musicians, makeup and vacuum-tight jeans are back and rocking!
An excellent choice for an opening of the last festival day: those metal Vikings set just the right spirit for the day, heavy, loud and cheerful! With their already well known stage look (minimal clothing and simple black makeup) the band played a good mix of their older songs, as well as tracks from the newly released anniversary record. Folklore motives are always catchy and somehow set the listeners in good partying mood, moreover when played with so much strength as Ensiferum always has, the feet uncontrollably start tapping and dancing – how did the crowd not move, I won´t understand!
The headliner of the small stage made their entrance all equipped with pure-black sunglasses in a very smooth ´NYC´ style. Band´s arrival was very well received by the audience, especially the female front lines… It was very flattering to see JP´s interaction with all his listeners, as he honored people he recognized, talked and joked a lot in-between the songs, and even though this is a festival and not a concert, such artist´s attitude creates really good chemistry and atmosphere for everyone. The setlist was noticeably different this time and for once, no “Little Angel” – this unusual gesture is fresh, unexpected and so was also surely well appreciated by those listeners who are familiar with the band history a bit closer. On the other hand newer hits (“Colder”, “Ride on Tears”, etc.) were extremely well played and headbanged along, not by the band itself, but by the entire audience.
Having such loud international names in the program and yet this year Lordi didn´t only beat whole Europe, but apparently the United States as well: on the promo-poster of this festival classic titles like Iggy and W.A.S.P. were totally crashed by Mr. Lordi and his fellow monsters. It was the first act that afternoon at the main stage and despite both, the early hour and boiling hot Finnish summer sun, the crowd was immense. The whole range of various Halloween costumes were on parade, as well as the classic banners and Finnish flags were constantly up in the air. The atmosphere is perfectly described by the singer himself: “…my heaven is your hell!” and so it was, unbearable hot straight sun and if this isn´t enough, endless fireworks, explosives and other such special effects to celebrate every song! If hell exists, it was right there in Tampere during those 45 minutes of Lordis show.
It is very difficult to concentrate on the music when there is so much going on at the same time on stage. If horror outfits weren´t enough, Lordi brought the complete range of different accessories to really illustrate his lyrics: bloody human body parts tied by chains, chainsaw and other such deadly devices, cradles of screaming children and all that is well accompanied by unbearable human screaming sounds and moaning at the start of every piece. From the setlist the most identifiable songs were “Could You Love a Monsterman?”, “Devil is a Loser”, “Bloodred Sandman” and what brought Finland the most fame this season, “Hard Rock Hallelujah”.
The amount of families with little children at the event was shocking, as if it´s a theme-park and not a metal festival! So you might think that all little cute kiddies and girlies are going to sweet glamorous boy-bands, but no no, be assured: Finnish youngsters go to LORDI and no amount of scary masks, baby screams, tortured dissembled human bodies can change that in the near future!
The 80s shock-rock veterans have only gained slightly more weight, but lost neither any of their musical touch or daring dress-sense, and gave an excellent performance to take over the hot hungry audience left over from blood-greedy Lordi.
W.A.S.P. knows how to treat the audience and this attitude definitely projects onto the viewers! Despite the weather, the band played an extensive long set during the maximum time available: “Blind in Texas”, “Animal (F*ck Like a Beast)” and “L.O.V.E. Machine” were among their classic hits. As any show of that high quality, it felt way too short…
The closing act of the Sauna event stormed onto the stage like 1980s never ended – full of energy, emotions and pink glitter. Dee Snider, fit and brisk as ever, with unchanged makeup and fountain of yellow curls, which gave the band their famous brand image, drove the crowd as if by a single switch of a button. It was clear to all that this band rocked the most and had the most reaction from the crowd, which by the end of the festival has covered the entire Sauna area. The Sick Mother Fucking Friends Of Twisted Sister (as the band´s fans call themselves, or ´SMF´ for short) showed their appreciation of the classics not only by vivid rocking behavior, but also by extremely creative colorful Glam outfits and of course the makeup – there were numerous “Dee Sniders” visible among the audience. Of course this couldn´t be done without the excellent live version of the “S.M.F.” song, so much loved by all.
The rockers didn´t only entertain their audience by great rock´n´roll, such as “We´re Not Gonna Take It” and “I Wanna Rock”, but also a couple of funny confusions. First the singer wanted to congratulate Finland for their recent victory by saying: “Hey Denmark! You really rock, you won the EU song contest!” when the other guitarist had to correct Mr. Snider which country they were really in and which country won the contest. Bright makeup hid the singer´s embarrassment and blushing, who immediately reacted in a diplomatic way by saying that “Scandinavia rules!” anyway. Within the next few minutes another funny flaw in honoring Iggy for playing yesterday, which in fact was already two days ago. Nonetheless, nothing could spoil the great atmosphere and the show continued just as hyper as it started. Songs “Burn in Hell” and “You Can´t Stop Rock´n´Roll” were especially praised by the audience, hands up in the air and cheerful screams really encouraged the band to play at their wildest! The show was a terrific success, at the end of which the Sisters promised to come back soon again and that time have a box spacious enough to pack all the fans in it and take them along to the US, because Finland ROCKS!
On the whole, the festival is very-well organised and planned. The band line up is diverse, so there´s always something for every taste: not only the big classics, but also some younger bands start their career on Sauna stages. Also possibility of Meet´n´Greet at the signing sessions is always exciting, especially because of the relatively small scale of the festival, those were held at a tent near the main stage, could still enjoy the main act. Only disadvantage is that there was no camping place as such, near the area anywhere, which must have been inconvenient for some foreign visitors. Otherwise on your summer Finnish holiday make sure to attend not only the hot-steamy-traditional-sauna, but also the one with hot-rocking-heavy-bands!
Text: Marina Sidyakina, translation: Klaudia Weber