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Sauna Open Air 2010

Sauna Open Air 2010 in June lured 23 000 visitors for 3 days to Tampere, Finland, and of course it was a must for STALKER to participate in that event. KISS was THE indisputable headliner of the whole festival, apart from the seven-year itch that had some things go wrong. Stefanie Singh (Thursday and Friday) and Tina Solda (Saturday) were on-site at Eteläpuisto.
(big thanks to the festival organizers and especially Jaana who made this „time sharing“ possible!)

In case illustrations and links no longer work: interactive photo gallery at the end of the text

Thursday, 10th June 2010

More photos here!
“Glam kids”, that is the word of the day. Wherever you look in front of the still closed entrance gates, you see sweet dressed glam kids who are sitting in the green grass, enjoying the bright sunshine and the blue sky and are here quite obviously for KISS, today`s headliner and THE headliner of the whole festival. The brilliant summer weather, the picturesque place on the waterfront and the general excitement about the big visit from America which doesn`t turn into hysteria also raises my pleasant anticipation for the Sauna Open Air 2010 which will be my first open air festival ever within Finland, by the way.

Unfortunately, my pleasant anticipation turns into a kind of discomposure, me and the other media people are inside of the festival area before the official entrance and able to see The 69 Eyes soundcheck. Everyone looks at watches and towards entrance gates: Where are all the festival visitors? The intro “Cry, Little Sister” by Gerard McMann from the “The Lost Boys” soundtrack starts. Another soundcheck? Finally the first glam kids come running to the stage, because the whole band stands there already and starts to rock with “Back In Blood”! I am speechless … To put a band on the stage to rock before festival visitors arrive?? Even though 95% of all festival visitors are here today only for KISS: There are also The 69 Eyes fans who paid the same money for their festival tickets and have waited for hours in the sun – for them it`s absolutely not fair when they see maybe only the end of their favourite band`s performance. Not to mention how disrespectful it is towards the band itself.

The 69 Eyes

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Of course, I don`t know how the band itself feels about that but in any case they play their show professionally and leave some classics like “Gothic Girl” out of their setlist to play also some Non-Singles from their current masterpiece “Back In Blood” like “The Good, The Bad & The Undead” what I appreciate very much. That is what I call self-confidence when someone prefers to promote his newest record with album tracks then playing safe with well-tried classics. Exemplary! Especially in case of singer Jyrki69 it is quite obvious that it`s a pleasure and an honour for him to perform as opener on the main stage before Steel Panther and KISS. With an energy like he is only 15 years and not one day older the Helsinki Vampire sweeps across the stage… In view of that fitness it certainly won`t be the last opportunity for The 69 Eyes to act as warm-up for the high and mighty in the music business. Excellent! 10 points.

Steel Panther

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In case of Steel Panther I was uncertain until if they really will perform at the Sauna Open Air or not `cause they had already cancelled some other festival gigs in Europe but: Thank god, the guys from far-away Los Angeles don`t desert their fans in Finland! I myself only know Steel Panther due to this festival, and probably the most important thing to know is that they are rather a parody of Glam Metal than a real band. Aware of that you will perceive the poncy outfits, the sexist lyrics and their fatuously appearance in general from a totally different angle and then either you like it or not. For my part, I love it! To squeeze into leggings which are so tight that they rather show someone´s masculinity than hiding it… Hats off, not everyone has the heart to do that! Singer Michael Starr has it. Not to mention the zebra leggings of the guitar player Satchel and the vanity fits of the bass player Lexxi Foxxx who looks at himself in the hand mirror again and again, puts from time to time some more hairspray on and touches up his rosy lipstick. Only from drummer Stix Zadinia you can`t see much action of that kind, but he is busy enough with torturing his drum kit for smash hits like “Death To All But Metal” and “Party All Day”. Splendid! Later they play a very felicitous cover version of the Guns`n`Roses classic “Paradise City”. Wow, I am impressed! Another gig with a 10 points rating.

And then it`s time: Time for THE band of all bands at the Sauna Open Air 2010 – KISS! At least if you ask most of the other festival visitors this day. Of course they don`t skimp on bombast: Lifting ramps, big screen in the background, pyro effects, confetti and fog machines, fireworks…
Admittedly, it´s my first concert of those living legends and the opening of the show with “Modern Day Delilah” is also for me quite impressive. The crowd even cheers frenetically when the quartet appears on stage via a lifting ramp.

More photos here!
After a short while I am not impressed anymore – I am bored. It`s difficult to say why but presumely it´s because of KISS´ bombastic stagecraft but the lack of entertainment factor regarding performance, for my taste. By all means, KISS can`t hold the arc of tension which The 69 Eyes and Steel Panther have build up with me. KISS is mainly about Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley. The permanent tongue action of Gene Simmons bores me quite soon, from a certain point it even starts to be annoying. Ok, it`s a cult but in the length of time it`s not very inventive. When he later bites down a blood capsule and is lifted by ropes to the roof of the stage the crowd again cheers frenetically. I can`t understand it; for me it`s just a daffy Punch and Judy show. The interactions of Paul Stanley with the audience pleases me much more. All in all everything appears too professional and there is a lot of routine so the certain magic is missed and that makes it – at least in my case – impossible that sparks are flying. Of course, the hits like “Detroit Rock City”, “I Was Made For Lovin` You” and “Crazy Crazy Nights” work effortlessly, even in my case, but in summary I have to say: If you are just listen to the music of KISS and if you are not a real die-hard-fan of that band, you should think about twice if you want to spend a bunch of money for a concert of them. Maybe the stage show would work better on a dark evening but in the Finnish summer darkness is simply rare. 8 points.

The first day at the Sauna Open Air 2010 ends a bit unsatisfactory, but unexpectedly the official aftershow party with Reckless Love concert in “Jack – The Rooster” club lifts my spirit again. To get more information about that I recommend warmly the separate live-review. And in the end we can find after all the full ten points for the first festival day in total.

Friday, 11th June 2010

In conjunction with the following aftershow party, the first day at the Sauna Open Air 2010 make it to be one of my best festival experiences ever so far. That a continuation of that will be impossible today is something that I already knew before, as RATT, one of my “Must see” bands, have cancelled their gig only three days before the festival start. Therefore Danzig is the only nameable act in the line-up and so any sales booths play their biggest hit “Mother” over and over to raise the anticipation for the headliner of the day. Of course, such a cancellation is not the fault of the festival organisers. For them it`s surely quite difficult or maybe even impossible to find an alternative in such a short time which is equivalent to Ratt, but not to replace the band at all is something I can`t agree with. Especially Finland has so many talented bands to offer which would have played to heat up the crowd at least a little bit. And a good atmosphere is badly needed on the second day because also the weather doesn`t play along at all. It´s raining almost constantly and it`s cold and windy. The low number of festival visitors at the main stage (one row plus a clutter of people behind them) sets the scene of a sad spectacle.

Glamour Of The Kill

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Against great odds, Glamour Of The Kill enter the main stage as first act of the day at 3 p.m. and after an intro which raises the suspense they live up to the name of their opening song: They are “A Hope in Hell”! They start to rock so powerfully like they have to make masses of fans happy and they keep that motivated until the end. Even more: When singer Davey Richmond calls upon the audience to sing along on “Rise From Your Grave” and gets a poor feedback he says straight “That was fucking shit!” and tries it again and again until the result pleases him. That`s what I call “having balls”! Even though I am not a fan of metalcore and Davey`s voice needs getting used to: For this performance the guys from UK deserve at least 9 points!

After that I leave the festival temporaryly because of a for me less interesting line-up (Whitechapel, Death Angel, August Burns Red, Tarot, Anvil) and the bad weather – in the marketplace the roofed booths are partly cordoned off to force you to buy a rain cape for 2 €….


More photos here!
Punctually back in the area for Danzig, the band itself is unfortunately far from being punctual. With a delay of almost 45 minutes they start, after another 45 Minutes everything is already over. Why the gig starts so late and why the festival organisers are not more flexible, kicking out the audience from the area shortly after 10 p.m. are things we will probably never find out. Beside hits like “Her Black Wings”, “Thirteen” and of course “Mother” other great songs like “She Rides” are completely left out. After this short strange act you feel totally dispatched, as they would say: “OK, that was Danzig, and now go home!” A bad temper has already dominated the whole day that even the headliner can`t light it up anymore, and actually Danzig would have succeeded, but not with this big delay in this foul weather, combined with such a moderate performance. 4 points for the gig and 0 points for the nonexistent festival atmosphere today in general.

All that made me wish I wouldn`t have stayed also for the second festival day, otherwise it would have been the full 10 points, but now it´s only 5 points left. What a pity!

Saturday June 12, 2010
Having the headliner play on the first evening of a three-day festival can easily result in lesser interest for the remaining days, and this was definitely the case at Sauna Open Air. The cold and rainy weather didn´t improve matters, and the visitor count on Saturday must have been less than half of the KISS crowd on Thursday. Even of this reduced number, only a fraction showed up in time for the first band – understandable enough but still a shame, because Suburban Tribe are not only a fine live band but also released an their best album so far this spring.

Photo: Tina Solda; more photos here!
Half of the set consisted of the material, the album´s title track “Now And Ever After” standing out as the most touching moment of the set. Making sure to be prepared for everything, Ville Tuomi entered the stage wearing a parka as well as sunglasses, but all too soon it became clear that the latter would not be needed, despite the singer´s efforts to coax the sun out from behind the clouds after “While The World Awaits”. At least it wasn´t as windy yet as it would get later on, which meant that Suburban Tribe enjoyed a better sound than the bands that followed, but with general conditions against them, they didn´t really manage to warm up the small audience – most of which had not gathered for Tuomi & Co. but to secure front row spots for Grave Digger and Sonata Arctica.

The smaller stage was opened by Doom Unit,

Photo: Tina Solda; more photos here!
and Lord knows what gave them the idea for their name. Expect no doom metal from this combo at any rate; their fare is melodic power rock, pleasing the ear but not leaving a lasting impression at first acquaintance. Even the song they declared to be their tribute to Black Sabbath was rather lightweight. The set was very short anyway; after the first few songs the cold became co aggravating that buying a scarf turned out a necessity, but when I returned from the merch area the band had already finished.

Of all bands playing on Saturday, Grave Digger were clearly the one that best fit the profile of Sauna Open Air – a power metal act from abroad with a long history and its heyday back in the 1980s. What´s more, this was the German veterans´ first-ever appearance in Finland, making them presumably the most expected performers of the day. Assigning them a later slot would have been more than justified, as they would have deserved a much larger crowd.

Photo: Tina Solda; more photos here!
The true fans of course mad their presence known; keyboarder Hans-Peter Katzenburg was even greeted by a lookalike Reaper in the first row. They sure played like the place was sold out, and although I am not too much into this type of metal, it was impossible not to like them. Special respect was due to the new guitarist Axel, who was announced to be ill and performed the first few songs sitting down, but soon advised a crew member to remove the chair and played the rest of the show standing up and looking pretty happy about it. The songs spanned the band´s entire career, starting with the new “Ballad Of A Hangman” and finishing about an hour later with the ancient “Heavy Metal Breakdown”, and included even the rarely played “Killing Time”.

Photo: Tina Solda; more photos here!
Next came a Finnish band that has been around for even longer – since 1976, to be more exact – but represents a rather different style: Peer Günt, whose musical output is located somewhere between classic bluesrock and Motörhead. After Grave Digger I admittedly found them rather boring. However, their cult status was measurable in terms of audience size, helped by the fact that the small stage was closer to the beer area.

It seems that festivals featuring Stam1na outnumber those without them. Which usually is just fine, because a sunny festival stage is where this band works best. With the sun missing, on the other hand, something seems to be wrong.

Photo: Tina Solda; more photos here!
Perhaps the rain was fitting in a way, considering that the band´s latest album – for which the guys were awarded gold records towards the end of the set – alludes to the drowning of mythical Atlantis, but this was clearly the most subdued audience I´ve ever witnessed at a Stam1na gig. They got a pit started, but somehow the usual enthusiasm was missing, even during the old hits like “Kadonnut kolme sanaa” and “Paha arkkitehti”. Be it mentioned that the coolest eye-catcher was Kaikka´s new custom ESP bass – has anyone ever before seen a bassist whose instrument bears the face and name of their band´s drummer?

How do you determine wind force at a festival? I don´t know if any official measurements exist, but if you stand facing the stage from a distance of hardly twenty meters and the fluttering of the barrier tape next to you is louder than the music from the PA, we´re talking about quite a gale.

Photo: Tina Solda; more photos here!
This was the case during Poisonblack, and without exaggeration you could have mistaken the shore next to the stage for the seaside instead of the lake that it was, in fact you rarely see waves like that on the Baltic beaches… The band itself was in much better form than at Nummirock last year and the set consisted mostly of their rockier material. The highlight to me, however, was “Invisible”, a beautiful ballad with a chorus reminiscent of Anathema´s “Fragile Dreams”.

Photo: Tina Solda; more photos here!
Whereas longsleeves and even jackets were the predominant fashion among the other performers of the day, half of the Amorphis guys braved the near-freezing temperatures in sleeveless shirts. If none of them fell sick afterwards, credit is obviously due to the sheer energy and warmth of their music – and in case of singer Tomi Joutsen, to being constantly on the move. As was to be expected, half of the set consisted of the old radio hits that are usually heard at every Amorphis show, albeit with a few small but refreshing variations on the musical side. However, it was good to hear a few not-quite-as-often played tunes, particularly “Perkele”, which had been missing from the set for a long time despite being one of the band´s best live songs ever. Other welcome choices included “Song Of The Troubled One” and “Skyforger”. A solid and well-rounded gig, after which I indeed felt quite a bit warmer than before.

Due to public transport schedules I had to leave by the time Sonata Arctica went on stage, which meant that the last band of the evening for me was Hail!.

Photo: Tina Solda; more photos here!
Vocalist Tim “Ripper” Owens is best known for his not exactly gratifying role as stand-in for more famous vocalists in bands such as Judas Priest and Iced Earth, and his Hail! bandmates Paul Bostaph and James LoMenzo look back on similar histories with Slayer and Megadeth, respectively. Maybe Hail! is some sort of therapy group for its members (the fourth of them being Andreas Kisser of Sepultura), all the more since they only perform cover songs – including hits by their legendary ex-bands – and no original material, but what the heck, this was some fine singalong rock´n´roll entertainment and everyone had a good time. Marco Hietala joined the band for “Neon Knights” (photo), and yeah, and they even played “Paranoid”!

Bottom line of the day: bad weather but good bands – not perfect, yet ultimately better than the other way round.

Text & photos: Stefanie Singh & Tina Solda



Tina Solda - concert and festival reports, photos, interviews - - - Favorite genres: I don't care much about genres, but on a grossly generalized level I like melancholic death, unconventional black, melodic doom, dramatic folk and smart pagan metal (main regions: Iceland, Finland & Norway) - - - Other interests: guitar, books, beer, movies, cats.

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