Evanescence played at Nokia Arena in Tampere, Finland this past June. They had also planned to play Rock in the City Helsinki but the festival was unfortunately canceled. Thankfully they were still able to play the brand new arena with supporting acts, Brittish rockers Tigress and home country stars Cyan Kicks. It was great to see so many people show up on a Sunday evening to support these three kick ass bands. Specially Evanescence, who don’t come to Finland often. My personal history with the band dates back almost 20 years, running into Amy in 2004 and being invited to watch a soundcheck for a gig in Florida during their debut album tour. Nostalgia and deep admiration for her and her journey in music, as well as her music’s imperative role in my own life made the gig that much more special on a personal level, but I could tell I was not alone in these feelings looking around the venue. I was also a bit surprised but grateful to see many younger attendees! Although the lineup of the band had changed (and very recently at that, only a week prior to the gig welcoming Emma Anzai to the family after Jen Majura stepped down), their cohesive stage presence was unforgettable. I also commend Amy and her ability to connect with the crowd, even a stadium gig, on a level that makes it seem like we were watching at an intimate club gig.
Cyan Kicks performed a gig beyond expectation, they definitely earned their place as an opening act! It was surprising to hear it was their first stadium gig, a they ruled the stage and captured the entire place with their energy like old pros!
Tigress made a good name for themselves, although I felt their style of music and presence would have shined much brighter in different atmosphere. That said, I look forward to seeing them progress and grow!
Photo Report: Nummirock 22-25.6.2022 in Kauhajoki, Finland Photography by Serena Solomon
Ah, to be back on the shores of Nummijärvi! Back at our midsummer home! How liberating and comforting it was to be back to normal, back to Nummirock, no restrictions, just festival life as we know it (plus a few extra bottles of hand sanitizer). I have to say though, the atmosphere was a bit more chill than I remembered, whether it was the two years break taking its toll or the simple fact that we were all two years older. Mostly, the crowd and camp grounds were back to their normal crazy selves, but maybe it was the stamina that was tuned down a few notches, or the fact that there seemed to be significantly less attendees than in past years. Either way, it had no affect on the quality of the festival! The weather stayed on the better side of “typical Finnish midsummer weather”, even a bit too much at times. The first time in my memory that the main stage crowd had to be sprayed down by security to keep cool! The festival staff took good care of the artists, attendees, media and staff.
Wednesday provided an extended “pre-party”. As previous years usually kept to the Klubi stage with a few bands, this year the Inferno stage was also open, and included a special performance from the future of music, a local band camp. Highlights from Wednesday included Rytmihäiriö setting the crowd off into their four day spin, mosh pits during Vorna, and the first Estonian band to perform at Nummi in 30 years, Metsätöll, closing out the evening!
WEDNSDAY 22.6: Rytmihäiriö, Memoremains, Ember Falls, Vorna and Metsätöll
Thursday kicked off with Kaunis Kuolematon on a more melancholic note, but maybe a good decision for those of us who celebrated being back at Nummi extra hard the night before. But not to stay somber for too long! Inferno and Main stages were opened by legends! Kiuas and Korpiklaani filled up the 18+ areas as if prohibition just ended. Other highlights from Thursday included Rotting Christ blasting the Inferno stage during a firey sunset, Alien Weaponry giving one of the most memorable Main stage performances I have ever witnessed, and Chamber of Unlight closing the evening with a noteworthy night cap of modern black metal at its finest.
THURSDAY 23.6: Kaunis Kuolematon, Kiuas, Korpiklaani, Carach Angren, At the Gates, Rotting Christ, Crimson Sun, Alien Weaponry, Mimorium and Chamber of Unlight
Friday’s lineup was back to back “can’t miss that” bands. Fear of Domination opened the day with their undeniable dance party that took the conga lines all the way to the main stage for Ensiferum. Dawn of Solace gave us a mid-day cool down, but not for long before Borknagar played a highly anticipated set. Other highlights were Mgła, probably the most anticipated gig of the entire festival for me personally, which went beyond expectation, even more so with the imagery of their blacked out faces against the deep orange of the sunset. Gorgoroth and their spectacle of pure black metal aesthetics. That was really cool to see on the main stage. And last but not least And Oceans closing the evening against a dramatic evening sky.
FRIDAY 24.6: Fear of Domination, Where’s My Bible, Dawn of Solace, Borknagar, Diablo, Mgła, Gorgoroth and And Oceans
Saturday brought the tiny humans back to the festival grounds, mini-metal heads in the making came with their families to see the world famous Hevisaurus, enjoy balloons, rides, and cotton candy, joining in conga lines and flexing their little devil horns! There was a bit of a scheduling fuckup as Sepultura had travel issues, so the beauties from Tampere Burlesque went on earlier than expected to fill the space. Unfortunately many didn’t get the memo in time and missed their first set. Otherwise, highlights from Saturday included a hefty helping of folk metal from Brother of Metal, legends Sepultura and Hammerfall saturating the main stage with all the international music we’ve missed out on these past few years, Turmion Kätilöt giving us some comfort food and a proper closing of the Inferno stage and Apocalyptica as the grand finale. They never fail to impress and seemed as if they also did not want to end the show and would have continued playing all through the night!
SATURDAY 25.6: Hevisaurus, Brothers of Metal, Sepultura, Hammerfall, Turmion Kätilöt and Apocalyptica
As impressive as the lineup for this years Nummirock was, with headlining bands that don’t come to Finland often, the Main stage crowds seemed to be much smaller than previous years. I hope with all my heart this is only due to people being hesitant to commit to attending a festival after so many canceled and postponed gigs, and the next few years will bring things back up to the speed it was going before the world collapsed. Until next year!
The intro guitars remind a bit of old HIM distortion, but then silence comes and Lauri’s voices is accompanied but strings…. and aside from being reminiscent of all the collaborations with Apocalyptica, my mind went straight to one of my all time favorite songs of theirs dating back to the album Into, “Last Waltz”. But as the song flows on, there are also heavy vibes from their album Black Roses and those words, “black roses” are even entwined in the lyrics. The song is a bit fragmented in my opinion, stops and starts, heavy distorted guitars that fall off abruptly into the delicate gothic victorian strings. I like all the elements and am really happy to hear the whole band again (after the last few albums that seemed to drag Lauri’s solo electronic pop album out and out). That dark gothy vibe that drew many of us in and held fast through at least three albums (not to mention the similarity of the music video to the US verison of In The Shadows video…. the one that personally started me on this journey)… but also this newish raw, heavy, almost metal sound that you can hear in fits and start (also here and therein their Eurovision single “Jezebel”). I feel like the band has new life blown into them, and I am very eager to see what else is coming!
Swallow the Sun played at Pakkahuone in Tampere on 27th of May. It was the second date of their Finnish tour promoting their new album Moonflowers which was released last year. Kaunis Kuolematon and Edge of Haze were the opening acts (for only two of the seven dates in Finland). It was a solid lineup. Edge of Haze opened with energy and heaviness, and Kaunis Kuolematon brought it down to a more melancholy yet powerful level. Then, Swallow the Sun hit all of the above, including songs from their first few albums that they haven’t played live in a while. From the more melodic “Stone Wings” to one of my personal favorites, and heaviest song off the new album “This House Has No Home”. So heavy in fact, that a mosh pit broke out! I don’t think I have ever seen a pit during a Swallow the Sun gig! It was great to see all three bands at a bigger venue. I don’t believe this gig was sold out but it was pretty well attended. I, like many others, cannot get enough of Moonflowers and it is just magic to see live. I wish I could say more, but this band always leaves me speechless. Let the photos speak for themselves…
Kanga (US) and Kælan Mikla (IS) graced Tampere’s Klubi with their ethereal and mystifying presence on May 4th . I was introduced to Kælan Mikla the last time they were in Finland, opening for Alcest right before the lockdowns in 2019. One of those bands who were way off from what I typically listened to but stuck with me afterwards and ended up being one of my favorite gigs of the year. They released a new album Undir Köldum Norðurljósum later that year, which turned out to also be one of my favorite albums, so it was needless to say I would at least attend one of the two gigs they had in Finland (though I actually ended up attending both, so I may sneak in a few comparisons).
Kanga, much like Kælan Mikla the first time around, was not music I would typically find myself searching out and getting into. It was also quite a different style gig than what I would naturally attend or write about. From what I’ve gathered, Kanga is an accomplished producer and remixer who has worked on many well known films, and is quickly gaining popularity in the darkwave and electronic scenes. My interpretation of her music would be, kinda…West Coast Pop meets the grittiest corners of dark industrial. Her performance conveyed just that. Dark, mysterious and almost melancholic while also constantly emanating the pulse of both the trendiest night club and most raw underground rave. I did enjoy the the vibe of the gig and the audience (more so in Helsinki, since the floor was packed and it contributed to the dance club vibe vs. Tampere where people were still very slowly trickling into the venue) though, at times I got more DJ vibes than performance, as if I should not really be watching her, but focusing on the music and dancing, which is a bit unfamiliar to me.
My first thoughts of Kælan Mikla’s gig was that they had matured so much in their performance from the last time I had seen them. More polished, more in sync and seemed more confident with themselves as musicians and people. Of course, their newest album is quite a bit darker than their previous music, which was also prevalent in their stage presence, attire, and the whole atmosphere of their show.
If you aren’t aware of the meaning or source of the name “Kælan Mikla”, it is the Icelandic name for the Moomin character Jäärouva or The Lady of the Cold. This knowledge tinged my perception of their gig with a touch of frost. Laufey (vocalist), moved around the stage at times, as if she was skating on ice (and only when I got closer did I realize she was barefoot in stockings, which totally fit with the witchy aesthetic they had going on!). Her nails were also long and clear and, when caught in the light, resembled icicles. Her presence, stoic and queen-like, otherwise perfectly portrayed the mystical yet powerful essence their music provides.
The performance of “Sírenur” particularly stuck out to me, the mood and the lighting made you feel as if we were all swimming underwater, peaceful yet melancholic (not to mention the sound of waves in the background and the fact that the song is indeed about, you guessed it, the Sirens of the ocean). The other most memorable moments where during “Sólstöður”. There is this intense guttural, banshee type screaming on the album and honestly didn’t expect them to do it live but they did and it was soul shattering and inspiring all at once. As exhausting as it must be to do that night after night, I truly appreciated it and was in awe by its affect live! The other thing that stuck out was Sólveige (synth/keys) playing flute live during “Stormurinn”. That also gave me chills and went beyond expectation. Margrét (bass) was also incredibly inspiring to watch. I can’t really put it into word but she seemed to really connect with the music and put great energy and emotion into playing, as well as when she sang backing vocals, or contributed to screaming. I kind of wish these two would be highlighted a bit more though they all have their spotlight moments. They are all incredibly talented and passionate musicians and I am super eager to see what they do next and catch them live again!
Eivør and Lucky Lo played not one but two magical shows in Tampere Finland 11-12.4 2022. The first show at G Livelab was a very special show for both acts. Lo excitedly mentioned that it was the only show on the tour she had a piano to play and looked like she was truely enjoying herself while playing! Both acts included the grand piano in their set, as well as Lo with her banjo and Eivør (accompanied by Mattias Kapnas on the piano) with her drum and guitar. They played unique renditions of songs as well as other songs not previously played on the tour. I was only at the second gig at Olympia on “official” business but since I also attended the G Livelab gig I want to include it in the report. I really loved the idea of these two shows together, very different venues and atmosphere that complimented each other well and gave us an opportunity to see, feel and hear these beautiful artists in unique contexts.
I have to admit, Lucky Lo‘s music is not something I would naturally listen to, but I thoroughly enjoyed both sets. She has such a humble charisma that delivers her music to the audience in such an honest and comforting way its entrancing. Although her music spans themes and sounds that are light, funky and uplifting as well melancholic and fragile, it all feels intimate and warm. In the state of the current world, it was a welcome feeling.
At the Olympia show, she explained how playing simply on the banjo is a glimpse of the core of her music and writing process, and that the recorded music might sound a bit different than what we were hearing then, since it includes a full band and much funkier vibe. One moment that gave me chills was when she was introducing the song “Sunrise/Sunset” explaining it was about life and death inspired by a good friend who had passed away.
As she struck the first notes of the song, a puff of smoke shot up behind her, illuminated by a light, like a ghost. I don’t think it was intentional or if many others noticed but it struck me.
She seemed to go with the flow of the gig, and at one point was openly pondering which song to play next. Someone from the audience suggested one of her songs and she bashfully admitted she could not play it on banjo, that she had tried but she just didn’t think it sounded right. She then remembered the previous night she had been inspired by Eivør when she played a Leonard Cohen cover (which she hadn’t done on the rest of the tour), and decided to also play a cover, and excitedly jumped into “Strawberry Fields Forever”.
These two shows were also special because they were the last of the tour, at both shows they both deviated from the setlists they had stuck with for the tour, and graced us with songs they hadn’t played live in a long time or ever!
Eivør‘s set at G Livelab was quite different on many levels (an intended pun because I personally experienced the gig both from the balcony of the venue and standing in the crowd, and even that provided a different experience). Watching from the balcony felt a bit more like watching a show, still intimate with the ability to also watch the audience but a bit detached. When I went to the floor though, it was surreal. Eivør‘s voice was so ethereal and being closer to the stage and closer to the music was almost other worldly and yet made it all more real. She played a few songs there they didn’t play at the other show such as “Verð Mín”, “Silvitni”, and few covers from Leonard Cohen and Julee Cruise. As well as really interesting adaptions of the songs they had been playing, since it was a somewhat acoustic show, or at least “Duo”, minus the full band plus a grand piano. A few of the more melancholic slow songs had an almost old timey cabaret feel.
However, at Olympia, even the intro music took the night into a completely different atmosphere. It was intense. Epic yet melancholic low grumbles of orchestral, electronic music that slowly built up the anticipation. I think because it was the last show of the tour, the whole band also helped build that anticipation through out the night. As the end came closer, they all played harder, more passionately, more loose. Eivør‘s music strings together such a wide spectrum of emotion and sound into a short space of time its really intense to see live! One moment you’re dancing to a light-hearted beat, the next you’re traveling into another time and place, something ancient and foreign yet nostalgic, and the next you’re almost in tears with a raw melancholic comfort. And of course those ethereal chants and throat singing she does with her drum are always an experience on their own. Although they are simply sounds and chants, her movements and facial expressions while she’s singing almost tell a story of their own, up for interpretation on a personal level yet clear somehow.
It was great to finally be able to see her “new” songs live, unfortunate that her latest album Segl had been released amidst the first year of the pandemic. Although I had seen her perform some of them during her live stream shows during the 2020 summer (I have to mention it was really great to kind of get to know her and her music during those weekly home recorded live streams that summer, and made me even more eager to see her live again!). And was also a treat to see, again, some songs they had not played during the rest of the tour, since it was the last show (I have a personal history with the song “Boxes” and that was one extra song they played, not to mention seeing that insane vocal magic live, gave me chills!).
To introduce the song “Gullspunnin” she recited a poem and explanation of the song and its meaning, with low atmospheric background sounds as accenting her words. It almost felt like a guided meditation, which, as I think now, isn’t such an unexpected thing to experience at her gig. Her spoken words, and sung words, chants, throat singing, growls, laughs and all the lows and highs of the music hit so many different themes and emotions its like acupuncture of the soul, in some ways providing a release that ends in peace and contentment. Even if you aren’t familiar with her music, or don’t have any personal history with her songs, it is such an intense and magical yet humble performance it will be an unforgettable experience for anyone.