The Finnish festival, Ankkarock, is one of the best ways to wave goodbye to the short Finnish summer and close the festival season. The event takes place in Korso, Vantaa – the city directly north of Helsinki. The weather was already like in autumn, but the festive atmosphere still prevailed and prevented the people from moping about the summer’s end.
Day 1 – Saturday 1.8.2009
The weather forecast for that day didn’t foretell anything good, but you can never rely on the forecasts 100% and this was one of those cases where it was fortunately wrong – the promised rains didn’t pour on our heads! So we gathered at the Park Stage (Puistolava) to watch one of Finland’s craziest and most energetic bands – Stam1na. If you ever get the chance to check these guys out, don’t miss it! You might not understand much of what they sing (or any of it if you don’t speak any Finnish), but the vibe you get from the music blasted by this bunch gives you an electric charge. Before you even notice it, you’ll find yourself in the middle of the moshpit and then watch out!
The next stop on our list were the Finnish Vikings from Ensiferum. Their devoted followers crowded around the stage, some in their own war paint, ready for the journey into battle! Even the most stubborn festival-goers found themselves singing along and tapping their feet to “Lai Lai Hei.”
Soon enough it was time to switch from Finnish music to American – the New York Dolls came on the Park stage and, despite the band’s legendary status, didn’t make such a great impression. Age is taking its toll and the band’s performance clearly lacks dynamics on stage. However, the Finnish audience was quite happy to see their compatriot Sam Yaffa (ex-Hanoi Rocks) who is now playing the bass in the New York Dolls.
After that we, craved for an energy shot and we got what we wanted at the Rock Stage (Rocklava) as the Swedish band Hardcore Superstar told us to “Beg For It!” Hardcore Superstar might not be the best export from the Swedish music scene, but they surely know how to get you moving. Without any claims for masterpieces, their songs don’t differ much from one another, but each of them has a catchy and rocking tune. These guys can rattle up even the stiffest audience!
Not too long after that, the Norwegian denim demons from Turbonegro were summoned to the main stage and we got our sailor hats rocking! They were sorely missed during their long break when no one knew if they would ever comes back, but they did and they are better than ever! These guys play their set with such style that it would give you an erection, and with some help from Hank von Helvete from the stage, you would proceed to inform everyone around you about it. They were by no means the most awaited band at Ankkarock 2009, but Turbonegro’s set was a brilliant choice of songs – although whatever they sing, it’s bound to make you wave your sailor hat and sing on top of your voice. “Rendezvous with Anus,” “Get it On,” “Are You Ready (For Some Darkness),” “Fuck the World,” “I Got Erection” – those are just some of the tracks that we got to listen to. It was the best thing to ever come from Norway since the imprisonment of Varg Vikernes.
The end of the 1st day of Ankkarock welcomed some metal veterans: the irrepressible Cavalera brothers and their Cavalera Conspiracy. This band was quite a treat for those people who are fans of Max-era Sepultura, as well as for those who enjoy Soulfly. However, what both brothers have created are merely little Sepulturas, which will never be as great as the band with its original line-up. Naturally, Sepultura’s old songs (“Refuse/Resist,” “Roots Bloody Roots”) were welcomed much warmer than Conspiracy’s original stuff. In general, it is little more than a lousy attempt to recreate the great music that made history and Max’s wishful thinking that he can be as great on his own as he was with Sepultura. He can’t, although I guess the financial reward for these attempts must be quite satisfactory. We preferred to leave the festival area before the band finished their set.
Day 2 – Sunday 2.8.2009
During the second day, the weather was much less enjoyable as it started to rain quite soon, and this meant that the festival area quickly became muddy and slippery. For Amorphis, who managed to play most of the Finnish festivals this year, Ankkarock was no exception. The magical phenomenon created by this band is that no matter how often you see them, they always put on the best performance. I’ve seen them live countless times already, but I can’t say that this show was better than that. In each of them, the band plays at their best.
Apulanta and Kotiteollisuus also have been seen everywhere this summer, so after a short break we decided to check out some high-quality battle metal banged by Turisas on the Park Stage. Just a few years ago, Turisas were hardly known in their homeland of Finland and this summer they already played at Wacken Open Air in Germany. The band has definitely worked hard for this progress and this can be seen from their performance. The younger part of the audience took the best out of Turisas’ set and slammed until they dropped. The band heated up their performance with some pyrotechnics, which still looked great even with the sun shining brightly. I bet the crowd was definitely smaller than at Wacken, but getting a warm reception in your home country is always highly appreciated.
A short while later, we continued with the Viking mood set by Turisas as the Swedish lords from Amon Amarth came out on the main stage. This band is a frequent guest on the Finnish soil and that’s the kind of Swedish invasion that Finns definitely don’t mind at all, and perhaps even enjoy. This could be seen from the crowd gathered in front of the stage, ready to bang their heads to the melodic death metal. After the Vikings conquered the main stage and everyone in the audience, Volbeat came out to play something a bit more colorful. I had seen them at Tuska already and their rockabilly beats really aren’t my cup of tea, but they do manage to maintain a solid fanbase in Finland, which is why this summer Volbeat played only main stages. The crowd was there, the groove was there, the dancing and singing were there. I wasn’t.
An absolute must-see on the last day of the festival were the American thrashers from Testament. It was definitely nice to see that even the younger part of the audience knows and enjoys these monsters of metal from Bay Area – they paid their homage to Chuck Billy and the guys by making quite a good circle pit in front of the stage. Testament is a monument of their genre, and so are their shows. If it was possible to stay still, you could only stand there with your jaw dropped, trying to realize how massive their sound is and how lucky you are to see this great band live.
The night closed out with Sonata Arctica and a light drizzle. This Finnish favorite always manages to pull a big crowd, and never fails to please them either. It’s worth mentioning that Tony Kakko was either in an extraordinarily good mood this night, or he might’ve had a few too many beers before going on stage, because he was a bit more bouncy and energetic than usual. Nevertheless, they managed to put on a good show for those who liked their style enough to endure the evening gloom.
Taking place at the end of the summer, Ankkarock always leaves you wanting more. There are 9 months ahead until the festival party starts again, so each moment at Ankkarock is absorbed like the last drops of water in the desert. We’re hanging up our festival hats now, but we’ll see you again next summer!
Text: Tanja Caciur, Amy Wiseman | Photos: Jana Blomqvist | Ed: Amy Wiseman