BLIND CHANNEL: Stayin’ Alive – 45 Special, Oulu, 30.05.2020

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It’s no secret that Musicalypse are huge supporters of Blind Channel and their unique brand of “violent pop,” aka heavy pop or what could be called a masterfully-crafted clusterfuck of genres. With three releases under their belt now, the latest of which, Violent Pop, came out earlier this year and did not disappoint. With the current social distancing measures still in place, they postponed their album release show from April 2020 to February 2021 with a live stream at 45 Special in Oulu to tide over the fans until then.

Follow the set as a playlist on Spotify:

Saturday evening’s stream was set to go at 19:00 with the link to the show shared about 30 minutes in advance to help build some hype for what was to come. When things kicked off, the band started out with “Wolfpack,” but I hate to say that the vocalists were not keeping it in tune, with Joel Hokka in particular hitting almost none of his notes. The song was otherwise well-played but the translation of this high-powered song into acoustic format fell a little bit flat as an opener as it did not bring the necessary energy to a “violent pop” song.

The latter complaint improved more or less immediately with “Fever,” which felt more specifically adapted to an acoustic format. If “Wolfpack” felt like them failing to pull off a high energy track with acoustic instruments, the added keyboard lines of “Fever” transitioned the song nicely into acoustic format. As the band finished, there was crowd cheering… did they use the live stream equivalent of a laugh track or where did it come from?

Niko “NC Enroe” Moilanen greeted the crowd after this and did his best to talk about how to support the crowd, but appeared to panic mid-speech and switched awkwardly to Finnish as he finished whatever he was trying to say. This nervousness continued going into “Died Enough for You” but they pulled the song off nicely and he kept the rapping together, if a bit flat.

A very Finnish fellow then interviewed the band and admitted to having only listened to their music 2 weeks prior. The interviewer was largely enthusiastic about the music and was having a great time but didn’t really seem to have any real questions or insights prepared, rather just raving a bit to the band about what a good time he was having and asking some bland questions. This interlude also included an awkward request for extra money in donations to compensate for Finnish taxes, as well as a very uncomfortable call for single ladies to get in touch with guitarist Joonas Porko. I may be a decade too old for their target audience, but these “single ladies” jokes happened several times throughout the stream and felt uncomfortable, as though they knew deep down those jokes aren’t really very funny by today’s standards.

There were a few shout-outs to the recent 2020 graduates in Finland and “My Heart is a Hurricane” was dedicated to those recently freed from upper secondary school; there was also another forced dedication “to the ladies” here as well. The dedication to Chester Bennington of their already-acoustic cover of Linkin Park’s “Numb” and was one of the better songs of the night, though the singers really should have done the vocal harmonies. Admitting to being drunk could perhaps explain some things. The stream took another break to bring the interviewer back, who continued rambling in a nearly fanboyish manner to such a cringe-worthy point that we had to mute it until the show continued.

New material like “Enemies with Benefits” and “Feel Nothing” made their live debuts in this stream, though the debut Revolutions (2016) was left out completely, with the tracks being a mix of new material and songs from Blood Brothers (2017). They ended the set with “Over My Dead Body” and played “Sharks Love Blood” as an encore. Since the last song has never been among our favorites, we opted so switch the stream off a this point.

 

Admittedly, this show felt a bit like everyone was trying too hard to be what they thought they should be instead of being themselves, resulting in an overload of nerves and awkwardness that really affected the sound. The music was overall great because the compositions are great and some of the acoustic translations were really well done, but the consistently out-of-tune vocals suggested the band isn’t quite ready to pull off their trademark sound in this setting. Even if a lot of nervousness was evident, Moilanen was at his best when he was losing himself in the songs, but Hokka‘s… maybe nervousness or lack of preparation ruined his voice for most of the show. Fortunately for the band, the comment section suggested that the fans didn’t really notice.

We have seen Blind Channel play live many, many times now. We love their songs and we know what they can do. Live streams or acoustics may not be their forté, but don’t be dissuaded by this review. If you saw this stream, I would go so far as to encourage you to see them live at the next possible opportunity. I know for a fact that they can do better, so while this may not have been the album release show we were hoping for, we still believe they’ll knock it out of the park when they’re back in front of a crowd where they belong.

Setlist:
1. Wolfpack
2. Fever
3. Died Enough for You
4. Enemies with Benefits
5. My Heart is a Hurricane
6. Numb
7. Timebomb
8. Feel Nothing
9. Over My Dead Body

Encore:
10. Sharks Love Blood

Blind Channel, Nosturi 2019

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