Machinae Supremacy, despite not having put out an album in over a year, came back to Helsinki exactly 11 months after their last show. Their mini-tour kicked off in their hometown of Luleå and the second stop was at Nosturi in Helsinki on September 3rd, 2015, before they continued upward and onward to Tampere, the UK, and beyond! We were disappointed in ourselves for never having written them up in the past, so we decided to make up for it by attending the show.
Tune into the setlist on Spotify if you’d like!
I was introduced to MaSu a few years ago and they have not-so-slowly joined Devin Townsend in the climb to the top of my favorites list. It probably has everything to do with appealing to the gamer in me, combined with music that’s so catchy and fun and clever that it’s almost unfair. I was lucky enough to grab a couple of them for an interview before the gig, just to catch up and chat about music, games, and what they’ve been doing lately! Check it out!
Urizen, a Texan band of similar style, came all the way over from the US to tour with them. Unfortunately, we were a bit late returning to the venue and only caught the last song in their set. We were told that we missed out on a cool robot, amongst other things, but I did happen to notice that there was a huge eyeball on the stage. Turns out, at MaSu’s show in Tampere these guys came on stage during one song and had a pretty awesome battle. The music also sounded like it had definite potential, so we’ll absolutely check them out later. Also, it’s worth noting that they were selling some albums down at the merch booth that were designed to look like floppy discs and it was totally awesome.
Speaking of merch, before I get started, how many cool shirt designs can you have? Firstly, Machinae Supremacy’s simple logo shirts are awesome on their own. The elite shirt – \,,/_(> <)_\,,/- makes me smile every time I see it, and the new design with the band in 8-bit? So great. And then if you’re into album cover shirts you’ve got those to pick from too. Really, I stood in front of the merch booth for like 20 minutes agonizing over not being able to justify buying one of each.
The venue was set up rather strangely; you may remember Lene and I talking about the closed-off balcony during the myGRAIN finale show, and it was the same situation now. On the plus side, the person-to-bar ratio was much more manageable this time, so it wasn’t such a big deal.
MaSu was about 5 minutes late thanks to the stage change, but no one seemed to care because “The Villain of this Story” is such a fucking great song. Right off the bat, they were playing really tight and the energy was explosive. I’m a stickler for picking good openers too, and this one is rock solid.
Something that became immediately apparent at the start of the show was how cool it is to see a band like that in such an intimate setting. No matter what, you’re pretty much guaranteed to see the stage from somewhere, and isn’t that half the fun of being at a gig? These shows feel so personal because everyone, even shorties like me, get to enjoy every minute of it without getting frustrated that you can’t see or you’re getting messed up by obnoxious drunks (mostly). You’re among friends too – you’re not amongst the average metalhead, you’re amongst fellow game music -lovers. It’s like you’re hanging out with your gamer buddies, only they’re all around you and you’ve never met most of them. I started to wonder how many of these people have met on forums or playing online, but don’t know it.
It was also cool to notice that there were people of all ages at this gig. You’d think the age range would be around 18-35, but I saw a few who were well into their 50s or more, cameras out and all. It’s nice to see that a specialized band like this can be appreciated well beyond their target audience.
They followed up “Villain” with “Republic of Gamers” and “Persona,” keeping a nice pace between albums and picking all the songs that people clearly wanted to hear. Another thing I love about these guys? They actually asked their fans about the songs they wanted to hear at the show, and delivered. I had seen a post on Facebook of them asking if anyone wanted to hear “The Villain of this Story,” and after the resounding YESes were noted, they also gave the crowd another request, but I’ll get to that later. Ultimately, the setlist in this show was phenomenal though. I get this amazed sensation that I’m only really familiar with their last three albums, but that’s enough to easily fill out a show with good tracks and leave me wanting more. Plus the songs I don’t know from the older albums are really excellent live.
We can’t deny that Robert “Gaz” Stjärnström (vocals) wasn’t rocking the high notes in the first song at his peak ability. Any worries that he has lost his touch were smashed to bits after “Force Feedback” though, when he essentially melted our faces. Incidentally, with regard to that song, they mentioned that it’s been blocked in Germany – I think he said it was because they were offering it free for download. Good old piracy laws!
Stjärnström told us that “Dark City” is about their hometown of Luleå, Sweden, and that they love Finland so much that they put a Finnish guy in their band (that would be Tomi Luoma, the rhythm guitarist who joined around the time of Rise of a Digital Nation). I appreciated that he introduced a good number of the songs. Also, I had no idea that Jonas “Gibli” Rörling (guitars) was a secondary vocalist before this show (and I’ve seen them twice before now). They have a really similar singing style, which is kind of unbelievable considering what a unique voice Stjärnström has.
This is, in fact, a rare band where you can love every song on the setlist, and still leave the show thinking that there were so many songs you wanted to hear. I, for one, would’ve been happy to stay longer if it meant I got to hear “Crouching Camper Hidden Sniper,” “One Day in the Universe,” “All of My Angels,” “Perfect Dark,” and “The Second One,” but I’m still not complaining about the set at all. We’re waiting for the day that they play “Indiscriminate Murder is Counter-Productive” (one of their best live songs) seamlessly into “The Second One,” like they did in this gig with “Renegades” and “Nova Prospekt” (why not “Nemesis” and “Renegades,” while I’m at it?).
If there was one way these guys could improve their live show, it’d be to have a synth player on stage. At one point they got a bit out of sync with the backing track and it took thirty seconds or so for Niklas “Nicky” Karvonen (drums) to get them back on track. The real reason though, is that I can totally see these guys having a lot more fun with their songs if they were freed from the burden of the backing track, and you certainly couldn’t have a MaSu show without the SID sounds.
They capped off the main set with “Beyond Good and Evil,” but the crowd screamed them back on stage for “Rise of a Digital Nation,” “Versus,” and “Hubnester Rising,” which is the aforementioned song that the fans were hoping for online that they delivered. While I do believe bands should always do what they want and should never play a song they don’t want to play live, if they’re open to it, I always give bonus points to anyone who lets the crowd request songs. And these half-assed attempts that Metallica and other bands have made don’t count.
The crowd didn’t let them go after that either. They got called back for a second encore, so Stjärnström grabbed his video camera and made the crowd earn the next song by screaming as loud as they could. They closed out the night with an epic performance of “Through the Looking Glass” before the curtains closed for good.
After the second encore, the band came downstairs to sign autographs and take pictures with their fans. It’s really a shame that so few bands do that anymore because people really, really love to meet their idols, and it really says something about a band’s priorities if they can make time for that. Even though this show wasn’t perfect (in the no-fuck-ups sense), everyone standing around was gushing – in every language, from Finnish and English to Swedish and German – about how phenomenal the show was. That’s just it, right? If your heart is in it and you give it your all, that’s what counts, and that’s undoubtedly what these guys do.
I discovered something at this show. I was trying to figure out why I was reminded so much of The Beards’ show in Stockholm from last November. What I realized was that these niche bands who appeal to a certain culture, be it beard culture or gaming culture, have a bit of extra magic in their mix. These bands may have smaller fan-bases, but the fans are 100% more dedicated. The feeling you get from watching one of these shows is like nothing else. It’s like pure happiness, bottled. The fans love the music, and the band loves the fans. You’ll never find anything like it in a stadium show, a sold-out venue, or even in a bigger club. No one’s there out of curiosity – everyone’s there because they just fucking loves the music. So the timing got fudged, or the singer forgot some lyrics? No one cares. Half the people probably won’t even notice because they’re in the zone. And the band’s not too big or full of ego that they won’t come down and sign an autograph or take a picture with you, which really makes a huge difference in connecting and keeping your fans raving about you just that much more.
I, for one, love this band. They filled a gap in my music library that I didn’t know existed until I heard their music. To top it off, they’re all really nice guys and great performers. If you like their music, even a little, go to their shows, rock out to their music, go take pictures with them afterwards, get an autograph, buy one of their awesome shirts, and give them your support. They deserve it.
1. The Villain of this Story
2. Republic of Gamers
4. Rocket Dragon
5. Force Feedback
6. Indiscriminate Murder is Counterproductive
8. Laser Speed Force
10. Nova Prospekt
11. Dark City
12. Beyond Good and Evil
13. Rise of a Digital Nation
15. Hubnester Rising
16. Through the Looking Glass
Photos: Eliza Rask