Another year, another midsummer, and once again, a one-of-a-kind Nummirock! It is a well known fact among the Nummirock-goers that planning for next year’s festival starts immediately after the previous ends, and this year was just the same. Read our report from Nummirock 2015 and you’ll understand why!
While the most enthusiastic Nummirockers arrive at the campsite over one week in advance, most of the folks start showing up on Wednesday or Thursday. While Thursday might not be the most crowded day of the festival, there were still plenty of folks to see the first acts of this midsummer festival.
Lene: “The first slot we hit with full attention was The Man-Eating Tree, whom I had personally waited for with quite a bit of anticipation. For some reason, I hadn’t managed to see their shows on any occasion when they had been within arm’s reach, even though I’ve liked their “thing” from the first album.
And they didn’t disappoint – it was a solid, good-spirited early evening set (20:30 is still considered early during midsummer), if nothing particularly special. Their current singer, Antti Kumpulainen, is a wonderful fit with his voice and stage persona. I liked Tuomas Tuominen’s unique sound a lot, but Kumpulainen, alongside some growls from guitarist Antti Karhu, produce a combination that proves to be even better. The setlist was really heavy on the latest album, In the Absence of Light, with only a couple songs from Harvest and none from their debut. It was a rare choice by any band for a festival set, but one that seemed to work for the crowd (myself included) – it’s one hell of an album, after all. Even though I wouldn’t have minded a couple songs off Vine, their set’s later time slot in the evening won it some atmospheric value, and The Man-Eating Tree delivered what was promised.”
Essi: “Sonic Syndicate was one of the late night acts, but it definitely wasn’t past their bedtime yet. Since it was our first time seeing this band live, I was pleasantly surprised by the energy and atmosphere they brought to the darkening, cold evening. Plenty of people showed up to see them, so they definitely have that something that appeals to the sometimes-tough-to-crack Finnish audience. The band fits nicely on the long list of Swedish metal bands that are doing it right. They even managed to get the audience to do a proper wall of death. I definitely had my doubts before the gig but they pretty much crushed it that night.”
But talking more about bands that are doing it right, Insomnium is a great example. It was past midnight and the normal Finnish midsummer weather was ever-present with the temperature below 10 degrees… and there was no other place we’d rather be (like in a warm tent, for example) than seeing this band taking over the crowd and just rocking it. The sun setting behind the lake and the soothing, low growling of Niilo Sevänen is a combination that’s hard to beat. The crowd was, unsurprisingly, abundant and loud. The stand-in guitarist, Kari Olli, who is replacing Ville Friman during their ongoing tour, was an excellent choice for temporary replacement. There were clearly a few people out there falling in love with his singing voice that night. The band focused mainly on their newest album, Shadows of the Dying Sun, playing songs like “Revelation” and “Ephemeral.” The audience also heard one of Essi’s personal favorites, “Where the Last Wave Broke,” meaning the gig rubbed us the right way.
First night and three bands down, two whole days and a bunch of bands to go!
The first band playing on the main stage on Saturday was Battle Beast, who have gone through some fairly interesting line-up changes in the near past. You don’t have to be a fan to understand that the atmosphere or the loyalty of the fans hasn’t changed a bit in spite of this. Battle Beast has a lot of stage charisma and they drew a lot of people to see them, even though their slot was probably not the best possible. At festivals, 15:15 can be considered early, and many were still sleeping or only starting their Friday at the campsite due to heavy partying the night before. Even though we were not that intrigued by Battle Beast’s genre or style, we agree that they are worth checking out for the overall show.
Essi: “One of the most interesting acts on Friday, in my humble opinion, was Lost Society. The band has risen fast to be one of the most promising new metal acts Finland has to offer. These four young guys are playing thrash metal straight from their hearts and giving it everything on stage. The front man, Samy Elbanna, surely brings a young Alexi Laiho to one’s mind with his stage presence, energy, and speeches. The band is currently working on their third album and gave the Nummirock audience a small preview of the new material, which (once again, in my humble opinion) sounded very promising. If you ever have a chance to check these guys out, do it! You’ll probably end up leaving the gig with your neck hurting like hell and a stupid grin on your face. Also, if you’re lucky, you might spot a man in a red morphsuit on stage at some point, or at least as was the case at Nummirock, a man without any clothes on.”
Moonsorrow represented the older Finnish metal gang, as they’ve been around for 20 years with a steady and loyal fan base. They were apparently one of those acts the Nummi-audience looked forward to the most, judging by the number of T-shirts and hoodies all around the area. This could be seen especially on Friday, when the band started their gig on the main stage. Known for lengthy songs with lot of instrumental parts, Moonsorrow definitely brings that special something to the Finnish metal scene. While they are not necessarily the most visual or energetic live band in folk metal, they have this authoritative presence on stage, and that combined with their song material and the fact they don’t tour that often, makes the occasion special in its own way. The setlist was divided rather evenly between albums Voimasta ja kunniasta, Kivenkantaja, and Suden Uni, with “Kuolleiden maa” from the latest full-length, and an emphasis on the shorter side of songs (which, in their case, is not really short). With rare sunlight peaking from behind the gloomy clouds, Moonsorrow treated the crowd with an outstanding early evening show.
We were freezing to the bone last year, and this midsummer, well… the chances of getting soaked down to your underwear in a matter minutes (if you weren’t prepared) were unquestionably high, without even taking a dip in lake Nummijärvi. This fact naturally affected a lot of planned activities, such as seeing and especially shooting some bands, and we, among quite a lot of festival-goers, found ourselves relatively often lurking around the Relaamo-tent, which was a new addition to the festival area. Since the tiny Nummijärvi grocery store was closed this year, Relaamo offered a selection of everyday items, as well as home-cooked food and both hot and cold beverages. You could also just take a break on their sofas and charge your phone and other devices with your own charger, which we think was a brilliant thing to bring in. We hope this will continue in forthcoming years as well.
Speaking of planned activities, this year Nummirock offered some opportunities to catch a couple non-musical side events. We weren’t lucky enough to stop by Diablo serving “communion” (shots of booze, to be exact) from their Talbot in the camping area on Saturday, but we caught Whorion’s Promethean Flame Grill Event on the beach on Friday. At first it looked like the weather would threaten to ruin the BBQ, as people hesitated to leave their comfortable tents even with a promise of free food, but in a good fifteen minutes the sky cleared up enough to bring in company for the band. The nice lads had brought their own special chili sauce for the occasion, and served it with the grilled goods, so of course we had to try it with some bacon and sausage. The sauce turned out to have a treacherous kick, and even our photographer, Lene, who is a fan of strong chilies to certain extent, had a good laugh at how innocently mild the sauce had seemed before getting you for good. In short, it was an 111,000 Scoville ninja attack to taste buds, best served with a mischievous smirk.
Lene: “Due to the horrible weather, we were forced make the decision to skip a couple bands, but it couldn’t stop me from seeing Arion. I was curious to see if there’d be any improvement from the last time I saw them in January, and my, was there any! After seeming a bit out of place for the first three songs, the boys pulled off one of the best shows I saw at the whole festival in what might have been the worst rain we had there. I’m not kidding, the water was pouring down so bad that I was pretty scared for my camera. But it didn’t slow Arion down; in fact, I will go so far as to say that I’m actually sorry for those who weren’t there. It’s always great to see a young band developing, and seeing how they turned the situation (the weather and playing right after Moonsorrow) to their advantage, letting loose and having fun… it was heartwarming enough to forget my soaked shoes. And it’s a positive cycle: one of my favorite moments was watching a couple in raincoats waltzing in the mud during “You’re My Melody,” and the band cheering them on. All in all, those who braved the weather had a great time with Arion, and if there were any doubts on them getting better and better, at least the last traces of mine were left behind in the mud.”
The rain continued turning the festival area into a makeshift waterpark as Korpiklaani hit the Inferno stage, but that didn’t bother the audience, who were pretty rowdy from the start. Korpiklaani might not sound that amazing if you listen to the recorded songs (except that they do), but they will change your attitude once you see them live. And there was certainly some of that magical midsummer spirit in the air when the band played the Finnish classic cover of Hector’s song, “Juodaan viinaa” (Let’s Drink Booze) while people were singing and dancing along. Safe to say, this is a band who knows how to have a good time and entertain their audience.
The next band on the main stage was Arch Enemy, who were forced to bring in a new singer last year after Angela Gossow decided to step down from the position. Canadian Alissa White-Gluz was Gossow’s own choice for a replacement and if you ask us, she is doing a pretty damned good job. The crowd seemed to think so too, since Alissa was handed a present from some of the fans, who had painted a gorgeous picture of her on a silhouette of a guitar. The energetic and angry attitude, along with that perfect rawness proved that the band is as strong as ever and ready to destroy you. The Nummirock crowd definitely got the awesome gig they deserved, and there were plenty of new crushes!
Essi: “The last band to go on the main stage on Friday was Heaven Shall Burn. Though it might not have been my ultimate favorite of the whole festival, you’ve got to give the guys some credit. It takes real devotion from the audience to have a moshpit that lasts through the whole gig. Playing both older and newer songs equally, the band also pampered their devoted fans by playing “Endzeit,” which meant that it was time to form the good old wall of death. Safe to say, Heaven Shall Burn got a warm welcome in the cold midsummer night. My own personal experience was probably affected by the coldness and also the urge to get back to our camp as soon as possible, but sometimes you have to trust what you see around you; the rest of the people seemed to really enjoy themselves, which means the band didn’t suck.”
The second day of Nummirock was a wrap and definitely a great one! It was time to head back to the campsite and continue the evening with other activities.
We decided to start our lovely sunny Saturday with a traditional Nummirock activity, also known as the campsite safari. An important part of the whole Nummi experience is to walk around the camping area and see all the amazing communities people have built. It’s common that people have formed little tent villages covered with tarps, but some of the most enthusiastic festival goers end up digging trenches, bringing saunas (there was at least one of them this year) and otherwise making themselves as comfortable as possible.
As a tip for those who consider visiting Nummi someday, we’ll give you one of the most important festival rules: visiting other camps is all right as long as you know how to behave. Meaning, don’t fall on other people’s tents and don’t drink their alcohol without asking. We spent most of the time in our own camp and got a lot of nice visitors from near and far. As special as it might seem, in Nummirock it’s not a rare thing to have Batman honoring your camp with a visit. It’s also common to suddenly have two gentlemen wearing just shorts and rubber masks sitting in your camp and barely saying a word (because of the masks, obviously). But after the Finnish small talk they keep going on their journey. No time for too much chit-chat, right?
Finally it was time to head to the festival area to see the first main stage act of the day. Definitely one of the most amusing and high-spirited gigs for the whole festival was that of Steve’n’Seagulls. The band did a little tour around the campsite in the back of a tractor before their gig, giving the audience a little preview. The otherwise rainy festival saw some sunlight whilst Steve’n’Seagulls were giving their best with their bluegrass versions of well-known metal songs and making the crowd dance and jump. We even saw some mud bathing when a couple of gentlemen decided to take a quick frontal dip on a mud puddle, followed by several manly (and muddy) hugs between some festival guests. Talk about a real festival spirit!
Lene: “Continuing the sunny feel-good gigs, we took off to the Inferno stage to see Santa Cruz. It’s been two years in a row now that I missed them at South Park, and have taken back the damage in Nummi. This summer they had moved a step forward from the small Foster’s stage to the shore side, and that seemed to suit them quite well. Come to think of it, what could actually be a better place for them to play than a sunny beach? Be it the Pacific or lake Nummijärvi, it doesn’t really make a difference. But about the gig itself, if something is evident in Santa Cruz’s live performance, it’s the solid routine. It can be both a good and a bad thing; if you don’t see them too often, it’s easy to enjoy the show and let the repetitive elements pass. And on Nummi Saturday, it was exactly just that – a good quality afternoon slot, with a laid-back atmosphere and lots of things going on, but nothing out of the ordinary. Santa Cruz knows exactly how to take their audience, and with the weather on their side, it’s hard to not dig what’s going on there.”
Essi: “Amaranthe didn’t have the best of luck when arriving in Finland, since the airplane company had apparently lost some of the band’s equipment. Luckily, they were able to borrow the missing stuff from Testament, and so they rose to the stage on time to receive a warm welcome from the audience. Amaranthe has toured quite a lot in Finland lately and has a steady fan base. I am not one of their biggest fans, but one would have to be both blind and deaf not to give the band any credit. They have some lighter, catchy stuff (Carola-metal, as some say, referring to the Swedish singer Carola Häggkvist) and the three singers on stage do a great job together. And surprisingly, the stage did not even look that crowded; must be a nightmare on smaller stages though. All in all, it was worth checking this band out because of the good atmosphere the band and the audience created together. The gig made me think that maybe this band deserves another chance.”
Mokoma has established themselves as one of the most popular metal bands in Finland. The band released their 10th album Elävien kirjoihin earlier this year, and it proved that the old spark hasn’t gone anywhere. Nowadays they are almost a must in Nummirock: this time marked the 11th year in a row for them performing at this festival, and the crowd was not complaining. The front of the stage was packed with enthusiastic listeners well before the gig started and it was all-in from beginning to end. The gig was somewhat more special than usual, since the guitarist Tuomo Saikkonen turned 40 on that particular day. The outcome was that, once he was starting the riff for “Uhkakuva 6,” one by one the other band members came and, well, stuffed a creamy cake straight into his face. The outcome was obviously gorgeous. The band delivered the steady and strong festival gig one would expect from them. The songs played ranged from older material like “Pahaa verta” to the songs from the new album like “Lunnaat.” Also, there is nothing that screams “Mokoma’s summer festival” set more than “Hei hei heinäkuu.” Once again, one could really see how much both the band and the audience enjoyed it all. It was definitely one of our favorite gigs at Nummirock.
Essi: “The audience had a chance to enjoy a rather unique gig when Testament played through their first two albums, The Legacy (1987) and The New Order (1988). The band shows no signs of exhaustion despite their long career. Testament has promised new material to appear, most likely in 2016, but this midsummer gig was all about the oldies. There’s always a group of people who think that their favorite bands play too much new material instead of the old classics. Well, at least Testament heard them and gave them a night filled with classic thrash, which seemed to be much appreciated by the audience. I, myself, had seen Testament twice before and the third time did not really change my opinion about them. I’d say they are all right and easy to listen to live, but wouldn’t bother buying an album. Waiting for the first stone to hit anytime now!”
Even though the rain wasn’t on our side in this, we did manage to catch again a few of the smaller bands playing on the Foster’s stage, which was moved from beside the gates closer to the shore. It’s debatable whether this was a good move or not, but then again, the weather did play a key role in bringing in the crowd this year. Our pick for Thursday was the Oulu-based Mors Subita, whom Lene recalls listening to already nearly ten years ago, and who delivered a nice dose of melodic death-thrash to start our festival. With the weather treating us better on Saturday, we caught a glimpse of Shiraz Lane, who seem like a band to complete the new wave trio of hair metal in Finland (alongside Reckless Love and Santa Cruz), and who also won this year’s Wacken Metal Battle, Finnish edition. Congratulations from us as well! A while later we stumbled across Apina ending their set; we have to say, they are an interesting combination of metal and rap. It’s a bit like nu-metal, but not quite, and the Finnish lyrics are really, really quirky, yet evoking societal discussion. For Essi they were definitely a band that deserves a closer look. By the end of the evening, it was nice to catch up with some local grindcore goodness, Carnalation, who have returned with a new EP, and are doing an extensive tour during the summer and fall after a couple years of silence. The start of the tour at Nummirock was great to see, as the band clearly enjoyed getting back in business. We highly recommend giving the Ghosts EP a go, if the genre tickles your fancy!
Eluveitie is one of those bands for us that you think about getting to know better from time to time but never quite reach that point. Whatever reasons there were for not listening to this Swiss band more vanished during their rather mind-blowing performance. At least Essi had her doubts, since seeing eight people on stage at the same time all doing something different can only be either the best thing ever or utter disaster. Luckily, as it turned out, it was the former. Combining old traditional instruments with electric guitars and vocals sung both in English and Gaulish (and in Swiss German for “Call of the Mountain,” after asking the crowd to decide which language they’d like to hear it in) definitely makes Eluveitie an interesting and distinguishable band compared to other folk-influenced metal bands. The slot probably couldn’t have been better, since late Saturday night by the lake made the perfect mise-en-scéne for this band. And if you ever think about going to a pit, but doubt the traditional moshpit would be a good place to start, try out Eluveitie’s line-dance circle pit! We guarantee a great time!
Lene: “It feels like this was a theme year in Nummirock for me in seeing bands I had waited to see for a good while. For the last band, I wasn’t the only one: after more than a four-year break in touring, Diablo had returned to the stages a couple days earlier and took over the main stage in the dimming light. It’s not too often I’ve gotten to see a crowd buzzing with that level of excitement over a domestic band, but the atmosphere a few minutes before show time was exhilarating. The show itself was all their fans could have wished for, though not without some technical hiccups during the first half. For lack of a better word, I’d describe it as Diablo-y; instead of flamethrowers and such, they had a couple “jätkänkynttilä”, burning logs that are cut in certain way to make it burn better, and a priest to give speeches. Judging by the two new songs, “Isolation” and “The Call,” the upcoming album will be something to look forward to, but aside from this treat, the old hits served their purpose just as well. The set starter, “Symbol of Eternity,” as well as “Trail of Kings,” “Mimic47,” and the encore comprised of “Icaros,” “The Preacher,” and especially “Into the Sea” as a cherry on the cake were a joy to hear after such a long time, and the feeling between the band and the crowd remained warm and excited for the whole show. That radiated through from Rainer Nygård’s speeches, as he seemed to be rather moved to be there. I assure you, we were as well.
And as it always is, after three days of great bands, gigs, friends, and midsummer partying, the curtain closed on Sunday, declaring the festival to be finished. Well, for most of us at least – there’s always that someone who hasn’t gone to sleep at all and is definitely not in a hurry to leave the campsite. We, on the other hand, collected our belongings and left Nummijärvi behind, ready to face the post-Nummirock depression. But what was left to remember from this year? Besides the rain, this Nummirock offered us an outstanding selection of bands and shows even on their solid scale, and showed us it’s still capable of evolving and bringing in new things for the overall experience. We’re excited to see how they are going to top this year, and wish for a better weather when we return!
Text: Essi Nummi, Lene L. | Photos: Lene L.