Last year, Tuska Live decided to arrange a pre-party before the actual festival, and in 2017, they decided to keep on with the tradition. This year, on Thursday June 29th, 2017, the day before the festival, Tavastia welcomed Finnish bands Psychework and Arion, and Japanese Man with a Mission to get the audience ready for the next 3 days at Tuska Open Air.
Unfortunately I wouldn’t be able to attend the festival itself this year, so I was more than happy to hear that Heatseeker was arranged again, and that it had interesting bands performing.
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As the doors opened, I could soon tell which of the bands had the most fans present: wherever I turned my head I’d see at least one person with a Man with a Mission shirt on them. This time around I had done my homework and listened to the band’s material beforehand, so I knew what the fuss was all about. But what I eventually experienced – well, let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
The evening’s first act on stage was Psychework, a metal band founded by Antony Parviainen and J-V Hintikka in 2012. The band’s whole existence is quite an impressive story, since the inspiration behind the band and it’s music was Parviainen’s ordeal facing leukemia. The inspiration can be heard in Psychework’s debut album, The Dragon’s Year (2016). Thus, I was thrilled to hear what the songs would sound like live.
Psychework had a 30 minute slot, which meant that they had time to play a mere five songs. Luckily, they were good ones. The set started with the slower “Tear of the Phoenix”, which was my favorite song from their album. After that, the band picked up the speed with “Tide”, “Bullet With My Name”, and “Hand on Heart” – the latter of which was the favorite live track from this set of at least a few in our party.
As the set ended with the title track, “The Dragon’s Year”, at least two things were certain. First, Parviainen has an amazing voice and style of performing. Second, hearing these songs live made me reconsider my first impression of Psychework. Based on just listening to the album, I hadn’t been that convinced by the music. The album was alright, but I felt it was missing something. During Psychework’s gig, it turned out the thing the songs were missing was the live factor. The songs had so much more depth and strength when performed live. Needless to say, I’m very eager to see Psychework again in the future.
1. Tear of the Phoenix
3. Bullet With My Name
4. Hand on Heart
5. The Dragon’s Year
Next up on stage was Arion, whose newest single, “Unforgivable”, was released last year – which at this point starts to feel like it was ages ago. Luckily the band has published some updates on their social media about the progress of the recordings of their second album. Hopefully we’ll about a release date in the near future.
So, material from Last of Us was to be expected – and maybe in a way it was great to witness what was probably one of the last gigs before the band would really start playing their newer songs (once the new album is out, of course). And the songs from their debut are in no way bad, so I was ready to bare with my thirst for newer material and enjoy the evening. As well, a few of us have only seen these guys at Virgin Oil Co. with Dark Sarah in February and Entwine in last year’s May, both of which were sadly disappointing because of VOC’s notoriously bad sound, and thus, the excitement to see these guys in a good venue was palpable.
Arion started their set with “Out of the Ashes” and “I am the Storm”, which gave the gig a nice kickstart. It was also great to note that the little traits of stiffness and nervousness had disappeared, and the band looked relaxed and comfortable on stage.
As I stated in the beginning, there was no doubt about why the majority of the audience was at Tavastia that night – meaning that like Psychework, Arion had to make a real effort to get proper reactions from the crowd, but they handled it with relative comfort and ease, and Iivo Kaipainen did his utmost to impress us with his fantastic shredding on the guitar.
After playing older material like “You’re My Melody” and staff favorite “Last of Us”, Arion ended their set with the new singles “At the Break of Dawn” and the aforementioned “Unforgivable.” I’ve probably said this before, and I will say it again: I really, really hope I get to hear “At the Break of Dawn” live with Elize Ryd. Until then, I’ll settle for the playback.
1. Out of the Ashes
2. I Am the Storm
5. You’re My Melody
6. Last of Us
7. At the Break of Dawn
Before getting familiar with Man with a Mission, my knowledge of Japanese music was mainly limited to whatever song was playing as the opening theme in Naruto. After looking up Man with a Mission from Spotify and listening to their EP, Dead End in Tokyo, I got fond of them, and quickly.
As the band wearing (fake) wolf heads came on stage, Tavastia was packed. Once Man with a Mission begun their set with “Evils Fall” and “When My Devil Rises”, the party was immediately on. Man with a Mission had performed last year in Kattilahalli at Tuska, so they already knew how to get the festival crowd going.
These guys are an interesting mix of rock, rap, and electronic music – and probably have traits of other genres as well. Bear called them “The Offspring meets Beastie Boys.” Whatever their genre is, all I can say is that for me, the mix works. In the beginning of the gig I was like any observer – just checking out the band on stage and the crowd around me, and smiling when I saw everyone having fun and from time to time raising their hands and making their hands look like claws (you know, like wolves… or something). But as songs like “Give it Away”, “Raise Your Flag”, and “Seven Deadly Sins” came, I found my self dancing along with the rest of the crowd. Still got some way to go before I’m ready to show my claws though.
Instead of just playing their own songs, Man with a Mission had a couple of aces up their sleeves. Around the middle of their set, the band left the stage and on the screen at the back of the stage, a film started rolling. The film told the band’s story – drawn in anime style, of course. It is hard to describe the video, but let’s just say that Jimi Hendrix and being frozen in Antarctica played a big part of it.
In addition to having a short movie about how Man with a Mission came to be, they also played Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit.” Performing cover songs when you’ve got plenty of your own material always feels a bit odd, but in some cases, like this, it was a nice addition to the gig.
As the gig ended with encore songs “Dog Days” and “Emotions”, I couldn’t help but feel awe for what I had just experienced. Even though I’ve seen several good, even amazing gigs in my life, it is rare for me to be this surprised by a new acquaintance. And even though Psychework and Arion had delivered solid gigs earlier on that evening, nothing compared to the headliner. I left Tavastia with a happy grin on my face and Man with a Mission’s tunes playing in my head. Now all that’s left is to practice my claw-moves so that I’ll be ready for the next time Man with a Mission comes back to Finland.
1. Evils Fall
2. When My Devil Rises
3. Take What U Want
5. Give it Away
6. Dead End in Tokyo
7. Get Off of My Way
8. Smells Like Teen Spirit (Nirvana cover)
9. Raise Your Flag
10. Seven Deadly Sins
11. Fly Again
12. Dog Days
Text: Essi Nummi, Bear W. | Photos: Lene L.