Lutakko Liekeissä Festival – Tanssisali Lutakko, Jyväskylä – August 31, 2013
Despite being arranged already for the 8th time, our paths hadn’t led us to Lutakko Liekeissä before, probably because of the roster’s heavy emphasis on the punky and alternative side of things, as well as its relative remoteness for us southern slackers. However, this year the festival caught our eye with the combination of two of my long-time favorites, Xysma and Rytmihäiriö, accompanied with a couple of other interesting metal and punk acts. Taking place at J-town’s most prominent rock venue Lutakko, with one stage inside and another one on the yard, the event packed sixteen acts into one day, starting in the early afternoon and finishing after midnight. There was no age limit to enjoy the music, but each stage had an area sanctioned for alcohol consumption in its proximity, providing a decent view.
Luckily we weren’t the only people heading to the fest from Helsinki, and were able to hitch a ride from a friendly couple whom we had already shared some good times with in Croatia in June. Ridiculously enough, traveling on the rails using VR’s services would’ve cost well over 150 euronymouses for two (even with one of us being entitled to the student discount), which is actually more than we usually pay for flying to Jalometalli! Although we arrived at our destination well before the first chords, the service at the newly opened Classic American Diner – that we naturally just had to check out for lunch – was so slow that we ended up missing even the second band Baltimor. I would’ve loved to kick off the day with their rough and groovy heavy metal rock’n’roll, but fortunately these guys are a pretty common sight in the capital area, and damn, those cheese fries were pretty good [but ask for extra cheese, yo!].
Black Lizard’s indie rock didn’t do anything for me, so Neuroottiset Pelimannit on the inside stage were the first proper musical stop of the day. This curiously named trio hasn’t apparently shown too many signs of activity in recent years, but played a tight and sharp set of hardcore punk, adding refreshingly crooked touches to the traditional Finnish sound. The guitarist and the bassist took turns spitting out words with impressive speed and intensity, with especially the latter displaying a convincing amount of attitude in his performance.
Lacking even a half-decent punk rock education, I don’t remember having heard of TV Smith or his late 70’s band The Adverts before, but found this almost 60-year old veteran’s acoustic solo set on the outside stage actually very enjoyable. The man was a charming and jovial figure, and his charismatic, rugged voice and striking vocal melodies made songs like “Expensive Being Poor” and “Lion and the Lamb” memorable and touching. Another seasoned punk horse and his younger bandmates continued on the inside stage with something a tad more aggressive, as Tornio’s Terveet Kädet were next in the marching order. The band’s recent recordings have exhibited the kind of ferocity that one would hope from Finland’s pioneering hardcore punk band, but that few would hardly expect after more than 30 years since their inception. The quartet’s performance at Lutakko Liekeissä breathed this same northern insanity in its most furious form, expressed in hectic outbursts lasting averagely one minute, and ranging from early 80’s classics to the previous year’s Musta hetki. Ugh!
The next couple of bands allowed us to take a breath, as there wasn’t much to get either of us worked up until the quite long-running punk rockers Wasted were taking over the outdoor stage. Although I’ve been aware of their doings for years already, it wasn’t until their previous full-length Outsider by Choice that I started fully appreciating their tunes that so catchily balance between smooth melody and street-tasting roughness [straight outta Joensuu, mofo]. If the gap between the last two albums was overly long, it seems like the band has their irons properly hot now, as they were already introducing some songs off of their upcoming effort. There wasn’t that much of a crowd actively watching or visibly digging their set, but at least it was the one I had gotten into the most by that point.
Xysma’s slot, being the most anticipated highlight of the day for me, was surrounded by horror punk-billy or something of the like that I’d hardly heard of, courtesy of Finland’s Flesh Roxon and Canada’s The Brains. These guys might’ve had an interesting stage appearance, but Naantali’s underrated masters of death ‘n’ roll massively stole the whole weekend, filling my being with stirring shivers and groovy vibes. Xysma’s Tavastia show about a month earlier pulled a slightly longer straw, but this one was a stunning continuation of the same all-encompassing energy, from the cool slickness of Lotto’s number one rockers to Deluxe’s harsher mid-tempo headbangers, and back to the jaw-dropping perfection of First & Magical’s “Uranus Falls Again.” The sheer friggin’ boogie that the whole band emitted was so impressive that anybody questioning the relevance of their momentary(?) return might as well be butt-blasted out of this world to meet the gods of space.
Due to the cancellation of Laineen Kasperi & Palava Kaupunki, local newcomers A Phantom Pack of Black Hounds had been promoted to take their spot, and the nightly setting surely did them more justice than playing as the opening act would’ve. Their hardcore-tinged entombedian death metal packed a powerful punch, and was performed way more convincingly on their home turf than in Helsinki about a year before. Black Motor Hannibal offered something entirely different on the inside stage, being a collaboration of free jazz trio Black Motor and Lapland rapper Hannibal, mostly known to me, at least, as one of the rhyme masters of rollofunkists Tulenkantajat. They sure made for an unusual and interesting combination together, which I’d gladly take another look at in a less hectic setting.
Rytmihäiriö were playing the last gig of their Finnish summer festival tour, and celebrated that by shooting Gambina over the audience with a Super Soaker. This move wasn’t quite as gloriously prominent as one might’ve expected, but still added an extra vermouth flavor to their immensely enjoyable set. However, truly glorious was the fact that for the first time I had ever seen, the bar was selling Gambina, upon the surmacore ambassadors’ special request. The ruby red wonder was a hell of a lot more expensive per liter than it would’ve been from Alko [equaling to 56,25 € per 0,75 l bottle – outside of an average spurgu budget, perhaps?], but having small doses of G every now and then sure provided a nice extra boost of alcohol into our veins.
Local thrash heroes Lost Society were closing the night at Lutakko, blazing with youthful spirit and all-over-the-place energy in front of a particularly favorable hometown audience. No matter how strongly they were pulling it off once again, the evening’s top dogs – and some of my very favorite bands ever – Xysma and Rytmihäiriö had already claimed the trophies of the day in my beer-soaked books. As we were suddenly offered a chance to get back to Helsinki the same night in charming company, the opportunity to be able to wake up at home the next morning sounded too tempting to turn down, and so our short excursion to J-town concluded earlier than originally expected.
Despite feeling a bit out of place in the midst of the more indie-oriented crowd at times, overall we had a blast visiting this comfy little festival that didn’t conform to our metal-as-fuck standard, while still containing a decent dose of the kind. I actually found the musical diversity of the line-up refreshing, reminding me of Lohja’s late Tuntuma, and enjoyed being able to see various kinds of underground acts playing alongside each other. I can’t exactly see Lutakko Liekeissä becoming a household event for us, but if the stars and bands are as right next year, count us in.
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