As the summer approaches and we begin looking forward to various outdoorsy music festivals, the first official place to be Jyrock hosted its 25th annual event. Despite the build up, the party was no freakier than usual. The program featured vastly different performances, from different genres, much like previous years. The line-up consisted of guests from abroad, the more accustomed cult-performers, smaller artists, as well as some of the more hyped-up artists of this year – this year on three stages, in stead of the previous two.
Despite the three stages, not one of them functioned without fault. Depending on the distance to the stage, the acoustics ranged from excellent to a slush like cacophony. Restaurant Ilokivi must have had an impact, among other dubious arrangements. The audience was generally at a distance, at all the shows, and it seemed impossible to gain access to the best spots – right next to the stage – as the crowd was packed in mid-way. A couple years back they had the stages in a different arrangement on the top floor, which worked better in my opinion.
Even as the arrangements had their faults, one could not complain about the performances. Although Jyrock has featured some more vivid line-ups, there was not one dull act among this years performers either. There were surprises. Almost all bands sounded better than what I had anticipated and heard from their MySpace pages. An example, G-ODD that has already been booked to Ilosaari and Provinssirock, some of the biggest outdoor festivals of the summer, turned out to be anything than I had expected. In stead of the expected psychedelic sounds, they performed with a much more electric set, which was nothing to be ashamed of!
As is the case in way too many festivals, two of the most interesting performers on Friday were scheduled at the same time. Upstairs featured Shine 2009 (Mikko Pykäri from Regina etc.). In front of the stage, the sounds were all over the place and it was hard to make anything of the performance and at the back, you could hear the house-influenced electro pop from the outdoor stage. Confused. Me.
Downstairs got it right though. Mintzkov from Belgium sounded like a band that the Finnish radio would love, Finnish hockey narrators would love and finally, half of Finland would love. The band reminded me of many different artists, but nothing too clear and obvious. The coarse vocals accompanied by the rest of the crew, gave me the image of Placebo on stage, that were dining with Ash, yet had stolen their attitude from Nirvana. The grunge vibe was not even limited to the plaid shirts. The songs were packed with a punch, some even direct hit material, although I would probably have enjoyed the band more in my teens, due to the prominent somber tones.
Hottest act on Saturday was as well a guest from abroad. It’s fair to say that domestic acts put on quite a show before that too. Kiki Paus stage charisma had clearly developed and the toned down performance was among the best I had seen by that band, even as the acoustics dampened the performance notably. TV OFF suffered from similar problems, but their performance seemed to suffer even more due to the problems, which leads me to conclude that they’ve had better shows. Alpo & Tomi were among the best of the weekend. The stage presence was something from a show by Jesse, but the “true to their roots” sounds and Justice influences worked their magic. Based on the two shows I’ve seen by this duo, they are among the best Finnish electro bands and one can only hope they squeeze that record out soon.
It was close that Alpo & Tomi didn’t come out the winners of the best performance of the whole weekend, but still to come was Swedes Bye Bye Bycicle, that actually was sort of a flop for me, even as they were best of the night. On the stage upstairs, the five Swedes jammed on stage and the singer was so tall, that I think he even raised the roof with his head, quite literally, a couple of times. Bye Bye Bycicle has a debut album full of sincerely great indiepop tracks, that went a long way to a great show, even as the stage presence was rather controlled. The live performance did not bring any real added value to the tracks, at least not the way the other performers managed to create it.
All in all, as a whole, the 25th annual Jyrock was just the way one could have imagined it. The stage by the terrace was a nice addition, but the problems encountered already last year, were still problems. Still this adorable little festival in the middle of Finland will lure me out next year, as long as they manage to attract fresh and interesting names as they have so far.