As Turku’s imaginative Ilmiö Festival returns this weekend, Joel Kupiainen’s Sonic Debris recommends some of the choicest live activities at this year’s happening.
Ah, the pop music festival! The yearly ritual for millennials pretending to be music fans while the most generic, overrated (not to mention overpriced) and boring artists play the main stage. Crappy sound courtesy of sound engineers who make otherwise amazing bands sound like the shittiest home demo tape imaginable, overpriced catering and what the hell is up with this new culture of “sideshows”? I’m going to a goddamned music festival, not a freak show pretending not to be one.
To be blunt, the average modern pop festival is the biggest indicator of the fact that while people abroad may believe Finland to be this haven for alternative music, the sad truth is that the local audience’s poor taste in music comes second only to the Germans and that’s saying a lot.
the sad truth is that the local audience’s poor taste in music comes second only to the Germans and that’s saying a lot
Luckily there’s a bunch of weirdos in Turku who feel that organising a proper music festival is still a worthwhile thing to do. While Ilmiö’s successor H2Ö, organised in 2014-2016, proved to be too big, the comeback of Ilmiö is greatly appreciated. Here we have a line-up for the discerning music fan, and while the running joke is inevitably the recurring appearances onstage of certain musicians based in the west of Finland, in terms of quality I’ve never been disappointed by either H2Ö or Ilmiö. They even get the sound thing right, which really isn’t something to be taken for granted.
Luckily there’s a bunch of weirdos in Turku who feel that organising a proper music festival is still a worthwhile thing to do
Ilmiö once again sports a varied line-up of the local underground and some very interesting bookings from abroad. Planning the day will inevitably be a tough task for any attendee due to the sheer mass of interesting artists booked, but if you’re open to suggestions here’s a list of Sonic Debris-approved artists from this years line-up. Bear in mind that this list reflects the tastes of Sonic Debris exclusively and if you’re into something else, you do have your own taste to follow and your own brain to do the research. I’m sure Ilmiö will provide you with more than enough ear candy for one day.
A. Takalo & Takavalot
The Kouvula-based A. Takalo & Takavalot are one of the finest purveyors of Finnish-sung indie pop and a damned fine band of musicians at that.
Hawaiian fingerstyle guitar, looped and layered? Yes please!
Antti Tolvi, the Kemiö-based multi-instrumentalist and restless collaborator of Rauhan Orkesteri-fame throws in his mitts with Synth-guru Jari Suominen of Shogun Kunitoki and Jarse. The audience is promised “electronic arpeggiations”. Say no more.
Those of us that grew up with 90’s indie rock are almost spoiled rotten with two awesome acts from abroad: First off are the wonderfully minimalist duo Gurr from Berlin. Some finns talk about the art of “summarising” rock music. Gurr is one of those bands that fit the description.
Raisa Marjamäki & Taco Bells
According to my contacts in the local word of literature and poetry, Raisa Marjamäki might be one of the most unique voices in Finnish poetry today. Her spare verse left me impressed as well. Taco Bells are one of the many amazing lineups in the constellation of Finnish Free Jazz. I can only imagine what these two creative forces will come up with together onstage.
Rome is not a Town (SWE)
“Noise Rock from Sweden” could sound like a bunch of sweaty guys doing their best AmRep-impersonations. Instead we get the most ferocious grungy mess of loud guitars à la Dirty-era Sonic Youth this side of the 90’s. Rome is not a Town’s latest album “It’s a Dare” might be the best thing released in this category for quite a while. Even Uncle Thurston likes it. If you wear the Goo-shirt and think you can just pass this show, you probably bought the shirt just to look cool in front of those kids that you hate but secretly admire.
Lyrics about a generic restaurant chain played to the baddest-ass Hard Rock imaginable. It’s either unimaginably clever political satire or the dumbest joke ever. It’s probably both. This trio bulldozes over every hard rock wannabe who spends more time in front of the mirror than actually listening to music. Here be vultures. And a salad buffet.
Sonic Debris logo by Kaarlo Stauffer