Kuopiorock Festival, Kuopio Finland – July 25-27 2019

In the middle of June I was writing about the new summer festival in Kuopio, called Rock in the City, which was mostly orientated on Finnish rock and heavy rock/metal. And in the end of July was the turn of the biggest festival in the area, Kuopiorock. This year was the 17th time it was arranged. Since the beginning, this festival had a bit odd name, Kuopio Rockcock, but this year they dropped the cock off…

Well, Kuopiorock has nowadays lots of bands and artists who can’t be called “rock” even with the widest imagination, but sure there is rock and metal too, and almost every year there has been some big hard rock or metal act as a headliner, for example Helloween, Megadeth, Whitesnake, Scorpions, Accept, W.A.S.P., Sepultura… This year the biggest name on metal genre was Sabaton.

The gods of weather were almost too generous this weekend, temperatures rising to over +30 Celsius degrees and sun roasting us all 3 days without any mercy, making skins burn and the endless sweating of 32.000 people probably turned the surrounding lake Kallavesi temporarily into a sea. Fortunately some shadows were to be found inside the beautiful Väinölänniemi Bay park area where the festival is located, just a walking distance from the Kuopio center. Also a nice swimming beach was in use inside the festival area.

So, how about the music? Again a mixture of rock, metal, pop, something old, something new… but fortunately not rap this time! So a wide mixture of music styles, something to everyone, and it seems to work since the festival was sold out and breaking the all time audience record.

Thursday, July 25th

The festival was opened by our local hard rockers Block Buster (est. 2009), who we unfortunately missed, but I must recommend them to anyone who likes a good traditional hard rock in style of AC/DC and such, but not limited to just one style, they have courage and skills to go outside the box and experiment with more modern elements and styles too. They always kick ass so much on stage, and their looong awaited debut album is finally coming out in September, be sure to check it out!

So, the first band we actually saw, was Viikate (est. 1996). They have a quite original style and sound, very very Finnish, mixing old 50’s and 60’s kind of “rautalanka” guitar music style with heavy metal sound, a mixture of old and new, and their outfit and looks are always so stylish in an old fashioned cool way. And even their music and lyrics are kinda melancholic, their performance never lacks good mood and humour. Very enjoyable show as always!

For Viikate we were first time entering the hell of Kuopiorock main stage 1, which was located in the sport stadium, and getting all of that shining from cloudless sky… and this day was the least hot, “just” some +27 degrees, which in Finland already means something like a national red alert or so… and more was still to come…

After Viikate we had a bit of free time to check out the area, there was 2 main stages on the stadium, and one smaller stage in the park area. And between them there is the “shopping street” with lots of options for eating and buying all kinds of cool stuff and band merchandise. And on the beach there is still a DJ playing party music nonstop, and also there was some beach volley tournaments between artist teams during the weekend.

On festivals it sometimes happens, that some of your favourite bands are playing the same time on different stages. This year the biggest fail of this kind happened, when Lazy Bonez and Beast In Black played on same time. BIB had a half stadium of people, and LB got just a handful of loyal fans on the park stage. This was a big pity for Lazy Bonez, who for sure would have deserved a better slot.

Well anyway, on this point we split our ways, I checked just the first song of Beast In Black (est. 2015) and then ran to see the Lazy Bonez. I saw BIB couple of times during the year, and they are always great. Good mood catchy heavy metal with some 80´s vibes and excellent playing, singing and performing. And what I heard from our photographer Marci and other people, they sure didn´t fail this time too.

On the much cooler (weatherwise) park stage our good fellas of Lazy Bonez (est. 2012) started their show. Their style is something like heavy metal with some AOR influences, very good stuff indeed. Band played and performed with full power, and didn’t seem to care about the lack of audience. Well of course they were disappointed, but seemed to enjoy anyway. One of the best gigs on the festival for sure.

Next band on the schedule was Turmion Kätilöt (est. 2003). They have played on every Kuopiorock except the first one, so this was their 16th time in a row. These Kuopio Rammsteins know to put up a good show and their industrial-influenced disco-metal with catchy tunes makes people to party like there would be no tomorrow. Some cool pyro gun was used on the show, but otherwise they didnt have much other effects except the music and those crazy guys. In the halfway of the show they called to stage a former NHL hockey star Kimmo Timonen, who had the honour to share to the band gold records for their debut album “Hoitovirhe”. Quite cool, after 15 years!

Thursday´s headliner was the well-oiled war machine from our lovehated neighbor country, one of the Sweden´s finest, the mighty Sabaton (est. 1999). For me they were the main thing of all the festival. From the very beginning of the show, they took the audience totally, with their energetic performance and great music of course. They just got new album out a week before, “The Great War”, and they played a few songs from that too of course, and we even got one live premiere, when the song “82nd All The Way” was performed live first time ever. The show was as explosive as expected, with lots of pyros and bombs, and the led screen on the back had cool visuals supporting the show. Even their songs are about the war, the music and performance made a good mood, and still making me smile, days after the show. What a great ending for the first day of Kuopiorock 2019.

Friday, July 26th

If Thursday was sunny and hot, Friday was still hotter. For us the first interesting act was Stam1na (est. 1996), those hurricanes from Lemi, a small town of 3000 inhabitants that won The World Capital of Metal contest last year, having the biggest amount of metal bands per capita, at least in Finland. Even their music is very heavy and fast, and for sure not from the simplest end of metal styles, they have gained a large popularity, even among the people who you wouldn’t even expect to like metal at all. I never listened them voluntarily, but saw them live a few times, and they always throw a great show with lots of energy and synced moshing etc. And that was the case in Kuopiorock too, even the weather was so hot, they just poured water on their heads and continued with full force.

After Stam1na we had some free time without interesting bands, so we went to cool ourselves on the beach, where was some shadows and grass to lay on. The festival had lots of water points where people could go and fill their bottles, quite a necessary thing on that heat.

And on with the show. On the park stage started Leverage (est. 2002). They have returned from a long break with a bit changed line-up, having new vocalist and lead guitarist. Their music is quite traditional heavy metal with some symphonic and power metal influences. I must say, I didn’t much like their new singer Kimmo Blom before, when he was singing on Raskasta Joulua (Heavy Xmas) albums and concerts. But now, with Leverage, damn he sounded great. And his performance had sure got some influences from his acting as Freddie Mercury in Queen musicals for years. And when the rest of the band played well and seemingly enjoyed it, there was nothing to complain about, great gig indeed.

Next one on the list was an all-female rock group Barbe-Q-Barbies (est. 2002). I didn’t know much about them before, but damn these ladies rocked hard and well! Their music is something like basic rock with maybe some little punk influences, and catchy goodie-moodie songs. They have been around already quite a long time, and played gigs abroad too, and that experience could be seen and heard. Playing, singing and performing was great, they were having fun, and so was the audience. One of the nice surprises of the festival for sure.

The rest of the Friday program was mostly old-school “Suomirock”, and the day’s headliner was Apulanta (est. 1991), those always-so-popular punk rockers, whose music also has some metal influences, and they have lots of well known hits under their belts. They have usually some massive stage setups, but this year it was a bit more modest, not even pyros or some huge constructions like for example last year. Also must mention that the lights were a terrible pain in the ass, at least for photographing. Otherwise, as good gig as they usually have, and the audience liked them of course.

Saturday, July 27th

Did I mention already, that the weather on Kuopiorock was hot? Well, if Thursday was hot, and Friday was damn hot, then Saturday was… fucking hot. Temperature was rising up to some 32 Celsius degrees, and there were not much clouds or breezes of wind to ease the heat. But, still better this way, than for example cloudy and rainy or snowing or something. In Finnish summer anything is possible.

Our first gig on Saturday was local metal act Marras (est. 2013). They gave an energetic gig for the audience of park stage with their tight thrashy metal set. We were a bit late from the start, so didn’t see their full show, but sure enough to tell that these guys kicked ass, and they sure deserve to become more known in the future.

Next band for us was the Hellsinki Vampires, The 69 Eyes (est. 1989). Their dark gothic style maybe suffered a bit of the early slot on bright daylight, but they gave a great rock show anyway, and somehow the singer Jyrki 69 even survived the heat with the leather jacket on. They played and performed very well, like could be expected from a band with 30 years of experience and touring around the world.

After the vampires we still had a bit time to check some quite legendary stuff. On the park stage played the hardcore punk veterans Rattus (est. 1978). They are well known among the punk community around the world, and stories tell that for example bands like Sepultura and even Metallica have named Rattus as one of their influences. And even though I don’t know much about punk music, the gig was as raw and brutal punk as it sure should be.

Next band on the park stage was local elektro-metal-rockers Black Light Discipline (est. 2005). I have seen them before, years and years ago, but didn’t remember much about it, so didn’t have much expectations from this gig. So the surprise was positive, when they gave us a very enjoyable show with high quality playing and singing and great tunes.

And again back to the stadium, where we witnessed the end part of the show of Ville Valo & The Agents. Well, this combo is nothing like metal at all, but sure Mr. Valo is a quite known person on the metal community. This time he was singing finnish schlager kind of stuff with the band The Agents, whose style is something like 50’s or 60’s “rautalanka” music and rock’n’roll. A bit weird combination, but Ville sure handles this kind of style well too. And the last song of their show was a HIM song “When Love And Death Embrace”, not bad with this style too.

Then a little bee… I mean, water break on the nice park stage area before the next band. They are called Los Bastardos Finlandeses (est. 2005), and I would say they are a bit like Motörhead of Finland, since the vocalist Bryn Jones aka El Taff Bastardo has a bit similar raspy sound as Lemmy, and the legendary drummer Twist Twist Erkinharju aka El Bastardo Grande still beats the shit out of his drumkit like Philthy Animal Taylor did back in the day. These guys know how to do some decent old school rock and have fun on stage.

That was another great gig on the small park stage, and the last one on this year’s festival.. During the festival there played many great bands that would have deserved bigger stage and audience, but not all bands can be fitted on the main stages of course. Better on small stage than not on the festival at all.

So, the last 2 bands would be seen on the main stages on stadium. Last band that could be counted as nordic metal, was a group or project that was on the festival program called Raskasta Suomipoppia (Heavy Finnpop), but on their album and other gigs they are called Raskasta Iskelmää (Heavy Schlager). A bit confusing. Well the main group is the same like on those megapopular Raskasta Joulua (Heavy Xmas) albums and concerts, but this year they wanted to do something in summer too. So they took a bunch of old Finnish “schlager” hits, mostly from 70’s and 80’s, and arranged them to a metal form. On the album I somehow didn’t get into it so much, but on a live situation with a massive pyro show, it worked very well. Like on those xmas tours, also on this summer tour there are different singers on different shows, and on this show we had Tommi ‘Tuple’ Salmela, JP Leppäluoto and Antony Parviainen, great singers all of them. Great performances from the vocalists and the players too, one of the best shows of the festival for sure.

Still there was one band left, the main headliner of the festival was The Offspring, those multi-million-selling pop-punks from USA, so they are not so much in the interests of Nordic Metal. Well, we checked the most of their show anyway, nothing special there, a group of middle-aged guys playing light punk rock. Some of their hits were familiar, and the rest of the songs were easily forgotten immediately. But the audience seemed to like them a lot, so probably they were a good choice as a headliner.

So that’s it, Kuopiorock 2019 was survived without skin burning or dehydrating or heatstrokes. The festival is organized well, with 17 years of experience, and growing a bit year by year. Maybe they must soon start to search some bigger area for the fest, but so far the beautiful Väinölänniemi bay park area with sport stadium for main stages serves the purpose perfectly. Will see what they have next year, hopefully some great nordic metal, or well, any great metal.

All photos above and below by Marci Novotna

Viikate at Kuopiorock 2019
Beast In Black at Kuopiorock 2019
Lazy Bonez at Kuopiorock 2019
Turmion Kätilöt at Kuopiorock 2019
Sabaton at Kuopiorock 2019
Stam1na at Kuopiorock 2019
Leverage at Kuopiorock 2019
Barbe-Q-Barbies at Kuopiorock 2019
Apulanta at Kuopiorock 2019
Marras at Kuopiorock 2019
The 69 Eyes at Kuopiorock 2019
Rattus at Kuopiorock 2019
Black Light Discipline at Kuopiorock 2019
Los Bastardos Finlandeses at Kuopiorock 2019
Raskasta Suomipoppia/Iskelmää at Kuopiorock 2019