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A man resembling a corpse emerges from behind the curtain. He’s wearing a red suit with black stripes, he walks towards me, swaying a cane that could probably hit me in the face from where I am standing. In Tuska, I feel like I am living the Alice Cooper mantra for his new band members: “You’re gonna see the world. You’re gonna get paid, and you’re gonna get stitches!”
Indeed, visiting Tuska metal festival in Helsinki’s Suvilahti for three days is like visiting abroad: I saw Swedes, Brits, Germans, and got acquainted with lovely Swiss ladies visiting the festival for the fourth time. When we sat in the “Biergarden,” sipping beer under the lime trees where the scent of fried burgers hung in the air, they introduced me to their “Tuska family,” which has been growing after each visit to the festival.
Behind us, a man with long braided hair emptied his beer can with one gulp, stripped down bare naked, and plunged into an army tent turned into a sauna.
Certainly, seeing artists like Alice Cooper, 67, perform – the godfather of shock rock, whose career spans five decades – is thrilling but part of the fun is in meeting new people. The unifying shirt colour is black, the loveliest face could be on a screen saver but the introduction is most likely warm.
One of the great discoveries was At The Hollow, a Helsinki based trio with a unique, hypnotic sound. The vocalist Kalle Koo plays baritone guitar with a low pitch, Juho Martikainen is sitting behind a big white contrabass, and the drummer Risto Järvelin plays various percussion instruments.
They performed inside Kattilahalli, a club stage, the only stage set indoors, and the venue was perfect for them.
Under the moody lights, they took you on a trip to the never-never land, with songs like Was It Worth It and after half an hour you walked out in a trance-like state.
Me and the Swiss girls walked out just when The Sirens, a Dutch, female trio, were going for their first tunes. They sing melodic heavy metal, with voices resembling Nighwish’s Tarja Turunen or Floor Jansen, singing in harmony like the metal version of Destiny’s Child, but if compared with the sound of Nightwish, the latter sounds closer to Pantera.
Opeth from Sweden was another interesting find with extremely skilful playing, as their progressive metal flirted with blues and jazz.
All in all, Tuska 2015, gathered an audience of about 25,000, entertained with 42 performers and the after parties attracted about 2,000, too.
When Alice Cooper closed the festival on Sunday, the weather warm like the Mediterranean sun, singing Poison with the audience of thousands, it was like an exclamation mark at the end of an exquisite sentence: something rare, but when timed right it leaves you breathless and craving for more.
The wait for the next 363 days will be well worth it.