Pictures: Morgan Walker and Tony Öhberg
When the weather is good in Helsinki, any location bordering the city’s vast amounts of water is a sure-fire winner. When you combine that with former dockyards, cranes, picturesque brick warehouses, subtle decoration and four stages, you have a recipe for success.
The inaugural Modern Sky festival was held on Friday and Saturday in conjunction with the Helsinki Festival, and is the first of its kind in Europe. The genesis of this festivals owes itself to Modern Sky — a pioneer in Chinese popular culture. It is the first record company to publish Chinese alternative rock and pop, and currently the largest independent record label in China, as well as Asia’s leading festival producer.
In addition, the programme of the Modern Sky festival was perfectly timed with a coinciding four-day event, The Europe-Asia Roundtable Sessions (EARS). Its focus was to bring together the creative hubs of Europe and Asia, the latest trends, and its key professionals in design, media, marketing, performing arts, and music. Needless to say, Modern Sky festival benefited greatly from this arrangement, and the diversity was certainly visible within the festival grounds. The festival showcased a mixture of Asian and Nordic artists, spanning indie rock, pop, electro, rap and alternative, naturally including a sprinkling of DJs from both geographical areas.
The feeling within the festival was optimistic, extremely relaxed, and overwhelmingly intoxicating. It was unlike any other festival I have attended in Helsinki, or anywhere in the world for that matter: it provided an exclusive glimpse in to the cutting edge of the Asian music scene while combining Nordic acts, resulting in a plethora of musical styles that was a cut above the usual festival offerings in both scope & talent.
The influence of the Chinese Modern Sky label and the concurrent EARS event was clearly visible, and with the steady hand of ELMU ry (Helsinki’s Live Music Association), a completely unique festival was born in Helsinki. The ability to see a band from Indonesia, jet across to a Tokyo-based act, and keep rummaging through Finnish artists all in a visually stunning area surely created a lasting impression on all patrons. This has the potential to be a key event in the coming summer, and I wholeheartedly hope these kind of collaborations continue to provide Helsinki with fluxes of fresh and engaging
events. Modern Sky, I hope to see you again next year!