Sonisphere Finland 2010 has already made it to internet headlines before it was even over due to a crazy storm that hit the festival that caused some serious damage. We decided to put together a Sonisphere Survival Guide, which will help you get through future festivals (at least in Finland) so that you can get the best you can from the festival and come out in one piece, like we did!
1. Bring a tent
The festival takes place in the small town of Pori, situated on the west coast of Finland. This picturesque province has about 3½ hotels, which were fully booked by the dawn of the new year. If you’re a spoiled brat like me and need the luxury of a shower and a bed – you have to roam the internet and find a place to rent. However, everyone and their dog has been renting accommodations in Pori for prices a little higher than reasonable, yet still affordable. On the downside, good luck if you don’t speak Finnish.
2. Try to get your own transportation
… a car, a flying carpet, dogsled, a griffin – anything that can get you to the festival area without the need to follow anyone’s schedule other than your own. The only extra public transportation that was organized for the festival was an additional train from Helsinki and back, and an old, slow, cranky train that had no AC and arrived half an hour late in spite of leaving according on schedule no less. All of the transport connections with nearby bigger cities are pretty much over after 20:00 at the latest. Thanks to the late train, we arrived at the festival area right on time to see the great Serj Tankian. Although he was backed up by a band instead of an orchestra, and not wearing a suit, his solo performance was like love at first sight: you don’t understand how or what happened, but you know you are hooked. Yet, one definitely couldn’t help getting nostalgic and wishing that the rumored SOAD reunion would happen for real.
3. Learn Billy Duffy’s dance/jump moves.
Apparently he can’t manage too many of those anymore, but you’ll surely know what to do when legendary The Cult come on stage. You have to be fully prepared for some good old rock ’n’ roll! And definitely don’t forget to clap your hands during “She Sells Sanctuary,” because you know they deserved it.
4. Prepare to be surprised.
That is, if you have never seen Apocalyptica live before – you will end up being absolutely smitten. If you have seen them already, then you probably know that they are worth seeing every time. Who could ever think it is possible to do things like that with cellos? These guys are basically ripping apart their instruments, making them bleed out every riff. The intensity of their performance is so thick, you can cut it with a cello bow. Nobody does it like them, nobody sounds like them. If you hear their music, you will always know it’s Apocalyptica and nobody else.
5. Check your brain
If you can’t do that, you at least have to sing along to “Check My Brain” by Alice in Chains. They played some of their greatest hits and all time favorites alongside songs from their latest Black Gives Way to Blue album. It was hard not to imagine how it would have been if Layne Staley was on that stage, yet William DuVall does a great job filling his enormous shoes. It was obvious though that the real frontman is none other than Jerry Cantrell, of course. He reigned the stage and it was definitely the right place for him to be. From the first notes of the opening to “Rain When I Die” ’til the very end of their set, he held the whole audience in a grip with his stage persona; the kind of a soft grip, where you still can breathe, but don’t forget in whose hands you are.
6. Dance till you drop
…to the catchy groove of Volbeat‘s trademark crazy-mix-of-styles-rockabilly. These guys play in Finland maybe a little too often, but as long as they manage to put on a great show and instantly turn on the crowd, why not? Like it or not, you will definitely end up tapping your foot. Their blasting guitar riffs accompanied by strobes will juice you up and give you energy to carry on through the rest of the night.
7. Get a couple of drinks while H.I.M. is on stage.
Since Ville Valo quit drinking, someone has to keep up with it to make it through the performance! With a huge heartagram hanging above the stage, it might have seemed as though the band is as good as back in the days of their first albums. But once we took a closer look, it was not what it seemed. From far away, Ville looked like all these years of excessive alcohol consumption and bad mustaches never happened. Once the cameras showed a close-up of the singer on the big screen, however, one could see it was all there and the only one who couldn’t let go of the past is Ville himself. All his mimicry, which looked cute on a young, attractive boy, now looked painful on his worn-out, tired face. Surprisingly, the old hits were still great, but the new ones hardly managed to get any reaction. Maybe when H.I.M. wrote the old songs there was still a chance for some diversity in their music. Instead, they kept on going with the same thing through all their albums, not evolving anywhere and becoming boring in the end.
These guidelines should get you through day 1 safe and sound. However, if you are intending to pull through the second day, you will need more than that, starting from…
8. Brace yourself for impact
So that you can enjoy the feeling of brotherhood and jump along with Joey Belladonna to “Indians” when Anthrax hit the stage. Anthrax is the most genuine band from the Big Four. They play their performances from their hearts and you can see that they enjoy it to the fullest. This feeling transcended from the stage to the crowd and made them absolutely “Metal Thrashing Mad!” It was hard not to go crazy and Anthrax beamed with positive energy – if you’re in for a ride, you will ride to the top!
9. Wear a helmet
There are a couple of reasons why you might need this. The first one being SLAAAAAAYEERRRR! That’s the proper way to spell that band’s name, or so I’ve heard. Starting from the opening of “World Painted Blood,” prepare to have your scull blown to pieces. Slayer performed some of their songs from the latest album (such as “Hate Worldwide” and “Beauty Through Order”) nicely mixed with some of the jewels from their discography (“War Ensemble,” “Dead Skin Mask,” “Raining Blood”). Through the whole set, Tom Araya walked around the stage with a delighted smile on his face, watching the crowd riding a thrash euphoria wave. Slayer finished their performance with “South of Heaven” and “Angel of Death” and that’s when it didn’t matter anymore if tomorrow never came.
Another reason to bring a helmet is in case a sudden storm comes out of nowhere and starts crushing everything. We were all in for a metal festival, but when an actual piece of metal construction is flying in the direction of your head, you might want that helmet. A short while after Slayer left the stage, the sky got darker and it became obvious that it was going to rain – a typical thing to happen at Finnish summer festivals. About 10 minutes later, people were running and screaming in the press tent, the wind was blowing with immense power, and I couldn’t hear anything else. It was hard to estimate the time, but about 5-7 minutes later it was all over. As I emerged from the tent, the backstage area looked like a desolate battlefield with chairs, tables, and even toilet cabins lying everywhere and a few people were trying to do something about the mess. There were some people with blood on their faces sitting near security at the backstage entrance. The show was stopped, both stages were damaged; one of them could be no longer used. The festival workers were doing everything possible to fix at least the main stage. The second one was a pitiful sight and had to be supported by a crane. However, the festival crowd was indestructible and ready to continue rocking! The overall atmosphere was still festive and the amount of alcohol consumed definitely helped it. The organizers told us that approximately forty people were injured, two of whom were in critical condition. By the time this report was written, the news came that one of them died from his injuries. May he rest in peace…
10. Be ready to raise your hands in eternal praise
Iggy & the Stooges were scheduled to play on the second stage right when the storm began and all their equipment got damaged. Once the main stage could be more or less used again, Iggy got up for an improvised acoustic set, which consisted of four songs. He did everything ipossible for the people who came to see him instead of not playing at all.
Alice Cooper’s equipment was damaged as well, so Slayer kindly loaned him theirs to use. After a break, during which the technicians kept on doing their best to repair the main stage, it was announced that Alice Cooper and Iron Maiden would play their full sets as planned. The organizers got permission from the town officials to postpone the curfew. The show must go on! So it did, when Bruce Dickinson got on stage to introduce Alice Cooper and to invigorate the crowd. Alice also had to make some sacrifices to save the show and played on a smaller, simplified stage set, which allowed the technicians to continue their repairs in the back. Nevertheless, he put on one hell of a show! He still kept most of his stage gimmicks, got his “head” cut off, and then walked around with it, put a stake through one of the skeleton-men on stage, and so on. With all of the black curtains still down, the sun was shining from the back of the stage and it hurt to look therate, but it was also impossible to look away. He is the great Alice Cooper and he totally nailed it during the last Sonisphere of 2010, come hell or high water.
11. Bring some extra equipment for Mötley Crüe
…just in case their own equipment gets damaged and they wuss out, having to cancel their appearance. Bruce Dickinson surely had some pleasure saying: “Mötley Crüe’s gear is fucked, so they’ve gone home. Our equipment is completely fucked, but we don’t care. We’re not going home until you fucking go home! So stick around, it’s gonna be a great evening.” That’s the right attitude of a rock ’n’ roll musician! Mötley Crüe didn’t even bother to show some respect to their fans and come on stage to say a few words. The hairspray would’ve come off if it started to rain again and that would’ve been a terrible disgrace! But no worries, the Crüe’s absence was soon forgotten and totally made up.
12. Throw your horns up!
About 2 hours, later Iron Maiden got on stage. The curtains were up, Maiden’s stage set was in its place and everything seemed to be back in order. Starting from “The Wicker Man,” they set the Sonisphere audience on fire. The grandeur of this band is bigger than any words could possibly describe. You can just stand with your jaw on the ground and your eyes wide open and absorb every sound and every move. Especially every move, since sometimes it can be hard to find Bruce on stage if you’re watching from a distance. As the night rolled in, the mist started to rise from the river near the festival area. This brought a special atmosphere of mystique during “Fear of the Dark” with thousands of people singing along. As Iron Maiden were closing their set with “Running Free,” there was a feeling that we’d gone through some absolutely unique experience with this larger-than-life band. Only the strongest can survive natural selection.
13. Bring yourself
The last and the most important part. All of the rest is subject to change depending on the line up, but without the best audience, there can’t be any Sonisphere. And hey, they promised to bring Mötley Crüe back next year.
Sonisphere is still a young festival and as is common with all things young, it requires a lot of improvement. But it’s surely off to a great start and we are very much looking forward to the next year! Thank you!
Text: Tanja Caciur | Photos: Jana Blomqvist