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maanantai 4. elokuuta 2014

H2Ö Festival, Turku, Finland, 18.-19.7.2014

H2Ö is a new alternative music festival in Turku organized by the same people who used to run ILMIÖ festival before that. I was really looking forward to this festival since among many other great bands Gong were supposed to play there. Due to Daevid Allen's health problems (cancer in the neck) their performance was cancelled which was a bummer. Luckily legendary space rock masters Hawkwind, about the only possible band to be able to fill Gong's pothead pixie hats, was available to replace them and returned to Turku ten years after their Ruisrock Festival gig in 2004! Oh happy days.


After a very hard morning moving houses I was picked up by a few friends and we headed towards Turku. I checked in at the Borea boat hostel, who gave a discount to festival goers. As is usual the case, the festival busses were not that frequent or even properly advertised, but the hostel manager was so kind that she proposed to give me a lift in her car. Now that's customer service!

The H2Ö festival took place in the beautiful and historical old Ruissalo dockyard that had several nice vintage buildings. There were as many as ten different venues in all possible sizes so that all the hundred or so bands could play. Check out the map of the area.

I sadly missed the dream pop band Slow Blvd, as well as a few minutes of the "lazer metal band" Nightsatan show that had started at 16:30 in one of the indoor venues called Suuli. They had great background projections and were enjoying themselves and the audience had fun as well. You can see my video footage below. Lots of synths & keyboards in this band as well as electronic drums and robotic vocals. Very cool!

Right after Nightsatan I headed towards Kesanto stage to watch some jazzy versions of old hits by Kauko Röyhkä played by The Mokners feat. Kauko Röyhkä. This worked much better than expected! Then I watched some of Syntetisaattoriorkesteri Galaksi, Olimpia Splendid, Cleaning Women, Mad Professor (UK), Islaja and Kap Kap, all pretty nice performances. There were also some reggae bands playing.

I had to cue before I was able to get in into the biggest indoor venue Veistämö (that also served drinks and food!) to see the US folk artist Josephine Foster. Of course I found out at the door that you didn't have to cue in with the press pass... Anyway, as I already noticed during the Olimpia Splendid set, the PA system was way too small for the big and very cozy Veistämö venue and there were some technical problems as well on that particular stage on Friday. The audience clutter was louder than the performance so I didn't want stay for the whole gig although Foster and the guy with her sounded okay and people seemed to like them.

There's been a lot of underground hype about a new garage/punk/rock'n'roll band Räjäyttäjät (The Exploders in English...) and they were playing at 20:30 at one of the smallest outdoor stages called Autotalli (The Garage...). They played with full energy and the fans went almost as nuts as the band members who mingled with the full-packed audience while playing. I really liked their show!

Then it was time for Jarse who were a duo playing very psychedelic jams over Conan the Barbarian movie with some of the dialogue audible! One of the highlights for sure, just wait until these guys release something or play live near you. 20 000 HZ was pretty cool too. Then I had some time to drink a few cold ones and get some food before my favourite band Hawkwind would start on the huge Meri (The Sea) outdoor stage...

I had been spotting quite a few Hawkwind t-shirts the whole day and it looked like the Hawks were the band that most of the audience had come to see. There were maybe three thousand people to watch them when the sun finally started to go down a bit. You could sense the anticipitation in the air and when the band started at 23:00 the audience went wild! No dancers this time, but the big band and psychedelic lightshow was enough to see and the sound was really good after the beginning. I didn't really know what to expect and that's the way I wanted it but I got to say that I was positively surprised by the energy and dedication of the whole band. Dave Brock, the only original Psychedelic Warlord left in the band, also seemed fit and didn't have to go off stage for 15 minutes to rest like I've heard has happened recently. He played a lot of guitar but only sang a few songs. Mr. Dibs proved to be a great center figure and it was lovely to see Tim Blake live for the first time playing his Theremin. No Gong, but at least their old synth wizard Tim Blake! Fred and Neil were also excellent, like of course Richard Chadwick, Hawkwind's drummer since the late 80's. The gig felt too short of course, but it did last for well over one hour. Here's the set list:

Arrival in Utopia
You'd Better Believe It
Assault and Battery
Golden Void
Sonic Attack
Assassins of Allah
Angels of Death

After Hawkwind I was pretty blown away, but there was still Kuusumun Profeetta to play at the other rather big open-air stage Kesanto. The guys played a lot of rather heavy songs that were apparently new since I didn't know them but also some old classics and peaceful ballads like "Sataa lumi hiljaa maihin ja varhain". One of the best performances that night for sure. Too bad I missed Imatran Voima who were playing at the same time as Kuusumun Profeetta and also Siinai, Liimanarina and Dreadlocktales. I did manage to get glimpses of 20 000 HZ and Absoluuttinen Nollapiste, though. I was ready to go to sleep at this point.


I woke up pretty early on Saturday to get some breakfast but skipped the morning sauna the boat hostel was offering. Luckily all the cabins had showers. I went out at one o'clock to check out the Forum Marinum neighbourhood like the famous Suomen Joutsen boat and then decided to walk to the festival area. The weather was really warm also on saturday and the trip felt pretty long. Anyway, I arrived to the festival site slightly before the doors opened for public at 14 so I took some pictures of the empty area.

Only a handful of people were watching a new band called Amapolar who started at Takapiha stage at 14:30. Too bad, since they played quite nice, melodic, sunny and a little bit of psychedelic Finnish pop/rock. Their drummer is from Spain and he and his wife, the bassist/singer used to be a in a band called The Satellites of Love who sang in English and were a bit more psychedelic. The accordian player made Amapolar sounds a bit unique. A nice way to start off festival day two!

The next must-see for me was the occult psych/hard rock band Seremonia. They always give everything they've got and this time they did a really excellent job. I really loved the visuals, the sound was amazing and the band was in great form. The audience went crazy as well, even if it was still afternoon! I love these guys. Just check out my video...

I hadn't checked out the Laituri (Pier) stage the day before so I had a peek and saw some of this female troubadour's performance. I've seen her before somewhere but I don't remember her name and it was not announced at the timetable but she has a cheery, lovely attitude.

Two Finnish underground icons Pedro Hietanen and M. A. Numminen played next as their alter egos Gommi & Pommi dressed up in funny animal costumes and they were aided by Sesse Possu (Sesse the Pig aka Severi Pyysalo) on xylophone. A very entertaining and funny show! 

I also checked out some of Color Dolor and liked them, and Cosmo Jones Beat Machine made the audience dance. At this point I just wondered around the festival area since there was nothing special that I needed to see. People were definitely having fun and enjoying themselves. Kemialliset Ystävät is a band that I have always wanted to see live but today would be the first time, so I was quite excited. They have a unique blend of psych folk, jazz and electronica that I found most mesmerising. A really great gig and one of the highlights for me! Good thing the PA problems of the previous day seemed to have been solved.

At 20:00 Pharaoh Overlord started their very experimental and weird gig at Takapiha (Backyard) dressed in black shirts, jeans and life-vests covering their heads in tights. These guys are rather silly and/or insane, you know... They had a new singer, or I maybe I just didn't recognize him since his head was covered in red tights... An attaché case was firmly in his hand for his whole performance. Interesting! Not what I had expected, but a very enjoyable show nevertheless!

I accidentally missed the organ/drums duo Sagor & Swing from Sweden, but was sure to be in time for A Monstrous Psychedelic Bubble (UK) after seeing some bits of trance act Accu and the great Lau Nau. Of course there had to be some technical problems and their show was delayed... Anyway, when you see a guy with a sitar on the stage you wait until they're ready to play... And it was worth it! Just samples/CD's/effects and sitar, but it sounded very groovy and trippy. For some reason I was too restless to watch it all so I again wandered off to see what else was going on.

At this point I'd like to state that there were quite a lot of things happening in addition to live music. There were a couple of smiths at work, various performancers in strange and funny costumes, an Aquasynth that started making weird sounds when enough people were filling their water bottles, a graffiti artist etc. All this made a nice addition to the vibe of the festival.

To close the night and a very fine festival, I spent some time with a few friends but was too tired to really get interested in Cola & Jimmy who sounded cool or Cold Pupu Sauna. Most of the Seremonia members and some other friends of mine went to see the hard core band Kovaa Rasvaa who were playing at a club in Turku center , but I decided to go to the hostel instead. It was a wise move, since I had to be up early the next morning and head back to Helsinki... What a great weekend, and H2Ö is definitely a festival I'd like to return to. There were more than 7500 people there I've heard and everything went fine, so I think they will make it happen again next year. One of the best and nicest festivals I've been to!

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