This year, RockUnited.Com spent merely an afternoon at Ruisrock. Why? Well, this year's line-up didn't have much to offer for us, and the festival overlapped with a major gig in Helsinki (Alice Cooper & Iron Maiden). So, on Friday we chose to see the Cooper/Maiden gig instead of the likes of The Prodigy, Primus, Hurts, Paramore and The National. Apparently The Prodigy was highly impressive for those into that kind of music, and old Finnish rockers LAMA and PELLE MILJOONA OY, the latter featuring Andy McCoy and Sam Yaffa of Hanoi Rocks fame, were considered as the highlights by many.
Saturday was the day I was able to visit the festival myself, this time in both roles - the journalist and the photographer. I arrived to the site just in time to check out a bit of STAM1NA, A Finnish Metal band who sing in their native language. Before each gig, a short interview with the artist is shown on the screens, and the interviewer asked Stam1na's vocalist Antti "Hyrde" Hyyrynen about his rather curious outfit, he said that it was an attempt to combine Paul Stanley and Van Halen is the most grotesque way... and as you see from the photos, mission accomplished.
I didn't really care for Stam1na's thrashy metal that much, but the band put a lot of effort into their performance and were rather entertaining, which is enough for me.
I had to head to another stage though, as BRING ME THE HORIZON were about to start at the Tent Stage. My knowledge of their music was limited to a video or two I checked out earlier, and I knew they weren't my cup of tea either, but as I was armed with a camera and ready to shoot, why not? The band were a bunch of young and energetic guys, lots of bouncing around took place. Musically their hardcore/metal/emo or whatever stuff was a bit too screamy for me. The band had a lot of fans in the frontline, singing (or screaming) along to their tunes, so they must be doing something right.
Next up was the band I came to see, SABATON. Their brand of traditional metal with lyrics about the great battles in history is a rather unique concept. Not musically - the band's influences are there for all the world to hear, but otherwise there isn't a band that's so dedicated to one particular subject.
While the lyrical themes of Sabaton are rather dark, the band put on a great show with positive energy radiating from the stage. In keeping with the war theme, they're all dressed in matching camo-trousers and otherwise army-like outfits. Vocalist Joakim Brodén is a great, energetic frontman and he interacts with the audience a lot. The other guys aren't just standing still either, they move around and provide good backing vocals.
The band had a lot of fans in the audience, and a Sabaton T-shirt was a common sight on the festival. What I was rather surprised about was the number of girls in the audience - despite their lyrical themes and "manly" metal style Sabaton are capable of attracting a sizeable female audience. Apparently you can dance to songs about snipers and panzer battalions - I've seen it happen.
When the set was getting closer to the end, Brodén decided to do some crowdsurfing, and ended up in the sea with a lot of fans. A fun and refreshing way to end a gig, and how convinient that the stage was next to a beach.
Sabaton definitely made a fan out of me, and I intend to aquire their back catalogue soon. A great show and exceptionally catchy songs.
Once Sabaton had ended their set, I decided to check out the much-raved about artist ANNA CALVI. Back to the tent it was then again, and to the photo pit... the set-up of the band didn't look conventional, there was only the drums, a desk full of all kinds of whatnots and a mikestand. What followed wasn't too conventional either... Anna Calvi and his two bandmates arrived, and Anna started playing guitar. She played it for a few minutes, I don't know if it was a song or just random chord progressions, but it surely didn't set the place on fire.
Once Anna actually started to sing, it began to feel like we were watching a performance, not someone warming up. The drummer drummed and the other girl played an accordion attached to a table and some percussion. This was all a bit too fine for me, especially because Calvi's songs were a bit vague. The reviews I've read of this performance have called it "exciting, romantic and intensive"... I just didn't have the right mindset then, did I? Calvi and her band are fine musicians and Calvi has a special kind of a voice, but as a performer, she is not that captivating.
BULLET FOR MY VALENTINE was the last band of the day for me. Having seen them a couple of years ago in the same location, I knew what to expect - an energetic old-school-meets-the-new-school metal show. That's what we got, a solid performance. Lots of headbanging, some cookie monster vocals but mostly clean ones and a balanced selection of songs from all of their three albums and a Metallica cover. No "Heart Burst Into Fire", bummer...
Somehow I enjoyed the BFMV gig in 2008 a lot more, possibly because it was on the Beach Stage, not the Field Stage. The Field Stage is the biggest one, but it's usually plagued by the winds which mess up the sound if you're not in the front. I've always dislike watching gigs on this stage because of the sound and the poorer view to the stage. I've also noticed that the big stage lures all the drunk people towards it, not to watch the bands but to make a nuisance of themselves. There are always a few people arguing loudly or fighting or running from place A to place B and back again and again. Just friggin' stay where you are and watch the band, goddamn it.
That was it for me. The show went on, but I didn't feel like sticking around. Instead I beat the "rush hour" and cycled home in a nice, peaceful July night... blasting Sabaton on my MP3 player.
photos by by Kimmo Toivonen