Puntala Rock 2016
[Finnglish Language Version]
The people that didn’t read my old zine ‘waterintobeer’ (which is now a real ale shop in London I might add) will not realise that I studied at the University of Helsinki in 2004 as part of the Erasmus programme, and it was during this time that I made many friends in the Finnish punk scene. I have travelled back around Finland every two years, and this time I came back to visit friends with the central focus on attending my third ‘Puntala Rock’ Festival.
The clue is in the name. It’s easy to associate this festival with some crusty connotations, and think that this festival is only about drinking Kilju (moonshine) and listening to bands that sound like Kaaos! Maybe it was more like that in folklore history, but actually from the times I attend it is more diverse line up under the banner of ‘rock’ but with the bands following punk spirit or attitude.
[Please note I try write in more broken English and in style which I see the language when I use translate on the Finnish article – to try make more understanding for foreign people]. We call this FINNGLISH.
I had limited slot for travel this year (because I am father now), and Puntala won the choice visit because my good friends in Hero Dishonest (who I have roadied for many times and probably seen 66 times) were playing, as well as good sing-along headline of D.O.A. and of course special visit from USA with LOS CRUDOS and from Japan with TETSU-ARREY.
I arrive in Helsinki and Juha is driving the car to collect me (we are reaching that age now where we al have cars and can make convenient life for each other), and Lasse immediately hands me a cold bottle of strong Brooklyn Ale. Mita Vittua! The globalisation is now coming into beer and they have many real ales now (including Finnish ones) so there is no longer any choice between the old five Finnish shitty beer (Krapin Kulta, Karalja, Sina Sina Olvi, Koff Koff Koff, und Karhu bear machine – well they still serve the beer mostly in the bars from the shitty machines - but you can’t have the whole of the Eastern Front).
First visit is new experience, as we go with Vellu to his new house, living in Finnish countryside of Pukkila (1 hour North East of Helsinki), near Mäntsälä train station. It is beautiful old traditional Finnish wooden house with terrace, separate house of pony stable and sauna, and third(!) house of music practice and recording space! There is also huge garden space in middle of forest. They win Finnish house lottery!
Now all the children and animals are away we engage in long Finnish tradition of taking one slow drink, and then immediately to start to smash down many Koskenkorva and house present Single Malt. Then we skip main food and bring out the cheese and cider, and then whirlwind of drunkenness begins. We take two traditional Finnish sauna, which is proper moist, and not dry like shitty electric ones. This follows with ‘having a jam’ in the music room, making one random song together, and the worlds worst cover of ‘American Cheesus’ by Paha Uskonto. Miina and I can later be found passed out in alcholocaust somewhere, and Lasse & Vellu find time to listen to the real Bad Religion and talk about shitty Finland Prime Minister.
Finland once leader of classic Scandinavian socialist democracy now finds itself being governed by three right wing party coalition! Including one extreme right, True Finns, which is run by redneck hicks, and make surprise gains in last election. So popular now that fucking leader is Foreign Minister! Bit stupid and crazy and similar to some stupid decision to make Boris Johnson racist ape Foreign Minister of UK. Now like UK, ‘everyday racism’ is becoming more common, and more people ignore and let it be. Now even the police move the black people away when ‘Soldiers of Odin’ (Neo-Nazi street thugs) make demonstration rather than protecting them. Also True Finns make no slow action in government, already they change immigration policy to mark Iraq & Afghanistan as now ‘safe places’ so all the refuges must go home, even if they have serious threat from ISIS or other crazy ass people. The only good thing we may find is that this makes the punk music angrier and better.
All day hangover, breakfast, and Sauna is followed by two hours in car to Puntala. Lonkero (Gin Long Drin with Grapefruit) is already flowing and we arrive to sunshine, carrying the gear to the guest area, and set up the tent. Now there is strong Rum mixes being poured to catch up from the two hours missed. In the background is playing LASTEN HAUTAUSMAA, which is good poppy melodic music with lyrics about death and war. The guitarists other band KIVESVETO GO GO also has good lyrics about small town Finnish life, and they make funny songs like about ‘Penalties for Child Molestation are lower in Eastern Finland’.
First band to watch on the Main Stage is PERTTI KURIKAN NIMIPÄIVÄT, which gives first opportunity to unlock first musical achievement on watching European artist that has played Eurovision. I already get the UK badge from watching GINA G ‘Ooh Ahh Just a little bit’ 10 years previous. The crowd is going wild for it. In case you don’t know, these are disabled (not D-beat Dis) band that projectile vomited into the mainstream with help from twisted mastermind music counsellor, that play and sing songs about impossible life and oppression of disabled people in Finland, mix with punk humour. The singer is naked on the stage, and they are singing a song with the lyrics “I went to church, drank a coffee, then take a shit”. There you go, perfect.
|Pertti Kurikan Nimipaivat|
Then despite long standing (justified) political and war hatred to Russia from Finnish nation, the Puntala crew continue to extend the hand to the nice punk proletariat and again invite Russian band to play. This time we have DUKE NUKEM, looking menacing and playing tough hardcore style. Audience gives strong appreciation and solidarity, and drummer is young person outside of Russia for the first time. Huuva!
Now HERO DISHONEST is welcomed back into the main fold with late appearance on main stage. They play mostly songs from new (7th studio) and last records, with a few old ones at the end. It’s good now that they are singing in Finnish, as last two records in English was running out of commentary and only making obscure reference to popular culture. New songs are sounding great, fast, and lyric flowing better in native language. In fact new record only features the shorter and more punchy songs, and they ignore the long style songs that were feature of previous record ‘Alle Lujaa’. Patu from Abnormi joins them for last song after sitting on drum riser for whole set. Crowd is dancing a lot and enjoying throughout.
Camp stage sees ANTI-CORPOS from Brazil with other gender & sexuality take on fast hardcore, and then the anger is mellowed on the main stage with post-rock vibe from SUR-RUR. Headline on Camp Stage is GENERALS, which is fast GBH style, and perfect end for majority audience (Read more about them in better Finnglish here: https://nosenseontheeasternfront.blogspot.co.uk/2016/07/generals.html )
Last band is INTERROBANG?! from Leeds/Brighton in UK. I was even sitting next to guitar player on the plane but I didn’t know because they dress more strong style. Singer is once from Chumbawamba, and music not so fast and aggressive so nobody get knocked, and then get up again. Music is like post-punk, mix in some grooves and loops, and kind of spoken word / poetry on the vocals. Some people criticise the lyrical content for being Smart-arse arty style, but I think this is perfect because I subscribe to Marxist dogma of GRAMSCI that we must create ‘organic intellectuals’ of working class people, to make them into future leaders. Already these people make some good positive social justice life choices, and some other people from Chumbawamba also make amazing and acclaimed theatre shows in Leeds called Red Ladder. Anyway, the music and sounds bring perfect wind down from all the energy and aggression from the day, but also manage to get the butt moving for a shake down.
Then after the show buying a kansalaistottelemattomuus t-shirt, I witness polite but little
awkward conversation between Deek (singer from Oi Polloi) and Bruce (singer from
Chumbawamba / Oi Polloi). They had worked together in the past on anarcho poitical music
scene but after Chumbawamba went to major label they had a falling out, and Oi-Polloi released
a track on Anti-Chumbawamba record. It appeared that this was maybe first time they meet since
then. One quote I remember from Deek was ”I preferred your earlier stuff” and firing back was
Bruce with ”I’ve heard of what your band is doing, but not the music”. It was of course in true
Puntala style, jovial and respectful, however I did sense some awkwardness. It felt like good place
to heal any imagined wounds.
But you know, in the 1980s and early 1990s ‘selling out’ was big thing in punk-rock. Even Finnish
hardcore band ENDSTAND wrote a song about their disappointment with Chumbawamba. Of
course now, in the digital age where bands all have more power, these arguments seem silly, and
I wonder actually how many people still give a fuck? Personally I believe in entryism, and to try
and enter system to divert resources and power back to people. Whatever you may think of the
whole Chumbawamba issue, they took enough to make stable life for family and they donated a
large majority of the money they made from major label to environmental groups and social
centres around the world – so hopefully this bring long term change and history will absolve
them. They are one of the few institutions in my hometown of Leeds that I have civic pride for.
Of course there is always some noise of music or shit talking in Puntala, so the only option is passing out in the tent. Jussi had the party van in full flow, playing the booty-rap and cheesy pop to make the welcome break from the rock. I awoke at 4am to take a piss and find Vellu in praying Mantis position behind a car, with his skin cold. So I take him into the tent and we sleep some more. I wake again at 8am, and take strategic approach and drink two Radlers (shandy) sitting around the campfire watching Jesus from Bradford and two guys from Generals singing to classic Finnish pop rock, whilst talking to hippies about recycling, and then meeting people from Scarborough who play later. This take edge off hangover, and make me able to sleep for two hours more.
Vellu awakes from slumber and we manage to catch the end of breakfast when the line is small. Thankfully the porridge is finished so we only eat bread, cheese, and egg. Then we take custom naked swim in the adjacent lake, to cool the body and shake the hangover. Vellu takes the edge, and I decide on only option to start drinking perfect hangover Lonkero. 12 hours of bands to follow.
First few bands have lots of females involved and great to see more equal representation and activity in the scene. LAISKAT SILMAT is playing first and has nice melodic style. Unfortunately too much Lonkero means the next few are a blur / merging together. JENNA JOPO everybody is dressed up in best clothes, and APATHETICS make nice melodic punk rock sound with addition of keyboard too.
I make my first trip to the bar, €6 for 0.33l can, welcome to Finland! I join singer and guitar player from RIISTETYT and they remember me from when I booked them a UK/Eire tour in sometime like 2009. We watch FORCA MACABRA (who played all the time in Factory / Helsinki in 2004) who play with Brazilian guitarist from ARMAGEDON to celebrate record from 30 years ago. The organisers make smart decision to make old alcholocaust bands play in the evening.
Then it was MIETTIIN on Camp Stage that play nice melodic style. Unfortunately we see some rain, small hard shower, and SATANIC MALFUNCTIONS from UK have to bear the onslaught. I watched from Info Hut, in cover, and they make a strong style of hardcore, with dedicated punks at the front making enjoyment. There was small break now, so was perfect opportunity to sleep some more and listen to rain on the tent.
Thankfully it stopped for the rest of the festival, and was able to enjoy the classic sounds of RIISTETYT, one of the best originals. Then it was a very special occasion, because classic Latino hardcore band from USA, LOS CRUDOS, is playing in Europe for the first time in something like 12 years, and they only have short tour in Europe. Everybody go crazy in the pit for this fast style, and Martine make perfect stage comments about celebrating who you are and making ode to old Finnish hardcore records to the audience, and we all show strong appreciation, and disbelief that we witness this special.
I also see DEATH RACE, some kind of multi-style hardcore/crust/punk/metal playing on the Camp Stage. I remember the guitarist being some innocent, young, and enthusiastic teenager coming to shows in Helsinki, and now he is displaying strong style playing in powerful band. Then was best surprise Suomi band of the weekend, in the form of RADIOPUHELIMET, which was perfect dancing music, playing bouncy non-formulaic post-punk style, reminding me of bands like No Means No. Then was STRESS SS from Sweden (still making friends with neighbouring punks) who feature members of past bands like SKITKIDS and FY FAN, so you know what to expect – pure awesome brutal hardcore noise assault.
The next bands are a total blur (but thankfully this is why we have the aftershow) and all I can remember is hanging out and talking with people at the distro area, and in particular singing PHOENIX FOUNDATION songs with and to Jelle from 1981. I was also buying large bottles of Estonian Lonkero from the travel punks. I remember making wind up about Manchester to my Liverpool supporting Finnish friends. I remember watch some more classic style from ÄPÄRÄT from the cabin step, and then it is blur again, until I remember hearing ‘World War Three’ by D.O.A. and remember that they play on the main stage. I watch them, and they are always good live, and this time again they did not disappoint, and was perfect old North American hardcore treat to end the festival. As always, was a fucking great peaceful punk drinking vibe and party again in Puntala.
Somehow Vellu managed to avoid the drinking after his previous nights escapade, so he kindly drove us back the 2 hours to his place after D.O.A. It was nice to not have to sleep in the tent again. I passed out on the motorway but managed to stay awake for the company on the smaller roads. Morning was spent with painkillers, listening to music, small breakfast, and meeting the child, before I got a ride to Mantsila to take the train to Tampere for the aftershow.
This was the first time at the aftershow where I managed to drink a few beers, collect stories with the survivors, and meet some new people. THE SYSTEM (another UK band I never heard of) was a nice political peace punk sound, and TETSU-ARREY from Japan were accomplished musicians. Normally I prefer the fast core style of Japanese bands like Nightmare of Gauze, but this one was like a mixture or hardcore and pub-rock sing along. I enjoyed it, it was tight, and they were well rehearsed but not so amazed like when other Japanese bands come to Europe.
Post festival was nice and relaxing isolation time in hotel, and then train back to Helsinki to join up with Lasse & Juha for some quiet drinks, which turned into a long session of listening to Bad Religion. Perfect end release. Last morning was spent going for a ‘none-purposefulness’ walk around Kallio, to see the crazy fucked up people and realise that life is never as bad as it seems.
Kiitos: Vellu, Lasse, Juha, Mikko, Jussi, Puntala Crew, Finnish and International friends.
Hope to be back again sooner rather than later.
Now it’s time to go see Descendents at Rebellion Festival and family trip to Barcelona.
Lukas, Still Ont Road (Part-time) 2016
Here are a couple of videos I shot of Hero Dishonest & Los Crudos: