Sorry it's been a while since my last post - I'm still settling back into the groove of things on this continent, plus my last post was so epic I wasn't sure how I could write something else :)
But alas, I still have fun tales for you all. How about the first day of covering the Ilosaarirock Festival in Finland? First day ever as a festival reviewer and photographer proved to be quite the challenge for me. Fun challenge!
Originally I was going to the festival by myself. I was trying to convince my cousin Elena to join me but she had a jazz festival to go to. However, because my media pass entitled me to free entry, I was able to give her the ticket I had originally bought. Well, that sealed the deal.
After a five-hour train ride from Helsinki, into the wild North Eastern region full of lakes, pine forests and close proximity to the Russian border, I arrived into the boisterous town of Joensuu. Normally Joensuu doesn't have herds of drunk music fans running through the streets, but I guess that'll happen when you have people drinking on the train AT 10AM! Ahhh, Finland. I miss you already.
I checked into my small hotel room with no air con (it was well over 30 degrees, 100% humidity or felt like it anyway) then headed out to the festival grounds to pick up my media pass. No problems there, though I didn't spot my All Access pass that Bill had promised and my pass said I worked for New(?)Faith No More (which I thought was a little weird since, well, I DO NOT).
Back at the hotel, I made myself a little Finnish dinner:
Before my Cousin arrived on the train at 11PM... yeah, this is 11PM in Joensuu. RAD.
We spent the night at the Irish bar downstairs, talking to some Finnish filmmakers (not sure why I had to specify that they were Finnish... I'm in Finland, everyone is Finnish from here on in lol), then dragged ourselves to bed even though it wasn't really dark outside at 1AM... and it was still 30 degrees.
Next morning though, was go time. Festival Day One!
I love music festivals. Music festivals in other countries are even more exciting! And this festival was special, a lot different from Coachella.
For one, less people... 20,000 compared to, um, 75-80,000 at Coachella. Interesting food options (I had some weird curry couscous wrap which was quite tasty). Free Coke from sexy nurses. A somewhat affordable beer garden (or Jaeger Garden). A beach with a warm lake right beside the reggae stage (translation: relax stage).
After sipping the sauce of various ciders, we settled in front of the main stage to watch this "pop" sensation, Olavi Uusivirta, who was incredibly charming, even though I had no idea what he was saying or singing about, and who ended up rocking out quite a bit near the end.
Of course, since we settled comfortably on the grass waiting for him to perform, it dawned on me in my cider-haze that HELLO I had a job to do. You know, take photos and such.
So off to the photo pit I went... I felt like a fraud (this feeling will apparently never go away) snapping away at this young man but anyhow.
After that was over, I decided to mosey up to the VIP area to check in with the peeps at the Media Center and see what all the VIPs were up to (actually I just wanted to use their better toilets).
I got sorted up there, met the extremely lovely, helpful staff who told me that I might be able to interview Imogen Heap after all. Huzzah! It was official - the Media Center would become my home. Plus, they had free food, coffee and drinks. And the VIP beer garden was right next door. WIN.
Then I was off and running down the hill to meet back up with my cousin and check out Pariisin Kevät, a new band by Finland's Mike Patton esque singer/producer/songwriter Arthur Tunes. I was surprised to hear this was his project's first appearance live since the crowd was absolutely CRAZY. They were screaming, yelling, chanting. I was blown away more by then than by the band, but it was actually a very entertaining show.
After that, we took some time to chill out in another beer garden...complete with men in dresses...
and then... I was notified that I'd be interviewing Imogen Heap in 15 minutes. Luckily I had looked online to learn more about her and had taken photos with my iPhone of the articles so I quickly spent the rest of my time in the beer garden hastily scribbling out interview questions.
NORMALLY I spend a day or two researching my subjects but I honestly didn't think I'd be able to interview Imogen, so I didn't bother. Whoops. Learning as you go.
But somehow I managed to scrape together a short interview, finished up my cider and ran back up the hill to the media center/VIP where I was to interview Imogen Heap.
I was escorted (since I only had a media pass at the time, I wasn't technically allowed backstage) down to where she was located, waited a bit for the local festival film crew to do their interview with her, and then it was my turn.
I met the strikingly thin and tall Imogen and sat down at the picnic table just outside her band's trailer. She has the most delightful speaking voice (no surprise) and was very honest and insightful. She also went much farther with my questions that I would have thought, making my five-minute quickie interview into a 15-minute long venture. Great subject, great woman.
My highlight is teaching her how to speak Finnish for five minutes, including the bad words. Again, sorry mom - if you actually taught me how to speak proper Finnish I wouldn't be telling Mike Patton and Imogen Heap how to say dirty, dirty things.
Then it was off to see her show - probably went back to the media center first.
Simply put: she was amazing. And yes, my interview with her SHOULD be up on Consequence of Sound any day now... thinking tomorrow, so watch THIS SPACE. She has many cool things to say :)
After Imogen, I caught UNKLE which was slightly lackluster. I didn't stay for the set, perhaps I should have but there was nothing there for me. I'm not an UNKLE fan anyway, though I do appreciate their vibe and a few of their songs, but something wasn't connecting.
So I went up to the beer garden at VIP for a bit. Before I did so though I went to get coffee in the media tent. I heard an American voice talking and looked over to see a really cute guy in the tent, talking to someone. He smiled, I smiled - all flirty like.
"Maybe I'm not the only North American journalist here," I thought to myself.
I went outside to talk to the media organizer (loveliest girl ever, Milja :) and said, "Who's that Canadian/American guy in there? Where's he from?"
"Oh, that's the drummer from Bad Religion."
Of course! One of my favourite bands and I can't even recognize the drummer... to be fair, last time I actually saw Bad Religion live was well over 10 years ago! And the drummer wasn't with them back then. But I digress.
So I went to the VIP beer garden, had some more cider (damn that tasty cider... I think I want one now!) and chatted up some Finnish guys who were very nice. Better than sitting alone!
We talked a bit about Bad Religion, one guy professed that he only had 10 minutes to get drunk before the show.
Ten minutes flew by fast. The first song started. Well, I better go take my photos.
No, WAIT. We only get the first three songs to take photos... and Bad Religion's songs are like 2 minutes long each.
I was up out of my seat like a rocket and running down the hill to the mainstage. I knew that the entrance for photographers was to the left and I was coming to the right but I didn't have a choice. If I ran AROUND the crowd to the other side, the songs would be over.
So I approached the security guy at the gate, explained (YELLED) my situation - didn't matter I didn't speak Finnish, he couldn't hear my over Bad Religion's LOUD SOUND. But he got the gist. He looked over at the other side, looked at the unfathomably large crowd and thought hey, I'll help this chick out.
So he puts his hand out to gesture that he was going to hoist me over the fence. I was wearing a dress but didn't have a choice.
I put my boot in his hand and over I went - FLASHING EVERYONE AROUND ME.
No time to worry, I ran forward to the stage, other security guards running at me thinking I was some sort of crowd surfer/crazy fan (ever see that scene at the end of Fever Pitch when Drew Barrymore is running on the field? It was kind of like that). I showed them my pass as they started pushing me back, and they let me through. I ran to the stage, nearly collapsed at it and shot my first shot... one of Bad Religion's guitarists looking at me like, "Who the hell is this blonde girl?" LOL
But I quickly got into proper, professional shooting mode and off I went:
Bad Religion were STUPENDOUS! The dudes only get better with age, I'm telling ya. Greg Graffin's voice can be a bit monotonous on the albums but live, it is powerful and full of infliction. He's a solid front man and the entire band seemed to be having an awesome time.
Afterwards the sky was lit up with fireworks. It was about 1AM and a fitting end to an awesome performance by an iconic band!
So I'm gonna be a bit busy for a while over the next week - interviewing Dub Trio, Chromeo and covering their concerts and then heading to Spokane to interview Baroness and cover their show with the Deftones. I'm too excited about this. DEFTONES! Loved them since I was 15...
OH and um, hello, Mondo Cane playing SF in October? I'm there - hello, Alessandro? :P