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Petri Wessman's weblog

Summer scheduling

Looks like I need to start scheduling my summer right about now, a lot of things need decisions round this time. For example, I just heard that The National are coming to Ankkarock… and of course Ropecon is on the same weekend. Gah. I really want to see The National, they were one of the best “new finds” of last year for me. Good news is that they are performing on Sunday. I’ll probably be able to combo the con Sunday with a rock festival. Somehow. It might involve beer.

In addition, a friend’s paintball weekend thingy lands on top of Provinssirock. Probably choosing the paintball there… sure, it would be nice to see Placebo (again) and Nick Cave, but now that (another) friend no longer lives nearby that would be a pretty expensive trip – I think I’ll opt for the cheaper “run in the woods and get shot” option. Oh, and of course there’s a KMFDM club gig on that same weekend. Already have tickets for that, but not yet sure how I’ll combo everything.

Oh, and we’re planning of maybe visiting Iceland in August, and continuing from there to Burning Man (once again!). Still in the planning stages, but that one will eat up both our vacation time and a chunk of cash. Why Iceland? Because we can. And because it should be less horribly expensive now, due to their financial crash. Sucks for them, good for us.

Having fun takes work, I tell you.

Provinssirock: bacon & eggs, sparkly wine, music

Got back from Provinssirock at around 1am last night, the 400km drive is a killer – next time we’ll seriously consider the train, even though it costs a lot compared to a car. Driving five hours after a 3-day long weekend of alcohol & rock’n’roll isn’t a total party.

So, Provinssi. Not bad at all, I’m glad we went. A big thanks once again to friends in Ylistaro who housed us (and some other people, besides) and provided for excellent company, a luxury bacon&eggs + sparkly wine outdoor breakfast, and overall a fun (if a bit exhausting) weekend.

Friday had Tori performing in the big tent; a pretty good – and surprisingly heavy – gig. It was a bit too short and the mixing was slightly hit-and-miss, but overall good and at times pretty intense. Partly overlaid with that, Flogging Molly was raising irish-punk hell on the main stage – Janka was over there and reported the show as really good. I only saw the last couple of songs, which sounded like good, energetic Pogues-y type music. Never too much of that in the world.

We tried to sleep late on Saturday, having gotten to sleep somewhere between 3am and 4am, and failed miserably due to a certain house guest arriving a bit after 9am and deciding that it’s an excellent time to test the house jukebox. The jukebox won out over need to sleep, and we stumbled outside sometime before noon for breakfast and some life-affirming alcohol. The gang finally made it to the festival area around 5pm-ish, in time to see Patti Smith perform. Patti was really good, she oozed street cred and her voice is as distinctive as ever. Good stuff, very old-school rock’n’roll vibe going on – in a good sense. Not surprisingly, Patti proved to be the highlight of the day, with Velvet Revolver being a total waste of stage time; utterly generic stadium rock. Yawn. We spent most of the rest of the evening hopping between beer tents. PMMP was pretty fun but the crowd was too… crowdy for Janka, so we bailed out. Disco Ensemble was ok, what little we saw of them. Fat Beat Sound System sounded like it might actually be pretty good, but our pre-ordered taxi was arriving around that time (a bit past 1am) and we couldn’t stay. Oh well.

Sunday we again skipped the early-afternoon festival program and stayed in Ylistaro, eating a grill-breakfast-brunch thingy and lazing around (with some light acrobatics on the lawn thrown into the mix). When we finally got to Provinssirock we heard that the other main performer of the day, Amy Winehouse, had cancelled “due to medical reasons”. Because it’s fairly well know that she has an alcohol problem, there was (and still is) quite a bit of talk about exactly what sort of “medical reason” we could be talking about here, and if it might be related to the “medical condition” a lot of us had in the morning… A bummer in any case, I was looking forward to seeing her. With Amy a no-show, the day’s musical offerings slimmed down a bit. We watched Grand Slam play old Juice songs, not high art in any sense but a good bit of nostalgic fun. In a happy turn of events, the final big-stage band (Scissor Sisters) turned out to be very good; excellent show, and fun “gay disco” dance music. They (also) poked slightly evil fun at Amy Winehouse, with things like “we’ll dedicate the next song to Amy, it’s about drugs”

Anyway, I was pretty amused to see the Provinssi big stage final show, which so often has been yet another testosterone-poisoned heavy metal posturing band, be dominated by a NYC-based gay disco band this time around. Everyone seemed to be having a lot of fun, the sunshine helped create a good party mood.

After Scissor Sisters it was “find car, bundle in, drive forever”. Thankfully the roads were pretty empty and we made good time, being able to curl at home among the attention-deprived cats before it was ridiculouly late.

So… another Provinssi. No absolutely amazing musical performances this time around, but some “very good” ones. Add lots of nice people, fierce sunshine, copious amounts of alcohol and good food to that, and the result feels like a vacation.

Sound and fury

Tuesday had us at the Nine Inch Nails concert, which I had managed to almost forget about until sometime that same day (somehow I remembered it being the next week). Ooops. I’ve always been some sort of NIN fan, Janka was bravely along as mascot even though she doesn’t much care for their music.

Well, what can I say; it was another excellent concert from them. I find it hard to compare this and Provinssirock, I maybe liked Provinssi even better but that might have been just because there I was among the crowd there instead of seated. NIN does very physical music, you feel a bit like an outsider unless you’re in the action. Very energetic show, with Trent and the guys bouncing around the stage, and the musicianship was again impeccable – very exact, very professional. They delivered their trademark “wall of sound punctuated with brief bursts of silence” sound with style. These guys are very good on stage. Not that they exactly suck on CD, either.

It showed that this was the last concert on their tour. Some goofing around, and all that. It must be quite a project being on one of these big tours, you’re basically on the road for months on end, performing to huge crowds nonstop. I can imagine it’s quite exhausting, mentally and physically.

The warmup band, Ladytron was in the “mostly harmless” category. I’ve seen worse, but have seen lots better. Some of the tracks probably work well as dance tracks (Seventeen, notably), but here not that much. Their lyrics were simplistic and stage presence so-so. Mostly harmless.

Anyway, looks to be a nice upcoming concert summer/fall, notable stuff includes:

  • Sunday 27.5: Placebo (managed to get tickets via huuto.net, yay!)
  • Friday 15.6 - Sunday 17.6: the Provinssirock festival, with Tori Amos, Patti Smith, etc
  • Monday 29.10: Rush (if I manage to get tickets)

American Doll Trio

Holy batshit, Batman.

Tori Amos is coming to Provinssirock. I’m so there.

Seems she’s touring as a trio this time (with bandmates Jon Evans and Matt Chamberlain). The tour will be centered around the upcoming American Doll Posse album; only heard one song from it so far (Big Wheel), but already it promises to be better than the slightly disappointing Beekeeper. Tori’s at her best when she has attitude, and the new album is reportedly more confrontational and even somewhat political; it opens with the song Yo George – and you can guess which George that refers to.

We’ll see. I absolutely loved Scarlet’s Walk, so I’m hoping Beekeeper was just a glitch. It wasn’t bad as such, just mostly bland.

As an aside from the “don’t know if I want to laugh or cry” department: apparently many U.S. radio stations are refusing to play Big Wheel, because if contains the (repeated) refrain “I’m a MILF”… where MILF has the fairly established meaning of “Mother I’d Like to Fuck”. So welcome to the sad ol’ Puritanical U.S., where even abbreviations get caught in the “no sex please, we’re Americans” filter. Sigh.

With the album main promo image having Tori standing in a suburban driveway, with a Bible in one hand and “shame” written on the other, and blood running down her leg from under her skirt… this album might just contain some attitude. Here’s hoping.

NIN coming to Finland (again)

I was browsing Helsingin Sanomat in the cafeteria during lunch today and noticed that Nine Inch Nails is coming to Helsinki next spring. Now, I used to listen to NIN a lot quite a few years back, but after a while it seemed that Trent Reznor was just repeating himself and lost (some) interest. Then, about two years ago he came out with the album With Teeth – and it rocked. Admittedly, it didn’t tread much new ground musically, but it was tight, streamlined and, yes, much more melodic than his “in-between” albums. It got me somewhat interested again.

Then that summer NIN came to Finland for the first time, luckily to Provissirock which we were going to anyway. I wasn’t expecting all that much, frankly, but was pretty much blown away – that gig was one of the best festival shows I’ve ever seen. The energy in that tent was just incredible, and the blasts of wall-to-wall sound seemed like a physical thing sometimes. Pretty much all the songs sounded better than their album versions, which says a lot - Reznor is a studio perfectionists, and the albums are good. However, they don’t really bring across the raw power of the live show (Iggy Pop has the same problem, actually). I’ve heard praises of NIN live shows before, and now I understand why. They rock live.

All that as a prelude to the fact that I now tried to get tickets for the April concert. As always, the Lippupalvelu web service tried to offer crappy seats to me in the beginning, so I just gave up for a while and tried again in the afternoon – and lo & behold, now I got excellent seats, on the sidelines really close to the stage. I guess that someone’s reservation had expired. Waiting a bit seems to be a workable strategy – unless the show sells out at once, of course.

I don’t expect as good a show as Provinssirock – the hockey stadium isn’t as intimate as a festival tent, and NIN doesn’t (maybe) have us much to prove now. Still, it should be good. One hopes.

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