Thu 5 Apr – Kotiteollisuus
Probably the northernmost gig I'll ever attend, about 170 km north of the Arctic Circle.
It was certainly an interesting experience. A few friends and I were on a road trip in Scandinavia culminating with a three-night stay in Lapland, and we wanted to take the opportunity to see a concert among other things, since Finland is a country with the highest per-capita concentration of metal bands in the world. But, we picked a time when there weren't any majorly interesting bands playing in any of the cities we wanted to visit. Two of my friends are quite into Kotiteollisuus
, though, and after browsing through their discography for about a month, I figured I might give it a try as well. So, on the third day of our stay in the region, three of us went - me, another guy, and the girl who got us into it. (As a bonus, our residence was about a two hours' drive from the venue - not that short a distance for a Central European guy, although it was certainly quite near by Lappish standards, to say nothing of other parts of the world like North America.)
Things got off to a fairly bad start. From the venue's website, we understood that the show was to start at 9 PM. We arrived on time and found the place fairly easily, but it turned out that a) it was basically a disco hall, b) 9 PM was only the opening time, and the concert wouldn't start until about 11.30. The guards were quite unhelpful, they refused to let me in with my camera (which was expected) and forced us to use the cloakroom even though we didn't really need it (not expected, and very mean because the cloakroom carried a €3 fee on top of the €17 ticket price). Beer ("Koff" brand) was expensive and awful, and only the girl could drink it since she wasn't a potential driver; non-alcoholic beer was cheaper, but it tasted even worse to me (interestingly, my friends both preferred it over the real thing). My friends spent the time chatting, while I did my usual thing - staring at the ceiling, bored to bits and pissed with myself because I couldn't think of a way to enter the conversation. Most of the time I couldn't even hear them over the disco music anyway, since they were just talking between themselves. And this went on for three full hours because the band didn't come onstage until midnight.
Then there was the actual gig. It was decent. The band is a very minimalist setup - just three guys, lead vocals/rhythm guitar, backing vocals/bass, and a drummer. They can rock like hell, but they don't have anything like a lead guitarist, let alone keyboards or anything else, so their music has almost no solos or lofty instrumental parts, especially in the live show. I was amused that I could understand a fair portion of what they were saying, having thoroughly studied this page
beforehand. I have to say Finnish (or is it just Lappish?) metal fans are kind of a weird bunch. All the people who assembled during the disco hours and danced to the disco music, then listened to the band and sang along whole choruses, so they obviously were their true listeners. Among them were boys who looked like 16 (apparently they don't really care about drinking age that much in Lapland) as well as prim and proper ladies in their 50s/60s. Also, this was probably the first time when I was the second-most metalhead-dressed person at a metal concert, by virtue of wearing a band shirt and black pants. (The only one who outdid me was our female friend who's quite into gothic fashion, and who got us into Kotiteollisuus in the first place.)
There was one bizarre episode when a moderately drunk young Finnish guy came up to me during one of the songs and tried to have a friendly conversation with me.
The Finn yelled into my ear: "Höögkjaalfajgšeenmsi iiaajgfxxeen luuksitroeeksski kjasdgawep!"
I yelled back: "I'm sorry, I don't speek Finnish!" (I could have just said "painu hiiteen, paskapää!", but he seemed friendly, so I figured this was no time to show off my language skills.)
The Finn continued: "Öösiopäkkhjsad aishffieuwä sdkuussgh kkielafhffk!"
I screamed even louder and slower: "I don't speak Finnish!"
The Finn then said something equally intelligible, but this time souning like drunken broken English, then smiled, gave me a firm friendly handshake, and walked away. I'm still wondering what he was trying to tell me. (I like to think he was commenting on my Master's Hammer
shirt, it's drawn comments before.)
The band played for some 75 minutes, then left, and so did we. The roads in Lapland are simply amazing - good surfaces, low traffic, gorgeous environment and the best weather we could have asked for (which was true for most of our trip, actually). When I drove there, it was a slow Arctic sunset the whole time, and within its surroundings the Levi hill looked almost like Sněžka, the tallest Czech mountain, despite being only some 500 metres above sea level. On the way back, it was a deep night, and there were polar rabbits running across the roads. We never encountered a moose in spite of all the road signs. Even the third-class county road leading to our house was in better shape than most Czech roads - there was some ice, but the surface was almost spotless, and the road was always comfortably wide. The higher roads we traveled on didn't even have ice on them. It really puts you to shame knowing that a country road out in the woods on the edge of Europe is in far better shape than the main highway in your own country! We got back after 3 AM, then hit the sauna for a while. When I went to bed around four, it was already slowly dawning.
Overall, it was so-so. The gig itself was okay, but - through no fault of the band - the rest kinda sucked, and to be honest, the drive there and back was probably the best part of the evening, as well as the feel of exclusivity from having braved the Arctic Circle to see a band that never performs outside of Finland. Also, this could be simply because I'm a spoiled city boy not used to traveling outside Prague, but four hours in the car and a three hours' wait for the sake of a hour-and-a-quarter show seems a tad over the top. If I could send this post back in time, the me from five days ago probably would have decided it wasn't worth the money and fuel. But, again, that's not the band's fault. They were alright.