Report by: Samuli Keskitalo and Anneli Keski-Petäjä
Welcome to South Park 2016. It’s a middle sized open air festival in Tampere. This festival was built upon the ruins of Sauna Open Air Metal Festival which was between 2004 and 2013. South Park has now been organized for the third time, and there has been a good amount of big heavy metal acts like Def Leppard, Helloween, Accept, and this year the main acts were Slayer, Bullet For My Valentine, Soilwork and Powerwolf. Also current heavy and rock acts from Finland were the big part of this year’s line up. The name South Park means ”eteläpuisto” in Finnish, and it fits well because the place where the festival takes it’s place is called Eteläpuisto. It’s a little park very near to the lake. But even if the framework is very good, and line-up looks very good also, it doesn’t guarantee the nice and warmly festival experience: We are now in Finland where the weather conditions even in summer are a little tricky. On arrival in Tampere the weather looked just fine and warm, and when Slayer finished their headlining show in the evening on the first day it was freaking cold. But, anyway, welcome aboard!
The festival was kicked off by Temple Balls at the main stage. Earlier this year Temple Balls managed to make a good impressions by supporting Reckless Love, even if the material wasn’t so familiar. By now their songs are starting to be more familiar, and I have to say it works well. Temple Balls just finished recording their debut album, and this material played today was based on that record. For example the songs Six Ways To Sunday and We Stand Tall are very catchy ones, and even this band is in the starting point they can handle big stages well. When the debut album comes out you should definitely check it out!
After a few changes in the timetables Santa Cruz was the next act to start at the second stage. Originally Santa Cruz was meant to play much later that day but there were some mandatory changes to do because they had to catch the plane to England for the Download Festival. Anyway, the second stage was almost filled up with people who wanted to see that band – even if the timetable was now many hours early. These young rockers was lately supporting Sebastian Bach for six weeks in the USA, and now they are back in Europe for summer festivals. Bonafide Heroes was their starting song which works fine live! Velvet Rope and My Remedy followed right after. Also their new single record, called Skydiving Without A Parachute, was played. Maybe the best ones what they played, among Bonafire Heroes, were We Are The Ones To Fall, Wasted & Wounded and Aiming High which closed up their part of the festival. Nice job, and hopefully you caught the plane on time!
Everybody knows that Anton Kabanen is not anymore part of Battle Beast. They ran into difference of opinions and Battle Beast decided to continue without Anton. Battle Beast played also at South Park, and now it was a good chance to see how his substitute takes care of his role – and he was good and without problems. Far Far Away, I Want The World… And Everything In It and Out On The Streets were the first three songs to play. Battle Beast has now published three studio albums, and the biggest part of the setlist was from their second album, Battle Beast from 2013. Unholy Savior is absolutely their best album so far and the song Touch In The Night came also. Catchy song in it’s entirety, and big plus for the solo, but that Miami Vice themed intro is a big joke. However, heavy and metal music is often about clichés, so maybe it would be forgiven.
Amorphis is always one of the ”house acts” of every metal festival in Finland. Their part of the night was almost like a reflection from their South Park 2015 show: Just before the first song it started to rain, again. Their newest studio record from last year is still the big part of their setlist, which is only a good thing – the best Amorphis album so far. Under The Red Cloud, Sacrifice and Bad Blood, all in a row. It seemed also that the singer Tomi Joutsen had a little technical difficulties with his microphone and the vocals went totally off. By the song Sacrifice the difficulties were luckily no more and the show continued – but at the same time the rain just increased. There were many journalists in the photo pit who left the pit because of a rain but the audience stayed there however. One of the good highlights of their show was when the original singer and guitarist Tomi Koivusaari took part of the song Drowned Maid and sang that song as a duet with Tomi Joutsen – and this time Koivusaari’s microphone was loud enough to hear his vocals.
Finland has a good range of metal acts right now, especially when is comes to the young ones. Lost Society is a band who is managed to make their break-through very good, and this year has been a very busy one for them. Their Braindead Over The World Tour started few weeks ago in Tampere, and now they are back. Lost Society can always deliver a huge amount of wild energy at the stage, and Samy Elbanna is one of the best musician right now in Finland. Braindead came out early this year and it was a blast, and also the band themselves might be thinking it’s a very good record because 80% of the setlist comes from the Braindead album. For example I Am The Antidote and Hollow Eyes is absolutely good ones. Second stage was almost totally filled up when they rocked up the place with good thrash metal for 45 minutes. See you next time, LxSx!
There is only a handful of bands who has ever made it outside of Switzerland. Everybody knows Tom Gabriel Fischer and his band Celtic Frost. Triptykon has now been Tom’s life for a many years but of course every Triptykon show contains some songs from Celtic Frost era – so it was also at South Park and the band started with Circle Of The Tyrants – bull’s eye! But actually there were only a couple Celtic Frost songs, all the rest was Triptykon’s own material from their two albums. A Thousand Lies, Altar Of Deceit, Goetia and so on. And Tom’s Ibanez Iceman guitar model was definitely the finest of the festival – stunning painting from the album art work. They played the song The Prolonging as a ending song which contains a little under 20 minutes duration. It overlapsed about five minutes and Stam1na, who were about to start at the second stage, had to postponed their stage time a little. But this is a festival, it’s fine.
All the photographers were ready to go to the photo pit just before we were told that Slayer hasn’t even showed up to the festival area, and their stage time is just about to begin. That’s why there were about 20 minutes delay. After we finally got to the pit the show started with intro tape Delusions Of Savior and then the title track Repentless. Sometimes there might be discussions if Slayer is Slayer anymore because Hanneman is dead and Dave Lombardo is no longer part of the band – but now the show and playing was successful! A couple of years ago it felt like Slayer have been slowing their tempos in songs a little bit but now it feels again the songs were played as recorded in the studio. And Slayer can very easily mix their setlists in every show – for example now the song followed after Repentless was Die By The Sword, and if you check out the setlists before the show in Tampere there has been many others ones which was played after Repentless. Slayer is normally just ”song after a song” show where Tom Araya does only couple speeches between the songs but now there were also a few nice visual things: Couple of different backdrops, another one was painted for a memory of Jeff Hanneman with his famous Heineken themed logo and it popped up nicely just before Angel Of Death when Tom Araya did his scream at the beginning. This particular screaming part sounded better than in years, let me say. Slayer also collected the biggest audience of the day.
The second festival day started with a little rain. Arrival to the festival area was something about 14:30 o´clock when Thunderstone already played at the main stage. Skullbanger Media was scheduled to interview Shiraz Lane at three o´clock, and this interview is also coming up at skullbanger.net. Anyway the little snippet from Thunderstone sounded very good, and would be nice to see them again soon.
Blind Channel was the first act to watch that day. They mixed a little pop and rock effects to the sound of metal, and the vocalist Niko Moilanen looked and acted like the pop artist Justin Bieber – and many from the crowd noticed that thing for sure. Anyway they looked very energetic at the stage, and there were some fresh parts also in the show. Thomas Grove from Ember Falls also visited the stage for a one song.
Mokoma usually can put on a very good show, and it doesn’t matter if the show at the festival, in the ice hall or a club gig – there is always people at the show. They kicked off the show with Kuollut, kuolleempi, kuollein which continued by Lunnaat and Kiellän itseni. This guitar twins (Kuisma Aalto & Tuomo Saikkonen) is always fine in the live situation, and they have been sometimes compared to Kerry King and Jeff Hanneman from Slayer. The setlist was a nice mix of old and new stuff – for example the old ones were Punainen kukko and Poltetun maan taktiikkaa. Hei hei heinäkuu has been one of the biggest hits of a new era of Mokoma, and the crowd accepts it always by singing along and waving the hands with the music in the chorus. Pohja on nähty was the last song they played, and those lyrics – like all lyrics from Elävien kirjoihin record – deals when Marko Annala was depressed.
One of the most awaited acts this day was Shiraz Lane, the young rock group also from Finland. They published their For Crying Out Loud debut album through Frontiers label, and this record has garnered very high positive feedback from a lot of places. Skullbanger Media interviewed these guys earlier this day and it was easy to find out that this band is working very hard right now to make their presence known. Like Temple Balls they could easily be the next big rock act from Finland. There were many fans waiting for them long before showtime, and the waiting was worth it when the gig started with the song Wake Up. Many songs were played in their stage time, and Shiraz Lane was totally enjoying by playing. Hannes Kett was also wearing a cool straight jacket in a some parts of the show – just like in videos for the songs For Crying Out Loud and Mental Slavery.
Powerwolf, also known as the werewolfes from Germany, made their first appearance in Finland last year. It was held at Tavastia, Helsinki and some sources say there were only handful of people out there to watch the show. That same year they made also a festival show in Tuska Open Air in Helsinki. Third time tells the truth: There were now many people to check out their show. Good too because Powerwolf’s shows are catchy and full of energy. Keyboardist Falk Maria Schlegel, took along with the singer Attila Dorn, the audience totally with them, there were many singalongs and it felt like the audience knew the band this time and the material. During the song Amen & Attack another backdrop seemed to be ripped off by the wind and another backdrop behind it showed up too early – because a few weeks ago in Dortmund that backdrop came at the ending parts of the show. Well, it was very windy when Powerwolf played so maybe the wind decided to make a little trick… Powerwolf also announced that they will come to Finland again for their own headlining show this autumn – das passt gut! Herzlich willkommen wieder!
This year’s line up contained a few names which were there also last year. Santa Cruz, Amorphis and Reckless Love for example. The two first mentioned bands made good shows, and Reckless Love was next to come and yes, they also put on a pretty good show. You could easily say that the gig was very safe with the songs like Animal Attraction, So Happy I Could Die, Hot and so on. However, those songs are good and catchy, and especially good summer time music. Luckily for now it was also sunny out there. Also Soilwork and Diablo had good stage times and position to play at the beginning of the evening when the area was filled with people. Diablo also seemed to film their show – maybe in the near future there will be video material to come? Special points to Soilwork for hitting big circle pits – but not the biggest ones: There was still Bullet For My Valentine to come who definitely led the absolutely biggest ones. But also the violent ones sadly. Many people during the show was lead away from the pit because of a leg injury, or a some kind of hit to the head. Mosh and circle pits are cool-looking but when the thing is getting violent then it’s not so fun anymore. B F M V, like their good-looking backdrop says, played about 13 songs. Many big hit ones like The Last Fight, 4 Words (To Choke Upon), Scream Aim Fire. Especially when Scream Aim Fire was played the circle pits was as its biggest. At least security people and the Finnish red cross was fully overworked. The show was also loaded with pyro technics which is always cool. Jamie Mathias is a new bass player who was hired last year, and he did the good job as a background vocalist as well. Tears Don’t Fall and Waking The Demon were the last songs played.
Overall South Park 2016 worked well and everything was just fine, the area for media people was nice and located right next to the main stage so the media people had good places to watch the shows from there in the shady place. And like it was mentioned earlier, the weather conditions is always a little tricky when you are dealing with an open air situation but this time only cold in the evenings were the only problem. And the amount of visitors were about 9000, and the organization has published that the festival will happen again next year in 2017. Let’s see what kind of stars we have then to check out!