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Tuska Open Air 2013 | FESTIVALPHOTO

Tuska Open Air 2013

Finland's legendary metal festival Tuska Open Air was this year at a tough spot, as the international giants of Live Nation had booked their new Rock The Festival for the same weekend in Helsinki. But even with bands like Rammstein, Airbourne and Danko Jones playing on the same days just a stone's throw away from the Tuska area in Suvilahti, the festival managed to hold its ground by bringing in 25,000 visitors over the course of the weekend.

The 2013 edition, marking the 16th Tuska, had seen some changes from the previous year. A completely restructured area, with a large bar area closer to the two main stages, but surprisingly less food and merchandise vendors. Despite unfortunate cancellations of Children Of Bodom and The Dillinger Escape Plan, the lineup for the weekend was solid and faithfully to Tuska's policy from earlier years, a mixture of bands for all metal fans alike.

The crowd magnets for the weekend were the headliners King Diamond, Testament and Nightwish. Testament's headliner slot on Saturday seemed a little off place with them being one of the first bands on the main stage on one of the previous years. Nightwish's gig turned out to be a Floor Jansen show, whose vocal performance brought as much praise as King Diamond's squeals got rounds of laughter on Friday. Both relied on entertaining stage setups, whereas the only decorative piece on Testament's set was the Soilwork vocalist Björn, who for an awkward 5 minute guest appearance seemed completely lost on the stage, standing up there like a statue.

The club stage, a small indoor stage, saw many 25 to 45 minute sets by bands that got a rare chance to show what they've got. The most vicious short showcase sets came from Friday's death metal bulldozer Torture Killer, Satuday's melometal squadron Whispered who have heavy Japan influences and the pretty boys of Santa Cruz on Sunday.

The bands at the Tuska area might have had to end their shows already by 9-10 PM depending on the day, but as the festival is located conveniently in central Helsinki, the festival continues on several afterparty club shows in the city. The new 'supergroup' band The Resistance got many curious on Friday at the Tavastia club, especially with Marco Aro being announced the new The Haunted singer just earlier that same day, but their 01:00 showtime was a little rough for Finns who have started their festival day with beers already at noon. Other afterparty shows saw many cover bands, a grindcore band from Indonesia (!), and more mellow doom metal shows at the Nosturi club. Once again the afterparty shows offered almost as much interesting gigs as the festival itself.

It's hard to put a finger on what makes going to Tuska so appealing every year. For many it's simply a tradition, an annual get together of friends you might no longer see at any other time of the year, but you know they'll be at Tuska. It's one of those festivals that has such a strong brand and long history, that it really doesn't even have to compete with bands as this weekend's turnout proved. The folks at Live Nation must be wondering why so many people would rather go sit on a grass field at Tuska's park bar regardless of the bands playing, rather than go to see Rammstein's bombastic show on their fancy beach festival.

Because on the Tuska weekend you simply go to Tuska - that's why.

Writer: Lari
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