Festival report: South Park, Tampere 6-7.6


Replacing Sauna Open Air, South Park festival was arranged for the first time this year. The festival area is the same, and everything else was also very similar to Sauna Open Air. It’s really only the name that is different, but there is no harm in that. The festival was two days, and began on Friday. Skid Row functioned as headliner the first day, while Europe finished the festival on Saturday. There was not really anything to complain about concerning the arrangements, and the band line-up was also decent for a new festival. Other bands, in addition to the headliners, were for example W.A.S.P, Sonata Arctica, H.E.A.T, Sparzanza, Lost Society, Poisonblack, Brother Firetribe, Doom Unit, Shining and Battle Beast.

Friday

Arriving a little later than planned on Friday because of heavy rain, we reached the main stage to see most of Sparzanza’s performance. As usual, they performed a heavy and solid set. Sonata Arctica was the following band on the main stage, and the only thing I found a little disappointing was the setlist.

1. The Wolves Die Young
2. Losing My Insanity
3. My Land
4. Cloud Factory
5. Fullmoon
6. X Marks the Spot
7. Love
8. Kingdom for a Heart
9. Wolf and Raven
10. In the Dark
11. Blood
12. I Have a Right
13. Don’t Say a Word

“Love” could without a doubt be left out in my opinion. It is quite a boring song and the set feels a little slow when “In the Dark” and “I Have a Right” also were played. I would have liked to hear “Cinderblox”, “Somewhere Close to You” or “Caleb” instead. Festival gigs are quite short and therefore not very well suited for several ballads to be played. I am also very tired of “Fullmoon”, which accordingly also could be dropped. I am one of those rare people who really like “Unia”, and I would not mind hearing something from that album as well. However, there is nothing wrong with the performance itself; Sonata Arctica has developed quite a lot as a live band since I first saw them many years ago. They seem to get better at that all the time.

Sonata Arctica. Photo by Jukka Vahter.
Sonata Arctica. Photo by Jukka Vahter.

Surprisingly, the best act of the night took place on the tent stage right after Sonata Arctica. Dimebag Beyond Forever consists of a almost 20 different members who took turns playing Pantera songs, and they played them masterfully with great energy. Pantera songs always seem to work since there is something almost mythical around them, especially when performed as well as this. A really great job by all the guys in the band.

Skid Row. Photo by Jukka Vahter.
Skid Row. Photo by Jukka Vahter.

Skid Row ended the night and of course played all their hits. No complaints about this either, but Skid Row just is not the same without Sebastian Bach. Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with Johnny Solinger, but Mr. Bach added something extra to the band. I am not familiar with their newer material, but at least it is always great to hear classics like “Monkey Business”, “Slave to the Grind” and “The Youth Gone Wild”. A solid performance on the whole.

Saturday

Again arriving late to avoid getting soaked before even getting into the festival site, we missed a couple of songs of Battle Beast. I have not heard anything else than their hits on the radio, but the crowd seemed to like it a lot. It was actually a really good atmosphere considering that they played quite early on the day. Battle Beast seemed to be a very suitable band for South Park.

The by far most energetic performance followed right after. Lost Society entered the tent stage with such frenzy that I don’t think I have ever seen anything like it. The boys deliver raw and fast thrash with a stunning stage performance. Like duracell bunnies on speed, I imagine. Moshpit accomplished. The sound could have been better, but it is always difficult to mix the sound in a tent, and thrash is perhaps not as dependent on clear sound as more melodic genres. It is supposed to be rough, and it truly was.

Photo by Jukka Vahter
Lost Society made the crowd go nuts. Photo by Jukka Vahter

The Swedish band H.E.A.T surprised me a little with being quite a lot better than I had thought. Their musical style is not my cup of tea, but I think the band was better live than the few songs I have heard before in other media. The frontman Erik Grönwall, winner of Swedish Idol 2009, is without a doubt a fantastic singer, and the other guys in the band do their work in a professional way.

Time for Poisonblack, which I looked most forward to despite the fact that I have seen them live about seven times before. The setlist was in my opinion very good for a festival gig.

1. Mercury Falling
2. Flavour of the Month
3. A Good Day for the Crows
4. Down the Ashes Rain
5. Futile Man
6. Buried Alive
7. Piston Head
8. The State
9. Left Behind
10. Rush
11. Home Is Where the Sty Is

Photo by Jukka Vahter
Poisonblack. Photo by Jukka Vahter

I like that they start with “Mercury Falling” instead of ending with it, which they did last time I saw them. It feels more suitable this way. I think the set is a great mixture of songs, including much of their songs with higher tempo and a couple of slower ones like “The State” and the fantastic “Futile Man”. I also like that they play songs from all of their albums regularly. There were a lot of people watching them as well, which sadly have not been the case several times when I have seen Poisonblack back in time. The crowd was really cheering and I believe Mr. Laihiala and his band mates got a little extra motivated because of it. This was certainly one of the best shows I have seen by them.

I have never been a fan of W.A.S.P, but it was really interesting to see them live and hear how Blackie Lawless sounds these days. His voice is still in good shape and he did a really good job, as did the others in the band. Having heard nothing but their hits, I was happy to hear some other songs as well, and these sounded really good indeed. I really liked the slower songs which had some great guitar solos in them, but I have no idea what their names are. W.A.S.P offered an entertaining set, showing that they are still worth seeing. For those who are interested, W.A.S.P will be playing at Nummirock 26th June.

Joey Tempest of Europe. Photo by Jukka Vahter.
Joey Tempest of Europe. Photo by Jukka Vahter.

Europe were given the honour to finish the festival, and played quite a long set. The band sounds very good, and you can tell that all of the members are really skilled and professional. The crowd started to get a little stiff since it was quite cold, but “The Final Countdown” and the other hits got the people going again. I am not familiar with much of Europe’s music, but they played some pretty interesting songs with cool attitude. It was quite a nice way to finish the night, apart from the cold weather.

South Park seems to have been a real success. The number of visitors exceeded 8200, while the aim was set to 6000, and it is possible that better weather would have increased the number even more. The atmosphere was nice and people seemed to enjoy themselves. The only thing one could complain about was that there were too small an amount of toilets. The queues were usually quite long. But to sum this up, South Park was downright enjoyable, and I look forward to next year.

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