Festival Report: Saturday 29.7 at Qstock, Oulu


qstock_theme_logo_2017_posThis Saturday it was time to head north. It has been three years since I last visited Qstock, so it was nice to be there again. The two-day festival was sold out. Regarding rock and metal, some of this year’s bands were Marilyn Manson, Danko Jones, Michael Monroe, S-Tool and Apulanta on Friday while Alice Cooper, Imperial State Electric, Battle Beast, Amaranthe, The Charm The Fury and more played on Saturday.

Battle Beast was the first band of the night for me when they played in the circus tent. There was nothing wrong with the band’s performance, but unfortunately, the mix was just terrible. The vocals and the guitars very barely audible from the beginning of the set, while the drums were very loud. The vocals of Noora Louhimo were restored to some kind of audiability during the set, but the rhythm guitars were pretty much completely lost all the way through. Songs like Lost in Wars and King for a Day suffered massively due to this. These songs should work really well live, but now they just sounded weird.

The best song of the set was in my opinion Far from Heaven, probably largely because the guitars are not so prominent in this song. Battle Beast played many songs from the new album Bringer of Pain, for example the title track, Straight to the Heart and Familiar Hell, in addition to the already mentioned ones. The set also included older songs such as Black Ninja and Touch in the Night. It was truly a pity that the sound was so shitty, because the band really put on a show that would have deserved proper mixing.  

The Dutch band The Charm The Fury is a new acquaintance for me. The band played a very energetic set at the Kooma stage and I really enjoyed it a lot. I am very impressed by the vocalist Caroline Westendorp, who manages three different styles of vocals. Her growls/screams and clean voice are both really good, and she had no difficulties in the transitions between these. Moreover, Westendorp manages a really cool Anselmish vocal style that is something between clean and growls, and this is something that I do not think that I have heard a female vocalist do so well before.

The Charm The Fury really instigated the audience to move, and they succeeded in this after a slightly careful start on the crowd’s part. The only song I had heard before was Echoes, which the band also played this evening. Westendorp said that this was the first time the band played in Finland, and I believe they got some new fans thanks to this gig. The Charm The Fury really lived up to the name in my opinion since the set was both charming and furious. Do check this band out if you have the chance.

Imperial State Electric played at the Kooma stage a little later. The Swedish band is fronted by Nicke Andersson, who is perhaps most known from The Hellacopters. I had actually not heard any of the bands material before, but they offered a very nice rock’n’roll set with great atmosphere. Feel free to correct me if I am wrong, but I would say that we do not really have any prominent bands that play this type of music in Finland for some reason, but the audience seemed to enjoy this band very much.

The Swedes played songs such as Down in the Bunker, Redemption’s Gone and Reptile Brain. I liked how the band’s bassist Dolph de Borst dropped the bass at one point to sing an entire song while guitarist Tobias Egge picked up the bass instead. Imperial State Electric’s rock’n’roll works very well live and the audience really tried their best to cheer the band out for an encore, but I suppose that there was no more time. If you are into garage rock and the like, you should like this band.  

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The beautiful festival area seen from above. Photo by Jussi Finnilä.

I have seen Alice Cooper once before, but that is already seven years ago at Sonisphere. This man is almost 70 years old, but he is certainly one of few that still got what it takes to be a real rock star. He sings well and he is still very much a showman. The set included the mandatory beheading and the appearance of a giant Frankenstein on stage during Feed My Frankenstein. A lot of other stuff is going on all the time on stage as well, but the songs are still performed well in every way.

I could of course once again complain about killing time with guitar and drum solos, but these were more interesting than in general because the drum solo included bass and the guitar solo had some piano parts that made it less boring. Also, I really enjoy the guitar playing of Nita Strauss, so she kind of gets away with it in my book. Alice Cooper played songs like the quite heavy opening song Brutal World, He’s Back, Billion Dollar Babies, Ballad of Dwight Fry, I’m Eighteen, the new song Paranoiac Personality and of course hits such as Poison, No More Mr. Nice Guy, and the encore School’s Out. Michael Monroe joined the band on stage for the last song.

Alice Cooper is definitely still worth seeing, there is no doubt about that. The elaborate show is one of a kind, and it almost makes the performance appear as a rock musical where Alice Cooper is the protagonist. I am just so impressed that he is still so good. Do not miss out on Alice Cooper if you have the chance to see the band live, especially if you have not seen the show before.

As already mentioned, Qstock was sold out so the festival was a success once again. Everything was well organized on the festival area and there was almost no scrum at all even though a lot of people attended the festival. In conclusion, it was very pleasant visit and I will surely go to Oulu again next year if the band supply strikes my fancy.

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