Monday, November 02, 2009

Finland 5

I know I know, every picture from Finland so far has been of Moomins, but isn't a peroxide blond bad boy also a beloved character from your childhood?

On to the bands...

Astrid Swan and the Drunken Lovers- First band I saw of the festival. Tart and catchy new wave-laced pop, but Ms. Swan's sparkly dress got diminished considerably by the dudes in her band wearing bowler hats. It set an unfortunate trend for mis-matched band outfits.

Downstairs- Blame it on the lead singer's beard, but this band reminded me of Les Savy Fav. Their band blurb though references: "The Fall or early Bad Seeds with a sound that has been compared to NWA and Shellac."

Miss Saana and the Missionaries- Retro throwback from a 15-person ensemble. Miss Saana had the pipes (think Bassey and Staton) to not get lost in the string quartets, backing singers, horn section and a dreadlocked organist, but how can she pay all these folks though?

Cosmobile- An oi band before they got broadband, allowing them to download their new influences: Green Day, Talking Heads, Vampire Weekend. Another friend made a game out of guessing what their influences were for each and every song. He heard lots of Paul Simon.

Plain Ride- Was told that this band was the Smog of Finland and they do have roots in Circle, which should've been a good thing. But Finnish dudes singing about "the bayou" is not a good thing. Lead singer is draped in Jeff Tweedy's flannel, there's a total long-hair hesher guitarist, and a keyboardist in a black turtleneck, but in the end, they sound like George Thorogood: "B-b-b-b-bad."

Joensuu 1685- Every single person I encountered at the Lost in Music Festival, locals and international guests alike, insisted that I catch this trio, who were billed as being along the lines of Jesus & Mary Chain and Spacemen 3, meaning pouty, trance-inducing psych noise cloaked in heavy reverb. Such word of mouth also guaranteed that the entire city was seemingly packed into the club for their performance. The androgynous look of their lead singer had me hoping that a woman might be unleashing such a roar, but alas. A decent enough band, but when they blew a fuse onstage, it broke the spell for me and I missed their cover of "I'm On Fire." Which leads to the Catch-22 of the music scene here, or anywhere up and coming. If you sing in your native tongue, you run the risk of remaining only in your niche market. But if you switch to English, you are then a third-tier simulacra of bigger bands, like, JAMC and S3.

Regina- Seeing this trio gave me great hope that there might be something good brewing here. Solid grooves and well-crafted breaks inform their sleek dance-pop. Even singing in their native tongue (save for one song which had Indian war whoops, which I did understand) couldn't stop them from being the most intriguing and catchy band I caught all weekend.

Reckless Love- For as much as Finland's indie rock scene would like to forget, the biggest rock band to come out of Finland remains Hanoi Rocks. While most of the delegates attention is turned elsewhere, one night we decide to dabble in the heavy metal showcases, meaning we are the only men in a room full of hot Finnish women squeezed into black leather, spandex and sparkles, hip-swaying to Reckless Love.
Clad in similar outfits themselves, the band sang "I Love Rock'n'Roll" in Finnish and then proceeded to made eye contact with every woman in the room during "Beautiful Woman." It's as if Use Your Illusion never came out and Brett Michaels never had to resort to doing Rock of Love, as Poison still ruled the airwaves. It's as if Nirvana, hip-hop, Neutral Milk Hotel, and Radiohead never happened, or at least, never reached Finland. Wait, is that a bad thing?