Last year we went to Blowup festival in Finland for the very first time and quickly discovered it to be a dark gem of an event. Every year it offers some of the most interesting artists of the realm of underground music like doom metal, sludge, stoner, industrial, experimental,… We called it a “mini Roadburn” and looking at the interesting and eclectic mix of artists they offered us again this edition, that only got confirmed again!
Two days in, we were getting pretty exhausted. But Blowup wasn’t ready with us yet. Earlier in the day they had a special tour at a local brewery including a special performance by a local artist that due to its limited capacity we couldn’t cover. But it sounded like a really interesting addition to the overall festival experience. The last day promised again a lot of great shows by a whole lot of diverse artists.
The first artist of the last day was again set up for their show on the new Attic stage. There the Finnish duo Nykypost brought an intriguing performance combining minimalist electronica, spoken word and projected images. Despite everything being in Finnish, and thus not understanding much of it, it felt like a thoroughly emotional experience and was yet again a nice intimate way to start the day.
Back to the main stage, Lustmord set up shop. The one artist behind the moniker stood dead still behind his laptop, absolutely concentrated to the ambient drone he send our way. In almost complete darkness besides the shine of the laptop screen and fitting imagery on the screen behind him, it was an unreal experience taking you away from this planet called Earth for the while of the performance.
The room turned deep green, so we knew it was time for a doom monster to rise from the depths of the ocean. German Ahab played a crushing set filled with intricate songwriting and steeped in smoke, green and blue light. It was an impressive show with not a lot of frills, but delivering on what we all were there for: damn good music. You could almost feel the pressure I assume you would feel when you spend time that deep under water.
Finnish death/doom outfit Rippikoulu was another impressive act. Steeped in darkness and melancholy they dragged you into their poetic despair, even if you couldn’t understand the Finnish lyrics. The drab and gloomy emotions beaming from mainly vocalist Anssi were almost palpable and turned the show into a very captivating performance.
Lana Del Rabies (*****)
Back to the Attic stage for another very artsy performance by Lana Del Rabies. This dark electronic act combines noise, industrial and darkwave music with sheer raw emotion into yet again a mesmerizing show. The artist behind this solo project stares in the distance, smears black stuff on her face, shouts frantically, moves around on stage like a caged animal and comes right up in your face still shouting. It makes you feel uncomfortable, it feels unpredictable and dangerous like anything could happen on a whim, but at the same time it makes you want to stay and watch everything go down.
Eyehategod didn’t feel like they had enough with the one gig from the day before. So they stayed around and played yet another blistering set of their signature NOLA sludge. Yet again vocalist Mike drew most of the attention to him due to his attitude and stage presence. But it has to be said that the show lacked in “oomph” compared to the one of the night before. Probably mostly because of the seemingly lackluster crowd that gathered in front of the stage. Even Mike mentioned that there was less energy coming their way this time around. However, they didn’t let that influence themselves too much and simply kicked ass again.
Danish post-metal outfit LLNN takes sludge, hardcore and a couple of other elements and mold it into what they call themselves an apocalyptic sound. In almost complete darkness with sporadic lights hitting the stage and a whole bunch of smoke, they managed to create a completely different world for the length of their set. A very impressive show that sadly was over before we knew it.
Dragged Into Sunlight (*****)
Last band on the main stage then. UK-based Dragged Into Sunlight is a collective of musicians playing a blend of death, black and doom. They’re quite well-known for playing the whole show with their backs to the crowd and a big chandelier with an animal skull taking the center of attention where the vocalist normally is. The continuous dark red lighting with sporadic bright flashes of light brings an atmosphere that is only too fitting with a misanthropic and depressed kind of music like this. This was for me another highlight of the weekend where you could almost feel the dread and misery seeping from the stage.
Probably the most anticipated artist of the weekend for me, was the last one to grace the smaller corner stage. The post-industrial duo of Hide impressed me last year with an absolutely brutal and raw piece of music that I still regularly play. It sounds like a bunch of banging and noises with a droning electronic sound backing it and it feels like your face is being dragged over a floor filled with broken glass. Add to that the haunting, frantic and angry vocals shouted and moaned by the lady of the two and you get some contemporary art that is both frightening and appealing. Live it was no different. Heather Gabel was scantly dressed in a trashy outfit and moved around on stage like a lunatic, jerking and trashing around, and the regular light flashes from the sides added much to the atmosphere of danger and aggression. A damn impressive act that got me stuck to the front of the stage from start to finish of the intense half an hour set.
To really close down the festival, the Attic stage had one more act to offer. Before catching my train back home to fall into a coma sleep for the next couple of days, I caught quite a part of the Chestburster set. A heavy rock outfit that apparently is obsessed by horror movies (hence then name) and calling themselves complete losers. What I heard of their music, they play some pretty cool rock. Definitely a band I need to keep an eye on and explore further.
And with that, this amazing event was over again. At the time of writing this, we heard the news that the organizer of Blowup wants to take an indefinite break from the festival. We truly hope that he brings it back some time in the future, because this is an event of high value for the underground music scene in and outside of Finland!
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