Time to give ourselves over to the beats again! After having to skip a year due to the pandemic, Hellsinki Industrial Festival is back in full force! New location from last time, impressively international line-up, no restrictions,… We were in for quite the party, and quite possible the party of the year! Kudos to Elektrik Products and Club Infektio for playing the gamble they did, which resulted in this great event being able to take place as it did!
After a 1st day of absolute madness with a whole bunch of harsh electro and relentless beats, looking at the line-up of the 2nd day, I expected it to be a somewhat more chill night. Not to say that there wouldn’t be any opportunity to dance our souls out, but I felt that we wouldn’t get pummeled as much as the day before. This time around there was no line to speak of when trying to get into the venue, though weirdly enough I still had to show my COVID safe pass again even though the bracelet around my wrist proved that I has shown to be ok the day before. Besides the minor annoyance of that happening and a slight delay in the schedule later on, this was yet again a great night full of fantastic music. When we arrived, opening act Ten After Dawn just wrapped up their set of what seemed like again a perfect warming up for the rest of the night, but we’ll have to catch these guys again something in the future to be able to say more about their show…
Freak Injection (***1/2)
The first show we actually caught fully, was the one of the French Freak Injection, who was opening the big stage up. Having checked them out beforehand, I knew I could expect a whole lot of pink, glitters, unicorns, raccoons and overall silliness. And that’s exactly what we got! Officially kicking off their show was a unicorn creature firing off a confetti cannon, after which the band rolled into playing their music. Even before the illustrious vocalist Charlie came on stage, there was plenty to entertain already with for instance a bassist in a shark onesie. But when Charlie then actually appeared, we got greeted by someone with all the sass and wackiness you could’ve hoped for, dressed in a high pink coat and collar that made me somehow think of a more kinky and bright Cruella De Vil. They obviously sounded and looked very different from most of the acts throughout the whole weekend and at first people seemed a bit confused. But the longer the highly entertaining band played their more rock based industrial/synth music with all their stage antics included, the more people really seemed to get into it and end up loving it. They threw fake money in the crowd, their “evil raccoon” mascot dropped by (throwing a unicorn floatie into the crowd) and at the end, during ‘Daddy Is The Devil’, the actual devil showed up. This was truly a fresh (and very bright) wind and one of the most entertaining bands I’ve seen in a long while, kudos to them for that!
On to the next act then! The German dark electro duo SynthAttack could’ve been a perfect fit with most of the acts of the night before with their blend of aggrotech, EBM, harsh techno and industrial and really brought the heat to the place. After an intro that hailed the act as the saviors of true and real music and the fight against all that is fake and corporate bullshit, they kicked off and kicked it off hard! The lovely Nicole was dancing to the beats behind her setup providing the music and vocalist Martin was pacing back and forth while doing some small dance moves to the music whenever he could. While the effect heavy vocals started to sound a bit silly to me after a while, there is no denying that the music was absolutely infectious and just commanded you to dance. And their rendition of Faithless‘ “Insomnia” (one of my personal favorites) was a true delight!
State Of The Union (***1/2)
All the way from Los Angeles, the future pop band State Of The Union, centered around Johann Sebastian, took over the stage next. Which turned into a bit under an hour of extremely catchy and highly danceable music. While the melodies went in smoothly, the beats were surprisingly hard hitting and the rather enigmatic frontman had clearly the time of his life on this little stage all the way in Helsinki. It has to be said though that he was actually almost the only person we actually could see, cause man, did they love their smoke during the set! The stage was covered in a thick fog that only sporadically gave glimpses of the other live band members or even the visuals on the screen in the back. But that didn’t take away any of the fun of the show, cause who has time to look at the stage much while you’re dancing your heart out? They were a nice discovery for me and I’m already taking note of them to keep an eye out for new material being released.
Ashbury Heights (*****)
From what I gathered, there were a whole lot of people really looking forward to the show of the Swedish synth/futurepop duo Ashbury Heights. And how satisfying it was to see these people performing live! I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I was really blown away. Their songs have an incredibly uplifting and catchy quality to them, even though they’re steeped in rather dark themes. Tracks like ‘I Can Kill You So Easily’, ‘Anti Ordinary’ and the classic ‘Spiders’ crawled into my head and I was humming them still for quite a while after, with a big smile on my face. Both main man Anders Hagström, the returned original female vocalist Yasmine Uhlin and their live supporting musician radiated love for their music, each other and their fans throughout the whole set and a warm cozy feeling of being home settled within me. This might easily be one of the more memorable and enjoyable concerts of 2021 for me and I can’t wait to catch these lovely human beings on a stage again.
Last but not least, the Swedish EBM/synthpop outfit Covenant took over the stage for what would be an epic closer of this year’s edition of Hellsinki Industrial Festival. The band has been around for about 3 decades and is a favorite among many EBM and related music fans all around the world. For me personally, this was really a bucketlist band, having played their ‘Northern Light’ album to pieces for a part of my life. They played their whole set surrounded by nothing but strong backlights and relentless strobes, mostly seeing shapes and silhouettes move around on stage. The atmosphere created this way was one of elation and the music front and center. Everyone still there danced like there was no tomorrow and let themselves be swept away by the enthralling and trance-inducing electronic music. This felt more like a religious experience than a music concert, to be honest. Closing their set with the immensely popular ‘Call the Ships to Port’ was just the cherry on top and they left us all breathless and in awe of what just came to pass.
For more pics of the night, go check out our photo report here.