By pure coincidence and sheer luck I discovered that there was a small indoor punk and hardcore festival taking place in the city of Hyvinkää. The DIY attitude seemed high for the organization of the event and with mostly Finnish bands (and one Welsh) this really seemed like the place to be for an intense night of music. Throw on top the fact that they’re sponsored by Brewdog and thus had the “Punk IPA” on offer at a (for Finnish standards) very reasonable price and you know you’re in for one hell of a night… (If you need some music to go along with you reading this article, be sure to hit play on the playlist at the bottom!)
We contacted the organization and were very welcome to enjoy their event and give them some coverage with a review. HVNK PNKRCK (or HyViNKää PuNKRoCK in case you didn’t get that yet) got organized the first time last year by a bunch of friends who wanted to offer people in their hometown a good punkrock festival. They tried to fill some kind of void since there isn’t really much going on at Hyvinkää regarding music festivals (besides the underground and extreme metal festival Steelfest).
By scouting some gigs and listening to a lot of EP’s and albums, they tried to figure out a good mix of punk and hardcore bands. They gave new (and local) bands their chance to play for people and managed to bring a few big hitters from the Finnish punk scene like Huora, Negatiiviset Nuoret and Tryer to Hyvinkää.
We don’t get big punk bands in Hyvinkää that often.
– T. Arttu Heikkinen, organizer
Besides gathering up a pretty cool line-up, they managed to get their event sponsored by Brewdog (famous for their “Punk IPA” beer). By contacting the firm that brings the brews of Brewdog to Finland they were glad to join and support punk and beer hungry punk rockers. This allowed them to offer bottles of Punk IPA for a very reasonable price and caused quite a big amount of bottles changing hands over the bar till… Huge thanks from the organization to Brewdog and their other partners (Vuohimedia and HOK ELANTO)!
After a short talk with the organization it was clear that they are very happy how the event turned out. All the bands were phenomenal and the audience seemed to like the event. And they liked a lot to see bands that are just beginning their journeys as a band and old timers performing among each other and elevating every performance.
I don’t think that I can pick any single performance as the greatest but I have to say the atmosphere during Houra`s set was absolutely fantastic.
– T. Arttu Heikkinen, organizer
There is definitely something brewing and the organization guarantees us that this will not be the last time that we hear from HVNK PNKRCK. When all the pieces are in place we will inform you all about it… But for now, go to our next tab “Day 1” to check out how we experienced this cool local event…
Sadly I didn’t get to the event on time to catch Negro Amigo, a local Turbonegro tribute band. Luckily I was able to catch a bit of the show through a Facebook live video (of every band you could follow at least a part of their performance in case you couldn’t be there, of which you can find a few still on their Facebook page). Despite playing for not a lot of people they were clearly ready to kick off the event with a party! On a side note: it was really cool to notice that there was an actual member of the “Turbojugend” (the official fan club of Turbonegro) on the frontline appreciating the band…
Of the second band, Out For Justice (***1/2), I managed to see most of their gig. When I arrived at the venue they were already kicking ass in the highest gear with their hardcore music. They reminded me very much of bands like Madball with their metal crossover style of hardcore that is infused with a healthy dose of rap. And the whole band really looked the part as well as tough hardcore dudes with their baseball caps, sneakers, shorts and sometimes knee-high white socks. An explosion of raw energy and frustration which translated in the crowd already this early in the night engaging in a quite massive moshpit! Especially during a Rage Against The Machine inspired track near the end of their show made the people both on and off stage go bonkers! A really cool band to be recommended for fans of earlier mentioned Madball, Suicidal Tendencies and maybe even Dog Eat Dog!
The first band I was able to see from start to finish was Lighthouse Project (***). They started their show interestingly with their vocalist proclaim a lengthy speech about “only life”. What followed was a damn intense half an hour of emotional enforced hardcore in which they mostly seem to handle the struggle that is life. Just like the former band, they’re strongly infused with metal influences and lit the room on fire! The vocalist was almost literally singing (screaming) his heart out and was on regular occasion leaning over the fence to connect with the crowd. A special mention for the bassist who jumped around in his tight pants and psychedelic shirt, quite actively claiming his spot on stage!
After all that hardcore power, it was time for something else: the only not Finnish band on the bill or the UK-based Bogans (***1/2). A “bogan” is Australian slang for someone who is unsophisticated and unrefined, which to some extent really fits the bill when looking at their show. They bring a more punk rock and skate punk orientated style compared to the earlier bands and they really raised the bar. As soon as they kick off their performance, vocalist Adam decides to let himself roll over the small fence at the front of the stage landing him on the floor in between all of us. And that’s where he spend as good as all of his time: stumbling around in the moshpit with us while singing, making people get in trouble with the cable of his microphone. He only once climbed back on stage to only after maybe 20 seconds jump back in the crowd in front of him.
He sat on the fence while mimicking jerking off with his mic, as good as french kissed one of the dudes in the crowd, tried to go for motorboating a girl and faked giving a blowjob to someone… in other words, it was quite the unruly and electric performance. This is what punk rock is supposed to be: rebellious, unpredictable and energetic! Fun was had and there seemed no limits to it, at a certain point part of the crowd was even on stage singing along with the band while Adam was still with us on the other side of the fence. Afterwards I talked with Adam and apparently this was only their 3rd live show to that day, which made it only the more promising. Keep an eye out for these fellas, ’cause I’m pretty sure we’ll hear about them still in the future!
Finnish trio Jarspis (***1/2), continued down the punk rock road. Their style of music feels like a more old school punk rock style mixed with sometimes rapstyle vocals during which I regularly felt like shouting “Oi! Oi! Oi!” despite not understanding one lick of the Finnish lyrics. The typical melodies were there, the vibe of fun mixed with the punk attitude towards life,… This band was definitely a crowd pleaser with a big chunk of them singing and shouting along to the songs. You could see and feel the positive energy going back and forth between the band and the people in front of them. In line with the family feel of the event, quite some of the fans decided to give some sips of their drinks to vocalist/bassist Jarspis while he was playing. At some points you could also find him with us on the floor while attacking his bass strings. Even if you don’t understand Finnish, definitely a band to check out if your blood gets pumping by punk melodies!
And then it was time to put the anger and frustration back into a higher gear with Tryer (****1/2)! They brought back fast hardcore punk, soaked in melody and -like they say themselves- with a heavy metal spinkick. And getting a spinkick in the face is probably as close as you get describing their set… it was so fucking intense and powerful with the music going through your body like the shockwaves from a bombshell. Every single one of the band members took part in shooting off a high amount of energy and passion into the room. They jumped around on stage, banged their head and managed to rile up every single person in front of them.
Especially main vocalist and guitarist Jussi threw himself quite literally when he climbed on top of the front fence at the end of their gig and ended up falling off right in the middle of the steaming moshpit while continuing to play his guitar and kept doing so while laying on the ground. Also the other guitarist Tuomas joined the fray when suddenly and out of nowhere running straight into moshpit while playing. What an electric show to end this first day with! People that are into energetic hardcore punk bands the veins of Bad Brains and alike will most definitely enjoy this Finnish hardcore powerhouse! We’re looking forward to see them rip up the stage at Virgin Oil Co. on their show at the official Tuska Saturday afterparty!
After getting barely enough rest, I barged back into the club just in time to catch a few songs still of the underground (punk) rock outfit Huuto! that also features Jarspis on bass. They peaked my interest with their punk rock containing a high amount of rock ‘n’ roll feel. They call up for social awareness (or so I’ve understood from my research and short talk with one of the guys), but do it in such a catchy and melodic way that it still feels like a party. They mention MC5 as one of their influences and that’s actually not far off! Maybe they’re not as raw but definitely contain the same kind of groove and energy. And did I hear their own take on Walk Like An Egyptian at the end of their show? A great band to kick off the second day of high quality (underground) punk and hardcore for sure! Be on the look-out around Autumn for the album they told me they’re working on…
As someone who hasn’t mastered the Finnish language yet, the few bands singing in English were a welcome change. Local punk rockers The Vailens (***) was one of those bands, actually containing a few of the co-organizers of the event in it. From them we got a bunch of modern (pop) punk rock songs with vocals that reminded me somewhat of a band like The Apers. The songs weren’t anything special or really catching attention, but they were high quality and catchy enough to keep the gig interesting. Their enthusiasm and energy managed to get the crowd dancing along to their music and especially frontman Riku was pulling the people in with his enthusiasm. The vocals didn’t always seem the sturdiest/strongest, but somehow I still haven’t decided if that was a disadvantage or not. At moments it fit the music and at other moments it seemed to not be up to par. But I’m sure they’ll continue to grow their skill set and deliver a whole bunch of strong tracks in the future!
Last band of which I’ll understand some of the lyrics was Snipe Drive (*****). Compared to all the other bands on the bill they were sticking out a little bit with their not that clear-cut punk or hardcore sound. Don’t get me wrong: they still perfectly fit between the rest with their alternative rock with a whole range of influences by punk rock, grunge and other big alternative rock bands. I caught hints of Billy Talent (clean vocals) and alternative bands like Weezer and Placebo, but even Faith No More or Muse when they turned up the heavy and introduced some harsh vocals. Vocalist Antti was a beast behind the mic going from sort of sweet clean vocals to strong shouting and almost grunting!
I was also thoroughly impressed when vocalist Antti picked up the small megaphone to kick off their cover of Feel Good Inc. (by Gorillaz) with the intro. Being absolutely in love with Gorillaz‘ work, this was a happy surprise and when they put their own touch to the track by making it rock and singing the chorus with harsh vocals I was completely convinced by this band. Having Henna on bass in a male dominated scene was definitely a plus and a nice change as well. And it seemed to have caught the attention of some people in the crowd since I heard an “I love you!” shouted in their direction. I’m still not sure though if it was to her or the band overall, cause they damn rocked the stage! Hands down the best band of the night for me personally, I’m sure we’re going to see/hear great things from these guys still…
Another band of city locals was Rakas Nikotus (***) (or “Dear Hiccup” if I got that right). Looking at the reaction of the people there, it seemed like quite a popular outfit. Many girls were probably mesmerized by the blue eyed and blonde haired vocalist/gitarist Joonas and overall it was just another really fun punk rock gig. Despite not understanding anything of their lyrics they follow the kind of standard upbeat punk rock sound and do it quite well. That they’re not too serious and are mostly about fun, got even more confirmed by drummer Roope who came on stage wearing a bright red fez, giving the gig an extra comical effect. Cool band with a great energy that received a lot of thumbs up and fist bumps by the crowd.
The bar started to fill up even more than before: it was clear most people were here for Huora (****). This (hardcore) punk band consists out of 3 dudes and a gal (the second one of the night in a band) who takes up the vocal duties. A female fronted punk band? Always seems interesting to me somehow… They’ve been gaining a lot of popularity recently and I was really looking forward to how they’d be live. When they came on stage singer Anni was wearing her standard outfit for a Huora gig: sunglasses, shorts and a loose, cut-up band shirt. As soon as they kicked off their set, the almost full house was set ablaze.
People were almost stacked on top of each other to join in on the party and the heat in the room seemingly slowly crept towards a sauna worthy heat. On stage (and off stage) people were having fun, there was dancing and a lot of smiling going around and everyone seemed to be sweating like pigs. Despite Huora sounding often pretty damn angry, they still manage to create a kind of hardcore punk that just fits a party. Here and there you could even grasp a touch of ska punk vibes to lighten up the mood a bit. If you’re going to Nummirock or Tuska this year, make sure you catch their show. I’ll be a party not to miss!
You could see quite some people leaving after the blistering set of the earlier band, but a really decent amount stuck around for the next one in line: Negatiiviset Nuoret (****1/2). Their name can be translated as “Negative Young People” and that’s sort of what you get with them. Their songs are mostly build around the kind of teenage angst that most of us probably have gone through at some time in our lives. Even when not understanding the lyrics (yet again), they managed to deliver the catchy songs with such an energy and passion that I caught myself humming or (trying to) sing along to the songs.
And I just have to mention their bassist here, ’cause he was absolutely bonkers! As soon as the first notes came out of the speakers there was nothing that could contain him. He immediately shot off into the crowd to join the moshpit full on while still playing. At a certain point he climbed on a side wall part, then he was on that same side of the stage, he stood on top of the drums kicking parts over, screamed in fans’ faces (while they were doing the same) and got booze fed to him at regular occasions… what an animal! The total package of the band clearly got them quite a few girls in their fan base, ’cause the estrogen percentage raised significantly compared to earlier shows… They even got a bra thrown at them, so great success I’d say!
And last but not least it was time for the last band of HVNK PNKRCK to squeeze out the last bit of energy out of us. The B And The Band (****) tells us that they’re folk’n’punk’n’rock’n’roll on their Facebook page. And that’s exactly what we got! The delivered on some intense alternative rock containing a high dose of punk while at the same time regularly feel like rock ‘n’ roll or even folk (yes, without any folk instrument being played)! What a great “after party” to conclude this little festival. You could see that they were much liked and appreciated since they got drinks offered throughout their set.
And they even managed to get the crowd into a wall of death at a certain point, the only one I’ve seen the whole 2 days! Vocalist/guitarist Teemu ended up on top of the front fence of the stage, getting close to his fans during the last song and afterwards you could just see that everyone was completely “spend”…
This really is a great DIY (Do It Yourself, FYI) festival with a strong vibe of family & friends. Even if you don’t know anyone, someone will end up talking with you. The people organizing the event could be found greeting people, taking pictures or even at times on stage themselves with their band. There was a great array of bands with big bands like Huora, Tryer and co, but the organization managed to keep an eye out for upcoming talent and local bands which I personally applaud. The whole time the energy in the room was buzzing and you could expect the unexpected from a lot of the bands, which gave it the kind of tension a hardcore & punk event needs. It was also pretty cool that as good as all of the artists were very reachable walking around in the venue checking out other bands and having a beer.
Besides that, they got some really cool elements integrated into the event. Of course the fact that we could get Brewdog’s “Punk IPA” cheaper was an awesome thing (for everyone clearly, looking at how many bottles of that brew got emptied). But they put a lot of energy into their social media campaigning and such. They actually had a full-on wooden Instagram frame build for the visitors to pose in, including a hashtag to post it with. The people who managed to take the most creative, crazy and fun Instagram picture could win a prize package at the end of the day. A really fun way for them to be around more online. Besides that they didn’t forget about those who couldn’t make it: of most shows you could at least follow a part through their Facebook live videos made by one of the guys who was walking around with a phone on a selfie stick.
HVNK PNKRCK is a really great small festival that has a solid foundation for bigger things in the future. As long as I’m around in Finland, I think I’m going to try and be at every edition of it. I’m curious to see what the guys behind this event are planning for us in the future. Keep it up guys!
For more pictures, go see the photo report here!