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Sounds good! Get your earplugs in!

Appropriately in this metal-mad country, the first events are loud and proud of it.

Sauna Open Air Metal (7-9 June) in Tampere’s Eteläpuisto kicks the season off with a big bang – if you don’t find Megadeth, Heaven and Hell, Type O Negative scary. Promoter Jussi Santalahti comments “This year’s will be the best ever (12,000/day) as I got the bands I wanted at this time, so next year we may need a new venue.”  

Provinssirock (15-17 June) is held in woods outside Seinäjoki in outback Pohjanmaa. This is for youngsters to expend energy, make and lose mates. As there’s nowhere near enough accommodation, most tent it. Very social, each one touching cloth with the next. Minimal privacy. 

The site is split between five stages, crowds troop from one to another via a stream. With an average age of 20, everything’s over-indulged. Mature people (25+) may think twice unless they have a safe nest. Camping areas resemble refugee camps after a war with bodies scattered around. First Aid does brisk business. 

Despite its location, Provinssirock attracts eclectic artistes: Marilyn Manson, Manic Street Preachers, Faith No More, Suede, REM and Black Sabbath. So this year’s Scissor Sisters, Patti Smith, Amy Winehouse and MUCC may not seem a theme, but there’s something for everyone whose still compos mentus – or not. Promoter Juha Koivisto informs “We’re now a stopover between Sweden and Russia while for others, Scandinavia is a big market.” 

Tuska Open Air Metal Festival at Helsinki’s central Kaisaniemi Park. A triple treat (29 June-1 July) for the jet black set with music that splits ears and atoms. But that matters not to the 11,000 inside. Although a guaranteed sell-out, fear not – join the throng outside where you’ll be able to hear the ‘lyrics’ clearly growled.  

Tuska 2007 is the 10th and features subtle masters of the dark arts as W.A.S.P., Pain, Hatesphere, and Children of Bodom (a local band whose name derives from a bloody unsolved triple murder 50 years ago). Power, doom, goth, thrash are all here for this must-see metal bash. And don’t be cowed by the fans, as Promoter Jouni Markkanen says “They’re much nicer than they look!”  

Simultaneously, Puistoblues on Saturday (30 June) is a picnic on pasture by a lake for ‘mature’ types. 2007 is the festival’s pearl anniversary. It’s volunteer-organised by blues lovers in quaint Järvenpää, but no worries – it’s a train ride from Helsinki with transport at the station to ferry fans to the venue at a set rate. 

Puistoblues’s legends over 30 years lists John Lee Hooker, Bo Diddley, George Thorogood, BB King, Jeff Healy, Santana. But recent lack of star names and wet weather mean it’s on a financial tightrope. If it’s sunny, 14,000 can relax comfortably on the gentle slope and appreciate Johnny Winter, Keb Mo and supports for 49 euro. 

After Tuska moshers head for Ruisrock in Ruissalo park outside Turku – so no decibel difficulties here. The mid-July weekend (6th-8th) has a bigger capacity (30,000) with a 3-day pass at €90 great value – if your eardrums don’t implode. 

Europe’s second-oldest festival (Holland’s Pinkpop was first) celebrates its 38th with bands on five stages, two inside a tent! As a trial, in addition to the small one for 800 people, Promoter Juhani Merimaa will erect a 10,000-capacity big top. Why? 

“It’s for bands wanting to use their lightshows. Here the sun sets at 11pm and after 3 hours twilight it’s up again. For foreign acts that’s strange, Mew and Tool played late last year to get the best effects. If more want to do it this year, we don’t have the slots.” 

Ruisrock’s music mix comprises The Flaming Lips, The Ark (fresh from Eurovision success?), Mastodon and The Hives. Look out for the Stockholm ferries behind the main stage around 8 and 9 pm. A sight which caused Oasis’ Liam Gallagher to mouth “What the ****!” 

Ilosaarirock (14-15 July) is on an island in the river that flows through Joensuu and will claim its 10th consecutive sell-out. Mainly for local yokels as accommodation is sparse unless a mosquito symphony in a tent appeals. This year’s not-so-magnetic acts are heavyish: Anthony B, The Business, CunninLynguists, HIM and Opeth. 

{mosimage}For old-timer Pori Jazz (14-22 July) it’s the last 4 days where famous names perform in Kirjurinluoto Park across from the city on the river Aura’s far bank. This is the 42nd edition of the festival and its age shows. Artistic Director-Founder Jyrki Kangas admits “We regenerate the festival every 10 years and now we must attract new audiences too.” 

As most jazzmen have blown their last note, that audience has shrivelled apace, so Pori Jazz became an all-round festival. There’s a gamut of venues and the Jazz Street, but the big guns perform at Kirjurin Arena where Sting attracted a record 36,000 last summer. Warning: Pori is small with limited facilities. 

So schools, homes, practically anywhere will let you lie on a mattress (bring your own sleeping bag) for money. It may feel unusual staying in a stranger’s home (if they’re away it costs more), but you’re only supposed to sleep there…. It’s a very Finnish egalitarian thing, which may not suit those from class-structured societies. Snoozing in vehicles is popular too. 

Prices vary but it’s the festival where you can usually buy a ticket at the door. Thursday and Friday see Natalie Cole and Sly and the Family Stone top the bill, Saturday has Steely Dan and maybe Elvis Costello, who is a serial late-canceller á la eight years ago, thus the uncertainty. Pray hard Elvis fans. 

Sunday is ‘picnic day’ though Pori Jazz’s hallmark is fans flopped on the grass at KA with bottles and snacks on blankets. 2007’s finale is strong: veterans Blood, Sweat and Tears, John Scofield and Medeski as the festival closes with reggae legend Bob Marley’s son Ziggy. Jazz? 

Ankkarock’s timing (5-6 August) pushes meteorological luck. As Promoter Merimaa said after a muddy weekend “It was more like a duck pond than Duck Rock (its English name)”. Heavy again: Nine Inch Nails, Japanese rock Dir En Grey and The Ark are familiar names as you may have noticed. Look up the website for further details.  

But these all depend on the ‘fan in the sky’ blessing them with good weather for a memorable occasion. Amen, hallelujah and amaze the horde. 

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