DSCF1481Yes, there were gnomes with bleeding orifices in the press area. No, I don’t know why.

As some of you know, Tuska 2013 was my fourth Tuska. However, it was my first with any sort of press access. While I’m not exactly new to the world of “press,” I am very new to the world of festival press. Getting into a show on my home turf was not such a big deal, but this was Finland and I was determined not to screw this up. With my passport in hand and 120 borrowed Euros wedged between my fingers, I secured my press pass (making absolutely sure to display it prominently around my neck wherever I went) and went to work.

DSCF1482Top story: this insane cheesy puff chain. Seriously, how the fuck?

Being a total press n00b, I was actually worried that for some reason I wouldn’t be allowed to bring my camera into the photo pit…despite the fact that I had a photo pass and a working camera. I wish I could go back in time and smack my nervous Nelly ass in the face.

We met up backstage — our illustrious webmaster Sam, his awesome fiancée Merja, Jason Lekberg of IKILLYA fame, and his awesome wife Laurie. Perhaps I was too nervous and excited to feel like a fifth wheel. Perhaps my friends are just cool like that.

samjasonmeTheir sunglasses are cool, at least.

Wintersun were my first band of the day, and as usual, they rocked my socks. I saw them at Gramercy Theater in New York City in December along with literally everyone else, and they were unsurprisingly one of the highlights of the Tuska festival. There were a few times where the rest of the band got a little lost from the drums, which honestly could have just been an open air-related issue. That said, it didn’t negatively impact the performance at all. Jari’s voice always gives me the chills, and the entire band is so talented that they could all play out of time with each other and it would still sound beautiful.

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One of the biggest surprises of Wintersun’s set was the relative lack of audience response to their opener, “Sons Of Winter And Stars.” They played that song in the US and all my friends and I went totally nuts. Most of us knew at least half of the words. Otherwise, crowd response was adequate. People were clearly having a lot of fun.


Now here’s where things get hairy. With Sam by my side, I felt like I could do anything and go anywhere. Without Sam by my side, I became a timid little girl. Suddenly, entering the photo pit felt like a daunting task, and going backstage was completely unthinkable. Next year I will have the confidence to wander around more on my own, but this year was a little overwhelming.

I had really been looking forward to seeing Kuolemanlaakso at the festival, but unfortunately I found myself unable to find the stage at which they were slated to perform. I had gotten word that my bag arrived at Helsinki Vantaa airport, but there was no way I was going to risk missing any acts to go get it, so I was stuck in my increasingly uncomfortable sandals for the duration. After wandering the entirety of the festival grounds three or four times, I decided it would be best to settle down before my feet got torn up even further.

While I wasn’t exactly disappointed to see Bolt Thrower, the disappointment over missing Kuolemanlaakso probably tainted my experience a little. I didn’t actually know a whole lot about Bolt Thrower, except the few songs that I heard on Turntable. They were good and I will definitely see them when (if?) they come to the United States. Sadly, my shyness prevented me from entering the pit during the Bolt Thrower show, but I got a couple of decent shots from the crowd.

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More of the same with Amorphis — just a few audience POV pictures this time. In hindsight, I really don’t know what I was afraid of. The photo pit is a friendly place, and I had direct permission to be there. In later days, I loosened up, but I’m still kind of mad at myself about the first day. Anyway, except for the fact that Amorphis didn’t play my favorite song of theirs, their set was really awesome. “Silver Bride” and “On Rich And Poor” especially ruled.

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King Diamond capped off the night, and he was, in a word, loud. I’ve seen a few bands that aged out of awesomeness long before I got a chance to see them — King Diamond is not one of them. The legendary frontman is 57 and I would have forgiven him for losing a bit of his edge, but he certainly has not. My only complaint about his stage show was that Satanist themes, though very Diamond-y, are a little passe. I thought the actors were a lot of fun to watch, in a cheesy community theater sort of way, but a pregnant woman walking across a stage and collapsing…I guess it didn’t move me, and I’m not sure if it was supposed to.

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The absolute worst part of the King Diamond show was all the annoying drunk people outside the festival grounds after the show, trying out their best King Diamond impression. Drunk screaming teenagers are annoying enough when they’re not trying to sing.

On Tuska Day 1, I learned a couple MORE valuable lessons, and they are as follows:

-Showering with publically available antibacterial soap is only slightly better than not showering at all.

-Finland summers go from cold at night to sunny and humid in the morning. Drink water before sleeping outside to avoid death.

-Always wear comfortable shoes on a plane, even if the less-comfortable ones are more easy to remove for security.

Coming up next…