Sideways Festival 2017 - Live Report

For the third time, Sideways Festival took place this year at the Teurastamo areal, a former slaughterhouse, in Helsinki’s Kallio district that now hosts various restaurants, venues and such. The young festival combines art, culture, culinary experiences and other side events with a diverse musical line-up during two days in June. It is definitely not a metal festival, but every year there are some rock and metal(lish) bands so I decided to discover heavier side of Saturday.

The weather gods were smiling upon the event with a sunny summer day. This was well-deserved for the festival that last year suffered under heavy rainstorms on both days causing extensive schedule changes and even resulted in some completely closed stages. Despite that, the organizers pulled off a feat last year so that in the end almost all bands got to play.

Cthulhu as a hippie (Photo by Marco Manzi)

This year things were running smoother, and after a summery Friday, Saturday showed itself from an even warmer, sunnier side. But the sun had to wait a bit as Oddarrang started off my afternoon on the Warehouse Stage inside.

Oddarrang (Photo by Marco Manzi)

The hall got slowly more crowded to the atmospheric tunes of the quintet that included cello and trombone. Bathed in blue light Oddarrang played layer upon layer, and crafted beautiful, often slightly melancholic soundscapes that ranged from delicate, only hinted notes to full, wholehearted splendor incorporating voice as another instrument into the musical planetarium they created. A mesmerizing start into the festival day.

Oddarrang (Photo by Marco Manzi)

Next on my schedule were Hidria Spacefolk who again played the Warehouse Stage in front of which already a decent crowd had gathered. A warm groove made its way from the stage towards the audience through slightly foggy air, guitarist Sami spotting a massive black feather headdress. There were again layers upon layers to explore and lose yourself in – from the psychedelic, groovy, hippie-esk underbelly to the airy electronical elements flying above the earthy sounds of the bass resonating through the hall.

Hidria Spacefolk (Photo by Marco Manzi)

After Hidria Spacefolk’s warm embrace of a show there was time to stroll around before the next band. Part of Sideway’s charm is to just wander around, and discover the nooks and crannies of the festival area because at Sideways you never know what awaits when you turn another corner. You might end up getting your face, hair or beard decorated with glitter, run into a yoga course, a skate or twerk performance or stumble across a massive pink art installation. Or of course, discover a new band that you never would have checked out otherwise but as the line-up covers everything from pop, indie and hip hop to rock and metal, you do not know what you might find if you keep an open mind.

Art at Sideways (Photo by Marco Manzi)

My band discovery was not that far from my usual musical taste but I was caught off guard when this garage rock basically leaped off the Alley stage and stopped me dead in my tracks. The Toxics played with so much energy and attitude that the small stage seemed to become much bigger than it actually was. It was impossible to escape this fervor - but I must admit, I also didn’t really try that hard because, well, it rocked!

Festival area (Photo by Marco Manzi)

From down to earth rock to psychedelic heights with Death Hawks on the Park Stage, where it got quite crowded. With the sun shining directly onto my face from just above the stage, a light breeze caressing my hair and the rock tunes wandering and weaving their way off stage, this started to feel like a moment lost in the summer universe, and everyone wanted join in on this spherical Death Hawks ride.

Death Hawks (Photo by Marco Manzi)

My very much awaited highlight of the night was Chelsea Wolfe, who played last on the Warehouse stage. With the night slowly falling outside and fog filling the air inside, the mood was set and expectations weren’t disappointed. Starting with the ominous Feral Love, the music took hold of the hall and unleashed its dark spell. The audience was willing to be enchanted. Chelsea Wolfe’s vocals were at times bright like lightning bursting through a storm, at others joining the rolling thunder that the band played up.

Chelsea Wolfe (Photo by Marco Manzi)

Each song was greeted by euphoric applause, and the contrast between delicate and powerful was captivating. The whole band seemed to lose themselves within the moment, wielding guitars around, drumming with such fire.

Chelsea Wolfe (Photo by Marco Manzi)

Chelsea Wolfe herself was pleading, seducing and commanding all at the same time. Intensity grew throughout the set, and vibrations, droning from the underworld could be heard and felt. And even during the quieter parts when you could catch your breath you knew the somber tunes were always lurking – the only thing to do was to surrender and let yourself be washed away. It was everything I had hoped for and more.

Chelsea Wolfe (Photo by Marco Manzi)

While Ryöksopp played their headliner slot on the Sideways stage, I settled down at the Alley Stage again to let the festival come to an end with Kairon:Irse! who play music that is difficult to describe with typically used genre terms. There is prog rock, funk and shoegaze but it’s best to just experience the music. The show at Sideways was intense, slow, fast, melancholic and had groove. The band was playing lost in space with an electrifying passion and somehow, the thought got stuck in my mind that this is what it would

Kairon:IRSE! (Photo by Marco Manzi)

After a midnight pizza snack enjoyed sitting in a beach chair while people watching as the festival slowly came to an end, it was time for my tired feet to carry me home as well just to wonder what surprises Sideways will come up with next year.

Check out the full photo gallery by Marco Manzi here.

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