Thursday, December 18, 2014

EU Tour: Helsinki, Finland

--Helsinki, Finland--

We got on our airplane (Finnair) without incident and again were woken up by the experience of landing. It's kind of a weird feeling when you can't recall taking off. I remember looking out the window and just seeing tall straight trees in the mist. These were kind of trees you'd expect marauding hoards of awesome warriors to burst forth from. Truly we had arrived in the land of black metal and brave warriors! We collected our things and I used my jacket to cover my accordion because by pure chance we had landed during the first snow of the season!!! Giant half-inch snowflakes fell and flew sideways at us while we slowly trudged toward the bus we needed to take. It was awesome and we felt very fortunate as Floridians to get an encounter with snow. Somehow Konami and I had picked up the three words we needed to communicate our destination and we were able to find the bus stop, transfer to the next bus, and to take that bus to the Helsinki Ice Hall!

The Helsinki Ice Hall
The Hall itself was massive. For us it was the equivalent of being on the rebel base of Hoth (incidentally the setting of the first Tie Fighter!), or a giant but calm glacial cave in the middle of the whirling snow storm outside, which by Finish accounts wasn't that bad, but for us was like a super-blizzard! Literally an ice rink, the Helsinki Ice Hall made for a fantastic venue. The staff was pleasant, the food was warm, and the internet was free! We were given a communal room on the side (presumably a hockey team locker room?) to stay in, which we enjoyed for the bulk of the day. I proceeded to get half way through the Hoth campaign of Tie Fighter, slept for about an hour, resolved an issue with the gear rental company (regarding missing guitar pedals), and caught up on a few emails.

View from the stage
Sound check went extremely well and we were now performing with a new orchestra, the Vantaan Viihdeorkesteri, who sounded really good! The choir in specific was spectacular. Lacking any Finish vocabulary beyond "this gentlemen will pay for everything", and feeling pretty cold inside the literal Ice Hall, we slept backstage after the sound check until the show started. Konami and Kit braved the outside at one point to get food, but beyond that none of us saw the outside of the building. It was largely our impression of Finland as a whole.

Quite the rockin' concert!
The show itself went well for all but myself. Due to electrical interference I was forced to play without my wireless gear, meaning that I was uncomfortably wired to the stage. Otherwise I had a great time and tried to figure out how the sound crew overcame the strange silencing effect the hall had on sound. After the show we met with people and hung out with the VGL crew for an hour or so after. It was pretty fun and they're a great group of guys (and gal)! The stage manager (who we had become fairly good friends with by this point) had offered to get us a ride to the airport, which we gladly accepted, and we spent the night inside the Helsinki airport, which was significantly warmer and more pleasant than the one in Paris. We could have probably got a hotel, but seeing as it was something like 1am by the time we got there, and the plane left at 7, paying money for what few hours remained made little sense to us. The internet in the Helsinki airport was also a lot nicer and I was able to finally download and play Monkey Island until my computer's battery ran out, at which point I passed out from exhaustion. 

"Tämä herrasmies maksaa kaiken!"... I mean, "Hauska tavata!"


  1. It's kinda sad you had no change to see any Finland at all (seeing some downtown Helsinki isn't the thing, you know). I really hope you could make another, longer trip to here, during summer time (winter sucks, trust me, it's not for you, for any reason) and I could show you how this country is supposed to be seen as a nerd/geek (however you want to call yourself).

    Btw, those phrases in finnish... I love them :) Who ever told them to you, had a great sense of humor...

  2. Hey Tommy,
    That's one of the down sides of band life. We often get to travel to interesting places but seldom have the time to explore. This weekend we drove 26 hours (traffic) to Chicago, 24 hours back home and spent the 6 hours we had free there, in Chicago, sleeping.

    I really hope to one day return to Finland for the sole purpose of exploring. You guys have a lot of amazing places and sites, and I'm trying to make that happen next July.

    Glad you liked the phrases! I thought it would be a good ice breaker :)

    1. Edit: Tommi*** (not Tommy) Because apparently I can't spell.