Sähköisku - The Electric Phenomena, Jyväskylä, July 12, 1997
I visited last Saturday in Jyväskylä (about 100 km north-east from Tampere where I live) at the Sähköisku - The Electric Phenomena party with Acid Junkies, DJ Ferenc (of Acid Planet fame) and Marko Laine performing. The party was organised by the Jyväskylä rave posse Niitty as a part of the Jyväskylä Arts Festival, a large cultural event held every year in July. Totally 600 people were attending, I read later from Helsingin Sanomat. The event was probably taxed to some extent by Love Parade going on simultaneously in Berlin. At least Love Parade (or should I say "Money Parade $ponsored By Camel Tobacco And Other Multinational Corporate Abusers") didn't have Interr-Ference and Marko Laine so I didn't feel I was missing anything.
I got a ride from Tampere in the car of guys of the local up-and-coming techno act Nub, who turned out to be quite cool people. When we arrived after some searching and asking from the locals, the street in front of the venue, Alvar Aalto Hall, was already manned by the rave crowd sporting UR, Djax-Up-Beats and Beverly Hills 808303 T-shirts (just like yours truly, about which a bit more later), baggy jeans and sneakers on a sunny Finnish summer night. The atmosphere was relaxed and cheerful, people had obviously come from around the country and even overseas to enjoy the show and have a cool time. Though the doors opened well half hour later than originally scheduled, no one seemed to get nervous over the fact. Bottles of beverages were passed around and the local police mostly watched it through their fingers, though I overheard some unfortunate youth had received a ticket for holding a bottle in public. Jarno of Nub said he had spotted James Randi, the king of skeptics and the main guest of festival, just across the street. I don't know what Mr. Randi, who once exposed the spoon-bending Israeli Uri Geller as a fraud, must have made out of the ravers; probably they were no stranger than the bunch of would-be magicians and self-made gurus with claims of levitation and astral projection he has to see on a daily basis on behalf of his work.
The festivities were launched by DJ LLama of Pulssi Records who spinned from the beginning of party to quarter past ten, and another set from 5.20 to 7.30 am, with DJ Båld having an half-hour set somewhere in the middle of it. LLama's first set was basic mono trax, a la Drumcode, Downwards, Purpose Maker, with some homegrown Pulssi 12":s and Chicago booty trax.
LLama told me that spinning there on the stage he felt at least the same heat as the people on dancefloor (it did get almost unbearably hot at times), with an additional 500W lightspot shining just one metre from his face. Though on the other hand, LLama added, you didn't need to warm up the audience so long as in many other parties when you're the first performer of evening. As one downside more, LLama mentioned that maybe the DJ platform was too far away from the audience so you couldn't create a proper contact. As far as I was concerned, I thought it was OK, but then, I was only there to shake my booty.
In his early morning set LLama had spinned Dance Mania Ghetto Trax, moving from some harder stuff to booty trax, and the party ended at 7.30 am with the tongue-in-cheek version of the old Italo House track 'Don't Go'. All in all, LLama was quite satisfied with the party.
As far as the main menu goes, Ferenc (aka Interr-Ference aka i-f) was magnificent!!! He was this balding big guy wearing purple "Record Time" T-shirt, who I wouldn't like to meet in a dark alley, but the stuff he was spinning was exactly to my neo-electro tastes, eg. Kraftwerk's 'Tour De France' mixed to UR's 'Electronic Warfare', Drexciya, Aux 88, Dopplereffekt - you know - and some more obscure but great vintage electro, with some of his own (magnificent) i-f stuff from "the sewersof Hague" and some scary minimal acid too, a la Unit Moebius and Beverly Hills808303, towards the end of his set. I was dancing my ass off when a bunch of people wearing the same kind of black Beverly Hills 808303T-shirts as me asked me to join them when they were grooving at the front of the stage where Ferenc was spinning. (The thing is that every smart-ass here in Tampere seems to make jokes about my Beverly Hills 808303 shirt all the time, but at Sähköisku it looked like virtually every second people was wearing exactly the same shirt, so with that T-shirt on I seem to get an uneasy feeling wherever I go...) This kind of "we are not worthy" gig thing is usually a bit of too silly to my refined (hur hur) tastes but I thought: "Why the hell not?" and joined them. Ferenc must have been amazed watching us ugly mad Finnish fanboys jumping there just in front of him wearing their identical shirts, but I thought it was fun.
Finland's own Marko Laine was excellent as usual too; he kicked off his set with a kitschy version of Bond Theme, 'From Singapore With Love' from the mysterious Bootsound America album, and his gig then varied from minimal to scratchy and abrasive Sähkö-like sounds (in the style of 'Kaktus' EP which blew my mind last winter) to pure hardcore, real mutant sound - the guy keeps getting better all the time. It was great to see people dancing to Marko's music though it could have been far too difficult for your average Eurotrance party raver, the stuff local dancers are usually brainwashed with. On the other hand, this whole event was much classier than the normal Finnish ripoff big-ass big-money raves with their puking teenagers - and the promised big "international names" that never appear or mysteriously cancel at the last moment - could ever be.
Well, I must say the Acid Junkies were OK also, but they had a little bit too much populist "raise your hands" stomping stuff in their performance to my tastes (acid breakbeat?), though even then they were million times better than someone like Hardfloor can ever be. The local acid act .jRM got some mixed reactions from the ravers, though I'm always glad that also the homegrown groups are given a chance to try their skills in public, and to gather that valuable live experience and get some feedback. Only so can the local scene grow and get stronger.
some raves in Finland have lately offered free ice water to the ravers. Here the case was not so, and you had to buy expensive soft drinks if you didn't want to get dehydrated. (In bathroom only hot water was coming from the taps!) Besides, it was damn hot at the main hall all the time; heat just struck you in the face as you entered. Well, if it was of any consolation to anyone, I heard that just at the end of the party free water was served at the lounge, but I think for most people it was too late. Markus Kotilainen, representing the Niitty organisation, later told me that this problem was due the troubles they had had with the people who were supposed to provide the light and smoke equipment for the party, so the air-conditioning couldn't be used to the max, and also that serving the drinks was taken care by the house, not Niitty itself.
Also, when I got out to the front yard to get some cool air since I was dripping sweat, a boy and a girl came to ask me if I've got a ticket. I got an idea that they were trying to rip me off my ticket, so I just tried to buy some time and said: "I don't know", then I realised from seeing their badges that they were part of the staff, who were trying to find out if anyone was trying to get in without paying. Well, the confusion was all cleared but still it struck me strange that there seemed to be some slackness on their part of crowd control or whatever.
Between my dance-a-thons I was sitting there chilling out at the back of the hall and listened to Marko Laine's set when a drunken guy in black jacket and jeans came to me and brawled: "Fuck, this is a fucking good song. Fancy some pontikka?" (Pontikka is the Finnish variation of moonshine that he was drinking from a bottle of Coke.) The funniest thing was that the guy had a badge there with the text "Crew" - talk about some anarchy... Politely I just refused the offer. I saw some guys dressed all in hip hop gear rolling joints just next to me (and subsequently smelled it), but that was about all drug-taking I saw at that party. "Finland has a drug problem: there isn't any", as the Select Magazine pointed out back in '90 reporting on the local Stone Roses gig. But, erm, back to the main topic...
There was another geezer who got a bit annoying hanging around with his air-pressurized horn and tooting it just behind you when you least expected it. The guy was lucky not to blow his horn next to me - it may have been I would have forgotten that revered PLUR ideology of ravers and shoved that damned horn up his rectal department.
In between the sets of Acid Junkies and Ferenc there was an "old skool breakdance show". The dancers spinning on the floor were impressive but I think most people present were missing the clue of what it was all about. You had a chance to do your own rap to the vocoder while DJ Båld spinned old electro records but unfortunately there were no aspiring MCs around. The organisers of the party probably had tried to arrange it around the overall "old school" theme: for example, you could twiddle around with some early-to-mid-Eighties ancient home computers they exhibited at the lounge, but I had a feeling the efforts had only remained half-baked since most people probably didn't get the concept behind it.
We left approximately at 5 am to return to Tampere. It was an unforgettable experience to drive through the countryside, seeing how the early morning mist was floating over the lakes as we passed by the lush forests and hills of Central Finland, a total antithesis to the overbearing technological experience of the party. We arrived some time around 7 am, and after a couple hours' sleep I felt no drowsiness or hurting legs from all that dancing; on the contrary, it was like I had been loaded with energy - or electricity.
The best party of the year (well, remember this is Finland), hands down. There might be a chance to get Ferenc again to Finland for some smaller party in the near future, Markus Kotilainen of Niitty told me. The administration of Jyväskylä Arts Festival seems to have been content with Sähköisku, too, though it wasn't a great financial success, so we have good chances to expect something similar for the next year also.
[Sähköisku at hot1.fi.]