Ankkarock, held in Finland's capital region in Korso, about half an hour train ride from the Helsinki central railway station, is your typical Finnish festival: They try hard to brand themselves as a local festival, and are hoping to pull in people living nearby with safe bookings. In fact, at least 75% of the bands are exactly the same as on basically every other Finnish festival, and the rest of the bill is there to attract people from a little further away. The festival has a camping area, but since Ankkarock is basically a city festival, most people sleep the night in their own bed.
Two days of Ankkarock saw a total of thirty bands on three stages, and a bunch of local bands per day on the fourth mini stage. This year's crowd magnets were the Finnish rock group Don Huonot, Children Of Bodom on their only Finnish festival show of the year, and The Ark and The Sounds from the other side of the Gulf of Bothnia. The stages are a lengthy walk from each other with a steep hill in between, so odds are you'll have a hard time moving your friends in front of the stage where you want to be.
The festival crowd was treated with a nearly too warm weather, and a number of good shows. The always-energetic Finnish powerhouse Stam1na was one of the first acts and started the party with an hour long set. While the band holds a reputation as one of the most solid Finnish live acts, singer-guitarist Hyrde has to face his mortality with some of the cuts from their latest album, "Viimeinen Atlantis". Particularly "Pakkolasku" has such complex vocal and guitar rhythms with no breaks that it sounds and looks like pure torture to perform!
The festival boasted the usual side action facilities; someone is doing a bungee jump every five minutes, you can destroy your personal economy at the bar with beer at 5+ EUR and drinks starting from 7 EUR, and then there's the mandatory fake tattoo tent for the teenagers, and so forth.
The newly, although only temporarily reformed Don Huonot had the biggest turnout of the opening day. They took the audience about 10 years back to the memory lane to a time when they were still constantly all over each Finnish radio channel. Painted in black and white much like KISS, the band leaned heavily on their most known tracks for the whole 75 minutes, and sent their fans home with happy grins on their faces after a comprehensive hit parade.
The second day of Ankkarock saw everything from the glam rock of Reckless Love to Finnish pop princess Jenni Vartiainen, and the closing show of Children Of Bodom. One of the most compelling shows of the day was by Mokoma on the Rock stage in the afternoon. Together with Stam1na, they're the definitive leaders of the Finnish-sung metal genre, and proved exactly why on this Sunday afternoon in Korso. Their material varies from the crunching death metallic blast beats of "Nujerra Ihminen" to the joyful summer hit "Hei Hei Heinäkuu", which both work well also in a live setting. They even played a new song from their upcoming EP "Juurta Jaksain", and thankfully left some of their most tiresome hits unplayed - a great skill from a band that gets booked virtually to half of the rock or metal events in Finland every year.
All in all, Ankkarock is an easy-going and easy-to-reach festival that is easy to recommend if you fancy next year's lineup. There's always 'something for everyone', which makes it favorable for bringing your friends or even family along, too.