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Tampere Underground

On the fringes of mainstream, the Tampere club scene is diverse and thriving. Here is AviisiÂ’s beginnersÂ’ guide to the alternative nightlife in Tampere.

Markus Aaltonen of Futuristics
Markus Aaltonen of Futuristics

From empty warehouses to future clubland

If you have been to electronic music events in Tampere during the last few years, chances are you have been to a Futuristics party. Futuristics started organizing psychedelic trance parties in the abandoned Pispala Tulitikkutehdas factory in 2006 and moved to official venues in 2008.

"When we started we did strictly underground events", says Markus Aaltonen. "We used to say we would never get into the bar and club scene."

Aaltonen is the only founding member still involved with Futuristics. Other members of the crew currently include Joonas Lehtinen, Joonas Halkola, Tapio Toivonen, Kai Seppälä and Jussi Löf.

"There were up to 300-350 people at the Tulitikkutehdas raves", reveals Aaltonen. "In Easter 2007 the police raided the party. Around 30 patrols surrounded the place. That was the beginning of the end of the warehouse scene for us."

In 2008, Futuristics started organizing parties in small clubs. Since then their activity has expanded to around 150-200 club events per year, ranging from psytrance to hip hop.

"We promote genres that we have good contacs to. People who are involved in the scene know their own genre and artists the best, and we work in co-operation with them."

There is a growing interest to alternative music in Finland. With all the countless subgenres available to anyone online, people are more aware of what is happening in music globally.

"I think especially younger people are starting to be fed up with listening to the same chart hits."

Futuristics havenÂ’t completely abandoned their roots in the warehouse scene; they still regularly organize underground events in the Tampere and Helsinki regions. But since the Tulitikkutehdas days, club promotion has become more of a day job to Aaltonen. Taking underground scenes to a larger audience has been a conscious decision for Futuristics.

"When you bring marginal culture into a club the scene opens to everyone", explains Aaltonen. "Some people who come to the parties have never seen or heard anything like it before."

Petra Packalén of Blazing Sound
Petra Packalén of Blazing Sound

"World a reggae music"

Modern DJ culture has its roots in 1950s Jamaica, where DJs would load up a truck with turntables and speakers, take their mobile sound system to the streets and play dubplates to the people. ReggaeÂ’s journey from the streets of Kingston to the clubs in Tampere has been long. Along the way, the genre has evolved into a number of different styles.

Petra Packalén makes up one third of the reggae sound system Blazing Sound and has been organizing the reggae club Blaze It in Tampere since 2008 and an outdoor summer event called Puistoreggae since 2009. She has been organizing parties since 2003, starting out with drum’n’bass.

"I started volunteering to sell tickets at parties in 2000", Packalén says. "I was underage and they never asked for your ID if you were working at the door."

The music at Blaze It is mostly roots, one drop and dancehall reggae.

"We try to have a live performer at every Blaze It night", says Packalén. "In Finland, there is no sound system culture. People don’t go see DJs play, they go see a live band or a singer."

Finnish reggae witnessed a rapid rise in popularity in the early 2000s after Soul Captain Band released their album Jokaiselle tulta in late 2001. Since then, artists like Jukka Poika and Raappana have kept Finnish reggae in the charts.

"I think the main difference between Finnish and Jamaican reggae is that Finnish artistsÂ’ lyrics arenÂ’t as rough, especially when it comes to sex. But musically there isnÂ’t much of a difference. Reggae is an international music style."

Jamaican rastafari culture is very traditional. Some dancehall artists are known to have quite conservative views concerning homosexuality and women.

"But the girls get even! Jamaican women have a pretty foul mouth. I donÂ’t mind the rough lyrics in dancehall as long as it isnÂ’t straightforward hate. Sometimes the lyrics are quite pornographic but I think itÂ’s rather playful. ItÂ’s okay for men and women to tease each other using harsh lyrics."

Hanna Ruuskanen of Maitolava
Hanna Ruuskanen of Maitolava

Lowering the stage

Away from the flashing neon lights and throbbing bass of the clubs you can find Maitolava, an open stage club that takes place every first Tuesday of the month in Artturi at 8 pm. Maitolava started in 2006 as the brainchild of musician Junnu Ikonen. Artturi was closed for eight months due to renovations which forced the open stage to relocate to Pub Kujakolli in the heart of Pispala, but Maitolava is now back where it all began.

Each night 10-12 different acts go up on stage and play three or four songs. No advance sign-up is needed, but it may be a good idea to show up early.

"The reason why we started Maitolava was to create a space where anyone could go on stage", explains musician Hanna Ruuskanen, one of the original Maitolava organizers.

"What I love about Maitolava and what we want to cherish is the audienceÂ’s respect for the performers. Being on the stage for the first time is a very delicate situation. Our audience is very considerate."

You donÂ’t need to be a beginner to get up on stage at Maitolava though. In every open stage night experienced musicians who have been making music for years also perform.

"Maitolava is also a place where musicians can meet and see what others are doing", says Ruuskanen. "IÂ’ve noticed that the event creates synergy and helps musicians find each other. IÂ’ve met a lot of musicians here myself."

Severi Helle
Severi Helle

We donÂ’t care if you donÂ’t care

Punk has been a prominent force in the Finnish music scene since the late 1970s and Tampere has always been one of the major cities in Finnish punk.

"The punk scene in Tampere is very vibrant", praises Severi Helle. "There are a lot of gigs in different styles from crust to garage punk. Tampere is probably the best city in Finland from punk musicÂ’s point of view."

Helle plays in punk band Backlash and organizes gigs at club Punk is Danger with his bandmates. He also helps out with organizing Puntala-Rock and plays drums in the legendary punk outfit Kohu-63, founded in 1976, before Helle was even born. He seems a bit reluctant to blow his own horn.

"Punk is marginal music and it should stay that way. Personally I donÂ’t have any interest in taking punk away from the margins."

The DIY aspect has always been important in punk music.

"Punk is supposed to be an alternative to commercial music culture, so the only option is to do everything yourself - gigs, publishing, tours - without financial commitments. One of the worst things that could happen to punk would be to have it more closely connected to party politics. Punk needs to remain an outsider."

Punk music has been increasingly popular in the past few years with bands like Kakka-Hätä 77 making appearances in the Finnish charts.

"I guess itÂ’s kind of Â’inÂ’ for hipsters to like punk bands and go see punk shows", says Helle. "It does make some things easier, for example bars are a lot more open to punk bands than a couple of years ago. ItÂ’s probably some sort of fad and weÂ’ll be playing in basements again in a few years."

Brief moments of publicity and hype may give the impression that punk has come back from somewhere.

"Punk has never gone anywhere, and it never will", Helle says. "It doesnÂ’t matter if they write about it in the papers, because we will still be doing what we do. Punk doesnÂ’t exist because outsiders are interested in it - it exists because people feel that this sort of activity is important to them."

Samuli Huttunen, text & photos

Know your local underground hero

Bass System: Heavy bass nights with drumÂ’nÂ’bass and dubstep music.

Beatformers: The pioneers of the Tampere drumÂ’nÂ’bass scene are still going strong.

Future Shorts: Combining a music club and short film screenings.

Hang The DJ: A legendary indie disco club celebrating their 5th anniversary.

Kolina-Produktio: This is where youÂ’ll find all the harder styles of techno.

MARry: Best known as the organization behind the annual ManseDanse electronic music festival.

Meditation Steps: Serving the deepest shades of dubstep and techno.

Plauge: A collective of 13 DJs organizing club nights in a variety of styles.

Queer-kerho: Laid-back events for all sexualities, genders and non-genders.

Ryhti-Klubi: Specialists of the Tampere hip hop underground scene.

The Saturnday Disco: For lovers of 1980s italo disco, synthesizers and robots.

Spinni: The Electronic Music Association of the Student Union of the Tampere University of Technology.

Swäg: Throwing parties since 2004, ranging from breakcore and IDM to dubstep.

Voltti Selectors: These are the people to turn to for roots reggae.

If you feel like you and your mates awesome party was left out, you can rant about it in the comments section.

Click "Kirjoita kommentti" to leave a comment!

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  1. dep (27.10.11, kello 21:30)


    samples from past parties:
    Splendid House:
    Ministry of Sauna:
    www.youtube.com/watch?v=p... (Herwannan kerhohuoneelta)

    CONCUSSION (a dubstep/dnb/breaks crew that was sadly not mentioned in the article - check out their website at concussioncrew.info/ ):




    ever better into the future!

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