Tuesday, July 3, 2012

First concert of the summer

Glorious summer weather, finally coming my way. Apparently I was misinformed and real summer starts AFTER midsummer, so July and August, when the days are already starting to wane and the sun only sets at midnight, instead of 1-2am. Whatever, I'll take it. 

Such was the weather when I attended my first concert of the summer season - Garden Party. And what a beautiful way to start the festivus season - outdoors, just a 5-10 minute walk from my apartment, on a gorgeous Friday afternoon. I was even allowed to leave work early with permission and blessings from my boss. Booyah.

This is what I walked into, after buying my self-mandated concert tees:

The mini-version of Cirque du Soleil's Big Top. Sweet. Complete with tents selling food, candy (licorice and sour whips of your odd cream-filled choosing), Starbucks, and on the other side, booze tents of all varieties:

We're talking major sponsorship here - Copenhagen beers, a cocktail tent by Finlandia vodka, and some definite patronage by Carlsberg and some other famous names. I got a mini scumpa (read: sparkling wine) with a straw in it. Absolutely darling.

And this was just the foodness. I've not even mentioned the decorations outside. Lanterns abound in the trees, low tables covered in knit tablecloths, and little afghans sprinkled on the grass for your sitting pleasure:

This was definitely no ordinary concert. It was like someone actually planned a large scale garden party and invited 1000 of their most financially-secure friends. Apparently I was one of them. And it felt great.

As we waited for the bands to set up (we missed the first one or so) we lounged outside in the sunshine (fleeting though it may have been) and discussed the gloriousness of Finnish summer (also fleeting). What a wonderful way to pass the time between entertainments.

The actual music venue itself was not so bad either - it was set up over what is normally a dirt parking lot, but they did a good job refreshing it for a stage setup. The acoustics weren't that great, but what outdoor concert really does a great job with that, especially in a confined space? As the bands got better the sound quality oddly got better as well. Guess they learned what worked and what didn't along the way.

Down to the actual music though - we saw Little Dragon, The Shins, and of course, Regina Spektor. All were fantastic live, great stage performers. My personal favorite was probably The Shins though, since they are just incredible performers. Great live, in my opinion even better than their recorded albums. The lead singer has a beautiful voice that really shines through.

Silly note about Finnish audiences - they love to clap along in rhythm to just about anything. You get them started with a beat and they'll continue on like there's no tomorrow. It was a welcome change from most audiences I've been in, where you start something out and it fades 5 seconds later, but it was funny to behold.

Another observation - they're extremely polite. No one will touch you and they all stand the appropriate distance away from each other in order to observe this rule. Kind of like the general rule of the Japanese while on the subway - sure we're all packed in here, but that doesn't mean I'm allowed to touch you. Really appreciated. Even when they were dancing or otherwise jumping around to the music, everyone seemed to stay exactly where they should. Naturally this faded a little bit as it got later and people got drunker, but generally speaking, people stayed within their personal space bubbles really well.

And naturally...because I'm me, I got hungry near the end of the concert. So I bought food from one of the food tents:

8euros for this baby, but I couldn't even get near finishing it. Chicken, sauteed veggies, sausages with thick sliced bacon, and skillet potatoes with a large dollop of garlic mayo. Perfect festivus food. The bowl was literally the size of my face (there is a picture to prove it that I will not post here). Real down to earth Finnish peasant food. Great stuff.

So here's to the first summer concert of the season. Thank you, Garden Party, for allowing me to start off the summer right. Here's to more to come!

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