In 2015 when Helsinki welcomed a new urban music festival to the city there were some that doubted whether it could be successful, given that the capital’s summer calendar is already so packed. Those worries proved unfounded as the first Sideways Festival proved to be a great success, selling out on both days. There were a number of reasons that helped ensure that success that included the choice of bands, the location, and the fact that it was the first big festival in Helsinki of last summer.
This year the organizers at Fullsteam have gone with the same recipe for Sideways 2016. There is an excellent mix of quality international acts and some of the top local artists, the festival remains in Teurastamo, which has proven to be ideal for all kinds of festivals and events, and once again it is the first major concert festival of the year in Helsinki.
This year there are five stages, not including the Kellohalli restaurant, and over 50 performances to enjoy. There will also be after parties on both festival days. Sideways after parties are presented by Bassoradio, and will take place at Suvilahden Kattilahalli, about 300m from the festival site.
On Friday the headline act is PJ Harvey, making her debut in Helsinki – and possibly in Finland. Since 1991 she has released 9 albums with her band and another two as collaborations with John Parrish. Every album has been critically acclaimed, and today she is seen as one of the most important artists of her generation. A consummate live performer, the Sideways audience is truly in for a special treat, and her concert is likely to be the stuff of conversations for years to come – or at least until she returns to Finland. She takes the main stage at 22:45.
Prior to PJ Harvey, the main stage will welcome one of the best post-rock bands of all time. Formed in Texas in 1999, Explosions in the Sky have 7 studio albums under their belt, including this year’s The Wilderness, and have provided soundtracks for four movies. Their live sound is massive, featuring elaborately developed guitar interplay, and has won them fans in every country they have performed in. They can be heard at 20:45.
Also performing on Friday, on the Plaza Stage, is the American multi-instrumentalist Ty Segall with his new band The Muggers. To date he has recorded 9 albums either solo or with his band, and a number of other albums with other bands that he plays in (Fuzz, Broken Bat and GØGGS). The sound is raw and rocky, a lo-fi garage rock with more than a hint of psychedelia, and perfectly suited to live performance. Ty Segall and The Muggers take the stage at 20:00.
Other notable international artists performing on Friday are Julien Baker, a singer-songwriter from Memphis, Tennessee, who released her debut solo album last year; Sevdaliza, hailing from Rotterdam (though born in Iran), a former basketball player who also released her debut record of laid-back and chilled out electronica last year; and Susanne Sundfør, a Norwegian singer-songwriter who has released six albums of delicious synth-pop since 2007.
The homegrown talents performing on Friday include Elias Gould, French Films, Saimaa, Töölön Ketterä, Gaselit, Kiki Pau, Talmud Beach, Eevil Stöö, Redder, Shivan Dragn, Gettomasa, Ghost World, Hebosagil, Ranger, Radiopuhelimet, PK Keränen, and Yona.
Saturday’s headline act is Flatbush Zombies, a Brooklyn bred hip-hop act that have been recording together for six years. Although they’ve only released one album and a couple of mix-tapes since their inception, they are considered to be one of the more influential acts performing in the genre today. Together with fellow Brooklyn rappers The Underachievers and Pro Era they make up the loose East Coast hip-hop movement known as Beast Coast. They will take to the main Sideways Stage at 23:00.
Peaches, the notorious Canadian electro musician and performance artist, is bound to provide one of the most entertaining concerts of the festival. She has released five albums since her debut as Peaches in 2000 (she had previously released an album under her real name, Merrill Nisker) each one critically acclaimed and highly controversial, as well as appearing in films and self-directed porn. To say that Peaches is no shrinking violet would be an understatement, the woman loves controversy. Musically, she’s considered one of the greats of Electroclash along with Miss Kitten and Chicks on Speed. She will be on the Park Stage at 22:00.
The main stage will host New York hip-hop legends EPMD at 17:30. With a career than spans 30 years and six albums, as well as two break-ups, EPMD have toured with such luminaries as Run-DMC, Public Enemy, and DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince, and recorded with KRS-One and Redman among others.
The American rapper, performance artist, poet and activist Mykki Blanco appears on the Park Stage at 18:15. His debut album Michael was released last year, following on from three EPs and three mix-tapes. His hip-hop is alternative, with a diverse range of influences that include GG Allin, Anaïs Nin, Jean Cocteau and Marilyn Manson, describing himself as being from a Riot Grrrl background.
The fourth American act performing on Saturday is the singer-songwriter Kelela who has garnered praise from artists like Björk since her mix-tape debut three years ago. Her first solo album was released in April of this year, and has been described as one of the most distinctive sounds in dance music, blending aspects of grime, house, electro, dubstep, and techno. Get your dancing shoes on for this one, she’ll be on the Warehouse Stage at 19:15.
In addition to the North American contingent, there are two Swedish acts performing on Saturday. Viagra Boys will bring their hugely infectious street blues (think somewhere between the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion and Gallon Drunk) to the Alley Stage at 18:15, and the Swedish based Somali songstress Cherrie, who delivers her poignant songs with an almost ethereal voice.
The home grown talents to enjoy on Saturday include Black Twig, Iisa, Pariisin kevät, Noah Kin, SMC Lähiörotat, Atomirotta, Have You Ever Seen The Jane Fonda Aerobic VHS?, Mara Balls, Hopeajärvi, Khid, Stiletti-Ana, Phantom, View, Circle, Echo Is Your Love, Seksihullut, Kivesveto Go Go, Oranssi Pazuzu, Janne Westerlund, and Yari.
Festival goers will find two dozen choices for food and beverages. These include the businesses that are based in Teurastamo; Kellohalli is the main on-site restaurant provides a versatile lunch menu, and will also host some performances; B-Smokery & B-Side Bar has gained a tremendous following thanks to its delicious pulled-pork sliders and burgers; Ho’s Food provides a range of traditional Chinese dishes with a distinctive street-food edge; Jädelino is a small Finnish-Italian family outfit that produce fresh artisan Italian ice cream in 12 flavours that change on a daily basis and always includes a few vegan alternatives; Döner Harju serves fantastic kebabs and provides plenty of vegetarian options too; Roslund is right at the entrance gates and is renowned for its grilled food and burgers. In addition to the established food sellers, there will be a number of street-food trucks operating at Sideways.