Your Highness, The Technodictor conquers Berlin
Meet the full force of modern metal made in Finland on their tour stop in Berlin. Obscuro.eu accompanied Turmion Kätilöt (TK) and their supporting brothers of Bloodred Hourglass (BRHG) on their day in Berlin and during their gig in the ambient Frannz Club (Kulturbrauerei) in Berlin’s Prenzelberg, formally known as Prenzlauer Berg.
Let’s introduce the heroes of the behind-the-scene day first:
Miikka Närhi aka Bobby Undertaker (guitar),
Antero Seppänen aka DQ (drums),
Saku Solin aka ShagU (vocals),
Janne Tolsa aka RunQ (keyboards),
Petja Turunen aka MC Raaka Pee (vocals),
Hannu Vuotilainen aka Master Bates (bass).
Miikka Närhi aka Bobby Undertaker (guitar),
Jarkko “Jaredi” Koukonen (vocals), Manager Aino Järventaus and technician Janne
Joni Lahdenkauppi (guitar),
Jose Moilanen (bass),
Lauri Silvonen (guitar)
Patrik Fält (drums)
Jarkko “Jaredi” Koukonen (vocals),
Manager Aino Järventaus
and technician Janne
An actually sunny and peaceful day in Berlin does not give away the brutal forces that are about to take over the ‘Swabian heart’ of the capital. The army of Nordic metal battlers has arrived, however, secretly in the dark of the wee hours. Silently they escaped their Trojan horse [formally known as nightliner] one by one over the past hours inspecting their terrain. Nevertheless, the moment has come to open the horse’s gates and install the tools of their seductive weaponry.
15:00 hours at Frannz Club yard
Through an unpromising side door a horde of busy dark creatures drags a legion of heavy boxes and bags up the narrow staircase to drop them in an odd pattern in front of the small stage. Immediately, setting the stage begins as curses and swears echo from the staircase complaining its steep angle and lack of space. None of the creatures crawling here has either an eye for the beautiful historic interior or the ambient radiating from it.
Like the intestines rooms and tiny hallways wind between the upper end of the staircase and the stage, connected by too many doors. Even on such a short route one might get lost. Easily. Somewhere halfway between staircase and stage a door opens to the backstage area. It seems not too small in general but too small to host two bands, including their belongings and their crew. A basket full of fruits shining in bright colours draws all attention of any eye entering the otherwise somewhat gloomy room. Large windows open the view on Schönhauser Allee on two sides. The walls picture the history of former events, with posters once bright and colourful now paled by dust, smoke and sun. Some platters loaded with ingredients for a variety of sandwiches wait to feed the growling bellies while way more importantly an appropriately large fridge with a glass door promises to quench thirst of any kind.
From the door opening to the side from this room I hear a male voice: “Where’s the shower? There was supposed to be shower here but all I can find is a toilet!” Someone else rushes out to return half a minute later with a guy from the venue. The shower is well hidden behind the door opening into the tiny room connecting shower and toilet.
Step by step
Meanwhile in the main hall a bar tender is busy setting his kind of stage, the light and sound technicians their desks as the drum kit grows from boxes. Unlike his band mates who have claimed the backstage couch their territory, BRHG’s bass player Lauri sits on stair next to the stage amidst boxes and tools readying highly focused some of his stage gadgets.
As TK’s vocalist Saku seems to have a moment for a chat, I take my opportunity to ask him about the tour start yesterday in Hamburg. “Everything went really smooth”, he says, adding that it was actually too smooths so now everybody is suspicious. As the afternoon goes by however, we will see that also today things are running as smooth as can be. Saku adds that the Hamburg audience was very welcoming, interactive and decently filling the venue. Today might be different. The legend goes that Berlin is the place in Germany hardest to pull a good crowd. We shall see …
16:30 hours Wake-Up Call
Neither the number of boxes has yet really decreased nor seems the stage much closer to being ready for TK’s sound check. That however should have begun 30 minutes ago. Thus the Frannz crew is getting a tiny little bit nervous. “Shouldn’t the sound check have started?” one of them thinks out loudly. No one replies. Yet, it should. Still no one cares but him. Good news, however, travel on four feet, or climb more precisely the stairs up. The feet in question belong to keyboardist Janne and vocalist Petja. As the stage is nearly set a perfect moment to get up. At least their looks might suggest they have just found way out of their bunks. Interestingly, despite of that they are quite communicative already. Finns and especially Finnish men have the reputation to avoid speaking when possible. The way essential parts of BRHG have defended the backstage couch for the past hour would strongly declares them very Finnish.
It is a joke actually that gets Petja and me into a deep conversation about growing old, facing and dealing with some typical disease of the high age. He shares his emotional experience of how a song of theirs’s dealing with parents suffering from such a condition came true. But then he is called on stage as this is finally prepared for the sound check.
This again begins with Petja, Saku and bass player Hannu staring on a mobile phone, reading something over and over, laughing now and then, to read again. Then finally they enter stage and perform a couple of chords from some songs including the some lyrics that might have been at least partially German.
This is the very waking call activating BRHG who begin setting their stage immediately. Perfectly organized they take over as TK move towards backstage.
Pizza, pasta and corpse paint
Long have I hoped to one day get my go to experience the mysterious transformation into Turmion Kätilöt’s stage creatures. As Saku is returning from the nightliner with an additional suitcase I expect the magic to be about to happen. But the metaphosis essentially needs some energy that cannot be extracted from a couple of sandwhiches and apples. Something more substantial is needed which arrives in flat cardboard boxes and foil bowls. Soon the seductive smell of melted cheese fills the air pulling the musicians as much as their helping hands together in the backstage, save for BRHG and Janne. The other Janne. The one at the light desk. Obviously that one has a tendency to miss the dinner.
18:53 hours – Efficiency rules
The stage is set. As I pop up at the tech desk, it is only few minutes before the Frannz team will open doors for tonight. I remind light technician Janne on his dinner – as asked by Saku and – get in reply no more but a focused yet slightly hasted view. In unspoken words: Not done yet. Later.
Meanwhile the chemistry on stage is good and BRHG are apparently happy with their by now ongoing sound check. As the chords fade, a squeaking sound of joy for the music echoes from the bar. Nevertheless the stage empties and the last remaining pizza boxes backstage get opened the very same moment as the doors of Frannz Club. With the carb level rising in the Finn’s blood their degree of social interaction and verbal communication rises significantly. Finally even the technician arrives to grab his pizza and swallow it in some haste.
About the Frannz Club
The club is part of the Kulturbrauerei, a former brewery complex that nowadays hosts several venues. It is located in Berlin Prenzlauer Berg as mentioned before which is – to the non-Berlin natives among my dear readers – considered one of the Berlin party hot spots. Then again the actual hot spot has moved south to ‘Kreuzkölln’. The once hip party-life seeking immigrants from southwestern Germany (Swabia) who moved here en masse, have entered the breeding period of their lives. These days they are longing for silent nights so that their cubs may sleep as they watch the feuilleton on the TV and stream some shows.
Nevertheless the Frannz Club is located near several public transport hubs and offers drinks at fair prices in a cosy ambient. That might pull some guest from all Berlin or even further.
19:51 hours – Reinforcement Arriving
Only minutes before BRHG are to open the show, representatives of Out Of Line music pop up to deliver some additional BRHG merch. A short but warm welcome has to do, a final ‘pit stop’ to wet their long hair and off they go.
The venue hosts a decently sized audience by now. Obviously both bands do have a Berlin fan base already as a remarkable number of TK and BRHG shirts proves. Manager Aino approaches me, also pleased by the many band shirts around us. She mentions happily that ahead of the tour lately the figures developed excellently. Both streaming clicks and sales (especially of the latest designs) rose remarkably allowing her to hope for well filled venues during the tour.
20:00 sharp – bloodred nut crackers work best
Patrik has been sitting in the gloom at the stage entrance for some time already. He is touring with BRHG as their actual drummer Jarkko Hyvönen fell ill. Patrik is the first to climb on the stage before Jose, Lauri and Joni equipped with their axes follow. With the intro vocalist Jaredi appears on stage too, a wave of enthusiasm roles from the audience to the stage.
If I stay we’ll go too far
If I leave you may just close the only door
Leave me lost in this labyrinth of endless streets
“Drag Me The Rain” makes a perfect kick off, and pulls some more newly arriving faces towards the stage. I am surprised by the degree of activity I notice in the audience. BRHG have never disappointed on any show I have ever seen them. Their performance takes over a crowd to turn it into moshing and heavily banging bunch of loyal disciples of their modern melodic metal mission. And yet doubts had come for a reason that winning a Berlin made possibly a tougher nut to crack. – Not tonight!
The chemistry on stage is fuelled to burst in excitement by the amazing vibes radiating between the musicians and their guests. I don’t dare to take my camera into the crowd. Shots of the ongoing show from the side have to do. Lauri notices me and all his adrenaline erupts in all-over smile.
Meanwhile within the cocoon
The metamorphosis has begun. TK guys queue up to catch a glance into either the mirror in the tiny bathroom or in larger mirror near the hallway door. Faces become grimaces as a tin of corpse does rounds. Requests for certain sizes or shapes of brushes echo while red and black patterns emerge on faces.
Tape straps secure the mic wires on backs and necks while Saku proudly presents his new skirt-like leather-and-chains piece. Once he stepped into it and closed the zipper in front, he takes of his pants. “Can you help me with that?” he asks me for I am the only one not busy getting dressed for the show. I look at him with a large question mark lingering mid-air right above my head. “The bag for my micro receiver got stuck with chains yesterday. Could you perhaps untie it from the chains and fix it up here?” he says pointing the straps for a belt on the upper end. We find a sufficient position. “Well, perhaps you could widen the chains up here, too. It’s too narrow to step wider to the sides and stand comfy.” – “Sure.” I open the middle snap hook to switch it to the next wider chain link. “One or two?” – “Well, one will do, wouldn’t to show too much.”
I nod and Saku – by now halfway ShagU – turns to have me do the other side likewise. Then he gives it a try: “Perfect!” I wonder what the situation had looked like to someone passing by the door only casting a short glance into room, seeing me kneeling to ShagU my head on the height of his hips …?
20:45 hours – The Calm before the Disco Panique
BRHG leave the stage happy as can be with the show and the cheering audience. Packing their gear has become a smooth routine and as both bands use the same drum kit the stage is set for TK in a whiff. The crowd has grown still so the curtains between bar and stage areas need to be stowed away. Some final brush strokes accomplish the make ups whilst BRHG neatly pack their remaining gear that was only put aside to clear the stage as quickly as possible.
MC Raaka Pee’s fingers on his right hand seem to hurt as we run into each other in the hallway. “Look”, he grunts grimly over the obvious pain, “not moving.” – “May I?” reaching out for his hand. A smooth massage the small joints of the fingers, then moving upwards to softly stretch the wrist and then on to pressing the trigger points near the elbow. Two minutes of working on that trigger point and the fingers moves again. “Ha, thanks” as he hurries on to pick up his mic and receiver.
21:00 hours – The Rule Of The Metal ‘Technodictors’
There is a little surprise hidden in a jeans pocket as the perfectly shock-styled masters of techno-disco metal enter the stage. Undeniably the Berlin crowd is eager to proceed the metal rave. Waves of joy erupt from on and off-stage areas and crash into another. Sparkling energy takes over as the music rules.
The stage is small. And having half a dozen extra spots placed between drum kit and keyboard do not help to avoid guitar necks colliding with the vocalists’s hips. But who cares?
Frenzy rules soon. The crowd is enthusiastic which fuels the musicians. That again enrages the audience even more. Heavy partying, highly active, moshing, banging, jumping. For a moment I wonder if we might have slipped through a magic portal to find ourselves in metal heaven. But if so the entire club has been moved there. Within two songs the air is saturated with sweat and adrenaline.
Poets Of The North
Possibly at times it is not really important to understand the lyrics of a song. Even more Turmion Kätilöt’s words might be hard to digest for the sensitive among us. Then again a crowd as amazing as that one tonight deserves to experience the full weight of their philosophy and the finesse of their wording. So with ecstasy unleashed the set moves on to the point of Turmion Kätilöt’s ‘Germany special’. Only now this unlikely sheet of paper reveals its importance. It slips out of its pocket into sweaty hands to unfold its wisdom. In plain words MC Raaka Pee and ShagU announce they will recite their ‘German poem’.
Ok actually it is the German version of one of their song lyrics. But it’s fun and indicating the weight of the German fan base for Turmion Kätilöt. The crowd thanks it by erupting in joy again all the more as the ‘poem’ is repeated in the appropriate company of heavy riffs and 80’s key tunes.
Meet The Universal Satans
No party can go on forever, not even this one. This brutal truth is still might be subject to Einstein’s relativity theory or rather to Turmion Kätilöt’s raw power of schedule-bending. They return on stage for their three-songs encore only to add a fourth song to that list to honour the frantic atmosphere tonight. As finally the musicians bow to their crowd, the audience would still give yet another couple of songs a go. It sort of comes as Master Bates’s eyes have long watched the red flute in the crowd before him. He plays his own tune with the lent instrument for the farewell photo.
Little later at the merch stall, both bands are highly busy in signing pictures, album covers and shirts, posing for photos with their audience and getting to know their Berlin fan base personally. The flute owner has come for chat as well as the shoulder dancer and the welting-glasses wearer. The adrenaline fades as slowly from the blood of all gathered here as the venues empties. What a funny picture the bands make. While BRHG had time already to refresh with a shower, a snack and a decent drink sipped comfily, Turmion Kätilöt are still all covered in sweat and smeared paint.
Not such a tough nut
As I am about to take my leave, ShagU arrives at the backstage. He smiles as bright as can be: “You know, I am really happy I don’t need to wear pants under that leather skirt.” I am not really sure about the why and so he continues: “Just imagine what those pants would look like after show.” I pass by the queue at the shower and call it a day. What a day it was! Turmion Kätilöt and Bloodred Hourglass have conquered the ‘Swabian heart’ of Berlin as if it was nothing. Who would have guessed that the couch-patatoe alternatives (aka Prenzelberg crowd) are still able to deliver such a party? Then again an extraordinary situation requires extraordinarily heavy measures!
Thank you Turmion Kätilöt, Bloodred Hourglass, and Aino Järventaus for having me with you!
The tour is ongoing. Tickets, music & merch at: