The Magic Tribe of the Dark River Festival

Prologue: Magic Moments

Blaze Bayley on stage of the DRF 2019 – a hell lot more than a mere milestone.

There are many a milestones in nearly 20 years of Dark River Festival (DRF) history. Some will be plain figures; others fill the air with magic, such as Blaze Bayley. The former Iron Maiden vocalist turned the small concrete stage in the Honkala skiing stadium into the centre of the metal universe. Aku remembers: “Probably, I’m a huge Iron Maiden fan myself.” Blaze Bayley and his adorable fellow musicians (also known as the band Absolva) made unforgettable moments on stage but perhaps a lot more after the show. They took all the time in the world and had a good time with the fans and the DRF crew. “I have a picture with Blaze backstage, and I think that that’s one of my favourite memories here”, Aku says with sparkling eyes. However, magic moments do not depend necessarily on big names.

Lost Society – a force of nature on stage (2021)

The magic may also come entirely unexpectedly. Kimmo is not the person you expected to be overly excited. He professionally and kindly performs his security tasks. But then some years back, it hit him from behind. “I think when Lost Society was here first time. They came here like to some other band’s place. It was Saturday, and it was like 16 o’clock on Saturday and I haven’t never heard about Lost Society. I was standing between crowd and band and suddenly when they started I have to turn around and look what the fuck is going on?” Lost Society is a force of nature on stage only to ignite the same in the crowd and in Kimmo.

And I was like, ‘Oh my God, you guys are crazy! (Pauliina)

Machinae Supremacy 2023

Crew newbie Pauliina’s first year has been very exciting. The most thrilling moment came apparently with Machinae Supremacy. Right before the guys hit the stage, I noticed her coming from the backstage to give away some CDs to the people in the first row. How came that to be? “So they gave me one at the backstage. They just came with it and said, ‘This is for you’. And I was like, ‘Oh my God, you guys are crazy!” she begins fully electrified.

“And then I also talked with them – just like a little small talk. And I actually told them about my friend who brought me here. And I told them the same story [as to me earlier]. That they are the only band, I remember from last time when I was here. And then they were like, ‘Okay, how does your friend look like?’ And I was like, yeah, actually, you know, my friend was in the audience before the show. And then they came over there and I was like, actually, she’s right over there. And they gave also a CD for her. And then there were some other people I think that they just thought it would be nice to keep for the people next to her also. It’s really, really cool. They are super nice.”

But the whole thing, this is just, god damn, this is just fun. (Ville)

In nearly 20 years of Dark River Festival, numerous magic moments happened, I learn speaking with the crew. “There are so many. Every festival, every moment, every year has been just great”, says Ville. He adds: “And of course, when I have been on the stage, it’s always cool. But the whole thing, this is just, god damn, this is just fun.” I wonder if there can a more devoted fan of the DRF at all. We explore the magic a little deeper, speaking of the experience of playing on stage one moment and being back among the crew half an hour later as it happened quite numerous times, for example to Marianas Rest. “Hmm. That’s hmm, that’s life”, he says laughing out loud. Allow me to be more precise: This is his life, and this is living his dream.  

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