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Punkrock and solidarity

After seeing the Astrid Swan album release show I thought that I'm satisfied with gigs for this spring. That next I'd better use all of my spare time and money to building and house renovation. And then later in the summer go celebrate at some small festivals. But then, there was one concert at Tampere which made me reconsider my plans...

There is this young indie band Tuntematon Numero, fronted by charismatic Litku Klemetti. I've once seen Litku play live a duo gig, and that definitely placed the whole band on my list of 'go see them in the summer!'. As I've been following them on facebook, I've learned that this March they're playing a special set of gigs with Yari. And Yari was a frontman of a Finnish new wave punkrock band called Se. Se toured actively in 1976 - 1985. Apparently, at their time they were rather well known in the genre. Litku Klemetti lists Se among one of her influences, and she had suggested Yari that their band could play with him. Seems like Yari was convinced with their talent and energy, so they decided to play a series of gigs as 'Yari & Se Tuntematon Numero'. They said that when they were organizing, the venue operators weren't quite as convinced, and thought that they are likely to attract an audience of 50 people. The crowd in their Helsinki gig was counted in hundreds. So that tells something just how good they are =) A bunch of my good friends were going to see their gig at Tampere and they asked me to come with them. I agreed - telling myself that it is not only time and money I need for my renovation projects; I also need soul fire and inner energy to get things done. And going to concerts has often had such a long-lasting energizing effect. And so many times I've been to concerts alone, so it would be fun to go together with a group of friends.

Also, I was invited to a small party of another group of friends, Saturday at Tampere. And Yari & Se Tuntematon Numero gig was on Friday night, so I thought I could just combine both for a single trip to Tampere. I was driving there Friday evening, as I noticed the car acting weirdly. At first, the gear shifter felt sticky when trying to shift to 2. As I released the clutch, I head a portentous sound. And after a while shifting to 4 also felt sticky and clumsy, making an another portentous sound after releasing the clutch. So I decided to drive only using gears 1, 5 and 3. I smiled at that thought, thinking that I'm starting to resemble a character of my own silly philosophical comedy story. Otherwise I thought that it is probably the gearbox malfunction - but as long as it will be only 2 and 4 out of order, I can manage driving the car for a day or two until I find an another solution. "There went my plans of spending all the spare money to house renovation" I thought to myself, getting into serious pondering over my choices and income - should I let things roll as they've been rolling lately, or should I try to reorganize my sources of income? But if steadily having more customers for massage quickly wears down my inner energies, the increased amount of money won't be worth it if I'll again be constantly exhausted. So what kind of changes should I initiate? These thoughts were cut short by an alarm sound. It was the motor oil alarm.

"This is getting serious" I thought to myself, looking for a safe place to stop. I pulled over at a roadside bus-stop and went to inspect. As soon as I opened the bonnet I saw that there is black oil spilled all over. So there I was, about 15 km before Tampere, next to route 9 with the car engine about to break down. Well, I thought I'll dry to drive it all the way down to Tampere, or at least to get as close as possible. I happened to have one litre bottle of engine oil, I poured it in, closed the bonnet and started the car. The alarm sound died, I hit the road, gently patting the dashboard saying "Good car! Now give me all you got, let's make it to Tampere!" And when I got near the street where my friend lives, the motor oil alarm started beeping again. I parked the car and noticed the car had left a trail of oil. But I made it, together with the good old Volkswagen Passat which has carried me through so many adventures. I went to my friend and asked if we have any booze. There was a bottle of gin at the table, and I downed a shot.

Time to consider the situation; I need to figure out what to do with the car. Even if it was only the gearbox, replacing it would cost so much that it won't make sense. In my mind I declared the Passat being dead. So I need a new car. Options; on Saturday, try to drive the car the final few kilometres to a car trader, buy a new car and leave the Passat for them to be recycled. Or, leave the car on its place for some days, and buy a second hand car either from Tampere or Vilppula. And, in either case, at the moment I only have 50 euros on my bank account, so I'll also need to figure out where to borrow money from. Like, I could probably look for a car in 500 - 1500 € price range. Either a cheap one to drive for a summer, hoping to buy a better one in the autumn. Or then borrowing more money now and buying a ~1500 € car which is more likely to last for years. I decided to write the story in facebook, asking my friends for suggestions on what to do - if anyone can recommend a car trader who operates on Saturday or something. After downing an another shot of gin I decided to relax - as there is nothing I can do about it now; I'm safe with friends, and we are about to go see a gig so better just leave the car trouble for tomorrow.

Oh how I'm happy to have such friends. We ate together, listening to an old Se album, talking joking and laughing. In so many ways there friends make me relax inside, to feel familiar and connected. Then it was time to head to the venue. On our way we met an another friend, and in front of the venue two more friends joined the company. And sure there were a lot more people than 50. As people get pouring in, the venue got rather packed up. We found a place near the stage, waiting for the band to begin. I felt a little bit tired, observing an occasional worried thought about car and money problems fleeting in my mind, but I let them just go without paying too much attention. And so the band started playing, and pretty soon I was all into dancing - yes there was barely enough space to dance a little. (A typical Finnish audience is just a rows of people standing and watching, and if the crowd is too packed there won't be room to dance.) Yari's lyrics were about marginalized people, sometimes struggling, oftentimes enjoying a bohemian sphere of life. And together with my friends we just danced like there was no tomorrow, just seizing the moment, getting immersed into the energy of the music. Before I started writing this I checked if anyone has uploaded videos of the gig so that I could post a link. Funnily enough, it appears that the person who shot this was just behind us - so a part of that dark silhouette of bouncing crowd is us =)

It was great to see Yari, at the age of 60, singing and playing with his weather-beaten experience-backed charisma, together with a band of talented musicians bit younger than 30 or so. A few days ago one of major magazines had a six-page article about Litku and her band; an interview with a lot of great pictures. In the interview Litku told that she has always been a music nerd, and at school she got bullied for being different - which only made her to embrace the difference. (She grew up in a little town in Eastern Finland, and in those places if you are not mainstream it won't be that easy to find like-minded friends). And how she dreamed of playing in a band. And finally, when studying music at the Jyväskylä University, she found people to play with. And for a few years it was mostly just their friends who were in the audience, as they played in small pubs and alternative clubs. Hehe, I'm telling this story to better illustrate the charge of energy they delivered that night at Tampere; imagine the feeling you are coming from the marginals, but that with your talent and spirit you've convinced one of your idols to launch a re-boot of old cult band; imagine the feeling of playing to a fully booked venue, proving all the nay-sayers wrong. And on the stage Yari didn't set himself above nor apart from the young ones. And he didn't try to merely copy what they did in the golden times of Se-band. It was clear that they are doing their own version of the old songs. Being a band, playing together with an effortless and deep sense of connection, sometimes improvising and experimenting on the fly. Yari's long experience paired extremely well with the energy of the young band.

And it was clear that the audience enjoyed the show - many of the people looked like they've been there in the 1970 - 80's seeing the original Se. They cheered and clapped, feeding more energy for the band. So much that the band played two rounds of encore. And dancing to punkrock together with friends sure worked like magic. After the gig the crowd started to disperse. Some of my friends headed to merchandise booth, and to my surprise I got a present; "Horror '15" LP by Litku Klemetti & Tuntematon Numero. We strolled through the night in the city. Back at my friend's place, around 2am, we had a bit more of the gin and completed a jig-saw puzzle which had been waiting there nearly finished.

Saturday, after the morning coffee I started to sort out the car situation. Over the internet some friends offered their practical help if needed. And even before I had asked, one friend said that I can borrow some money from her. I checked the internet for car traders and for private persons selling second-hand cars. The cheapest one I found was mere 350€ - I was tempted to buy that, it would kind of a postpone the problem. Having a cheap car for a summer, allowing me more time to organize funding for a ~1500 € car. I called the person, but he said that today he is away, and tomorrow morning there is a person coming to see the car. So I decided this one was not my lucky shot. My neighbours texted that they have a reliable Volvo 850 which they could sell. I know the car, it has exactly the properties I need. They asked a reasonable price. So I thought that if I take a train back to Vilppula and buy a car there, then I still have to organize the recycling of the old car at Tampere - if I just leave it there leaking oil. at some point I will be fined for leaving junk lying around. I had checked car dealers' pages in the net, but looked like their second hand cars started from 5000€, which is way too much for me in my current situation. Then, at twenty past one pm I found a place which had second hand cars starting from 800€, and on Saturday they were open until 2pm, and the place wasn't that far away. I thought if I should try to do it the movie style - drive the nearly-broken car to the destination, on the last minute before the closing time buy a new car and drive away happily. But then, what if things in real life won't go in movie style? What if the car engine will jam before I get to the trader place? That's potentially dangerous, in the middle of city traffic. Also, calling a towing company would cost money. So better not take the risk. I decided to leave the old Passat at Tampere, to borrow money from my friend, to take a train, and to buy a Volvo from my neighbours. (The downside was that I had to skip the other party I had been invited to.)

Before my train left we went to eat at a restaurant. My friends paid my lunch, and they even bought me a bar of chocolate so that I can eat it when walking from Vilppula railway station to my neighbours. Have I already mentioned how I love my friends? And that there are a reason for that =) All of this made me feel warm and merry. Like in Aki Kaurismäki movies, the bohemians and the people in the marginals show unconditional solidarity towards each other; always offering a helping hand when needed. I don't know but I feel that among my sphere of friends we all know how it is to struggle with life, money and mental health - so we also know how much a helping hand means, so there is inner inclination to help fellows. Yes yes - things like these might sound like self-evident, but growing up in atmosphere of domestic violence things like care and trust are far from self-evident. Personally, for me, it has not been that easy to learn to receive help. Or, even to relax in presence of other people. But what has helped me to learn, has definitely been things like completing a jigsaw puzzle in the middle of the night, or having an LP and a chocolate bar as a surprise gift.

So, at the moment of writing this I'm back at home, with a new Volvo car parked at my yard. With all the love and help from my friends, I easily pulled through the acute trouble. But of course, the coming weeks I need to earn money to pay back what I borrowed. And to figure out a way to balance my budget so that I could still buy some materials for the house renovation project. But those are the things I can solve later on. And gone is the all-so-familiar post-depression feeling of 'my problems are too big for me to handle' which followed me for so many years - now that is replaced with a peaceful trust in life; things will work out.

Yari & Se Tuntematon Numero
Yari & Se Tuntematon Numero
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Have you heard of the band Scald? They are a Russian metal band from the 1990's with themes of paganism and nordic/slavic culture. They're really good, and I would recommend you check them out.

I was not familiar with Scald - thank you for recommending! I've now listened to Night Sky a few times, and it sounds good! Seems like some of their music can also be found in Bandcamp, but sadly there is no option to buy the album as mp3. Well, maybe I have to seek a bit if I can find more of them in digital format.

Speaking of bands from Russia, about a year ago when surfing youtube I randomly found Messer Chups - and in a strange way I like their slightly twisted take on surf rock =)

EDIT: Litku Klemetti's records have been published by a label 'Luova Records'. They have a whole bunch of interesting indie bands, like The Aeon. Couple of days ago they posted The Aeon song Hymn to Pan on youtube. A nice mixture of medieval-, folk- and rock influences!


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