About This Festival
Rock 'n' Roll is popular in Finland. All kinds of rock. The genre has an across the board appeal that may seem odd to outsiders. The heavy thrashers listen to indie, but on the flip side, the nation has embraced metal and its relatives as a pop phenomenon in a manner that would be unthinkable in the USA. Don't believe us? In 2006, guess who Finland picked as representatives at Eurovision, a top of the pops show so saccharine it rots teeth? A band called Lordi. They're so metal you could make a periodic table out of the band members (by the way, against all odds and predictions, Lordi went on to win Eurovision that year).
Anyways, rock of all kinds, from Lordi to twee shoegaze, is big in Finland, and especially so in the city of Seinäjoki (Sane-nah-yo-kee, like in "insane" without the "in"). If you were born outside of Finland and have never heard of the place, you're forgiven. It's the 17th-biggest city in a nation not exactly overflowing with massive urban areas. And yet this otherwise useful Trivial Pursuit footnote is actually one of Finland's culture hubs, and hosts one of the country's top rock clubs, the storied Rytmikorjaamo.
And it hosts Provinssirock, aka Provinssi. One of the oldest, largest rock festivals—it started back in 1979 and now draws crowds that are edging towards 90,000—in a region that really loves its rock festivals. Although to be fair, this has as much to do with the summer setting as the music.
I wanna Provinssirock 'n' roll all night (even if it looks like the day)
Even the most dedicated attendees of the big summer music festival season will admit that stifling heat and humidity plus several thousand sweaty bodies can make for occasionally miserable concert experiences. But in Finland, summer, particularly midsummer, is the most supremely pleasant time of the year. The weather hovers in the 70s, and it's almost always sunny.
And we do mean always. You're so far north here you've entered the region known for the Midnight Sun. Or to be more accurate, you're close enough to the Midnight Sun that it may as well be a thing. No, Seinäjoki isn’t above the Arctic Circle, so the sun does technically set during the summer, but the "night" is pretty short—blink and you'll miss it. In previous years, Provinssirock has gone on for three days, with breaks in-between festival days that allow festival-goers to retire to the local campground for rest.
In 2014, the organizers of Provinssi decided to leverage the midnight sun to their advantage. Basically, the festival wasn't stopping that year. It was only two days long, but it was a straight 48 hours of nonstop music. You'll be coming out of the camping grounds with enough bags under your eyes to start a luggage line, but with a big grin on your face.
So what to expect?
Three days of back to back gigs with neither physical rest nor cessation of music? Is that your heaven or hell?
There's a packed schedule of events at this musical festival. Many camp revelers greet the dawn with morning yoga. Art installations abound. Stand up comedy features pretty heavily into the festival schedule, and much of it is delivered in English. Folks pack in for a silent disco, because sometimes you need to break up all the live music by listening to recorded music.
The festival grounds are usually demarcated within Seinäjoki's green spaces, a pleasant area that’s pretty magical in a midsummer early evening that lasts until well past the literal 11th hour. You'll find that even with 48 hours of nonstop music, there's plenty of opportunity to peel off and find a quiet spot to find some serenity, chill out or engage in the consumption of various substances (not an overriding feature of this festival, but certainly not unheard of either). As is the case at any big music event, volunteers get perks for attending Provinssi, but unless you speak Finnish, it may not be worth looking into these opportunities. Still, if you'd like to give volunteering a shot, head here.
If previous years are anything to go by, Provinssirock will be able to pull in a good mix of international headliners and lesser known names, including lots of local Northern European talent. Previous big name acts have included Muse, Calvin Harris, Red Hot Chili Peppers, David Bowie, Weezer, and Patti Smith.