And so, still reeling from the first day of Soffa Rock, we hit day two and five more bands. Again the line up was to start with a rap artist, progress through the alternative scene onto large reggae bands that get people dancing, but Saturday’s finale was not dance beats but funk – the funkiest young funk in town. Read on.
After a seven year hiatus, the ‘Rapping Taxi Driver’ made a sneaky comeback, accompanied by a flagon wielding man wearing a storm trooper helmet, apparently as some kind of tribute to da da. It is pretty hard work to warm up a venue early in the evening, before it has filled up. Onni, also known as Lossi Turunen from his role as rapper in Lossi T & Juokset, is not phased by a quiet room. The flow of words came freely and swiftly. Unfortunately I didn’t understand any of them and will probably have to memorise Finland’s urban dictionary before I do, but I’m assured it was an amusing show. The video probably contains strong language; It’s rap.
Suomen Karvapääkuninkaat 1968
We covered these guys in an earlier post. I’m pleased to say that the sound was far better for this gig, and you could hear the vocals. This was the point where people began to fill up the venue. They weren’t sporting their fly-headed look today (no dark glasses and hats), but the dungarees more than made up for it. I got to teach some Finnish friends the word ‘dungarees’, for one. It was good to hear them again.
This must be about the fifth time I’ve seen Norma John perform since Autumn 2009, which tells you that I have a high opinion of this band, in spite of the fact that their name reminds me of Norah Jones too much. In fact, Norma John have had a song called ‘Little Shapes of Hearts’ for quite some time now, and to add to my confusion, Norah Jones’ song ‘Little Broken Hearts’ has been playing on the radio a lot lately.
Back to the band we are interested in though; Norma John are fronted by lead singer Leena Tirronen, who earned third place in Finland’s one-off-flop X-Factor show. After that experiment lead her to release a Finnish language solo album that was widely promoted on Spotify, but did not take off, Norma John came back into action as ‘Norma John with a Backbone’ – more determined to make the most of the band than ever. Also worth noting in the band is talented keyboardist Lasse Piirainen, who remained close to Leena throughout her solo jaunt. Perhaps my favourite moment of the whole evening was seeing Lasse struggle to leave as head-liners Get Me were playing, because they were too damn good to walk away from.
Older songs from the band are often humorous, as in the excellent ‘Star Trek/Star Wars’ (video above) and ‘My Robot Friend’, a must-listen for any geek or nerd. My personal favourite is the more sorrowful ‘Darkest Day’, but of the newer tracks, which have taken a smoother and more serious direction, I particularly like ‘Back of my mind’. Leena is an excellent singer and the English lyrics are of very good quality in theme and descriptiveness, although there is the occasional grammatical mistake to be noted.
I’m of the impression that ‘Babies’ (above video) is a more recent offering, but it still exemplifies the wry humour of the lyrics written by this group.
It was my first time listening to this band. Once again a great selection on the part of the organisers to get people onto the dance floor as the day grew late. Another large group that overflowed the stage and brought a lot of noise and variety with them, with an African vibe.
They have a very good-looking band page, where all manner of upcoming gig info, booking info, photos and tracks are available, so I suggest that you head over there if you’re even half as keen on African-Finnish music as I am.
We went to see these lads play at the Global Battle of the Bands semifinal and watch them get through to the finals as the only band who performed both songs in English. They got through despite judges looking for a ‘more Finnish’ style of music, whatever that means, because they were so good. Get Me are 8 young men who are all around 19 years of age. They write and perform funk with a high level of musicianship and showmanship and I highly recommend putting on your dancing shoes and going to see them perform live. I’m glad we had already filmed their Global Battle of the Bands performance for Soffa TV, because it meant that I could follow my own advice and dance the final part of the night away.
Sample some of Get Me‘s groovy music on Mikseri.