There are two kinds of adventures. In the first kind, you try to survive difficulties, and in the other, you try something new in different but nice conditions.
Ilosaarirock represents the latter. During the rock’n’roll week, Joensuu turns, little by little, into another reality, and when the actual rock’n’roll weekend arrives, the city is something totally different from the norm. The festival crowd wanders along the riverbanks and in the city, spreading the festival spirit to the locals.
Ilosaarirock started on the Ilosaari Island, right in the centre of the city. It is not far from the centre now, either. Built for choir singing, Laulurinne (Singing Hill) is one of the finest and best functioning festival areas in Finland. A community of approximately 20 000 persons is formed on the edge of the city centre. Living and breathing the good atmosphere, moving gigs and friendliness flickering in the air. All of those present know that this will only last for a few days, and the understanding of the temporary quality of the event makes people open up.
The locals prepare for Ilosaarirock as carefully as the visitors. People make a note of interesting gigs in the programme of Ilosaarirock, Ilovaarirock which offers older pop music, Vekararock for children, and Pop Street which fills the city centre with music. Mattresses are prepared for festival guests, and fridges are filled. Shopkeepers fill their shelves to the brim, as the rock’n’roll visitors’ hunger and thirst create a peak in the sales.
A community of approximately 20 000 persons is formed on the edge of the city centre, living and breathing the good atmosphere.
To Joensuu locals, Ilosaarirock is also a good chance to meet up with old friends and acquaintances. People hug each other after a long time apart on the pathways of Laulurinne Hill. On the other hand, new friendships are born, and also some marriages can be traced back to the grassy fields of Laulurinne. Unique adventures also take place when people meet each other in real life, after first being virtual acquaintances. To some, the experiences provided by a rock’n’roll weekend are one reason to apply to Joensuu to study.
Music, and live music in particular, is meant to be touching and make you feel like dancing. Moving songs manage to pierce through everyday hustle and bustle, and to awaken feelings. When a huge group of people gather up and open themselves to an artist and to music, even bigger emotions awaken. When everyone else around you knows the lyrics of an important song by heart, memories are born which you will remember for the rest of your life.
Ilosaarirock has offered a unbiased programme throughout the decades. Of course, also popular favourites get on stage, but the weekend provides an opportunity to experience musical and even cultural adventures. When heavier music is played, a pit circles in front of the stage which, despite its chaotic and violent character, has an internal understanding of what is acceptable and what is not. Startled by a crowd which can really feel the music, a jazz musician also experiences something unusual for normal gigs. Discovering a new type of music is always a unique adventure, and Ilosaarirock’s many stages provide exceptionally good opportunities for such discoveries.
Diverse people are an essential part of Ilosaarirock. Middle-aged men enjoying the summer, and teenage girls with brightly coloured hair move to the beat next to each other. The festival provides an opportunity to toss aside the norms of everyday life, and every summer, a crowd of characters wonders around the hill, recognised by all by the end of the weekend. Everyone is allowed to be what they want to be.
Ilosaarirock is a weekend, when a big crowd of people lose themselves to music and to each other. Then, for a short while, the world is more beautiful place.
Janne “Rysky” Riiheläinen