Saturday, July 24, 2010

Better day in Hamburg

After a disastrous performance, I had half a day to recover and explore Hamburg before heading back to the airport again.

It was just a perfect summer day and I went walking around the city.The sky was cloudless and blindingly blue. Temperature was hovering somewhere just shy 30*C and light breeze was fluttering my hem. My plan was to make a short round-trip in downtown area and then go to the harbor.


I guess it's since I'm from Finland, but I just looooove being near the water. No matter what kind. Strangely enough, I don't usually realize that I'm missing the element until I'm back to the proximity. I never tire of watching the glittering of sunshine on the waves. This was one of the reasons why I truly enjoyed my stroll in Hamburg. I could just take my time observing the movement of the water and all the little boats scurrying around in the harbor. All this while sipping my ice-latte, courtesy of Starbucks.

Kleine Wall Anlagen

Starbucks, my savior
A propo Starbucks. This is another thing that I absoluuuutely adore. Me being one of those lactose-intolerance handicapped, Starbucks just miraculously always pulls through for me. No matter where, I get my latte, just as I like it. Normally I try to avoid multinational corporations and chains, but my coffee is something I don't wanna live without. So I'm willing to bend my rules here. In Finland it is so easy, because all the restaurants and cafes usually have a low-lactose option available. In Europe, as civilized it may seem, you can just forget this chance or just go for it with regular version and fart forevermore. But Starbucks, thanks to their policy, have everywhere an option for me -with real milk that is, not some hideous soy-goo. Yay, yay, yippiayjee!

Near Gänsemarkt

So my first gameplan was to spot a Starbucks and get my daily dose of caffeine. I found actually three possibilities and darted into the closest one. Taking my latte with my I strolled donw to Junfernstieg and spend very comfortable half an hour by the water there in remarkably Mediterrannean atmosphere. It was hard to imagine that the Baltic sea is actually not so far away while observing the palm trees swaying in the summer breeze.

Jungfernstieg, -yes, still in Hamburg

Harbor and docks
I continued my walk passing the Rathaus in old town and heading towards the docks in the harbor. Downtown area didn't thrill me so much, since it just seemed to be packed with expensive designer labels and shopping malls. I did see the famous Hansa Viertel, but wasn't intriqued to go in. Rather stay outside on pretty days like this.

Below some snapshots from the harbor area.




Station  of the harbor police, next to the Niederbaumbrücke

City sporthafen

Funny round building near Landungsbrücken

St. Pauli - Landungsbrücken

As it was just along my way back to Schulterblatt, where I wanted grab some luch before heading out to the airport, I decided to have a peek to the word-famous Reeperbahn. At daytime there was really nothing to see, as I knew it would be. Just quite normal people going about their business on the street that promoted some titty-bars, cheap hotels and porn-kinos. But now I can at least say I've seen it. Just another curiosity, more hookers can be seen on any time of a day on Sihlquai or Langstrasse in Zürich. And the actual window-shopping doesn't even exist on Reeperbahn. If that's what one is interested in and is male, then the destination is a short stretch of Herbstrasse, which is closed with gates on both ends stating that no minors or women are admitted.

Treasures of the sea
When ever I'm by the water, I try to grab some fish or seafood to eat. This is probably also due to the fact of me being Finnish. Since fish was always so widely avalable, I still seem to go for it when ever there is a chance. In Switzerland the possibilities are unfortunately usually very slim; fish is painstakingly expensive and far far far from home -meaning not fresh enough to my liking. And being in Thailand for duration, didn't cure my yearning for fresh fish, somehow =)

On Schulterblatt I found this Spanish-portuguese restaurant La Sepia, which promised fish specialities. The lunch hour specials were very reasonably priced and selection very large. I chose some mixed fish from the grill and enjoyed my lunch wholeheartedly. I can recommend this restaurant highly, but make sure you'll go there during the luch hours (11-17) and you can fill you belly with less than 10€. I got salad, main course and beverage for 7,70;-. In the evenings it's lots more expensive albeit just as tasty.

Funny observations
I was laughing out aloud when I saw some of the city trash bins. The stickers glued on them are just so hilarious!

"I devour also hamburgers"

"I have dirty dreams"

One last thing to laugh about before leaving Hamburg. The check-in automat on the airport decided to give me a nickname:

Minnapiri+ ? =)

Thursday, July 22, 2010

"Don't panic" in Hamburg

Warning: This post contains whole lot of complaining, whining, professional jargon and frustration. But perhaps also little bit of humour.

Once upon a time we had a guest performance on Kaltstart festival in Hamburg. They invited us and promised only fame and honor, no fortune. Fair enough, can do.

Getting there
It didn't start well. First of all, my flight from Basel was cancelled and I had to commute to Zürich on one of the hottest days of the whole summer, in a bus with no air conditioning whatsoever. Groovy, soaking in sweat and also hungry as hell. But no worries, the airline offered passengers some sandwiches, yippee. -Filled with cream-cheese and quark, just what my lactose-intolerance was yearning for. Pass. Still hungry as hell.

Eventually I arrived in Hamburg only some three hours delayed and went to see our venue in the evening. Hmmm, okay, for once the space seems bigger than in photos. But, there was no lamps of any kind and the console was baby-size Behringer-plaything. We'll worry about that in the morning, since there was nobody inquire.

Schulterblatt, St. Pauli

We went to the theater already at 8:30 in the morning to hoist our stuff in. Set-up for the lights was supposed to strat at 10:00. This didn't perk such enthusiasm on the local crew, who slouched in during the following hour. I inquired politely the whereabouts about my equipment which was all okayed by the festival in forehand.

9 hours to showtime.

Crew: "What do you need?"
Minna: "The things that were listed on the email and are shown here on this light-plot"
Crew: "???  Oh, you have a light-plot, cool"
Minna: "??? Pheew, let's count together again... look."

Anyhow, we somehow reached an agreement on what they were supposed to deliver for our show and then the bozos head out to get the stuff. I usually mean by starting time, the time when the set-up actually starts, not the time when one starts to figure what one needs for the set-up. Please correct me, if I got this somehow wrong.

So, what I could do in the meantime was to wait. And I waited until 14:30 and then I thought it has taken long enough, because my requests were not so elaborate ones after all. I manage finally to track the crew down, only to find them drinking coffee at the downstairs cafeteria. 

Minna: "Could we somehow start soon, please? I'm getting bit nervous here?"
Crew: "Oh, you wanna start already? The stuff is over there in the van, you can bring it up yourself."
Minna: "???"

5,5 hours to showtime.

Kulturhaus III&70, our venue and festival center

Setting up
Eventually all the gear was up on the stage. It was not quite what was wished for. Out of 15 requested Par 64's, they delivered 2; one functional and the other without bulb and plug. The rest of the stuff was mostly unrecognizable. My 6 x 1kW Floodlight topwash is reduced to 2 x 500W, of whose only one works in the end. Profile square is just a unprecise splotch on the floor. Washes don't cover the whole floor no matter how you squint your eyes.

Minna: "Öööö, this looks a bit like Par 56, but it has a G9 bulb inside? What is this?
Crew: "????"
Minna: "How many watts you suppose it uses?
Crew: "Don't know. Maybe 500??"
Minna: "How cool is this."

The only possible way to go about it, was just to try to deal out the things so that I could create at least homehow all the necessary directions and colors of light and settle with the fact that it's gonna look hideous.

Rigging the fixtures took most of the afternoon, everything being more or less plugged in by 17:00, at the point where I had to release the only technician helping me to have some lunch. Finished the rigging on my own. During the rigging there was lots of running around to find nonexisting extension cords and nonexisting clamps. Hmm.

My directors start to get bit agitated and ask me if there will be show tonite. I instruct them to think of the cover of the Hitchiker's Guide to the Galaxy; it says in big, friendly letters "Don't panic!"

3 hours to showtime.

Detail of the neighborhood no.1

When the technician was fed, he returned to me and we were supposed to do a hot patch on the dimmers, so that I can have my channel numbers to program with. At this point there was still a theoretical possibility for me to use Avab Cantor instead of the abovementioned Behringer. Main reason for this was that the Behringer can only do maximum 10-second fades, whereas the longest I needed was 3 minutes.

The method the technician used was not very efficient or fast, so after a half an hour and 5 patched channels, I suggested another approach since there was still almost 20 to go. At this point it comes clear that the dimmers don't work; -the light doesn't obey any number, not mine nor any other. To save time I back out of wanting my numbers, any number will do as long as it works. My technician runs to get help.

2 hours to showtime.

Around 19:15 most of the channels are somehow working and I have managed to do a very rough focusing while the guys are trying to find the missing channels. Some of the fixtures stay dead, there is bad cable or broken bulb, but no time or equipment to try to solve it. I back out wanting to do a sequence with programmed x-fades and decide to stick with the dumb Behringer, because I find out that the guys don't know how the Avab works.

Minna: "It is possible to program groups to submasters with Behringer?"
Crew: "Yes."
Minna: "It looks like a chaser should be very easy, since it's a disco-toy. Can you program one?"
Crew: "No, but give me two minutes, I'll figure it out. Its' no problem."

45 minutes to showtime.

The technicians post themselves behind the Behringer and start to figure the console out. I give them a list of 7 submasters that I absolutely need to survive the live-action-rock'n roll-show.

After a while one of the guys is beating the console and the other is reading the f***ing manual. The console don't work. Why I am not surprised at this point?

15 minutes to showtime.

Console still not working.

Detail of the neighborhood no.2

15 minutes past the supposed showtime.

Crew: "Now we think we got it for you! Please check."
Minna: "Not quite."
Crew: "Aaarghhh."

25 minutes past the supposed showtime.

Submasters are finally somewhat right, I have no chaser(s) and I'm not quite sure what is on the upper bank of the console, but I ask for the audience to be admitted in. i would figure it out as we go. "Let's rock'n roll!"

30 minutes past the supposed showtime.

We're finally on. And the show turns out to be one of the best we ever had, at least what comes to energy and mood. although, I have to admit that simulating a chaser of duration of 7 minutes by pumping submasters up and donw, is bit exhausting, when the temp is likely over 40 degrees Celsius. And that 3-minute upfade is not so smooth with Behringer submasters. I have to update our technical rider and state that Behringer and Eurolite are not wanted.

But the funniest thing in the end probably is, that I took a whole roll of Lee 201 with me, wishing to be properly prepared to use multiple 500W Floods (which were promised) instead 1kWs. The filter was the only thing that the folks at the festival had plenty of!

To live is to learn.

Bunker on Feldstrasse

After the show we just fast grabbed our gear and headed out for well-earned beer. Who needs to eat anyway? I had breakfast at 8:00 in the morning at the hotel, right =)

01:00 am.

Some of us ended up finishing the evening on top of the Bunker (courtesy of the set of keys the technical director of the festival has), sipping beer and admiring the 360deg city panorama. Finally unwinding.

Thursday, July 1, 2010


For the last weekend of June I managed to escape Berlin city-fumes and travel some 130 kilometers up north to little place called Lärz.

Lärz is literally in the middle of nowhere. There is an old formerly Russian airport on which some punks bought and arrange there every summer this humongous festival called Fusion. I've never seen anything like that.

The map of the airport city.

One half of the program.

Of course I've been to festivals in Finland and so on, but one cannot really compare this to them. On the huge areal there is something like 20 stages and places, where they stage shows for more or less 24 hours a day for 4 days for the audience of closely 100 000 people.

There is main stage, but the program is not so concentrated around happenings there as it many times is elsewhere. There is tens of thousands of people, but it doesn't feel so packed at all, because of the big space and more spread-out program. I actually found it hard to believe that there is so many people.

The ideology of the festival is somewhat of creating a parallel society for 4 days, where everybody can find their own way, space and time for action and unite with others, without prejudice and borders. And hope to make world a better place, at least for these four days.

The whole attitude of this festival is more chilling out and laying back. Somehow all the people, both guests and the orgnisation, are very relaxed and friendly. And it's not just about music, on the offer is also theater performances and film screenings. And some art-works distributed around the area, such as installations and sculptures.

Something is happening somewhere any given time.

View to the camping area from top of the Cabaret hangar.

Youtube-clip of some scenes by dEEcorPyro.

One of the reasons why I really enjoyed this festival was the fact, that it smells like Asia to me =). The vapours snaking to the air from all the food-stalls selling the variety of vegetarian food (no meat allowed on the site) and the spices they use; curries, coconutmilk, chilis... Incence sticks... weed... And also the the toilets in the heatwave of +30-something*C temperature =) =)

Weather was remarkably good for the time I was there, albeit in the nighttime it dropped to 12*C. So warm layers were really needed there, but it was so beautiful to go see the sunrise! The big variation of temperature is due of the vast open area and clear skies.

Below some impressions....

Chilling out @ Kalkutta on Sunday afternoon.

Setting sun @ Turmbühne and feather in the hat.

The real earworm of Fusion 2010
by Synapsenkitzler @ Tube Station

Salon de Baile.

Cabaret hangar.

Hmm. Got it.


Bicycle-energy 4 the band =)
(4 Bikes on the right side of stage provide energy needed)

Lasers were quite amazing. Video by SexyStulle.