Karelian hospitality backstage

backstagevastaavanetti1.jpgMarkku Roth has worked as an Ilosaarirock-volunteer for eight years, and his volunteering career has led him to be in charge of backstage management, which he has done for a few years. In addition to this, he is currently sitting on the board of Popmuusikot, the group responsible for making this festival happen each year.

- My job is take care that the artists can work and prepare in peace backstage as well as to ensure that they feel welcome. Presenters arrived and depart at their own pace, but I strive to greet each presenter personally when they arrive because I truly want them to feel welcome. Karelian hospitality is what guides this festival. And probably the most important aspect of that is that there is always hot coffee ready in the break room–everybody asks about coffee!

This year things backstage have been heating up because Ville Valo of HIM is the main act, and he really moves the fans to action. Many people has come to ask how is HIM coming and how they can leave Valo gifts. They have been able to cope just fine with his added stress, although because of safety reasons not all the presents have been allowed to reach their destination.

Area security on both sides of the main stage is well taken care of and the artist area behind the stage in particular has at least 3-5 guards on duty at a time. - Since the artist area and the VIP tent are the most restricted areas, it is essential that we give our presenters their space and peace. This is their work environment, and it runs on their terms. It is not acceptable that we volunteers, for example, approach them for their autographs, even though I must admit that it gets even an old man excited when Ville Valo is here!

Backstage management has been running smoothly since Roth came to the job, after following Erja Gunni, who was known to handle the tasks well. - It’s really great to hear presenters tell us that our festival works well. Some have said that they have really hoped to make it to Ilosaari Rock. One can truly say that we have a first class rock festival, and it wouldn’t exist without volunteers. Each guard, beer seller, and cleaner deserve thanks for their efforts.

Roth himself still has time to watch bands. - Saturday I had a 16 hour workday , and I didn’t walk around the festival even once! Sunday I thankfully made it into the area, but when I wanted to buy a hat, the lines were so long, I had to go back to work.

A job well done, meaning successful performances, are the best thanks. - When I see the sea of people in the evening as the gigs are going on and hear the crows’ clapping and cheering, then I know that the work in already behind me and that we’ve made it through wonderfully.

Text: Salla Brunou

Translation: Matti Erpestad