Ilosaarirock Joensuu 3 days 14th-16th July 2017

The longest loading ramp in Europe?

Ilosaarirock's technical producer Pekka Kupiainen says that feedback from the bands is nearly unanimously positive. And the loading ramp at the Main Stage is slightly less frightening this year.

Das Ramp. Photo: Markus Korpi-Hallila

Ilosaarirock’s Main Stage is without a doubt the scene of many a rock legend, but it also holds a special place among the roadies of the bands playing there. The loading ramp leading down from the backstage to the stage itself was known as ”the longest ramp in Europe”, and steep as heck. This summer the ramp was designed to be a bit safer with a slightly gentler slope, but it’s still a wild ride.

– The roadies are always first terrified and then amused by it. A few years ago some rap group was almost too scared to just walk down the ramp to the stage. Lots of people say that there’s no way they’re going to get their stuff down in one piece. And we say, no worries, we’ll take care of it, tells Pekka Kupiainen, technical producer for Ilosaarirock.

Despite the legends, the ramp is apparently not the longest in Europe. While we’re talking about it, a passing roadie says that there’s an even longer ramp at Leeds Festival.
– But this one’s steeper, he says with a tinge of despair in his voice.

Kupiainen says that producing Ilosaarirock is nowadays a fairly pleasant experience. His job is to make sure that all of the stages have audio and video throughout the weekend.

– I don’t stress this as much as I used to. I’ve had ten years to learn this stuff, Kupiainen says.

Festival technical producer Pekka Kupiainen on the infamous loading ramp, with a full moon in the background. Photo: Lauri Kaukotie

Bands have a lot of different groups and managers handling different aspects of the show, and cooperation isn’t always easy. Kupiainen says that this year has been okay.
– The production managers have had a good attitude, they’ve been nice to work with. We try to not complicate eachothers lives. For example, last year Volbeat was a bit more difficult. Things didn’t go as was agreed beforehand. But we got through.

Bands are generally very pleased with Ilosaarirock. Kupiainen mentions meeting the production manager for Nothing But Thieves, who he knows from the manager’s earlier visit to Ilosaarirock with Aphex Twin.
– Both the manager and the band were saying that we have the best service and a great atmosphere.

Kupiainen has a surprising amount of time to enjoy the festival himself. After making the overall designs, the stage managers take over well before the festival and Kupiainen is left with just a supervisory role.
– For me it’s a performance indicator of sorts, if I have free time during the festival, I’ve done my job well.

Picking individual bands from this year’s lineup, he mentions The Hellacopters. Kupiainen tours with Michael Monroe, so he also knows Sami Yaffa.
– It was fun to to see Sami play with another band.
When asked to compare working at Ilosaarirock and touring with Monroe, he says that touring is damn near a vacation for him, because it let’s him focus on just one thing, instead of the five different stages at Ilosaarirock.
– Here you’re always kinda on edge.

Besides The Hellacopters, Kupiainen is looking forward to the Finnish pop-rock group Ultra Bra, which is playing the last gig of their comeback tour at the Main Stage.
– Must see, purely for nostalgia reasons. They were part of my high school era soundtrack.

Text: Pasi Huttunen
Photos: Markus Korpi-Hallila and Lauri Kaukotie
Translation: Jaakko Suvanto

Ilosaarirock Festival