Known as one of Finland’s most prominent rock institutions, Tavastia club celebrated half a century of being in the business, whilst withstanding the challenges of a global pandemic. In this rockumentary, director Antti Kuivalainen takes us through the history of Tavastia, as the club which brought rock ‘n’ roll to Finland.
Noted for its cultural and historical value, the Hämäläisten talo building was built in 1931, and by the 1950s had already gained prominence as the popular Hämis dance venue. In 1970, it was renamed Tavastia club, marking the first steps towards becoming the legendary rock-cave, at around the same time that the Finnish rock scene was beginning to take form. Along the years, Tavastia has been resented, admired, and iconised whilst Finnish rock has expanded into punk, grunge, the subgenres of metal, and opened opportunities regardless of gender and age, to eventually become marginalised by Finnish rap’s rise to the mainstream.
The documentary celebrates 50 years of Tavastia, whilst simultaneously carrying a wistful tune as it follows the tragic impact that Covid has had on the live music industry. Standing centre stage is Jussi Raittinen’s Tavastia-rock song, which in honour of Tavastia’s 50-year celebrations is given a modernising makeover by the garage rock duo Ursus Factory.
Among those heard in the film are rock ‘n’ roll old timers, as well as younger generation musicians. In addition to Raittinen and Ursus Factory, J. Karjalainen, Ismo Alanko, Aija Puurtinen, Ville Valo, and Sanni are among those heard speaking. Having previously documented the history of Ruisrock festival, Kuivalainen succeeds in creating an entertaining and heartfelt film through extensive interview and archival material, that rises to become a genuinely touching tribute, which will undoubtedly leave the viewer yearning for a stage-side Tavastia musical experience.
Otto Suuronen (translated by Lydia Taylerson)