Yesterday we started the live gig season here in Helsinki in the good old Nosturi. There was a skate/punk evening and the bands playing were mostly the same ones that we already saw like a million times. But, they always rock and luckily they had some new material so it wasn't just exactly the same as three years ago (before moving to Munich). Anyway, I hope we'll find also some new bands during the year.
Helsinki is quite an active rock city though there aren't too many good places to catch a band playing. Here's a list of my usual places. In addition to these there are also some rock bars without live but I'll list them later on. All in all, I would recommend checking out a live act while visiting Helsinki. But be prepared, the beer is expensive. So, to reach the true Helsinki experience you can do it like locals: drink something cheaper before going in, haha.
Hey Nosturi, I'm back!
LIVE ROCK CLUBS IN HELSINKI
NOSTURI is one of the classics and my favourites. The place has original roughness and they have all kinds of gigs. Highly recommendable but of course only if there's a good gig. I heard they are planning to move to bigger location in the future.
TAVASTIA is the only and only classic that has been around for ever. Compact premises, good gigs and a central location. Also a rock disco on Saturdays.
SEMIFINAL is Tavastia's little brother. A really small venue for small bands. Raw, authentic and nothing extra. Stage and beer and that's it.
LEPAKKOMIES is nothing special but I still like the place. The live venue is downstairs and actually the space there is somewhat tight and not ideal for live but they quite often have bands that appeal to me. The location is in the heart of Kallio that is the ("crappy") bar area in Helsinki so before or after the gig you can hit the classic Kallio tour in the near by bars. (Gig listing here.)
CLUB LIBERTÉ has a bit distant location but it fit the bar's personality well. They mostly have beginners and smaller bands playing. So usually music-wise it's not the high end bar but if you like it real, unpretentious and enjoy "grassroots action" so give it a try.
BAR LOOSE is maybe my true favourite as they have a comfy bar upstairs and the live venue downstairs. Again the shape of the concert space is not ideal but oh well, nothing's perfect.
BAR BÄKKÄRI is a basic rock club but for my taste something is missing. I would only go there for gigs.
HENRY'S PUB is a great choice for stopping in for a beer and snacks when you are not planning to have a party. The place smells like deep frying and grease but has it's unflamboyant underground appeal. Sometimes gigs; mostly unknown or downscale (the venue is not really compatible for a big rock concert) but usually also interesting.
ON THE ROCKS is a club, not a bar really even though they have a bar upstairs. More for heavy/metal people so I wouldn't go there just for fun but if they have an interesting gig, why not.
VIRGIN OIL is a bar, restaurant and a concert venue. You can get some ok pizza in the restaurant but as a live location it is rather cold and unpleasant. But the place is big and so they have many kinds of bands playing. Mostly of course those that can attract the room full. So, in only for seeing the band and then out for some other action.
BOOTHILL is funny, weird, awkward, entertaining and sometimes scary depending on the crowd. But it's always real. It can be totally empty or totally full. You never know. They don't have gigs every weekend but they do have a jam night on Thursday's.
KORJAAMO is more of a cultural center and they mostly have totally something else than rock in their calendar. But sometimes you can get lucky and find something interesting in there as well.