Humorous Finnish political rock band, Punatähdet, has fulfilled a dream 20 years in the making – to perform in Sointula and pay homage to the community’s Finnish utopian roots.
“We started our band in the mid-’90s in Finland then we read about Sointula. We were so fascinated we wrote several songs about Sointula which you will hear tonight,” said singer Jaakko Lyytinen, during the band’s performance at the Finnish Organizational Hall on Sept. 23.
Sointula the “place of harmony” was established as a community in the late 19th century when a colony of Finnish settlers, led by Finnish journalist Matti Kurikka, arrived with utopian dreams of building the perfect community.
“We will take you to a musical historical trip throughout Finnish history, throughout the world history, throughout the history of Sointula,” said Lyytinen.
Punatähdet, which means Red Stars in English, has been described as a “political parody band” and has many songs inspired by Sointula and Matti Kurrikka.
The band’s performance and the trip to Sointula was part of a larger delegation of Finns, organized by Senja Larsen and Mårten Mickos who work with Finnish start-up technology companies in Silicon Valley, California.
“They started organizing a trip here and gathering people for the journey and they had talked with this Punatähdet band and they knew that it has been their dream to come here and play in Sointula in this F.O. Hall and that they had songs about it,” explained Mika Kaartinen, who also helped organize the trip.
Five years ago Kaartinen premiered a play in Finland about Matti Kurrikka’s life and Sointula. “At that point, we realized that Sointula actually exists here,” said Kaartinen, adding that he met some Sointulans at the premier and they invited him to visit the community.
The next year he brought a youth theatre troupe to perform the play in the F.O. Hall. “During that project, I learned to know this place and these people,” he explained.
Kaartinen said that in Finland “many people know Sointula in some way from history or documentaries, but it’s always a surprise to hear that Sointula still really exists and not many people know what kind of place this really is.”
For Kaartinen Sointula’s utopian history is a source of inspiration, “it is really amazing atmosphere, amazing history, amazing people, and the view around the island and the nature is spectacular,” he said adding, “this history – this place gives so much for people, and it’s not just for Finnish people – this could be a place of inspiration for anyone.”
Punatähdet, performed three times in Sointula, with the main concert for families called “The Great Utopian Rock and Roll Party” at the F.O. Hall on Saturday evening, followed by a dance for adults in the evening.
Kaartinen explained the group was also focused on experiencing Sointula’s culture. “We have been doing a lot of things here during the few days, meeting the locals, and trying to understand what is this utopia and what is this history and can it teach something for us about the future and where we’re going? “ he asked.
Kaartinen said he is looking forward to visiting Sointula again and is already planning his next project. “We know a utopia is something that can never be reached but something good happened here and partly this is a utopia come true,” he said.