As I was walking to the train station today, I noticed something rather depressing and undeniable. Autumn is here. I’ve been denying this fact for about two weeks now, but this evening there’s no fighting it, I am cold. As I reach Ideal Bar in the Vega complex, the cold quickly melts away due to the body heat of the audience and warm up band, like a sticky, sweaty log fire. But the real warmth comes at 10pm, when French Films jump onto the stage (after roadying themselves), play a long reverberating note to bring everyone’s attention to the fact that they’re ready, and launch into their set of infectiously good, surf pop songs and rough, punky vocals.
From their new album ‘White Orchid’ comes the title track to start proceedings. It’s a solid track, it’s engaging a few people, but the general consensus appears to be that this is a song they don’t know, and therefore don’t especially care for. By comparison, the five piece then move on to “Take You With Me”, a decidedly more popular choice. Suddenly, the audience seem to have remembered why they came and are dutifully tapping their feet and nodding their heads. A few seem to be smiling. Better keep this up, boys.
As the gig continues, the kids onstage become increasingly peppy and sweaty, as do one group of particularly enthusiastic punters, waving their slick mop tops back at lead singer Johannes Leppanen, as he waves his. And the positivity of both the music and the young band onstage can’t be helped: the audience are enjoying themselves. It is impossible to stand and listen to a track like “Escape in the Afternoon”, and not feel perky, smile and move your feet. These three minute pop songs, with their expert melodies and riffs, effortlessly define the summer feeling, and Joni Kähkönen on guitar is proving particularly impressive tonight. Some Americans standing behind me are clearly a little perplexed as to why no one’s dancing along. I’m with you on that one.
As the band play “Golden Sea” towards the end of the set, a very cheesy montage of flashbacks from summer 2013 lodges itself into my mind. It’s lame, but I have to hand it to these five young guys for helping me end the season with a bang. “You Don’t Know” initially closes the gig with a big noisy finish. Classic. They hop back onstage for an encore, and play “Where We Come From”, from ‘White Orchid’. This time compared with the opening however, the audience are loving the new sound, and Leppanen crashes into the audience to join the mop tops down the front in gratitude. Finland is not a hot country. Neither is it especially sunny, from my understanding. It is ironic, therefore, that a band from Finland should play such sunny surf rock. Seriously, these guys sound like they just stepped off the plane from San Diego, with sand from the beach still stuck between their toes. Outside it may be Autumn, but inside, French Films’ feet are still firmly planted in summertime, and that’s a very good thing.