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a city by city guide to the best indie clubs, bars, record shops and local bands

Helsinki, Finland

by Kaisu Nevasalmi

Helsinki is the capital of Finland, the odd northern country between Sweden and Russia. In Helsinki you can really feel the western and eastern influences. It is a tiny, trendy city with a very rich cultural life, gigs, art and creative people around. You can easily walk anywhere in the centre or take a tram, if you want to admire the view. Helsinki is a beautiful city, especially in summertime, which may feel a bit difficult to get into at first. But after spending a while in there you start to find all the hidden gems the city has got to offer. Helsinki is also known for its design and architecture (you’ve probably heard about the aussie band Architecture In Helsinki?). Take a look at the design district in Punavuori or take a trip to Kallio’s bars and market halls. Sometimes the going gets a bit crazy, mostly during the weekends, but that’s just because Finnish people are a bit crazy, in a good way of course. And one mustn’t forget the sea, which rules the atmosphere of Helsinki in every way.


You Are the Light
Ravintola Helmi, Eerikinkatu 14
You Are the Light is a new club night and it’s quite similar to HDIF of London playing indie pop, soul, motown, girl groups and Finnish indie. The club was formed after HDIF visited Helsinki in April 2010 and the first YATL night in May got a very warm welcome. You Are the Light will continue in the autumn 2010.
(YATL Facebook group)

Tavastian Lauantaidisko
Tavastia klubi, Urho Kekkosen katu 4-6
Tavastia is the legendary rock venue in Helsinki and every band dreams of playing in here. Usually the international names come to perform their club set in here. Saturday (=lauantai) Disco is a big indie/pop/rock disco at Tavastia every Saturday night after the night’s gig. One might for example hear the Knife, the Killers and the Drums during the same night. The queue is long, so get there early or buy a ticket beforehand.

Radio Helsinki-klubi
Kuudes Linja, Hämeentie 13 (entrance from Kaikukatu 4‘s courtyard)
The best radio station in Helsinki has got a party once a month. There’s always a live band and Radio Helsinki’s own DJs (such as Nick Triani, Njassa, Anna Cadia) play a set. They used to have the night in Belly but moved to Kuudes Linja at the beginning of 2010.

Redrum, Vuorikatu 2
Decades is a new club after the famous Misfits club stopped running their night. Decades is still finding its place in the nightlife of Helsinki, but some people say it’s better than Misfits club was. They play 70/80/90/00/10’s indie/alternative music.



Uudenmaankatu 16
Belly is a atmospheric and cute little restaurant/bar/club. It’s a home to several clubs and gigs in the heart of Helsinki with occasional stand-up nights. They’ve also got a lovely breakfast buffet twice a month accompanied by a DJ. If you have the opportunity to visit Belly, then go for it!

Kuudes Linja
Hämeentie 13 (entrance from Kaikukatu 4 ‘s courtyard)
Open Tue-Thu 22–3, Fri-Sat 23-4, Sun 22–3.
A quite new and popular venue amongst Helsinki’s trendy indie kids with great gigs and clubs. Probably being the biggest venue in Kallio district it’s also the only place in the area that’s open until 4am on the weekends. The music is usually alternative rock, pop and UG dance music.

Korjaamo Culture Factory
Töölönkatu 51 b
Big and small concerts, art exhibitions, music, stand-up, clubs, DJs, a bar and a tram museum, everything inside this old tram garage. Usually alternative and minor names come and play here, DJs are playing on weekends at the bar and Korjaamo also has its own club nights.

Club Liberté
Kolmas linja 34
Open: Mon-Sun 18-02
Small and dimly-lit venue with live shows every day and usually quite cheap too. Small bands usually play here, but genres vary, so check the list of upcoming gigs beforehand.

Urho Kekkosen katu 6 (access from the courtyard)
Open: Sun-Thu 20-01, Fri 21-03, Sat 20-04
The baby brother of Tavastia club is probably the tiniest venue in Helsinki. All bands have to start from somewhere and probably every Finnish (indie) band has had a gig in this tiny and sweaty venue. A great place to see your favourite indie band up close (literally), but better check the list of upcoming events in advance.


Iso Roobertinkatu 10
Open: Mon-Thu 17-02, Fri & Sat 17-03, Sun 17-00
Cozy lounge in Punavuori district on the famous Iso Roobertinkatu street. This bar has a trendy feel to it, although everything looks like second hand. DJs or live music on most nights.

Musta Kissa
Toinen Linja 15
Open: Tue-Fri 17 – 02, Sat 17 – 02, Sun 17 – 02
Musta Kissa is a very intimate place to hang out, as it probably is the tiniest bar that exists in the city. They also have a small gallery with different exhibitions, which is amazing considering the size of the place. Great friendly people here and also an outside terrace during the summer.

Toinen linja 2
Open: Mon-Sat 11-02
Well known bar and cafe in Kallio district. It’s a bit cultish in certain trendy circles and as it’s been around for a while you can see almost anything there. Art on the walls and a good place to have a cup of coffee during the day or meet with a friend.

Pohjoinen Rautatiekatu 21
Open: Mon-Tue 11–24, Wed-Thu 11–02, Fri 11–03, Sat 14–03, Sun 11–24
Nolla is a bar at night and restaurant at day serving lunch. It is quite a trendy place right in the city centre with various DJs and clubs during the weekends. Nolla also has a Saturday brunch.

Record Shops

Fatty Sounds
Hämeentie 4
Open Mon-Fri 10-19 Sat 10-18
tel. 09-42833556
People in this funky store are very helpful and friendly, the atmosphere is very relaxed. There’s a good range of Finnish and international pop, rock, soul, funk etc both in vinyl and CD in two floors. Great offers too. It’s a good place to sit down, have a cup of coffee and read the latest music news.

Iso Roobertinkatu 23
Open: Mon-Fri 9-20, Sat 10-18
The number one record store in Helsinki. In their little but famous shop in Iso Roobertinkatu they sometimes have small gigs and crazy offers. Stupido is also a record label.

Black & White
Toinen linja 1
Open Mon-Fri 10-18 Sat 9-14
tel. 09-7013027
You’ll never leave this place without a record in your hand. A spacious store in Hakaniemi with a great selection of second hand and new CDs and vinyls. The prices are the cheapest in town and you can also order online.

Local Bands


Dramatic and melancholy pop with an electric twist, it’s got to be Viola. Known for their gig visualisations it’s amazing how just two guys can keep themselves this busy. The drummer also runs a record label If Society. Viola is the most generous band I know, as they nowadays release one free track per month on their webpage and also host an annual Viola’s day fest at Semifinal in June.

The cutest band there ever was. Sadly they stopped making their sweet and adorable music a few years ago but two CDs and some EPs remain to give some joy to us indie pop lovers.

Beautiful indie from Helsinki. These guys have been around for over ten years now and they just released their newest album last January 2010. It’s great, check it out.

Lofi indie poprock. They’re influenced by the Cure, the Raincoats and the Replacements. Four albums of truly delightful songs.

Kiki Pau
These boys with their indie rock band raised the hype back in 2008 and just released their second album “White Mountain". Nice catchy tunes and melodic guitars, I recommend the track “Bobby Marley” from their first album.

Puskii! is a new, tiny and energetic rock band about to release their material this summer. Got to keep an eye out for these boys, as they sing in Finnish and dangle their guitars with an odd mixture of the Clash, sailorpunk, reggae and rockabilly.

Red Carpet
Amazing, beautiful pop tunes, they had soul. RIP.

More about Finnish indie bands here:


Flow Festival
The second weekend in August
This is the biggest underground festival in Finland which is growing bigger and bigger every year. Some people joke that this is the “Helsinki Fashion Week” as there’s a lot of trendy young people around. If you live in Helsinki, this is the festival you’ll be waiting for the summer. In 2010, performers included the Drums, Kiki Pau, the XX, Husky Rescue and the Radio Dept.


If you'd like to recommend a club, bar, record shop, band or any indie delight for inclusion in the Indie Travel Guide, please email us. If we've included a link to your band/shop etc, it would be lovely if you could link back to us. Thank you!

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