September 4 (22:15-23:30)
Kansas, being smack dab in the middle of the Bible belt in the USA, is the last place to expect a metal concert full of heathen europeans singing songs about viking conquest and getting drunk on ale, but it happened in front of about 500 crazy midwesterners on a Monday night. Some of the bands performing just used guitars, some used folk instruments, but they all played the music that carried the spirit of their viking ancestors of long ago. Taking place in The Granada Theater in Lawrence, KS, the sound was impeccable for each band - each guitar came through and had its own sound, and the folk instruments like violins were crisp and clear; really a first for the venue. The adequate crowd (for a Monday) was full of people singing along, dancing and moshing all night long. Each band was warmly received, and hopefully they'll all be back soon.
Opening the show was Kansas City's own corpsepaint-wearing, pagan black metal band, Stonehaven. That's right, a legitimate black metal band, wearing real animal pelts and chainmail, from the middle of the USA. The best part - they performed great. Their sound hearkens back to Likferd-era Windir, without any of the symphonic elements. Some of their songs (which lasted pretty long) had odd time-signature changes and even some breakdown-like elements. Stonehaven's sound was still overly pagan/viking black metal, but these little switch-up's kept everything fresh. The vocalist does a good job with the harsh vocals, but also lets out some howls every now and then, channeling his innter Atilla Csihar. It's unfortunate they had to play their phenomenal set to a small group of dedicated fans and anyone who happened to be trickling in to the venue, but they put every ounce of energy into their performance.
Despite having the best use of folk instruments of the night, Metsatöll started off a bit rough. Some of their songs fell prey to the trap that so many folk metal acts fall into - if the folk instruments were taken away, the rest of the music would be incredibly generic. Some of the crowd must have felt the same way. There was a good amount of movement and headbanging for the band, but really only when the folk instruments came into play. But it wasn't in every one of their songs; some of their songs had very varied guitar rhythms and great vocals. In fact, the member in charge of the folk instruments (usually playing two-three per song!) had one of the deepest, yet perfect for folk metal, vocals which accentuated the Estonian folk songs they performed. He also ran all over the stage and the crowd really enjoyed his bagpipe solo's. If Metsatöll would vary their sounds and not just have generic riffing in most of their songs, they would be so much better. But as of right now, they're still a fun band; perfect as an opening act.
Although this lineup was about as stacked as a lineup can be, the majority of the crowd seemed to be at the show for Týr. The band came out absolutely on fire and the crowd was appreciative for their whole set. Even though the majority of their songs were from their last two albums, there was lots of singing along and moshing. It was a little refreshing to finally hear some guitar solos and a viking metal sound - not just folk. Týr has more influences from bands like Falkenbach and Ensiferum than the others on the bill, yet the progressive influences are there. It's also worth noting that frontman Heri is just a fantastic vocalist - he sounded just like he does on Týr's recordings. Most of the guitar solo's were handled by lead guitarist, Terji, but Heri took some as well. Both guitarists were riffing just as good as on album, and the rest of the band was great too. All four members took part in vocal harmonies in multiple songs, which might have been the highlight of their set; it really highlights the pagan/viking feel of their music. Although their bass player overestimated his stopping distance while running across the stage and fell into the crowd at the end of a song, their set was flawless. Perfect sound and perfect musicianship.
Moonsorrow caused the biggest stir of attention when this lineup was announced. Their last US tour was in 2010, and it was their first time in Kansas. Some of the crowd cleared out after Týr, but they slowly filed back in as Moonsorrow kept their set up. A bit of a sore thumb on this lineup, Moonsorrow's mostly black metal attack just induced much more headbanging than the other acts. They were the only act of the night with blast beat drumming and had much more harsh vocals than the other bands, but a lof of their songs have doom aesthetics. When they weren't in full-on black metal mode, they slowed down their sound and introduced eerily effective clean vocals. None of their songs were under the seven-minute mark, and they filled their hour time-slow with just five songs. When they launched into Taistelu Pohjolasta, it was the fastest, most black metal song of the evening. Bassist/harsh vocalist Ville sounded great, but it seemed like he couldn't hold some of the more harsh screams for as long as they are on record; it didn't make a huge difference, however. The fast black metal playing followed by traditional viking metal riffing called forth their obvious influences of Månegarm and Kampfar. Drenched in fake blood, Moonsorrow provided one of the best harsh metal performances the midwest has seen in some time.
Korpiklaani isn't the most cerebral of bands, even for folk metal, but they don't try to be. Most of their lyrics are about various types of alcohol, and they are filling a very niche hole in the metal scene, and filling it well. When frontman Jonne came bounding onto stage, he was rarely standing still throughout their set. Whether he was giving the microphone off to fans in the front row or climbing on the speakers that flanked the stage, his energy really kept things going. The folk elements - in this case an accordion and a fiddle, overpowered their music much more than the other bands. It was a good thing though; Korpiklaani knows how to use their "humppa" roots to create a party atmosphere. It's never serious, although there were a few lacking moments in their set. For some reason, the band performed the agonizingly slow and lethargic Tuli Kokko which kind of threw off the pace they were setting up. Also the violinist, whilst entertaining, performed a solo that just went on much too long. The band brought out their big guns to end their set, though. Vodka, Rauta, Happy Little Boozer, Tequila, Beer Beer, and Wooden Pints were all played in relatively quick succession, and they caused the most raucous dancing and sing-alongs of the night. A crowd doesn't need to be fluent in Finnish to vocalize with the band when most of the songs are about the universal language of liquor. By the time Korpiklaani left the stage, a few beers had been consumed, a few had been spilled, but everyone's spirits were raised.
“ rarely standing still ”
Týr setlist: Flames of The Free / Shadow of The Swastika / Hall of Freedom / Sinklars Vísa / Tróndur Í Gøtu / Evening Star / Hold The Heathen Hammer High / By The Sword In My Hand / The Lay of Thrym
Moonsorrow setlist: Tähdetön / Kylän päässä / Taistelu Pohjolasta / Sankaritarina / Kuolleiden Maa
Korpiklaani setlist: Tuonelan Tuvilla / Ievan Polkka / Juodaan Viinaa / Langetus / Vaarinpolkka / Tuli Kokko / Lonkkaluut / Metsälle / Viima / Vodka / Rauta / Happy Little Boozer / Tequila / Beer Beer // Wooden Pints / Pellonpekko
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