Ok, finally touched this up - as in, finally wrote it in complete sentences.
This was probably the biggest show of the year for me - three awesome folk metal bands in one night. It was a lot of fun, although there were a few points where I was disappointed. Mostly organizational things; the actual performances were great and I had a good time.
We got there during the second band's set - just after 8pm. We had judged that getting there around 8 would get us there just in time for Huntress (the fourth band and the first of the official Paganfest bands). It turned out the show was running way late. For a show with seven bands, that definitely cut my enthusiasm a lot - it meant sitting through several not as interesting bands hoping I wouldn't get hungry before the fun started, and a really, really late night on a week when I have no days off.
But anyway, enough of the whining, in spite of the annoying lateness, I did have fun, so here's my review of the bands:
We missed Fallen Martyr entirely. S thought they had cool shirts though. (As I go to post I realize we have indeed seen these guys before since I already have a tag for them, so if you want to know about them, click on the tag at the bottom of the post.)
We arrived in the middle of Yesterday's Saints' set. They were loud, but not every interesting. The singer had a nice voice though.
Deranged Theory was the last of the openers (we perhaps cheered a little too heartily when they finally cleared the stage, no offense to the band, we were just getting a little impatient). They had some headbang worthy melodies and riffs, reminiscent of Iron Maiden at one point. S disapproved of the singer's vocals, but I thought he sounded all right. Perhaps a slightly deeper growl would have been better. But still, I enjoyed their songs, and S was amused that many of them were about video games, like Castlevania.
Huntress had a strong metal sound, but I find the vocals kind of bland - at least, that was my initial impression of them. "Eight of Swords," their single, is not a good representation of singer's vocal range - she can growl like Masha (of Arkona) and also has a lovely clear high singing voice. S compared her to Doro. She had an..eye-catching outfit that helped to keep attention on her for the whole set.
Arkona came out blasting with "Pokrovy Nebesnogo Startsa", which I have always considered a great moshing song and was really looking forward to hearing and moshing to. Unfortunately, I couldn't find the pit, because I was too far back; the pit was right in front of stage. I got in on the second song though. The pit was big and brutal, with a lot of big lumbering drunk guys, so I didn't go in as much as would otherwise. They played a really short set, about 5 songs, with no time wasted on talking. They sounded good and heavy to me, but S thought they didn't sound as good as on their recordings. Perhaps the sound could have been clearer, I dunno, I was mostly thinking about the pit, and wishing that the pit was better. Masha called for a Wall of Death for Stenku Na Stenku but the moshers ignored her or didn't hear (but at least they were folking). I didn't quite feel like being pit boss and making it happen. Maybe next time.
Alestorm sounded great, and the pit was a blast - besides the usual shoving, there was lots of jigging and headbanging circles. I sort of got my right side abraded off by a guy in chain mail. In contrast to Arkona, Alestorm got a really long set - the singer kept saying how no one was telling them to stop so they would just keep playing. They didn't play Captain Morgan's Revenge, which was disappointing, but on the other hand, we got to hear a bunch of other songs that aren't played as much.
Turisas came out strong with "March of the Varangian Guard." They followed it with "Take the Day," the second song from new album, and I wondered if they were going to play the whole album. But that was not to be. The third song was "To Holmgard and Beyond", and I started looking for pit. On the next song ("Dnieper Rapids") I started a pit. People did not seem to realize that one could mosh to Turisas. (Someone called me a warrior maiden for starting /constantly being in the pit.) Then, the music slowed way down, with slow paced solos from Olli and some slow paced songs. A lot of the crowd drifted away, dunno if it was because of the late hour (well after midnight) or because of the slow songs. Netta (accordion player) is not with band anymore, and I noticed that some parts sounded a little odd, so I wondered if they replaced the accordion parts with keyboard. I missed the accordion sound. Toward the end, the set picked up again; Turisas saved the best for last, with "Stand Up and Fight" and "Battle Metal" at the end.
I had fun, although besides for Alestorm, I didn't have the epic folk pit experience I was hoping for. I also expected more of the pirate/Viking (Varangian) rivalry, and perhaps more songs from Turisas. It would have been great for if they could have pulled out "Rasputin" or "Those Were the Days." If not at Paganfest, where else? But still, for folk metal fans, these 3 bands in one place is not a show to miss.