February is a busy month with a concert every week except the last! S has even more - this week alone he intends to go to five concerts, and has already been to three of them. But seeing as I can only get away about once a week, I had to choose between Gojira and Turisas this week. A little of a tough choice - I've never seen Gojira, and was stoked to see they were touring after the Lamb of God tour they were on didn't happen. But TURISAS! They're one of my top five bands, and also a sort of up-and-coming band in the US, so I felt had to go support them. Besides...moshing to "Battle Metal"??! Need I say more?
We were distracted by a Viking Metal lady on the way into the venue, and so we missed most of Aether Realm's set, which was too bad. What I caught of their last song sounded pretty awesome - epic guitar riffs rather like Amon Amarth, except even more melodic. They looked and acted the part of a full scale folk metal band - the singer was shirtless with a bear pelt biting his shoulder, and the band members all windmilled their (very long) hair on the guitar parts. My only issue with them was that something - bass and/or drums, I think - was too loud and dominated their sound with this indistinct roar, obscuring a lot of the melodic guitar parts. Still, if they come around next time, I would try harder to be there in time for their set - they're from North Carolina, so I hope they decide to make the trip again!
I didn't know what to expect from Stolen Babies, since I was too busy listening to Enslaved and then Turisas in the weeks before the show to have time to check them out. They were interesting, although not really my type of music. They seemed to combine the dark edge of goth (with some industrial moments as well), the loudness and heaviness of metal (including some harsh vocals) and the musical and vocal stylings of punk, especially cabaret and gypsy punk. The vocalist played an accordion, was made up on the sparkly side of goth and wore her (greenish?) hair in two pigtails with a ragged scarf on top. They had melodic moments that reminded me of pirate metal, harsh noises and a few screamed vocals that were reminiscent of the harsher industrial genres, and some pretty heavy guitar parts, although the riffs were generally pretty simple. They were fun to listen to, and perhaps something I'd foist on friends in the punk scene :P
Firewind was as I expected or perhaps a little better. They're not one of my favorite power metal bands, but on the good side of tolerable, I guess. They were also on the heavier side of power metal bands I've seen live, especially on the song "Few Against Many." S said they have a new singer; I thought he sounded good. If I hadn't known, I probably wouldn't have been able to tell the difference; he sounded fairly similar to their previous singer (although that's the judgment of someone who doesn't really follow Firewind much). I think possibly I have a grudge against them because when the song "World on Fire" came out, they started playing that on the radio and stopped playing Symphony X's "Set the World on Fire," and I really, really like "Set the World on Fire" and its cheesy video.
I was mostly just waiting for their set to go by so that Turisas would come out. I was really just there to see them, as was probably obvious from my face paint XD I've seen them twice before, and this time was the best yet. First of all, they sounded much louder and heavier in the small confines of Empire than in the larger venues where I saw them before (The Quarter and Sonar). Also, the crowd at Empire was so much better than in Baltimore, and since a folk metal show is a highly interactive experience, it made all the difference.
Their set started out similar to last year's Paganfest - they started with "March of the Varangian Guard," "Take the Day" and "To Holmgard and Beyond." (I started the first pit during "Take the Day," and I think I started the first jig, too, but I didn't have to work nearly as hard as at Paganfest. This crowd was rambunctious; someone even started a pit during Stolen Babies, and there were pits during Firewind, too. I didn't participate in those, but I was glad to see all the energy and hoped it would last for Turisas, and it did!) After that they mixed it up a bit - they played a lot from The Varangian Way, which was awesome. Most amazingly of all, they played (pretty much) every Turisas fan's favorite song, "Rasputin," which they don't seem to normally play live in the US. After the encore, the crowd started to chant "Rasputin" - and they actually came back out and played it! It was a fantastic end to the show. That, and the fact that I got to shake hands with Mathias and got some of his face paint on my hand XD I joked, "I'm never going to wash this hand again!" But in fact, that paint on my hand got wiped off during the pit for "Rasputin" :/
Other random fun things: There were quite a few girls in pit. There was a super fan who grabbed me after "Rasputin" and lifted me in the air. (That was in addition to my friend L lifting me up judo-style and holding me on his hip for several minutes in between Firewind and Turisas's sets.) I petted the Aether Realm singer's bear pelt. I didn't have to pay for water. Overall, an awesome night!
Next concert: Hatebreed and Shadows Fall on Valentine's Day - how sweet!