Step aside Alestorm - the title of best folk pit now belongs to Mago de Oz. What an amazing show, and amazing energy from the band and the crowd.
That said, there were definitely some downers at this show, the biggest one being that it started over an hour late. We got there a little early, around 7, for a start time of 8. But the opening band didn't go on till about 9:30, so for two hours we had not much to do besides stand around saving at spot at the rail between the bar and the sound booth. Drinks were so heftily priced that I didn't drink at all ($10 for a rum and coke? I don't think I could drink $10 worth of rum in one sitting without passing out) and since it was a Heineken sponsored event, the only beer they were selling - at first - was Heineken. That is, until they ran out, in spite of the ridiculous price of $7-8 for a beer.
Finally the opener, local Hispanic heavy metal band Metanium, came on around 9:30. They seemed to be well known to the sizeable crowd that had gathered by then, with a lot of people jumping during their first song, and small pits thereafter. They played fast-paced NWOBHM or early power metal style heavy metal, a little reminiscent of Iron Maiden and Helloween. Their riffs were energetic and groovy, but their strongest point was their singer, who was capable of both powerful singing and lasting screams. He pulled off Helloween's "I Want Out" as easy as breathing. Overall, they were more interesting than I expected.
After short break, Spanish folk metal band Mago de Oz emerged. In my opinion, they put on a great show. Every song was filled with catchy folk melodies, jump
inspiring power metal riffs and anthemic choruses. The energy never stopped; even the ballads cast a spell on audience. Well, there was some down
time before "Finisterra" which killed the energy a little, and that song itself was a bit long and wandering. Other than that, they kept things going for their whole set. The crowd was very lively - the pit even took over most of the floor on a couple songs (and we're talking about a floor about a hundred feet across). Even in its most brutal moments, though, it wasn't a very brutal pit; mainly people were jumping, jigging,
skipping around in pairs, forming big circles or knots of people with their arms over each other's shoulders. It looked like so much fun, I really regretted wearing a skirt (this always happens when I wear a skirt to shows!). If it weren't for the fact that people were throwing their drinks everywhere and the floor was like a huge slip and slide, I would have gone in anyway. It would have been amusing to see how the Hispanic dudes reacted to a girl in pit, since it didn't seem like something that really happens in the Hispanic metal crowd - although a female friend who did go in the pit said we got grabbed more than at any other show :/
Afterward S. raised the question of why there wasn't any crossover between this crowd and folk metal crowd for acts like Ensiferum and Korpiklaani. I figure it has something do with the language - the crowd for Mago de Oz was almost entirely Hispanic. Also, the style of music is different - Mago de Oz has more of a power metal sound rather than Viking metal, which might explain why more of the typical folk metal crowd isn't drawn to it. I found them through a power metal playlist, and didn't immediately associate them with folk metal. A friend called them "the Spanish version of Iron Maiden" in that most every Hispanic metalhead she talked to in her travels seemed to know this band.
They certainly lived up their reputation, and I'm glad I got to see this great performance by a band outside my usual metal circle.
Next show: A Sound of Thunder's CD release party, June 8