Saturday, December 7, 2013

Concert Review - Alestorm, TrollfesT, Gypsyhawk, Fallen Martyr - 12/4/13 at Soundstage, Baltimore, MD

Alestorm is one of my favorite bands to see live, so I was pretty stoked to see them doing a headline North American tour. The show was the night before my brother's birthday, so it was supposed to be a birthday celebration for him, too, but he ended up not being able to make it.

At first I was disappointed about the line-up - compared to Finntroll's stellar line-up, Alestorm's seemed especially lame. I had seen TrollfesT at this year's Paganfest, and while they were decent live, I still can't get into their chaotic, brassy sound. I wasn't too familiar with Gypsyhawk but what I'd heard about them - slow, stonerish - didn't make me want to find out more. But the uninteresting openers turned out to be a boon - it meant I didn't have to change my work hours at the library. After working at the library and getting changed at S's place (and scarfing down a burger) we headed to Baltimore.

We got there just as the rotund singer was setting up a wall of death for "Rundt Bålet." The floor wasn't that full, but a solid number of people lined up and the ensuing pit was actually pretty intense. The song itself featured a catchy polka melody played at a wild pace, which I have to admit got me bobbing my head and looking a little enviously at the pit. We saw the singer of Alestorm on floor taking part in a jig, and I felt happy knowing this crowd knew how to do a proper folk pit. Then TrollfesT ended their set with "Helvetes Hund GARM," where they had everyone bark like dogs. There were about a zillion people on stage - including people playing with a vacuum cleaner and a broom, a girl twirling an umbrella, Alestorm's singer with a tambourine, and other band members with maracas. Like last time, TrollfesT ended up being bearable, even kind of catchy, live; I didn't mind being there for their last two songs.

Not too long afterward, Alestorm came out. They didn't seem very loud, yet they seemed to be overwhelming the speaker system - they sounded fuzzy and feedbacky for the more intense parts, such as in "The Quest" and in "Death Throes of the Terrorsquid." The melodies and vocals were nice and clear though. Th pit was energetic, even a little too rowdy - the headbanging line was stumbling about during "Nancy the Tavern Wench," and there was moshing during the chorus of "Captain Morgan's Revenge."

They started out with "The Quest," which is not a song that I'm super familiar with, so I hung back. Then they launched into "The Sunk'n Norwegian" and I had to go jump around in the pit for the chorus. They played a new song, "Surf Squid Warfare," which was all right, with some fun melodies and a kind of slow chorus. I thought it might end up like "Leviathan," another song with a slowish chorus that I didn't dig too much at first, but ending up being one of my favorites. They did play the "In the Navy" cover as expected, which was fun. During "Terrorsquid," local Ethan Looney ("Admiral Derek") got onstage to do black metal vocals, which sounded great. There were a couple instrumental interludes. Besides the volume issues, Alestorm sounded great and delivered a great time. At the end of "Rum" (the last song of the encore), the singer jumped onto crowd declaring "Take me to the bar!" He got as far as pit, the crowd wavered, and then they pushed him back to stage.

Overall it was a fun time. I had been worried about the pit, because the pits at folk metal shows seem to be getting more brutal and less folky recently, but this one was pretty good. There was a guy trying to run the pit who did a pretty good job at getting people to mosh and jig in the right places. The pit was rather more open than I like, since in a pit with a lot of open space it's easy for a small person like me to get knocked down, so I didn't go in as much as I would have liked. Still, it was certainly fun enough, and Alestorm sounded great and had good energy.

Afterward we managed to spot the singer of Alestorm on the floor again, shook hands and took a photo.

Next show: Finntroll, Blackguard, Metsatöll, take 2, on Monday in Frederick (also my brother's birthday fiesta, take 2). With local openers Burning Shadows, Demiz, and March to Victory! Looking forward to an awesome night.

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