Saturday, August 1, 2015

Concert Review - Ensiferum, Korpiklaani, TrollfesT - May 27, 2015 at Baltimore Soundstage, Baltimore, MD

Sooo...I haven't reviewed anything on here for a while.

It's been largely a question of motivation, more than time or anything else, because I've managed to find time to write constantly for my another blog o' mine, sometimes even two posts a week. I have some attention issues which make me leap to do the things I find fun, interesting or obsessing (and make it hard to anything else till those things are done) while also making me adverse to doing anything that seems hard or boring. And unfortunately, for quite a while now this blog has felt like a chore. And so, as my writing projects (metal and otherwise) have piled up, this one has kind of fallen by the wayside.

But I'm not ready to give up on this blog yet. I've made a lot of friends and connections in the local scene because of this blog. And people are still visiting the site, even though I haven't updated in months. Most of all, I feel like reviewing local bands is still an important contribution I can make to the local scene. And so, I'm going to try to keep it going. Sometimes, we have to do things that are hard, cause they may be worthwhile even if they don't feel like fun at the time.

I'm also going to try to get back into doing book reviews, particularly of local and/or self-publishing authors.

Anyway, to get back into the swing of things, here's a review I drafted back in May the night after the show, but never got around to finalizing and posting. It actually doesn't include any locals, but after this I think I have the notes for an entirely local show, Isenmor's CD release party show in June. I actually typed a loooong thing about MDF, as well, but I'm not going to post it because it ended up being way more about personal stuff than about the music. I might still write a summary of the music, just to have an entry in my "concert diary" that, oh yeah, I went to MDF this year.

Anyway. Enough of that - here's my review of Ensiferum and Korpiklaani at Soundstage in May:

Seeing as this show was three days after Maryland Deathfest, I wasn't all that sure I'd have the babysitting cred, or social energy, to go. But then there was a two-for-one ticket deal, and I felt obliged to ask my brother if he'd like to go, and to my surprise he said yes, and so I bought the tickets and had to go. Turned out to be a good decision despite the potential guilting from my daughter's grandparents, cause I had an awesome time.

There was some sort of delay on the way up, and so we got there right as Korpiklaani starting. I had been aiming to get there sometime during or toward the end of TrollfesT's set, cause I don't much care for them, but we overshot it and missed some of Korpi instead :/

Korpiklaani played a lot of songs I didn't recognize - but then I don't listen to them, or folk metal in general, much anymore. (It's fun live, but at home I prefer the doomy end of the melodeath spectrum.) I hadn't listened to Korpi's new album, Noita, before the show, but I'm pretty sure they started with "Viinamäen Mies" from the new album. The first song I recognized was "Sumussa Hämärän Aamun" (one of my favorite Korpi songs) and that was maybe the 6th song in. After listening to Noita, I'm pretty sure they also played "Pilli on Pajusta Tehty," "Lempo" and I know they played "Ammanhauta" because Jonne introduced that song. There was an enormous pit on their first song, and I wondered if I would be able to go in the pit at all. But a couple songs later there was dancing, so I went in. The moshing to dancing ratio was still higher than I'd have liked, but it was still fun. I also had to spend time with my brother (who just wanted to stand in the back - concerts aren't actually really his thing), so I couldn't be in the pit all the time anyway. There were very few songs I recognized overall - besides "Sumussa Hämärän Aamun," there was "Vodka" (of course), "Wooden Pints" (of course), "Juodaan Viinaa," "Rauta," and maybe something else. But just about all the songs were in Finnish, so that was cool - there seemed to be less of the generic silly songs about alcohol, and more really folky stuff. And it was a fun time in the pit - I was literally soaked in sweat head to toe by the end of their set.

A little while later, Ensiferum came out to the intro and a song from their new album One Man Army, I believe. They played a second new one - and then the singer announced we were going to "ride INTO BATTLE." "Hold this," I said, pushing my ice water into my brother's hands, and made my way to the pit as that epic intro wafted over the crowd. As I expected, the pit was crazy, but I'd been waiting years to mosh to this song, so I toughed through it and kept moving the whole time. I even got to dance a little. After that song ended, I rested my head on my buddy L's shoulder and said, "I'm done." He wasn't gonna let me leave the pit so I had to tell him I had to retrieve my "drink" from my brother. The rest of the set consisted of a lot more songs from One Man Army, as well as a few other classics ("Ahti," "Victory Song"), and "Unsung Heroes" and "Burning Leaves" from their previous album. The songs from One Man Army were good - they were fast and interesting, though not quite like old Ensiferum. The singer encouraged the moshers, especially for "One Man Army," which was quite thrashy. (There were sound problems during that song though - I couldn't hear the lead guitar at first, just thundering drums and bass.) The songs from Unsung Heroes, meanwhile, sounded like "Ensiferum plays generic folk metal" - though they did have some redeeming parts. [I didn't write down what they were at the time, and by now I've forgotten :/ ] Their keyboard player was "left behind," but instead they had Netta Skog (formerly of Turisas) on accordion, which seemed to adequately complete their sound.

At the start of their encore, everyone switched instruments, and with Netta singing (and wearing a shiny police cap), they performed a silly cover of "Breaking the Law." Then they played "From Afar" and "Token of Time" with a sing-along, and closed with "Iron." I actually enjoyed their set a lot. The new songs were good, and they worked in a decent number of old songs, though I did wonder that they didn't play "Lai Lai Hei" or "Deathbringer From the Sky." I guess with a new album to promote, they had to leave something out.

Dare I say it - I think I actually had more fun at this show than at MDF. The pit was a little more brutal than I usually like, but still fun. It was totally worth winding up soaked in sweat and getting cracked in the jaw. Never mind all the hassle with getting to the show - that was all forgotten by the end of the night, subsumed by all the fun memories.

Next show - Well, tonight I'm going to see Iris Divine, MindMaze and Dogs & Day Drinkers, should be good!