Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Korpiklaani and Arkona - The Park Theater Nov. 29th, 2011

The bill for this show had two other bands that I barely missed. I assumed the doors were at 8:30, but the show started a bit before that. One of which was a band called Polkadot Cadaver. Sounds a bit tongue in cheek don't it? The other was Forged in Flame from Ohio, which is a relatively new band of the stoner metal variety. Perhaps I'll review them another time, but as for now, I must apologize for only being able to cover the last two bands on the bill.

Nike boots! From Russia perhaps?
I came in at the beginning of the impressive Arkona's set- which was a good time to head in there. I had never encountered Arkona before, and had only heard a few things about them, albeit, good things. They were clad in Russian garb, which were men's shirts called Kosovortka's, and their vocalist was dressed along with a wolf skin. Their style was distinctively pagan folk metal of the Ruski variety, and they are very heavily influenced by their mother land's folklore. I was a little taken aback at their vocalist, whom was admittedly very tiny and androgynous. My friend and I were asking ourselves what the gender was, which hardly mattered, because they kicked ass. As I soon found out, their vocalist was a woman named Masha, and my suspicions of her being a young man were put down to rest. The fact that she was female made their performance that much more impressive and memorable, and it also made sense that the boots she wore were Nikes. Yeah, Nikes!

Arkona consisted of some unique elements, like a wind instrument player named Vladimir and occasionally a big skin drum that Masha would bang on. The wind instruments included a bagpipe, a traditional horn, a recorder and other flute-like instruments. It accented the traditional but heavy music that filled the room and gave them an authentic pagan feel. Their guitarist Sergei had very good stage presence that often complimented Masha's aggressive presence on stage, because she was certainly all over the place. Ruslan, their bassist often stayed put where he was and didn't bother to headbang too much, but that isn't to say he didn't play well. We could hear Ruslan very evenly with the rest of the band, and I do believe that the acoustic possibilities of The Park Theater are great, because some performances and acts mix so well for sound.

Arkona was doing so much in their performance, it was impossible to leave the room, in fear of missing something entertaining. I strongly recommend seeing them whenever they come back, because it's still such a unique occurence for a female-fronted band to command an audience with such ferocity and grace. Women are coming up in metal, and it's time to take notice and appreciate the sexy possibilities!

After Arkona their was, of course, Korpiklaani- hailing all the way from Finnland and hailing with a bottle of Vodka in their hands. Korpiklaani? One might need to drink heavily while seeing them, not because their perfomance sucks, but because their performance inspires the consumption of alcohol with great mirth. Fiddle, Accordian, Guitars, Bass and Drums is what this entertaining group consists of, and the heart and soul really comes from Scandinavia's reputation for loving booze. Every culture appreciates booze differently- for example: North America's iconic John Thorogood and The Destroyer's made drinking alone sound like the best way to get drunk, and AC/DC epitimized getting hammered, except for that whole asphyxiating on your own vomit thing. Anyhow, that is neither here nor there!

Korpiklaani was perpetually partying on stage, with a groovy set of songs that went from tale-telling of being born in the woods, to their love of booze and beyond. The only one who didn't look like he was fun was the accordian player, Juho, who was just stone-faced the entire time. Maybe the trip hasn't been very good to him? Everyone else looked like they enjoyed the tour thoroughly, especially Jonne, but it's his job to have a good time all the time. My favourite part was the coupling of Vodka and their Motorhead cover of Iron Fist!  They also got into the Tequila and Jonne threw off (not literally) his guitar and began to get rowdy on stage, as well as letting members of the crowd sing into the mic. The song Tequila was dedicated to a guy, whom quite flatly said "They really do have more songs than just Vodka." Only because the crowd kept demanding it, even though they had already played it!

There was some delightful drinking on stage, and plenty of dancing and singing. How can it not be a party atmosphere when there's a violinist playing folk metal tunes with a dread-headed Finn leaning against his back for support? I ask these questions only because if you haven't seen Korpiklaani yet, then you haven't lived. If you have grown tired of these metal gigs, than you may as well be tired of life. There's something awe-inspiring about a band that can get on stage and make a crowd smile while also compelling them to slam into each other with a skip in their step. I'll also admit that there were a lot of drinks being spilled, and I was hit with at least three different kinds of alcohol. Thank goodness Korpiklaani laminates their set-lists, but that meant they weren't handing them to anyone.

I would also like to give a special shout-out to Korpiklaani's very dedicated and friendly roadie. Larger than life, but obviously full of mirth and tolerant of this rambunctious band.  However, he really didn't like it when I ran on stage to get the drummer's pictures. But it wasn't like I was going to do it twice, and I never, ever try and take away from the performance. Be as surreptitious as possible when running on ANY stage while a performance is taking place.

                                                                 PICTURE DUMP!

Do not want...

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