A Friday night Folk Metal show in NYC is always a blast. Hitting the stage together for a co-headlining North American Tour, Finnish countrymen KORPIKLAANI and ENSIFERUM, with support from Norway’s TROLLFEST set out to prove that folk metal can be both fun, compelling, and dominant. Folk Metal shows are truly an experience. For those that have never attended such an event it can be best summed up as a night of pure entertainment. Fans fill the crowded venue, the circle pits open, the beer flows, head banging and dancing begins. Dancing? Yes dancing, from an outsider’s perspective watching fans mosh and pause mid-song to do folkish circle line dancing (I can’t think of a word to call it but it’s when people dance around in a circle holding hands moving legs in and out). Friendships are forged. Drinks are shared.
Fans dance together, drink together, headbang together, scream together, and raise their horns in the air together. And for a few hours they are able to forget all troubles of the day with the help of their favorite bands and closest friends. And in this case what better way to celebrate the end to a hectic work week than by partying with your friends and favorite bands?
Over the years as folk metal picked up momentum in the States it has become expected that there will be a yearly folk metal event here. As show announcements are made fans anticipate the return of their favorite bands and the reaction grows when those bands make their first US appearances. That’s why when this tour was announced it was met with great approval. Fans were excited for the return of KORPIKLAANI and ENSIFERUM. These fan favorites have toured extensively in the US. in the past and are great live performers. Excitement was just as strong for Norway’s TROLLFEST. They have a large following in the States and there’s a big demand for them to tour often. There are tours assembled with a superb line-up where the bands all compliment each other and keep the crowd eagerly anticipating for what’s going to happen next. That was the case on this night.
TROLLFEST was the first to hit the stage. The band kicked off the set with the song “Kaptein Chaos” from their latest album of the same name. The last time fans had the pleasure of seeing the band live was back in 2013. It’s hard to believe that two years have passed since they performed with ALESTORM and GYPSYHAWK. The band performed a 10-song high energy set and chaos ensued from beginning to end. TROLLFEST are a must-see live band. Everything about them exudes fun. The band consists of seven members, three of whom focus on percussions. At a smaller venue like Irving Plaza it would seem like not many people can fit onstage, but this did not deter the band. The tight space made the performance more intimate and brilliantly added to the mayhem onstage. With each member adding their own unique style and charisma ,and a visually appealing tantalizing stage presence, it was impossible to look away.
Highlights of the night included the fan favorite “Brumlebassen” and their own unique and goofy spin on the Britney Spears hit song “Toxic.” The band even had one of their own members come out on stage dressed as Britney and announced that she was in fact here tonight. After their set the band members took the time to hang out with fans. TROLLFEST have proven time and again that they are more than capable of headlining their own tour! And we all know that when it happens it will be one big party.
KORPIKLAANI was next. They have a committed and loyal fan base in New York that gathered two and a half hours outside of the venue before showtime. Now that is dedication! By the time they hit the stage the place was packed. It did not matter whether you were standing in back by the bar or in front of the stage, the balcony, or even in the hallway by the merch stand. Because KORPIKLAANI made damn sure that everyone in the venue felt like they were front and center. The band is currently promoting their ninth studio album Noita. They began their set with “Viinamäen Mies” and followed with other new songs “Pilli On Pajusta Tehty”, “Lempo,” ”Sahti,” “Minä Näin Vedessä Neidon”, and “Ämmänhauta” during their spirited hour and a half set. They also included fan favorites “Journey Man”, “Kultanainen”, and “Metsamies”.
The new material received a positive reaction from everyone in attendance. Many critics have said that the folk metal elements are even more towards the forefront than ever before and that it compliments their heavy side perfectly. And it was clear to see from the dancing and headbanging that fans really love the new songs as much as their classics.
Throughout the set the hands were clapping and the booze was flowing. The band was all smiles as they interacted with the crowd and each other. It’s always a pleasure watching a phenomenal band enjoy what they’re doing. KORPIKLAANI means “Forrest Clan” and for an hour and a half they let their fans join their clan. Towards the end of the night they saved the best for last. In typical fashion they ended their set list with their classics “Vodka” and “Wooden pints” The crowd went wild singing along. It’s fair to say an hour and a half was not enough and fans wanted more!
And finally it was time for the main event. TROLLFEST and KORPIKLAANI set the tone for the evening, yes. Both bands compliment each other well being on the lighter side of folk metal. Their music makes you want to grab a beer. But ENSIFERUM provides the soundtrack to battle and victory. One of the most talked about moments of their set came from seeing accordion player Netta Skog who joined the band for their tour filling in for Emmi Silvennoinen. It was a rare treat to see her play live and fans were not disappointed.
Seven years after seeing ENSIFERUM headline the very first Pagan Fest in 2008 their shows keep getting bigger and better. And their devoted audience has grown over these years. They performed “Axe of Judgement,” “Heathen Horde,” “Warrior Without War,” and “Two of Spades” from the new album which had the fans headbanging to a frenzy in the circle pits which seemed to grow as the band played on.
We were also treated to fan favorites “Iron”, “From Afar”, “Into Battle”, and the epic “Victory Song “ One of the most memorable moments was when the band performed their rendition of the JUDAS PRIEST classic “ Breaking the Law” The band is no stranger to cover songs. They have covered music by MANOWAR, METALLICA, IRON MAIDEN, and THE GYPSY KINGS in the past to name a few. The crowd loved it as they sang along in unison.
Since this was the final date on the North American tour it it was easy to see that these three bands are supportive of each other and get along well. At one point or another guest appearances were included in each performance which of course was met with a chorus of screams and a flood of smiles on the fans faces
This was truly a great tour and show that left many fans happy and wanting more. The consensus of the night was that there should be a monthly folk metal concert in NY because a year or two is simply not enough.
LIVE WORDS AND PHOTOS: ANYA SVIRSKAYA