I didn't quite know what to expect walking into this double-headliner European folk metal show. Or should I say, I didn't know who to expect. Would the crowd be the typical NOLA metalhead, curious tourists trying something new, diehard fans from the far reaches of the south? Well, it seemed to be a mix of some typical NOLA metalheads that are happy to attend anything with "metal" in the description, gamers, and a few white collar guys. I enjoy seeing new faces enjoying interesting, often under-appreciated music. It warms the heart.
Coming all the way from the old land of Finland, Korpiklanni took the stage in front of a backdrop that looked like a lonely, semi-spooky farm with bales of hay (or something) as far as the eye could see. Most of the bandmates looked like they could have jumped out of that backdrop with their long, scruffy beards and leather garb. The stand-out was fiddle player Rounakari who wore a shining white suit and matching top hat. I enjoyed the juxtaposition. Song after song, Korpiklaani led by the rather imposing dreadlocked singer/multi-instrumentalist Jonne crushed and dazzled. They told tales of mythical lands, their people, and their gods. The crowd was swept up in the storytelling as if they were sitting around a campfire in the remote backcountry of Finland listening to the tales and becoming just a little bit fearful of what lurked in the wood behind them.
Filling up the stage with at least eight musicians, Eluvietie walked out onto a backlit stage with a ancient ruin painting draped behind them. They immediately launched into their fanciful, dramatic, yet powerful brand of folk metal unlike any made before. Chrigel Glanzmann tore into the microphone, gesturing like a demigod trying to summon his powers from above, but I liked that he also took the time to really engage with the audience, looking at them, pointing at them, and rallying them into his fight. I'm chagrined to say that this may have been the first time I've seen a hurdy-gurdy in real life, and Michalina Malisz was the one to introduce me to it. I loved how Michalina and Fabienne (on the harp and the lead on some songs) would swing their long hair in unison at parts; it was so feminine and lovely, and yet so metal. Let's not forget about the other lady in the crew; fiddle master Nicole Anspenger and her aqua blue, hip-length locks were were taking up the other side of the stage. Many in the crowd were effortlessly able to sing along to each and every song, including those sung in Swiss. It's a shame that we don't get more bands like these around here; a Cajun/European folk metal show is a dream of mine, and these would be the bands I would choose to represent our neighbors across the sea.