Paganfest III @ Reggies, Chicago (US)

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TURISAS / ALESTORM / ARKONA / HUNTRESS

Date: 05th April, 2012
Venue: Reggies Rock Club
Ticket: $25 (€19)
Promoter: MpShows.Com


DimK: ‘Paganfest’ is a nice touring package featuring bands for the so called Pagan, or if you prefer, Folk Metal scene. It is also true that the US metalheads (especially the young ones) have a thing for such bands and show up in every gig with a party-on mood eager to let the steam out in the mosh-pit. This was exactly the case for the third edition of the US version of ‘Pagafest’ that was hosted in Reggies Rock Club. Taking into account the attendancy, Reggies looked kind of small and on top of that there was a long line of people waiting outside the venue trying not to freeze by the stubborn wind chills. And that was not the only problem we faced even before entering the venue; apparently there was an almost two hour delay in the door opening, so add this to the long line of people and you’ll understand why METAL KAOZ and some metalheads did not watch HUNTRESS... this was not proper scheduling.

MariaV: Entering the packed Reggies few minutes after the Folk Black metallers ARKONA had taken over the stage, we tried to find a decent spot to have the opportunity for some good photo shoots (that’s what happens when there is no photo pit). Five months have passed since the first visit of the Russian metallers ARKONA and whoever was at their first show in Chicago, I’m sure was also there to enjoy once more the folk-ish atmosphere that the quintet provides in a unique way. Unfortunately, the average-to-bad sound didn’t help ARKONA to deliver shivers down our spine as they successfully did on the first place (the flutes were too loud, while the guitars were nowhere) and that was the big con through the entire appearance. Masha "Scream" Archipova did her best to contact with the crowd (she has obviously improved her English), trying to whip up the young metalheads who didn’t take them much to start the first moshpits, no mater if the sound was good or bad. The folk mood has covered everybody hearts that night who didn’t care if Sergei’s guitar sounds reached their ears or not.

"Zakliatie", "Goi, Rode, Goi!" and "Stenka Na Stenku" were some of the highlight moments of the ARKONA setlist who looked very tight onstage and promising for the future. This band definitely deserves a higher spot in a future ‘Paganfest’ and I wish to have the chance really soon to watch them onstage but in their headlining show. I’m sure that many metalheads agree with me right now...

ARKONA setlist:

01. "Arkaim"
02. "Zakliatie"
03. "Slav'sja, Rus'!"
04. "Ot Serdca K Nebu"
05. "Goi, Rode, Goi!"
06. "Po Syroi Zemle"
07. "Stenka Na Stenku"
08. "Yarilo"

ARKONA

Arkona @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Arkona @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Arkona @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Arkona @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)

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MariaV: After the 30 minutes break the stage crew needed to change the setting for the Scottish folk / Power metallers ALESTORM, it was time for some pirate metallic tunes ala ALESTORM’s way: meaning that if you expect something like RUNNING WILD’s Metal, sorry, you lose! These guys are full with energy, craziness and some ‘black humor’ jokes, so you understand the drill here. ALESTORM took over the stage for 40 minutes and Christopher Bowes looked so cool onstage (behind the mic with his pink, scotch-taped handheld keyboards), while Daniel Evans did his best with his Dean guitar to arouse the young metalheads inside Reggies that didn’t want much to be aroused! Actually, if someone took a look at everybody’s faces inside the venue (painted or not, it doesn’t matter), would immediately realize that were already prepared for having fun, including in the day’s dish the ‘pirate-esque Metal’ served by the four gentlemen.

"The Sunk'n Norwegian" and "Nancy The Tavern Wench" seemed to be the crowd’s favorite tunes (mine too) where some started the folk dancing, while others hit the bar for some drinks. What I really liked though in ALESTORM’s show was that they did change their setlist after the last time I saw them, supporting KAMELOT, last September (you can read the Live Report HERE), trying to include more songs from the latest album “Back Through Time”, even though they didn’t leave aside a couple of songs from the two previous works. I don’t think though that the crowd had any specific preferences; every well-delivered Folk song was accepted that evening.

Nevertheless, the crushing "Black Sails At Midnight" was the ultimate ‘nail in our coffin’ and there was no turning back, the ship had already sailed: this time I appreciated Daniel’s guitar skills (he sounded ‘so Dimebag’ in this song), since the previous time he had some sound problems with his guitar, and I discovered his major role in the band’s sound. The instrumental "No Quarter" was next despite the crowd’s negative reaction for an instrumental song and then Christopher said “why you boo-ing this song? Instrumentals are people too”, demonstrating for one more time the band’s sprightly attitude. Time passed by quickly, and "Rum" was the final song that dropped the curtain, leaving the entire Reggies scream “ahoy”. Ahoy, till the next time guys!

ALESTORM setlist:

01. "Shipwrecked"
02. "Wenches & Mead"
03. "The Sunk'n Norwegian"
04. "Nancy The Tavern Wench"
05. "Back Through Time"
06. "Midget Saw"
07. "Keelhauled"
08. "Rumpelkombo"
09. "Black Sails At Midnight"
10. "No Quarter"
11. "Rum"

ALESTORM

Alestorm @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Alestorm @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Alestorm @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Alestorm @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)

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DimK: Ok, ALESTORM were not as bad as last time I saw them live, but still I got a little bored with the humors-Pirate-wannabe-Metal. To tell you the truth, the audience mood to party with the band kind of took some of this boredom away, so I have to grant them some credit. One thing that bothered me was the 30 minutes wait between the sets; it’s weird though since I have been in many gigs in this venue and the transition time from one band to the next was never that long. Nevertheless, TURISAS were about to hit the stage and I was very curious to see how the latest lineup would work (yes, I am talking about Netta and her substitution).

So, after the longer than usual wait, the lights went out and the intro brought TURISAS onstage with "The March Of The Varangian Guard". Even though this was my third time watching the Finnish band entering the stage, being in that high mood seemed new to me. It is true that the lineup is new but still the band looked super-tight and in absolute synchronicity. As always, Mathias was all over the stage, provoking the audience to join the Folk festivities in full force. I feel that his singing performance has become better and this is also shown in the latest “Stand Up And Fight” album. Especially his lower register work great in the slower and melodic parts that I have to admit I really enjoyed in the new album.

Without stopping, the band went straight to "Take The Day!" and Reggies was on fire. In the venue’s center the mosh-pit was very busy, while there was a lot of jumping up and down and singing along. Olli was Mathias’s wingman doing his thing with the violin, handling also the backing vocals in the same energy levels like TURISAS’s frontman. There was no holding back in the setlist and it was great watching everyone singing along and jumping up and down during To Holmgard And Beyond” andA Portage To The Unknown following the tradition of a good Folk Metal show.

“We finally found a beer to drink here in the US since we might have a TURISAS brew to enjoy” said Mathias as an unofficial intro for One More. This is a great mid tempo song that came in the right moment for the US metalheads to catch a breath before getting back on the headbanging/dancing track. During this one I totally enjoyed the violin based riff and Mathias expressional performance that got everyone in singing on top of their lungs.

I know some of you had a huge turn off learning the news about Netta’s departure from TURISAS but I have to assure you that the band looks more solid now. Plus, having a keyboard player even makes the samplers sound better in a way. I mean, it’s different having a laptop on the stage and not a living person handling these, even though Robert Engstrand looked more Hard Rock than Folk metaller but this will get fixed with more live shows.

Of course, there was an encore and of course it did include Rasputin” that I think has become kind of a 'curse' for the band. There is no way for TURISAS to avoid having this track on the setlist without meshing with the audience’s mood. Personally, I wouldn’t care if this was not included in the setlist and in fact I don’t like when people react more with covers instead of original songs. The last song of the night was the one that made TURISAS known as the band that played 'Battle Metal' and so they did, putting a great finish in a festival that did not start that good for me.

Even though the festival could have been scheduled/organized better, it made it clear that TURISAS are on a rising course and hopefully their next album will not take long time to be released.

P.S.: Yeah, Jussi Wickström reminded me of Asterix...

TURISAS setlist:

01. "The March Of The Varangian Guard"
02. "Take The Day!"
03. "To Holmgard And Beyond"
04. "The Great Escape"
05. "The Dnieper Rapids"
06. "A Portage To The Unknown"
07. "Hunting Pirates"
08. "One More"
09. "Stand Up And Fight"
10. "Sahti-Waari"
11. "Rasputin"
12. "Battle Metal"

TURISAS

Turisas @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Turisas @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Turisas @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)
Turisas @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Turisas @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Turisas @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)

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