Turisas + Firewind + Stolen Babies - Studio Seven, Seattle, USA 18.2.2013
|Event:||Turisas: Guards Of Glory Tour 2013 - N. America|
Turisas + Firewind + Stolen Babies - Studio Seven, Seattle, USA by Susan (25)
Seattle's Studio Seven is one of the best places in town for metal, and the primary venue of European metal tours. There are so many reasons for this: first, excellent sound. From everywhere in the club you will be treated to CD quality sound. Other aspects are the layout and abundant sight lines, as well as how the upstairs bar is situated facing the stage. Basically, you get the full show no matter where you are. And the bartenders are awesome.
This is an ideal venue for bands like Turisas, or anyone else who really puts on a fully encompassing metal show. The fans did their part as well: the crowd was full of painted faces, Viking costumes, and even a dude in a full suit of chain mail. Sweet.
Before the show I met up with Turisas guitarist Jussi Wickström for a fun interview. As the show began I made my way to the 2nd story bar and found a nice perch for taking photos. Yet, by the end of the night, I was definitely down on the floor, up front, making my neck sore.
After local bands Phalgeron and Avoid The Void played very impressive and professional sets, the main event was set to begin. The avantgarde troupe Stolen Babies came out to make their statement. Their quirky, fun music grew on the crowd, who cheered louder which each song. Lead vocalist and accordion player Dominique's antics with the accordion were quite fun and suited the dark and theatrical atmosphere the band was creating. It's not always metal per se, but it fit surprisingly well on this bill. Songs were just so intriguing that the Seattle crowd warmed up to the off-beat foursome in no time.
Despite the theatricality in the music, there was something so honest about this band. Definitely catch them on tour if you can; they so clearly enjoyed what they did and were confident performers yet humbly thankful for the warm welcome.
We were sufficiently pumped by the time Stolen Babies finished, and the venue did an efficient job of getting the next band on stage without delay. Five minutes later, Firewind rocked our world. It really was a well-put together program. Stolen Babies are fun and quirky but if Turisas had followed them it may have been a bit jarring. Firewind provided the perfect bridge.
The lively Greeks took the stage one at a time amidst great cheering. Clearly they had fans throughout the house. When shredder Gus G finally burst onto the set he commanded a huge reaction. He was wide awake and made sure everyone else was, too.
Epic vocalist Kelly "Sundown" Carpenter is filling in with the band for this tour and his throat seemed made for Firewind's music. His world-class voice may not be familiar to everyone, as he mostly sticks to projects and one-off recordings. I first was put under his spell on Beyond Twilight's stellar Section X and have craved more ever since. Hearing that he stepped in to help Firewind on this tour and that I'd get to see him live was like Christmas coming early.
Vocally, he was a near perfect fit. His live performance was technically beautiful, and he seemed to enjoy himself on stage with the band. However, the star of the show was unquestionably Gus G. He knows how to not only shred with the best of the metal gods, but also engage the crowd and non-verbally hold our attention for an entire set. Skillz, dude, skillz.
Firewind really shares focus well as a band. A vocalist of course gets his moments, so does a shredding guitar soloist, but some of the most visually engaging parts were where the 2 guitars and the bass would stand, heads down, in a triangular formation and chug the riffs center stage, their long black hair flowing with the rhythms.
Another star worth mentioning is really Bob Katsionis who played both the rhythm guitar and keyboards…. often at the SAME TIME (see photo). Rocking out and playing one instrument is hard enough, so is singing and playing at the same time. But two at once? I've never dared.
Firewind's setlist covered a wide range of their discography, which was appreciated by the fans, many of whom had probably not seen the band live and had much catching up to do. Songs included several from 2012's Few Against Many but also early greats "Destination Forever" from 2002's Between Heaven And Hell, "I Am The Anger" from 2003's Burning Earth, and "Head Up High" from 2008's The Premonition among others. They closed the set with "Falling To Pieces." Excellent!
Firewind's set seemed short for many fans who shouted for another song. Yet upon reflection it was perfect. We wanted more, so much more, and we got it.
Turisas. This was my second time seeing Turisas live and they upheld their title of my best live band. It's not necessarily theatricality, and it's not just that they're incredibly talented with their instruments. What Turisas has in fucking spades is fearless energy and a desire to perform and communicate. Everyone up there engages with the audience and seems like they would rather be nowhere else in the world.
The costumes have evolved slightly: the red paint with black streaks is still worm by all, but they no longer wear fur; they stick to leather and cloth instead. This perhaps made them look even more badass and METAL.
They exploded with their opener "The March Of The Varangian Guard" and the crowd responded! There was singing along, there was dancing, there was headbanging; it was all beautiful. This was one of the most dedicated crowds I've ever witnessed and our attention was glued to the band from their first note.
Just a few songs in, vocalist Matthias started mentioning how lively we were for a Monday night. He was impressed, which just further incited these rabid metalheads. He also made mention of how many painted faces there were in the crowd and he was right! These fans were dedicated.
Shows like this are special. The crowd showed up ready to rock and the band brought everything they had. But it never just ends there. Everyone is feeding off of everyone else's energy and the fun grows exponentially. It wasn't just a lively crowd for a Monday: it was a lively crowd period. The band mentioned this several more times, asking "what is wrong with you people in Seattle??" and promising to come back on a weekend so we can have a real party. Someone near the front of the crowd shouted "I drove 5 hours to get here!" It felt so intimate when the band answered back; we could have been at a house party watching this band play in someone's living room, there was absolutely no fourth wall for Turisas.
Matthias would stand front and center, leading the anthems. When he wasn't singing would sometimes go to the keyboard or drums, turn his back, and punched straight up in the air with the energetic rhythms. It was quite a sight. He visited both sides of the crowd and was countered by violinist Olli on stage right, also quite the showman, and guitarist Jussi, who stood stage left. Jussi delivered some fun solos, as did Olli. In fact, Olli's presence was similar to Gus G's from earlier: he held us in the palm of his hand without need of a microphone or lyrics. Stage presence like that cannot be taught. You either got it or you ain't!
Coursing through songs like "One More," "To Holmgard And Beyond," "In The Court Of Jarisleif," the band didn't skip a beat. "Hunting Pirates" ended up being quite interactive, one of those songs where the band wouldn't continue unless enough of us sang along.
Usually a headlining band will take some sort of break half way through the set, the singer will go take a breather off stage while a drum solo or interlude happens, then the band returns like nothing happened. Turisas needed no such break, but utilized their time just as well to create an effective arc in their show. The arc started with Olli, who took center stage for a beautiful and mournful violin solo. Matthias then lay on the floor as new bassist Jesper sat near on the drum stand. Matthias began to roll on the floor and resume singing while the music grew around him. As if suspense was growing, the music tensely pushed forward, forward, till it reached a fever pitch and everyone was back on their feet. Turisas was as alive as ever.
Matthias continued to comment on how insane a crowd this was for a Monday night, and perhaps the best crowd of the tour. Maybe he says that to everyone, who knows, but it sure made us happy.
About 2/3 of the way through, yours truly started shouting for "Rasputin." This caught on and several more people yelled for it when the band was between songs. I hoped that if indeed we were the best crowd of the tour so far that we would have our reward in this ultimate metal party piece.
The time came for the faux ending, and after playing an epic set, the band left the stage abruptly. We weren't having it and immediately started chanting TU-RI-SAS! and did not stop until the painted men returned. They jumped back onto the stage, which made everyone happy once again. Before continuing, Matthias delved into a bit of a speech. First, he again commended us for all not only being present on a Monday night in such a large number but also for being such a good crowd. More shouts for "Rasputin." After they played "Stand Up And Fight" it could very well have been the closer. We may have been happy. But again we shouted for more.
Matthias started to introduce the next song, saying they wrote this this next song years ago. He remembered when the band was in their practice room writing this song they never dreamed they would get this far, to cross the Atlantic and play it for American metal fans. Encouragingly, he took the time to thank the two local opening acts as well as young bands everywhere. This particular venue, Studio Seven, also houses practice spaces, which are right next to the band green room area. Matthias kindly acknowledged this, saying that he heard some "fucking great music" while passing the practice rooms earlier that evening and that we should all support our local metal scene. He didn't have to say that and it really meant a lot to the musicians in the audience.
After saying he had talked for way too long (but also saying "we're the headliners, we can do whatever we want!") Turisas finally played "Battle Metal," the old song we knew he'd been talking about all along. This was such a perfect finish. Even at the end of a 90 minute set, fatigue was nowhere in sight (nor for the audience!) and our "Battle Metal" was the extended version, the live, epic treat for the fans, all of whom were headbanging and throwing horns like their lives depended on it. At the end, the band kept hitting that final chord, letting the cymbals rattle and guitars ring, then hitting it again. And again. And again! When "Battle Metal" finally came to a close we were all in a state of bliss. What an ending! Our heroes came to the front of the stage and shook our hands, took bows, and reveled in a job well done.
It was nearly ecstasy. But I couldn't help but think: if we were such a good crowd, why didn't they play us a little bit of "Rasputin"? That would have made it a perfect evening. Then they stopped their bows and returned to their instruments. Matthias said, "Do you want one more?!?!" and they immediately drove forward into "Rasputin"!! Then we fans found even more energy and began jumping to the anthem's rhythm as if it were the first song of the night. This was metal bliss. For everyone present on that special night, it was absolutely proof of Turisas' status among the greats of metal performers around the world and across time.
Written on 06.03.2013 by
Susan appreciates quality metal regardless of sub-genre. Metal Storm Staff since 2006.
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