Alestorm - Soundstage, Baltimore, MD - 1 Oct 2016
|Event:||Alestorm: Super Smashed Turbo US Tour 2016|
Yo, ho, ho and a bottle of fun. Alestorm sailed into Baltimore Harbor on a cool October evening and I was ready to meet them with a fistful of metal in one hand and a fistful of cash in the other. I once had the opportunity to see Alestorm about five years ago at the now-defunct Empire, then still Jaxx Nightclub (alas, one of my favorite venues), but became dissuaded when a hurricane blasted through on the night in question and cut off my passage into Virginia. I still have not forgiven Mother Nature for robbing me of the opportunity to see one of my favorite bands, but Alestorm more than made up for it this time, bringing along their friends in Nekrogoblikon and Æther Realm (much better line-up than that other show anyway).
Evidently, somebody out there felt that I was owed a pretty great time due to the unfortunate circumstances surrounding my last attempt to see Alestorm, because the evening unfolded flawlessly. I encountered almost no traffic getting into Baltimore, there was no line to get into the Soundstage, the sound system was in good form, and I didn't even make myself sick for once (I have to remember not to eat on concert days). The crowd was full of pirates (and a couple of dudes in trench coats clearly pretending to be vampires, but mostly pirates). I love seeing people get so invested in the bands they go to see, even if it's as much out of humor as anything else.
Local yokels Isenmor opened up
After Isenmor retreated from the stage, I sprang towards the merch tables, having previously promised to obtain an Alestorm t-shirt for a friend (incidentally, in case you're reading, I used that shirt to mop up my sweat and deal with my hair for the rest of the night, so you'll definitely want to wash that thing before you wear it). While I was there, I purchased Nekrogoblikon's entire discography, because Nekrogoblikon kicks ass and I felt the need to appreciate this fact on a greater scale. In addition, they had a nice package deal for the set, and I like saving money, so I spent some money. While experiencing a brief, necessary moment of realization that the power of modern technology allows me to transport a band's entire career in my pocket (and this was on CD, mind, I didn't even make it to the digital era), I spotted an old high school friend and stopped introspecting for a while.
Shortly thereafter, Æther Realm stormed onstage to general acclaim and vocalist/bassist Vincent Jones introduced the first song, "The Chariot," promising that it would appeal to us "if you like 'Thunder Kiss '65' by White Zombie but wish that it were a lot faster, and if you like 'Sixpounder' by Children Of Bodom but wish that it were a lot slower." The band blazed through a short set of powered-up folk metal punctuated by outgoing humor that made for an amicable, light-hearted atmosphere and set the tone for the evening quite well. Newly-appointed Nekrogoblikon drummer Eric W. Brown (also of Swashbuckle, Vale Of Pnath, Inferi, etc. and Alestorm collaborator) joined the trio for "Swampwitch," the studio version of which features his guest vocals.
I must admit that I'm not much of a fan of Æther Realm; I certainly like this style of metal, even when it doesn't come from Finland, but I'd never found Æther Realm especially memorable before, and my opinion has not changed much since seeing them. I will say, however, that I had fun watching them perform (especially when Christopher Bowes joined them for a song while dressed as a slice of pizza) and that no fan should be disappointed by their live presence. I approached this show expecting to enjoy Æther Realm, if not in any profound way, and I did, so they're cool guys in my book. This was also the first time I'd ever heard a member of a band use the word "memes," which Jones confessed he could feel radiating off the crowd in agreeable quantities.
some other stuff
With Æther Realm in the rearview mirror, I and my new assortment of merchandise migrated from the back towards the main body of the crowd, finally settling about 30-40 feet from the stage. I can only imagine what the subsequent events seemed like to somebody unfamiliar with Nekrogoblikon.
The most noticeable aspect of Nekrogoblikon's performance caravan is the band's mascot/hype man. This is John Goblikon. John is a goblin, but don't let that fool you. He's a great dancer and a pretty cool guy. John fires up the audience and keeps the party going onstage while the other guys in the band sing about bears or something. Whether crowd-surfing, dancing, or impishly pestering the musicians, John added an unexpected dimension to Nekrogoblikon's presentation that underlined the band's absurdity and memorability.
If John's delightful antics and were not enough to mystify newcomers to Goblonekrikon, Scorpion's distinctive, croaky vocal delivery and Raptor's apparent explosive spasms of energy certainly helped. Scorpion has the voice of a virulent disease; the mirth and joy spread by his tales of goblin-related heroism are as infectious as one, too. He immediately established a laidback rapport with the audience and bantered with his bandmates and fans in such a manner that it felt like the band was fronted by a stand-up comic. After the first couple of songs, bassist Sack experienced some technical difficulties (possibly having mistaken a fish for his power cord), thereby giving the band an unanticipated opportunity to further engage with the audience in a more casual manner. The back-and-forth between Scorpion, Raptor, and Goldberg further solidified my suspicion that Alestorm took these guys on tour not because of any musical equivalence, but because they all share the same sense of humor.
The band surged through a kinetic, tightly-performed set of metalcore-influenced extreme power metal as catchy as it was crushing. Guitar and keyboards vied for control as Scorpion's froglike growls and nasally cleans navigated through perfectly inane lyrics. I had previously been led to believe that Nekrogoblikon puts on an excellent show, but my expectations were blown away. If Nekrogoblikon ever heads back to my neck of the woods, I'm making time for them.
We Need A Gimmick
No One Survives
Full Body Xplosion
Prince Of The Land Of Stench
Nekrogoblikon ended their set on such an abrupt note that I wasn't convinced they were done yet (especially because they had already jokingly left the stage earlier in the set). It seemed as though they themselves were confused by their lack of time, and I thought for sure they would play "Powercore," so my assumption is that the technical issues earlier on had drained away too much of their time. In any case, they proved once and for all that goblin are better than trolls.
Now anticipating the main event of the evening, I navigated through the buzzing crowd and anchored myself directly at the front center, which I vacated shortly thereafter to allow a much shorter concertgoer to view the stage. Aside from that vanguard spot on the barricade, I had the best position in the house; to my right and left were two rather large gentlemen shielding their girlfriends from the horrors of the pit behind us. I possess neither the muscle nor the mass to weather the buffeting waves of drunkards pinballing around every metal show, so if I don't have something to brace myself against once the fists start flying, I'm down pretty quickly. This time, I was able to leech off the protective aura of the two guys standing next to me and enjoy the show without an overage of back-punching. I did have to watch out for the crowd surfers, though; pity the poor bastard who tries to surf over me, because I lack upper body strength something fierce. I once dropped the singer from Origin on his face when he tried that, but he's a hardcore dude. He was fine. This is the same guy who snapped his finger back into place when he broke it doing a similar thing.
This is where I was, for context.
But I digress. There I was, wedged in between these two tall barricades, watching a group of people dressed as pirates drive a conga line through the pit while Tina Turner's "What's Love Got To Do With It" played over the PA and Alestorm's brightly-colored Banana Duck backdrop revealed itself to our eager faces. This is a good day, I thought. I only became more convinced of this when the lights finally dimmed and Alestorm trooped onstage, Christopher Bowes dressed in a kilt, his "Oh Wow!" baseball cap, and a t-shirt that read, "I got lost in the Gay Dolphin." With all hands on deck, Alestorm launched into "Keelhauled" and the main event of the evening kicked our spirits into overdrive.
Alestorm's live performance perfectly encapsulates their appeal: the humorous and serious elements hang in perfect balance. Chris came prepared to taunt us good-naturedly with Maryland-specific jibes about our well-publicized addictions to Old Bay and heroin, with a magnificent inflatable duck serving as the stage's centerpiece and Banana Duck plastered over every surface. On two separate occasions, Chris played a keyboard solo while chugging a beer, and plenty of ludicrous dancing was done by all both onstage and in the crowd. At the same time, every member delivered an impassioned, spot-on performance that fully displayed their individual talents and synchronization as a band. Alestorm can write wicked battle anthems like "1741 (The Battle Of Cartagena)" and "Death Throes Of The Terrorsquid," but can simultaneously dance to ridiculously fun songs like "Wenches And Mead" and make some of the best damn music videos on the net. This is not only an incredibly good band, but an incredibly fun band.
With the rousing sing-alongs and fantastic renditions of classics, this was already climbing the ranks of the best shows I've seen, but Alestorm treated us to something special: the performance of an unreleased song, "Mexico," which will appear on their scheduled 2017 album. They had only played the song once before, at the tour's first date the previous night. Best of all, they brought an actual Mexican onstage to sing with them and chug a beer from an old boot as he did so. The moment could only be topped by the insane encore: a devastatingly powerful version of the epic "1741 (The Battle Of Cartagena)," the band's lovely cover of Taio Cruz's "Hangover" (featuring Eric W. Brown doing the rap verse), and some nostalgia in the form of "Captain Morgan's Revenge" that bled into "Rum."
Over The Seas
Surf Squid Warfare
Nancy The Tavern Wench/Midget Saw
Walk The Plank
The Sunk'n Norwegian
Wenches And Mead
1741 (The Battle Of Cartagena)
Captain Morgan's Revenge
During "Rum," I found none other than Chris Bowes right next to me in the crowd, holding the microphone towards my face and dancing pirately. I gave that man a high-five and screamed something unintelligible into the microphone along with three other people wearing pirate hats. I count myself lucky to have danced with a pirate and lived. They also performed "That Famous Ol' Spiced" and "Mead From Hell," the latter of which Chris introduced by finding and dedicating the song to the lone apiarist in the audience. I'm sure that man never dreamed that beekeeping would make him so popular. The songs are strangely absent from the set list that I picked up, and I can't remember when they played them, so feel free to stick them anywhere you like in the list above.
After the show, I found myself in possession of a set list, a guitar pick from Maté Bodor, and an awful lot of merchandise. I spied Maté at the bar and thanked him for a terrific performance, though unfortunately I was not aware that he had come to Alestorm by way of Wisdom or I would have told him what a great idea it was to release an album as great as Marching For Liberty. I then ran into Eric W. Brown in the restroom and congratulated him as well. On the show, not a successful urination.
Before I finish this report, Alestorm announced that they have not yet decided what to name their giant duck and are looking for ideas. Hopefully they have not chosen a name by now, because I'd like to contribute my own suggestions:
Duck, the Alestorm Duck (as a loving tribute to our fallen brother Horse, the Alestorm Horse)
Big Inflatable Duck
Roald Dahl's Big Inflatable Duck
Eddie the Head
The Great Duck Fire of 1906
Also, here's some more proof that I was at the show. It's the ceiling of the Soundstage.
And here's a picture of my window that was also in my phone.
This is located in my house.
||Written on 28.10.2016 by Reviewing since 2010. Reviewing competently since 2013. More metal than you since before the dawn of 'istry.|
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