This years concerts started a bit differently, as it was a mini-festival that provided them.
When I looked for possible concerts I noticed that one of the bands I like – Alestorm – would be headlining the Paganfest, which is a series of concerts with about 6-7 bands a day in different cities – that’s why I called it a mini-festival.
I had heard little about the Paganfest, only randomly seeing some shirts but nothing concrete, so I did not really know what it was like. I only knew Alestorm would be there and that the Paganfest would have a station in Hamburg and Berlin.
Soon I started asking around for company for this (and the other concerts I had found), as I had failed to see Alestorm at the Metalfest the year before.
From my initial question Liathano was the first to say yes, even offering me her couch again. But as Black Kat and my other colleague – from now on called „Schnitzel“ – had interest in it too I thankfully declined her offer and told her that I might be using it for the upcoming Avantasia concert – that I’ll be covering some time later.
But shortly before the festival a nasty cold befell her and she couldn’t make it…
Neither could my colleague and fellow student – Lil‘ kat from now on – , whom I had asked as well, as she had semester at that time.
In the end I went with Black Kat, Schnitzel and Anice to the one in Berlin .
Of early Fridays and frozen bottles…
For quite some time I was certain that the „festival“ was on a Friday, so I was confused when Kat and Schnitzel talked about taking a vacation day for it.
But when I realized my mistake I was too stubborn to take a day off as well and decided to just go to work the following day. This way it was also a trial for the concerts after this one as they were in the middle of the week as well.
Nevertheless we soon ruled me out as driver for the evening, as my car is simply too slow in comparison to Schnitzels….
As Kat wanted to have a beer for the way Schnitzel joked about still having a bottle from the WGT (Wave Gotik Treffen, you’ll read more about this later) the year before.
Only to realize that said bottle did NOT survive the cold (aka freezing) winter….
Its content was completely emptied into the door pocket, as the bottom of the bottle was split off (more or less clear cut) and the whole thing smelled accordingly…
It is kind of a surprise that Schnitzel hadn’t smelled it previously, but as it was March the last frost hadn’t been that long away and it still is unclear when exactly the bottle broke.
Anyway, before we could start we needed to clean up the mess. Fortunately the pocket was leak-proofed, so it really was only a stinking pocket and its swimming content. Lots of stuff was thrown away that day…
When we were finally done Kat „sacrificed“ herself and sat at that side of the car. I’m not sure if my sensitive nose would have survived the trip otherwise. Even though we had put disinfection wipes into the pocket it now smelled of both: The rotten beer and the disinfection stuff….
Still, what was most fascinating about the whole trip was for me to have a back seat again.
When you start driving and you have your own car it is rare that you are the one being driven. And it was a nice change. I could actually see a bit of the scenery between Neubrandenburg and Berlin and converse and drink with Kat. 🙂
When we reached Berlin it was close to the festival already starting, but before we could even think about that we had to find a parking lot. Which is no fun, if the car does not have a green pollution badge and the concert is in a green pollution badge area…
When we had finally found one we had to wait a short moment for Schnitzel to change into more appropriate shoes (Normal shoes at certain concerns just aren’t save enough for your feet 😉 ), before we then took off – the clock already saying that the first band had started.
Bands, bands, bands…
The concert was in the K17, where I last was with Lil‘ kat for the Crematory concert the year before. Having enough bands to count as a mini-festival I couldn’t quite imagine how they would pull off the schedule, as I had heard that there were several floors in the building and knew that bands usually played at the same time on a festival. But they instead just did the simplest thing: They let one band play after the other on the same stage. That at least explained the early start at about 17:30 h. So as soon as we had noticed this we mentally prepared ourselves for six bands in a row by buying Mexikaner shots. This is, by the way, a „cocktail“ made of tomato juice and vodka. As I drank it for the first time I asked if there were some noodles with it as well, as it tasted like the the sauce of noodles, just way spicier… The others than suggested to created a noodle-shot in the same manner, but I’m not sure if that would even taste at all…
The first band that evening were Thyrfing from Sweden and I’m not sure how much of it we actually saw, but I think it wasn’t that much as I can hardly remember them…
Next on stage were Wolfchant from Bavaria. I remember them a bit more as they had two „singers“ and one of them looked – according to Kat – like a giant baby. 😀
Well the bald head and the chubby body did not really help his case.
They weren’t bad, but with the baby in mind you couldn’t really take them serious, at least I couldn’t.
Number three was then Canadian band Ex Deo (which is a side project from the guys of Kataklysm as I have just learned). With their suits or parts of Roman armour they looked quite impressive on stage and the music they made wasn’t too bad either.
The last one before the ones we were looking forward to see were Bornholm from Hungaria.
At this point I was quite annoyed that every band they had picked had a habit of growling their lyrics. I think I already mentioned this in one of my Wacken Reviews, but I am not a fan of this way of „singing“. But as I learned later: Only a few bands that fall into the category Pagan Metal do NOT use growls as this genre derives from Black Metal, though also from Folk Metal, but they only use the instruments from there.
We didn’t completely listen to all of these four concerts, as none of us is that much of a growls fan, so we did spent some time outside were you could sit – and have Mexikaner. 😉
Wait, that’s a woman?
With Arkona from Russia there was finally a change in that pattern, as they are pretty good at combining both growls and clear vocals. And all that is done by one and the same woman(!).
Schnitzel and Kat had told me that they had seen them at the WGT the year before and the show there was brilliant. They had played indoors as well and the audience moved around that much that they caused the heat in the room to went up several degrees, even causing the sweat to drop down from the ceiling again. Every bit of alcohol the bars had to offer was gone, the people were exhausted – but content – and the main band hadn’t even played yet and all this, while the singer still wore a thick, hairy pelt around her shoulders. I do not want to know how much she could wring out herself after that gig….
Berlin didn’t get as hot as that, but they still managed to grab the audience quite well.
And it is really fascinating so actually SEE this woman change from growls to clear vocals in the blink of an eye. I can really understand why people would mistake her as a man while just listening to the records, but if you carefully listen, you will notice that it is the same voice.
By the time Arkona had started we all were quite exhausted from standing around all evening so we sneakily had grabbed a stool from the bar room next door and had carried it into the stage room. With this we took turns in sitting. Alternatively the wall behind us – as we stood at the end of the room – provided us with a free foot massage, as the vibrations of the music resounded in it. It was quit a nice way to lose the tension in your feet after standing for so long.
After them came the/my main reason to be there: Alestorm.
And they were just as much fun as I had imagined they’d be.
I can’t really describe what it was like to finally see and hear all these ridiculous songs live, but I know for certain that the other three looked quite questionably at me when I sang and moved along with most of them. We hadn’t been on a concert of one of „my“ bands before, so they didn’t knew what I was like during one.
Alestorm is not just funny because of their (pirate-themed) songs, but frankly also because of their singer. Christopher Bowes the skinny, short Rumpelstiltskin – again named by Kat – that has a voice as deep as any bulky guy could have; at least I imagined him to be taller and sturdier before I saw one of their videos for the first time.
Speaking of videos: Alestorm used a remix of their song Shipwrecked by Drop Goblin – that is just as much fun as the original – as Intro and Outro, which was pretty fun too and quite catchy…
It was totally worth waiting through all that growling Pagan stuff to get to this concert alone. It was just so much fun. Even when Bowes let the crowd carry him to the bar at the end of their set. 🙂
On a completely different note: I considered the Rumpelstiltskin remark even more fun as Kat had intended as I still had the image of Robert Carlyle’s portray of the character in Once Upon A Time in mind and you can’t really compare those two, even though they’re both Scottish…
To sum this up, I think, I can speak for all of us, if I say that we had a good time that evening.
Regardless of that we also concluded that it wouldn’t have been bad if we had arrived for Arkona and Alestorm only, as the other bands weren’t really ours.
But it was a nice starter for a brilliant concert and festival year.
And it even caused me to do something on our way back, that I usually do not do: Sleep in the car while driving – or being driven in this case. 😉