Wednesday, May 20, 2009
Bands: Korpiklaani, Primordial, Moonsorrow, Blackguard, Swashbuckle
Venue: House of Blues, Sunset Strip, West Hollywood, California.
Date: May 17, 2009
Last year’s inaugural version of Paganfest came with some heavy hitters anchoring a solid lineup. Ensiferum and Turisas gave the tour some needed weight and Eluveitie simply stole the show. Overall, that tour package was quite memorable and is one of the better outings of the last few years.
Paganfest II is the second of what may turn out to be an annual tour package. The lineup for this year’s version was, in my opinion, of lesser quality, but was anchored by a couple of solid bands. Frankly, I was here solely for Moonsorrow, one of my favorite Viking bands, but Korpiklaani and Primordial, veteran bands with solid fan bases, were on board and have never previously toured the United States. Rounding out the bill were Blackguard and Swashbuckle, relative newcomers each (Eluveitie had dropped off the tour before it began). I must admit that, although I have a passing familiarity with Primordial and Korpiklaani, I am unfamiliar with most of the other bands on the bill. Here’s my brief impression of each.
Unfortunately, I missed Swashbuckle (damn traffic), but the band re-emerged, still in full pirate regalia, during the final song from Blackguard, the first band that I managed to see. Blackguard’s brand of melodic folk/ thrash is well done and played with obvious enthusiasm by the young band members. The enthusiasm was infectious as the HOB Sunset Strip crowd immediately started a circle that continued for most of the 30 minute set.
Moonsorrow were next and were afforded an hour long set. The extra time given to Moonsorrow was well utilized by the band as they were able to play a few long epics (“Pimea”) from “Verisakeet”, one of the best albums released in 2005. Most of the crowd seemed familiar with Moonsorrow, as some were able to shout along with the band. In addition, the HOB crowd enthusiastically chanted the band’s name between songs. My overall impression was that most of the HOB crowd was there, like me, for Moonsorrow.
The crowd seemed to thin out a bit for Primordial and Korpiklaani (in addition, this year’s show was definitely not sold out, unlike last year’s show), but both bands were quite good. Primordial’s moodier brand of dark metal seemed to go over quite well with the crowd (“As Rome Burns” was particularly impressive), although there was one notable heckler. I have only heard bits and pieces of Primordial, but I’m definitely given the impression that the band’s weak point is the vocals. As for Korpiklaani, I stuck around for about six songs or so (I must say that I prefer Eluveitie, or Finntroll), but I enjoyed what I saw. The band was enthusiastically received as a rendition of the band’s namesake was particularly good.
Overall, Paganfest II was a good show, but, frankly, was not nearly as impressive as last year’s version. If this becomes a yearly event, I can’t think of two better bands than Finntroll and Kampfar to anchor the tour next year.
Special thanks to Javan!!
Here's the junk...
The t-shirt haul...
On the horizon...