Show Review

Show Review: Ensiferum, Korpiklaani, TrollfesT at Chicago’s Bottom Lounge

Posted by JDKleinhans on Wednesday, May 20, 2015 at 5:14 AM (PST)


The drums sounded. The horns blew. Battle paint adorned, bladed weapons drawn, beer upon their breath, the tribesmen of Finland and their Norwegian allies charged through Chicago, laying waste to the those who sought to oppose them, raising their fists proudly in mutual purpose to those who joined them in the sounds and revelry of battle lust.

The Trolls zealously feasted upon the slain and fallen. The Forest Clan danced upon bloodied flesh and crippled bones. The Sword Bearers left nothing in the brutality of their crushing wake. All those who witnessed the carnage and what remained will surely remember the day Trollfest, Korpiklaani, and Ensiferum came marching through their town.

For further details of the Bottom Lounge Battle of Chicago, click here.

I regrettably have never been witness to a Paganfest. Sadly there is no Paganfest VI in 2015. But you know what, when have tour featuring Ensiferum and Korpiklaani with Trollfest, who needs a Paganfest (not to mention the upcoming Arkona, HeidevolkHelsótt tour)? Having been witness to the great deluge of accordion filled and fiddle riddled folk metal that occurred at Chicago’s Bottom Lounge, I have found a soothing balm to tend to that festering wound.

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I recently discovered Trollfest when I came across the video for their cover of Britney Spears’ “Toxic”, the best Britney Spears cover there is and ever will be. Seriously. Don’t believe me? Check it out below.

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After seeing this epic and hilarious video, I was immediately intrigued. I checked out a few songs, did a little research, and put them on my watch list. After participating in their live festivities, I’m a true convert. You cannot truly appreciate TrollfesT until you’ve seen them live.

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The energy Trollmannen evokes as he pounds on his percussion setup and screams into the mic is catching. Watching Dr.Leif Kjønnsfleis crash across the stage and interact with the crowd makes you want to jump on stage with him and tap into his frenetic maelstrom. Manskow plays his accordion like a frenzied berserker. Lodd Bolt plays his bass like the battle axe that it is. Mr.Seidel plays his guitar and the crowd with a teasing, yet professional manner, always leaving you smiling. TrollBANK is a monstrous machine behind his savage kit. Guest tour mate, Bok’n’Brusetruse is more entertaining than the court jester and is no fool (Bokn replaced Drekka Dag on this tour due to Drekka having been the victim of a home-made-super-brew-making gone horribly wrong).

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Why did I take the time to point out each individual member? Because as a whole, TrollFesT puts on a ridiculous show that leaves you with a pleasurable tingle, yearning for more. And each individual member brings his own unique bit of Kaos to their pleasure dome.

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These guys sound amazing live. They play tight and precise, an amazing feat to accomplish live with such a fast and feverish sound. Trollmannen vocals got lost in the background on occasion but I’m not sure if that’s part of their preferred setup or a fault in the sound system. It didn’t really matter though, as you can’t help but get swept up in party that is held on stage as it washes out to the crowd. You can check out the full photo set here.

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I’ve been a huge fan of Korpiklaani since coming across their “Wooden Pints” video from 2003′s Spirit of the Forest. When the violinist steps out of a rustic outhouse with violin in hand, you know you’re in for a treat. When attempting to explain to those unfamiliar with Korpiklaani or their style of folk metal, I use the term Finnish party folk metal. TrollfesT started the evening’s party out strong, and Korpiklaani kept it strong and energized.

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These guys know how to have fun on stage. They obviously enjoy their craft and to experience elements of their lengthy discography in a live setting was stellar. Violinist Tuomas Rounakari and accordion player Sami Perttula spent much of their set dancing around the stage. I got visions of drinking beer around a large bonfire in the depths of a large forest as the crowd laughed and danced and sang along. Jonne Järvelä’s vocals sounded excellent as he held the audience captive throughout. A highlight is when he got on bended knee at center stage and provided the ladies with a little folk metal styled serenade.

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With the musical catalog that Korpiklaani has, it’s hard to play all the “hits” and keep all the party goers happy, but I was sad to see that classics and personal favorites like “Beer Beer”, “Hunting Song”, “Happy Little Boozer”, and “Tequila” were absent from their set, a very minor gripe considering the 20 song, 90 minute show they provided. You can find more pictures from the show here.

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When I discovered the awesomeness that is folk metal, I went on a ravenous search for all things folk metal. Ensiferum’s Iron (2004) was one of the early discoveries that I consumed with great gluttony. From day one, this band has kicked serious ass. Ensiferum appeals to the proud D&D player that I am and all things Nordic history and fantasy. Everything that I hoped Ensiferum to be live paled to the true might of what they provide live on stage.

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Though, I was disappointed in hearing that keyboardist Emmi Silvennoinen was absent from this tour. Yet accordionist, Netta Skog (ex-Turisas), kicks some serious accordion tail and filled Emmi’s absence with great ease and ability.

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Opening with “Axe of Judgement” and closing with “Iron” made for an amazing anchors to a setlist was filled with all the Ensiferum essentials. The theme of the evening was energetic precision and Ensiferum was the perfect capstone. Check out more photos here.

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The evening was a divinely inspired triptych. I can honestly say, that this show was one of the most enjoyable shows I’ve been to in my 20 plus years of concert going. This is a tour, that if I was single with no financial obligations, I would follow its entire trek across North America.

So, grab your sword and drink of choice and join the oncoming storm before it’s to late.


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