That’s the best description I can give of the experience of watching Korpiklaani.
I went with a good friend and fellow Nordic metal enthusiast, Debbie (not Deb my wife; she’s in DC setting Uncle Sugar straight). Our first surprise: just because the gates opened at 6 PM didn’t mean Korp was on at that time. Nope, had to wait out a couple of crappy local metal bands, though we had some good conversations with other people waiting around. We weren’t the oldest people present, but we were in the 95% percentile. First observation: if you are not a youth, yet you like this sort of sound, you should not feel shy because you are a) old enough to be the kids’ parent; b) lack a bunch of metal embedded in your face; c) unwilling to go full freak. We really enjoyed the people we chatted with, and no one hinted that we were interlopers. It’s a case where you get what you expect, I think, as in so many life situations.
This venue did take security seriously. Debbie didn’t get patted down, but I did. That said, though, they were polite. They did sniff her smokes for pot. Some other people got searched rather more thoroughly than we did.
Evidently one of the warmup acts got booed off while Debbie was on a smoke break, so we had to hustle into the music area as Korp started early. They all have serious hair, well down to the armpits. Jonne, the main vocalist, was good at working the crowd as was the guitarist next to him. I had brought earplugs in case, but while it was loud, it wasn’t painfully so. I was there for partly anthropological reasons anyway (and partly just to have a good time with a friend from college). Impressions:
- Watching them live you trade some of the actual music nuances of CD for the visual spectacle. I couldn’t recognize most of the songs they played. The bagpiper was my favorite instrumentalist; the big dark-haired dude on guitar was really into the crowd.
- The place vibrated, literally. It felt exactly like standing on a drum while some giant is playing it. I’d give it a 4.8 on the Richter scale. I was surprised the whole place didn’t come crashing down. Those floors must be made of 6″ thick maple timbers.
- I’m not sure all metal bands with long hair do the hair swirl, but quite frequently the band would play guitar while leaning over and sort of swirling their heads to make the hair whirl in kind of a figure 8 pattern. Kind of a neat trick, when you consider they were still playing their instruments while doing it.
- Lots of people did a hook-em-horns Texas football gesture, evidently a symbol of metal fan solidarity and approval. I didn’t do it, but you can get caught up in situations like this. I confess I was tempted.
- During the first number, what looked like rugby broke out in front of the stage. I learned that this is called moshing. It got pretty rowdy, and at a couple points I decided I’d better kind of stand in front of Debbie in case it got out of hand. We stood back far enough that we didn’t end up playing rugby, though ironically enough, she used to play rugby for real.
It wasn’t a very long show, a little more than an hour. From an entertainment standpoint, it didn’t come close to Weird Al Yankovic, but I’m glad I did it, even though it required a hell of a lot of driving.
Edit: okay, this is how dumb I am. Come to find out later that what we saw wasn’t actually Korpiklaani, but Arkona, a Russian band. How pissed the real Korp would be to find out we mistook Russians for Finns! Instant death. I guess that explains why I didn’t recognize hardly any of the music. I was mightily tempted to just delete this whole post, but when you mess up, you have to own up. I was wondering about the discrepancies and timing issues, but I assumed that such haphazardness was just the way shows worked. So a total of ten hours with me driving, and three with Debbie driving, and we didn’t actually see the band we came to see. Ouch!