February 10, 2011
Finnish Metal Tour 2, with Finntroll, Ensiferum, Barren Earth, and Rotten Sound
|Finntroll at DNA Lounge last night. Pics by Romana Machado.|
@ DNA Lounge
Sawing the heads off parking meters.
My hand shot up for this one despite knowing little about the acts or the hideous gash this tour is cutting across the hemisphere. Once it leaves U.S. soil forever on March 3rd, this rolling mass of metallic slag
strikes out for Melbourne and points beyond, but that concerned me far less than my own junkie craving for something really loud and obnoxious. I can admire the soap bubbles of indie rock for only so long without feeling that old Bluto Blutarsky finger-twitch urge to grab and smash. It was plain looking around at the congenial thugs and villains piled in front of the stage at the DNA Lounge that a therapeutic community of like-minded souls was now in session.
Though demographically metalhead gatherings span six of Shakespeare's Seven Ages of Man, this one was young and slightly. The men were split evenly between shaven-headed brutes and vaguely pretty young men sporting about a yard of silky hair each, and most escorted a wide variety of sexy young ladies in fishnets and facepaint. This was my girl's first-ever exposure to a culture I cut my fangs on, but she straightaway clicked to the fashion-show, peacock-strut aspect, delighting in the bonhomie of these monstrous-looking people. At about 7:30, Barren Earth
strutted out from behind the merch table and loosed a prog rock barrage that had the people roiling almost at once. Melodic and rousing, BE's secret weapon is frontman Mikko Kotamäki, a lean, glowering dandy with an actor's sense of vamping presence. The wait afterward was short for Rotten Sound
, who belied their name handsomely with great staccato lashings of speedy riffs and brillo-pad vocals. The moshing, already begun playfully during the first act, churned excitedly, and the venue's concrete pillars took to throbbing.
The demonstration that sent Rotten Sound off was prolonged and exultant, and we went with most of the crowd as it burst outside onto 11th street, all wild-eyed and spritzing. I made myself free of San Francisco's enlightened views on public marijuana use and we wandered back in just in time for Ensiferum
. Barechested and elven, they dealt out a bravura set of folk-tinged metal that was to my taste the best stretch of a long, loud evening. They incorporated Yardbirds R&B, Ennio Morricone film music, even the Bonanza theme into a cathartic rave-up. The crowd jumped as if on springs, room temperature rose, and the air began to liquefy until finally the band croaked thanks to that part of San Francisco howling in front of them.
The Lounge began to empty a bit and Finntroll
finally tottered out at about a quarter past eleven to a house at about three-fifths capacity. The guitarists of this pioneering Finnish extreme-metal act all sport uniformly long hair and at once began to headbang furiously, whipping their tresses like so many petulant Willows Smith. Finntroll's set was long, ornate, and exhausting, but Vreth Lillmåns wrung the last twitches of energy out of the party-hardy throng. "San Francisco," he bellowed, "Are you ready to give us a huge fucking mosh pit?" They did, and at least one guy staggered to the loo with a bloody nose. Noting the complete absence of a backstage, Lillmåns announced they'd play their encore without the formal bother of stepping off. It was twenty past midnight when the lights went up, and the buzzing in my ears is something I hope to keep alive for several days.
Overheard: "Tank you. This next soong is called "YAAAAFAZZZ!" -- Keijo Niinimaa of Rotten Sound
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