Wintersun's first ever US tour! I think we would even have driven to New York to see them, or even further if we had to, but as it was, the closest stop to us was in Pittsburgh, PA. The show was very well attended - several of the other tour stops were sold out, but I'm not sure if this one was. The venue seemed to have about the same capacity as Jaxxpire (a couple hundred people) but with a different layout. More on that later. The drive up to Pittsburgh, although long, was not bad because of the interesting terrain/roads/things on the side of the road, the mountain views and the proliferation of Sheetz along the way (I think we stopped at Sheetz four times on the round trip).I would definitely do it again for a group as phenomenal as Wintersun.
The show started at 7:30, but due to traffic and walking from a distant parking spot, we got there around 7:45, and then still had to wait in line to get in. Mr. Small's gave a new meaning to the term "Metal Church" - it literally was a big old brick church that had been turned into a concert venue (and recording studio and "funhouse"?). Inside, it was just one big cavernous room (former church after all) with a stage at one end and a bar at the other. On one side was the merch, and on the other a stand selling french bread pizza (every now and then during Wintersun's set, a garlicky smell would waft over the audience).
Because of our tardiness, we only caught the last song by Varg. They sounded much better live than on their recordings - more intense and more folk melody/vibe. It was too bad we missed most of their set.
Wintersun was great as expected. They played mostly songs from their newest album, but also a few old ones. They didn't play any of the "new" ones that they've played before like "The Way of the Fire." There were pits for most of their songs, with an especially wild pit for "Battle Against Time." I noticed that that song in particular sounds a lot like Ensiferum - not a huge surprise since Jari used to be the singer for Ensiferum.
Eluveitie was also great. They played the entirety of their latest album, Helvetios. I was pretty stoked about that since it meant I'd get to hear some of favorite songs from that albums, "Helvetios" and "Luxtos," which were songs that I didn't think they would play live otherwise. But I was also worried about having enough energy for the pit, because there are sooo many furious fighting songs on that album. In the end, I didn't go in the pit for every song, or stay in for the whole song when I did. There wasn't much of a folk pit in the beginning, but I managed to get people dancing, and we did have a few good jig circles, as well as pits full of jigging pairs. It was a fun time.
There was a wall of death (for "Meet the Enemy"?), which Chrigel invited with the words "I want it to look like fucking Braveheart!" I was behind some people in the wall of death, and during the crazy pit immediately after, a guy took me by the shoulders and literally pushed me out of the pit. The audience actually set up a second wall of death during the same song. A tall girl in gray sweater actually took charge of it! I wanted to say hi to her but she disappeared as soon as the encore was over.
Oh yeah, so after playing all the songs from Helvetios, the band left the stage, but they came back and played four more songs, including "Everything Remains...," "Inis Mona" and "Tegernako," energetic songs with lots of moshing and dancing, and a little sing-along for "Inis Mona." Not only was there a mosh pit for "Inis Mona," there were pits for slower sadder songs like "Rose for Epona" and "Alesia" which just made me shake my head. (But the same big guys who were moshing during the verses were singing along to the choruses XD) Chrigel apparently thought we were an awesome audience, and at the end of the show, he gave his necklace to a girl in the front row, so that she would remember him :P
The show was totally worth the trip up to Pittsburgh, not just to see Wintersun, but also to see Eluveitie with such a great crowd. I had almost no complaints (besides that the pit should have been more folky); it was an almost perfect show.
Next show: Enslaved, at the end of this month