One of the benefits of being a Metal fan is the joy of listening to bands who are used to touring and delivering the goods on stage. More often than not, the bands give their fans a memorable experience full of chilled beers and sweaty rock ‘n’ roll. However, sometimes one experiences gigs that leave all involved breathless. I’ve seen Mogwai destroy a cellar club with pure white noise, Sunn 0))) have altered my mind, and Neurosis shocked me with a brilliant version of Through Silver In Blood @ Roadburn. Last night at Garage will possibly fit right in with these classic gigs.
Kvelertak is riding high on a hype well deserved these days. Having released one of the strongest debuts by any Norwegian rock band, toured Europe with Converge and Kylesa, and headlined a Norwegian club tour with countrymen Purified In Blood, they’re at the top of their game. Therefore, I was a bit surprised by the fact that Kvelertak was the first band onto the stage this evening… would they demolish the other band’s chances?
Garage was packed from the start—the word was out that the new favorites of the people were playing this small and dark cellar club. They opened with the crushing thunder of “Fossegrim”, one of the many standout tracks from their debut record. In a matter of minutes, beers were flying, a moshpit had been born and stagedivers were hanging from the lighting rig! I was truly shocked that any band could command their audience immediately from the start of the gig, but singer Erlend Hjelvik possesses the same kind of authority that Turbonegro‘s Hank Von Helvete has used to summon the adoration of their army of Turbojugends.
They were tight as hell—the three guitarists able to summon an impressive wall of sound, with their rhythm section a thundering backbone to their songs. Hjelvik soon ripped off his t-shirt and threw himself headfirst into the crowd, who responded by stagediving and thrashing into each other. Even a newspaper photographer was surfing the crowd, smiling madly and shooting with his camera. Weird.
They ended their set with a monumental version of their hit single “Mjød”. The crowd went nuclear, Hjelvik stripped down to his shorts, then launched into the crowd while roaring his mighty bellow. I saw a guy dangling from the ceiling, doing a wheel hanging in the lighting rig before letting go and surfing the crowd. In. Fucking. Sane.
Hjelvik seemed very aware that many people had showed up because of them, but he took their duties as the opening act seriously; reminding the audience that they had to check out Bison BC and Coliseum, too. He was right to do this; I’ve seen headliners left with half the audience after a great performance by the support act.
Not that Bison B.C. needed any help. The Canadian quartet should’ve been helpless after the crowd had been demolished by Kvelertak, but they had no fear. Instead they put their heads down, locked their aim and fired up their brand of fuzzy, electrifying and stoned heavy metal. Comments like “Turn off the smoke on the stage, man. It’s like being backstage” brought on the laughter and their riffs brought the nodding acceptance of Garage. Tracks like the mighty “Wendigo” beckoned the crowd back towards the stage; at first they shifted back and forth like doomsters, but soon enough a sea of headbanging ensued.
Bison B.C. could be the evil twin to Mastodon, removed at birth and left to its own misdemeanours. A song like “Fear Cave”, which ended their set, show off every aspect of this amazing quartet: their good-natured humour, their doomed riffs, and catchy tunes. In the space of one song, they put more ideas than most bands put into an entire album—and they make it work. A band to watch!
The announced timetable for the evening’s gigs went AWOL even before Kvelertak went on stage, so sadly I never got to see the headliner—amazing Coliseum—since I had to get on the last subway out of downtown Oslo. But I hear they rocked just as hard as the rest of the bands, so I’m sure it was amazing.