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Pagan Fest USA

Last night, I caught Pagan Fest at B.B. Kings in NYC. I missed the band that I was the most excited to see, T˘r, but Turisas and Ensiferum more than made up for it. Americans have been pretty late to warm up to folk and Viking metal, and bands of this sort almost never tour the States, so it was gratifying to see that the show was sold out, and that the crowd was so exuberant. Think of the rowdiest night you’ve ever had in an Irish pub — that’s pretty much what the show was like. Folk metal bands are all about drinking and fighting songs, and getting the audience to shout “HEY HEY HEY!” along with them, and everyone in the crowd knew the words, even when they were Finnish. The female accordion player in Turisas was grinning ear-to-ear and so incredibly cute that it was impossible not to want to hug the whole band, even though they were dressed up as fierce Viking warriors. Ensiferum simply shredded, and though the keyboards were inaudible and the lead guitar was way too loud, they put on one of the best rock shows of any genre I’ve seen in a long time. The touring festival did so well in the US that organizers are planning another one this fall that will feature some of the same bands as well as the inimitable Korpiklaani. I’m as excited as a drunk wench in a mead hall.