Written By: Timothy Voldemars Johnston
Let me paint you a picture, set the scene.
The day started shitty. Work was busy, weather was bone chilling and my mood was…unpleasant. Up at 6am. Out the door by 6:30. Same as usual. But unlike usual there was an energy in the air. A tingling feeling that something was coming. Something that would change things. Got off work at 4. Felt like shit. In the back of my mind I’m thinking, perhaps I should just go home and actually get some sleep, but no, I have somewhere to be, comrades to meet-up with and a band to see. So, I take the hour and a half drive downtown… through our ugly city in rush hour traffic, past the hordes of miserable shits right into the heart of it. To say that the drive put me in a worse mood would be an understatement. Luckily parking was quick to find. I’d never been to this part of the city before so I had no idea what to expect so I came early just to make sure I wasn’t late. Perhaps I’d find something new. But, in a city such as this, I should have known this part would be the same as all the others. Yes, I’m bitter. That should be obvious. Standing before the parking meter a man comes up to me and asks if I’m going to the Wardruna show. He doesn’t look like a metal head so I’m thinking, scalper. I don’t like scalpers. I tell him politely that I am and very much looking forward to it. He asks if I have tickets already. Arg, scalper for sure. Yes, I tell him. He says ok, he has extras and was going to give me one. Yes, give me, free. Finally a smile creeps onto my face. The mood changes. Not as scalper. I remember that Wardruna may be bringing out a different type of crowd. Not just metal heads. I silently admonish myself. We start talking of neo-folk bands and how this show is going to be amazing. My mood now brightened considerably, I walked towards the venue. On the way I start to see men and women in full Viking garb. Fuck ya. They have smiles on their faces and are just glowing with anticipation. Now I’m getting excited myself. The energy is strong pulling me from my darker self. I start to stop thinking about work and start thinking about what is about to happen. I have no idea what’s going to happen. That makes it even better. From the conversations I’m hearing around me it seems no one has any idea of what they are about to see. Anticipation builds.
I get to the venue and lo and behold some of my tribe are there (I go to a Pagan event every year and consider those people my tribe). They rush up and greet me and great conversation is had. Some of them have driven hours just to get there to witness what is about to happen. And again, they aren’t metal heads so again I admonish myself for my earlier short-sightedness. After a good conversation I go to grab some food at the Allen (beside the Danforth Music Hall where the show is) and meet up with my Hexenklad bandmates John (who is the reason I got a ticket) and Andrew and Andrew’s brother Alex. Good food is had and the drinks flow. Also, got to hang out with Wolven Ancestry’s old drummer Jean-Guy Demers who I hadn’t seen in a long time.
Finally it’s time. We get into the venue’s lobby and its chaos. Organized chaos but still, chaos. People everywhere. All laughing and talking and greeting each other. Everywhere I turn I know someone. The energy is electric. Anticipation is building. We finally get through the crowd and get to our seats. Small seats (for us big folk). Nice big venue. Like a larger Opera House (though it’s all pastels and the stage is lower and the floor is slanted so everyone anywhere can see the stage perfectly). The lights go down. Cheering begins. Then a spotlight comes on, two men in tunics with giant horns stand in the middle of the stage, their shadows huge upon a custom backdrop that, depending on the lighting, looks like frosty snow or bright green leaves or brown wheat fields or just trippy textures. The sound that comes out is huge. It fills the room. Overwhelming. Other instruments start coming in. Building to one crescendo after another. Then darkness. The next song starts. Every song that follows, ebbs and flows, builds up and crashes down, the songs like waves of sound on an unimaginably deep ocean of meaning. I am in a trance from beginning to end.
The main vocalist’s voice is amazing. Emotive yet with perfect pitch and quite an impressive range. He used hand gestures throughout the performance to let us all know which song was being sung and what the song was about (which in and of itself if quite impressive). The female singer on the other hand never stopped moving. She swayed to the music, enraptured in the moment, her voice soaring through the hall. It was quite beautiful to watch the two opposites on stage both becoming one with the music.
When the lights finally came on the audience erupted in applause. Standing ovation from everyone there. Screaming and cheering and clapping the audience hailed the band. We’ve all been honored to witness what just happened.
Wardruna – One of the best shows I’ve ever been to. More of an experience than a show. I was blown away. Beautiful and powerful and trance-inducing. From beginning to end perfect.
Written By Timothy Voldemars Johnston