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Nil: Eluveitie, 3 Inches of Blood, Holy Grail @ Backstage Live, 2/21/11

February 22, 2011

Every time I look down I’m going 85.

I’ve really been trying to slow down….but it’s so hard. I just want to get to the good stuff.

This was my first time to venture to Backstage Live. It’s across the railroad tracks from downtown San Antonio, in a slightly shady area. The small parking lot was full, so I had to park down the street…and no one walks in that city unless you are homeless or crazy but luckily cops were standing outside *just in case*. Charming.

After checking in I was abhorred at the lack of people there. Everything is not bigger in Texas apparently, as a crowd of maybe 100 or so stood near the stage of this cavernous warehouse of a venue. I’m still getting acclimated to the San Antonio and Austin metal scenes. It seems that the bigger shows have amazing, energetic crowds…but there doesn’t appear to be much enthusiasm for the smaller shows. San Antonio is often known as being an important metal market for bands, but perhaps the economy has completely obliterated the small and mid sized venue crowds. It’s sad…..so I stood front and center with Brutal Brandy and tried to forget about it. And the bands played like it was a sold out show.

Holy Grail were finishing up their set when I came in…oops. I liked the song and a half I saw though! Complete with tossing some prop viking hammer into the crowd….I’ll catch the whole thing next time.

I did finally catch a full set from 3 Inches of Blood after missing some of their Mayhem set and all of their set at the last Lamb of God show I went to. I generally don’t dig bands with vocals like this- I won’t even get into it- but damn 3IOB have some catchy songs. ‘Battles and Brotherhood’, ‘Trial of Champions’ and ‘Deadly Sinners’ get stuck in my head in particular. 3IOB didn’t have the frenetic energy I expected from them…they were not showy at all, instead very focused and deliberate. It’s been quite a while since I’ve stood close enough to the stage to smell the musicians…it was fun to be in such a contrasting environment to my last show, the GRAMMYs. Never forget where you came from.

During the set change, Brutal Brandy and I discussed upcoming metal mayhem that we would be attending, interview situations, and the size of a certain Texas metal band lead singer’s manhood (not from personal experience, mind you). She is really fun to go to a show with….I am jaded….a lot of the people I hang out with are jaded….Brandy smiles through the entire set and yells stuff out like ‘I LOVE MY JOB’ while taking pictures. It was refreshing.

The last time I saw Eluveitie was opening for Amon Amarth and I missed most of their set (see a trend here…?). It’s taken me a while, but I think I’m starting to really appreciate folk metal more. It’s an acquired taste. There’s something about watching the flute, violin, hurdy gurdy, bagpipes and mandola mix with guitar, drums, and bass that makes me feel like I’m witnessing a higher art. The marriage of old and new creates a unique ambiance live…paired with how into it the band is, you can’t help but get swept up in it. If I had known of bands like this I might have kept practicing the violin.

About halfway through the set a raucous drunk guy pushes his way beside me to egg on the band. Turns out it was the rhythm guitarist for 3IOB. He kept trying to push me over until he finally realized I wasn’t going anywhere, and then he half hugged me in that metal approval style, and did the same to Brandy. It was rather humorous.

In between pondering the fusion of folk and metal, the development and instrument choice of the hurdy gurdy, the fact that I could make several ‘is that a flute in your pocket’ jokes, and thinking about the crossed six shooter tattoos on the tummy of the bassist….time floated away. I hustled back to my car and made the long trek home, where folk metal seemed to me slow down…a bit.


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