Gig Review: Lagerstein + Valhalore + The Black Swamp @ The Woolly Mammoth, Brisbane
Supports: Valhalore & The Black Swamp
Venue: Woolly Mammoth, Brisbane
Date: December 2, 2017
Review by: Jackson Price
Lately it feels like there is a constant barrage of upcoming live shows in Brisbane and the local heavy scene punters are loving it, while their wallets and bank accounts are loathing it. But you only live once right? Or only young once? Carpe Diem? Or the quality of shows, bands and venues is on a rise in the area? I’ll play it safe and say all of the above. But no matter how you want to interpret this, tonight at the Woolly Mammoth was a shining example of what is happening in our local metal scene. 3 powerhouse bands from South East Queensland take to the stage tonight, and all 3 have justified their place on stage for such a packed house on this busy night in Fortitude Valley.
With Brisbane’s favourite pirate crew Lagerstein finally making their way home after a long voyage that saw them play a plethora of stages across the UK and Europe, the hometown show and first show of their final mini tour ‘Lagerstein On Ice’ that would finish off 2017 was always going to be something a bit special. And the choice of support acts was a perfect line up for the evening with The Black Swamp and Valhalore not only diversifying the shows content, but also bringing out a wide cross section of ticket holders. The crowd ranging from die hard folk/viking/pirate metal fans (In full costume with appropriate drinking vessel in hand), to the seasoned local metal regulars, to friends and family members out to see their loved ones preform at home for the first in a long time, and I even overheard a few crowd members saying this was their first ever gig or local gig. The other part I feel a need to make a point of is the crowd looked to be nearly an even mix of male and female patrons. So this wasn’t just your standard metal show compiled purely of sweaty dudes covered in beer, flinging their mattered hair around. Though I would be incorrect if I said this wasn’t at least part of the formula. But no, this crowd had a different feel to the usual. This was a different type of fun crowd. This was a party crowd.
First up is Gold Coast’s The Black Swamp, and as proof of the talent and reputation surrounding tonight's bands, they play their opening riffs to an already busy and rowdy Woolly Mammoth auditorium. Their brand of whisky and beer drenched blues and groove has the crowd paying attention and moving early on. While wearing their deep American South influences on their sleeves and a very passionate display from band members to back up their sound, the band move through an array of tracks from their last album “I Am” and earlier 2014 EP. The Black Swamp being a band more than capable of headlining their own show have set the bar very high early on for tonight's entertainment.
Brisbane’s most prominent local vikings Valhalore have grown so much over the past few years and show no signs of slowing any time soon. The stage show and level of conviction this band brings to the stage is undeniable in it’s effect on a crowd. To the sound of war drums, a tin whistle, soaring vocals and some very tasty guitar playing, the crowd is whipped into a frenzy. While the audience creates their own battle in the pit, the band battle some technical issues on stage with a less than favourable mix at times and an ongoing mic issue. The band play on and overcome these couple of little hiccups with a degree of professionalism that just reinforces why this group has grown so quickly. The crowd is in full Saturday night mode now, and the area in front of the Woolly Mammoth stage is shoulder to shoulder standing room. This is only made tighter as the words “Shield Wall” are yelled over the mic by frontman Lachlan Neate and the crowd divides down the middle for Valhalore’s own unique version of a wall of death. The centre of the crowd is spinning, some linked arm in arm, jigging merrily while others keep up the pace of a more traditional circle pit. Beers are spilled, people are helped up from the floor by their pit brethren and there is a smile and a laugh from everyone involved.
The night has been fantastic so far, and there isn’t much empty space remaining in the upstairs live room. As the lights go down on Valhore’s set, the chants of “La - ger- stein, La - ger - stein” begin. There’s anticipation in the crowd as the stage is swapped over for the headliner. People rushing to fill their drinking goblets, horns or steins. Concert goers taking those last minute opportunities for a bathroom break or social media check in before tonights headliner.
After a couple of mic checks the crowd move to their positions as the intro music to Lagerstein’s set begins. With Jacob, The Fiercest Pirate in all the Caribbean, Ol' Mate Dazzel, Mother Junkst, The Majestic Beast, Poon Goat and Neil Rummy Rackers all receiving their own applause as they take the stage, but it’s not until the crews leader Captain. Gregarrr shows his presence that the crowd launch into a full Saturday night pirate party. For the better part of the next hour and a half there is drinking, head banging, skol-ing, circle pits, beer bongs, jigging, crowd surfing, shoeys, a gymnastics performance from Gregarrr which involves him hanging by his feet from the lighting above the crowd, and even an acoustic sit down and sing along. The boys bring an atmosphere that is just as intoxicating as the drinks swilled in support of their antics, even the bar staff can be seen standing back and taking in the show in those few quieter moments at the bar. Tonight marks Lagerstein’s 98th show this year if you were in any doubt of the hardworking attitude held by drunken scallywags on stage, and by the end of this tour they will have racked up 103 shows across too many festivals and countries across the world to mention. A massive feat for any band.
I have seen Lagerstein live multiple times over most of their career, and the evolution from the band that use to play the really really late slots on some of Brisbane’s metal nights that are far behind us now, to this well oiled and experienced touring and entertaining, planet traversing machine I saw tonight was simply amazing to see. They have taken their concept and music from that of any local level capital city heavy act, to a word class band that are packing out large venues in not just their hometown, but across their home country. Their return from Europe shows a band that has taken their craft to a new level and has managed to still improve upon what was already one of the most intriguing party bands Australia has ever produced. To break my review down into a song by song list of what happened during the show would result in an article that reads more like a pirate novel-meets-rock autobiography, and neither you or I have the time to really invest in such a lengthy piece right now. So I will say this, if there is 1 show you see before the end of 2017, my personal recommendation would be to get along to one of the remaining shows of the 'Lagerstein On Ice' tour, I assure you it is a night well spent for anyone.
Remaining dates are:
6/12 - Canberra, The Basement
8/12 - Sydney, Factory Floor
9/12 - Melbourne, Yah Yah’s
10/12 - Melbourne, Cherry Bar (Acoustic Pirate Party)