MANHATTAN, NY—On a frigid day in early December, folk metal fans from throughout the New York City area gathered outside The Studio At Webster Hall to see “true Scottish pirate metal” band Alestorm. The venue, which regularly runs multiple events daily, also hosted pop group Heffron Drive (featuring Kendall Schmidt of Big Time Rush fame) in the Marlin Room the same night, drawing in a large crowd of pre-teen fan girls who impatiently waited outside for even a glance at Schmidt for six hours before the doors opened, much to the dismay of the security guards attempting to keep the peace. It was as if an invisible line was drawn down the middle of East 11th Street, as the stark contrast between the two fanbases was actually humorous: a mix of young, bubbly kids with their parents on one side and pirates on the other.
This marks Alestorm’s first-ever headlining tour of North America in their nearly decade-long career. Originally known as Battleheart before changing over to their current alias in 2007, the band has released three full-lengths as well as a recent live album/DVD combo, titled Live At The End Of The World. They embarked on their Fall 2013 tour at the beginning of November, starting in Santa Ana before working their way across the United States and Canada, eventually ending back in California.
The evening began with two local bands from the Tri-State Area. Jersey-based metalcore group From The Depths kicked off the show and were directly followed by black metal four-piece Imperial Crypt, who took the stage donning kilts and black face paint. However, the show really began to kick into overdrive when Pasadena-based groove metal band Gypsyhawk took the stage.
As their set wore on, it became clear that they would steal the show, which is rare for a band that isn’t even main support. Along with paying homage to their nerdiness by dedicating “The Answers We Need” to all the Dungeons & Dragons fans in the room, vocalist/bassist Eric Harris encouraged the audience who hated their jobs to “quit, do drugs, and play video games all day” instead.
The highlight of their set came during the last song, “Commander Of The High Forest,” when Harris left his perch on stage and jumped into the middle of the rambunctious crowd that had been keeping the energy in the room going with several mosh pits that broke out throughout the latter half of their set. Their interaction with the crowd and the stage presence they brought was outstanding, leaving the band with many newly won over fans.
Trollfest, the Norwegian metal band known for their absurd stage antics, began their set donning the bizarre costumes. Frontman Trollmannen dressed in his trademark bee attire, going off the theme found within their latest full-length record, 2012’s Brumlebassen, which tells the story of a lonely beekeeper. The group played songs from that album, such as “Illsint,” as well as older tracks such as “Helvetes Hunden GARM.” Along with playing originals, they even performed their unique cover of Britney Spears’ song, “Toxic.”
Priding themselves on their brand of pirate metal, it should come as no surprise that Alestorm began their set incredibly inebriated, repeatedly announcing to their fans how drunk they really were. At one point, vocalist and keyboardist Christopher Bowes grabbed the microphone and announced, “We are Alestorm, and we like to drink!” The band played crowd favorites, opening with “The Quest,” the first song off their sophomore release, 2009’s Black Sails At Midnight. The band closed out their set with the lively “Keelhauled” before exiting to only return for their encore, choosing “Rum” to end the show, which was suiting. Regardless of their drunken behavior, they are one of the few bands that can still put on a tight show while being collectively intoxicated. This makes sense, as they are pirates after all.