Up and coming Norwegian dark rockers, Kvelertak have enjoyed a steady rise to success since their self-titled debut was released in 2010. An album which was certified gold in Norway and that lead the band to win two prestigious Spellemann awards (comparable to the American Grammy) for “best newcomer” and “best rock band”. Kvelertak has quickly grown into a large stage act, with flame throwers, and a preserved owl, among other stage props. Currently on the first leg of their North American tour Kvelertak, with support from Black Tusk and Cancer Bats, graced the eloquent, yet intimate Ace of Cups bar in Columbus, Ohio for a set that was as furious and fast paced as their recent rise to fame.
The evening started off with a set from a local Columbus band called Beggars. They are a metal/thrash oriented four piece that really rocked the stage. Be on the lookout for Beggars around town and show them some local support!
Next, Black Tusk took the stage. Comprised of Andrew Fidler on guitar, Jonathon Athon on bass, and James May on drums. All members sing alternately adding a range of different vocal styles, from Fidler’s screaming highs, to the lower octaves of May, rounded out by the raspy growls that come from the dark depths of Athon. The use of alternate vocals keeps the set high-energy and full of power from start to finish. Black Tusk has been described by some as “sludge” or “stoner” metal, genres which are horribly misleading. This is not the drop tuned, syrupy slow soundtrack to your PBR and ditch weed experience. If you want to experience this band live you are going to have to open your eyes wide and take it all in. This is pure, organic Savannah, Georgia swamp-metal. Stay aware of your surroundings!
Next, Cancer Bats exploded onto the stage like a hard kick in the teeth. They claim to be fueled by the need to rage harder than any other band in history. The Canadian four piece play a fusion of hardcore, punk rock, and metal. They kept the audience on their toes while singer Liam Cormier bounced all over the stage (check out the full slideshow). Cancer Bats ended their set with a celebrated cover of The Beastie Boy’s “Sabotage”. They had the entire audience smiling and singing before they knew what hit them. Proving that even in a diverse crowd of music fans, everyone still has love for the Beastie’s. We love you too, Cancer Bats!
This evening, brought to you by Starwood Presents, had already been a bit of a rager before the main act even got near the stage. Kvelertak’s tour mates are almost as insane as the Norse rockers themselves. But when the headliners started their set it seemed as if the tidal wave we were watching approach the shore was finally looming ominously fifty feet above us. When it broke, and the set started, the crowd and the band merged into one. The six members of Kvelertak were standing right in front of the crowd on a small stage just a few inches off the ground. This was a once in a lifetime experience to be able to see Kvelertak in such an intimate setting. One which is afforded only by the happenstance that they are just on the cusp of becoming as big internationally as they are in Norway.
Live and in your face cannot even begin to describe Kvelertak’s performance Thursday night. The band and the crowd were truly almost one entity. Singer Erland Hjelvik hurled himself into the audience over and over again as the band blasted out their anthems about Mead and melee. After the waters were tested, bassist, Marvin Nygaard jumped into the crowd and played on, atop the outstretched hands of the audience members. Had the band brought their flame throwers we all would have been sizzled, and their little owl friend would have suffered a second, and far worse death in the frenzy for sure.
The crowd was pushed hard against the almost non-existent barrier between the floor and the stage. Fans in the front had sweat soaked locks of hair whipped in their faces by Hjelvik, and guitarist Bjarte Rolland. Audience members supported Rolland and guitarist Vidar Landa as they teetered on top of a makeshift barrier at the front of the stage. Guitarist Maciek Ofstad stopped to grasp outstretched hands, while Hjelvik continued to dive in and out of the audience. Live, it becomes clear why Kvelertak has so many band members. It is to take up the slack while they each take turns losing their minds. Sadly, like all good things, Kvelertak’s set Thursday night ended too soon. The crowd demanded an encore, but were denied by Ofstad, who apologized. The set had to end early. Drummer, Kjetil Gjermundrod, had injured his hand and required medical treatment. Slowly, the crowd and band filtered out into the night, exhausted, yet in high spirits. Each content with what would become the lifelong memories of one amazing night with Kvelertak at Ace of Cups.