Concert Review: Tengger Cavalry (January 27, 2016)

tengger cavalry live vitus
Photo Courtesy of Derek Soto of “Sinestra Studios”

There are many bands on this planet that attempt to fuse two styles of music that seemingly don’t go together. Like folk and metal. In fact, folk metal is a very popular genre. Bands like Panopticon (particularly on the Roads to the North release in 2014) showed that folk metal is alive and well not only in Europe, Asia and the like but also here in America. The issues arrive when bands do not combine those different styles seamlessly. Often the result is a disjointed and sorrowful affair where alternate styles are haphazardly slapped together. Fortunately, Tengger Cavalry does not suffer that fate. They even take it a step further combining Mongolian Folk music, Tuvan throat singing and metal in a way that is not only seamless but is downright entertaining. I got the chance to see them last week and these are my observations.

Nature Ganganbaigal, vocalist and guitarist, is more than just a talented musician. He’s a competent guitarist. He’s an accomplished practitioner of the Tuvan Throat singing method. He’s a quite admirable song writer. But all of those things pale in comparison to his stage presence. He commands not only the band but the audience. Whether donning his traditional fut hooded cape or just his bare head, He’s a dominating stage presence — one that commands attention.

tengger cavalry live vitus january 27
Photo Courtesy of Derek Soto of “Sinestra Studios”

And if I didn’t mention it, the stage setup itself is quite alluring. You’ve got banners on either side of the stage depicting wolves and dragons. You’ve got battle axes. You’ve got shrines. Basically, wherever you look there’s something that will be sure to entice your eye while the band entices your ear holes. And it’s a fun mix. After seeing so many bands in the same space rock the minimalist style, with no lighting, maybe one candle in the center of the stage, it’s kind of startling and exciting to see a band put some effort and thought into how their performance is actually a performance.

And, what could make a stage performance of this magnitude any better you ask? Well, what if I told you that the band that was seamlessly, effortlessly and flawlessly interweaving tuvan throat singing with traditional Mongolian Folk and heavy metal actually had their own traditional Mongolian dance troop? Because, you guessed it, they do. I can rave about the band forever, but this tiny attention to detail and the inclusion of what amounts to audience participation is incredibly terrific.

tengger cavalry live nine circles st vitus 2016
Photo Courtesy of Derek Soto of “Sinestra Studios”

The genius here is that, for the entire show, these ladies are just standing among the crowd observing the band on stage. Their presence adds an air of authenticity to the performance. Like when you eat in an ethnic restaurant and you’re the only white person there and you think “I found the gem. This is authenticity.” But these casual observers are also fantastic dancers. And what’s better than a mosh pit? Three attractive women dancing calmly and cohesively to the beautiful music being made on stage.

So if you get the chance, please take the time and dollars to go see Tengger Cavalry.

Set List:

  • 1 Galloping to the great land
  • 2 Golden Horde
  • 3 horseman
  • 4 folk jam
  • 5 hymn of the earth ,with dancing
  • 6 blood sacrifice shaman
  • 7 galloping steeds
  • 8 folk jam
  • 9 cavalry in thousands
  • 10 expedition
  • 11 tengger cavalry
  • 12 encore

– Manny-O-War

PS: You can check out tons of live audio and footage at the Tengger Cavalry website.

PPS: A huge thank you to Derek Soto of Sinestra Studios for the photographs. My iPhone pictures simply wouldn’t have done this genius performance justice. You can see more of his work on their Twitter, Instagram or YouTube channel.

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