Finally, Taake has begun their first North American tour. An occurrence many years in the making kicked off this past Saturday night in Boston, and there was no way Nine Circles wouldn’t be involved. Of course, this was not the first Taake show here in the United States — we had seen them at Maryland Deathfest a few years prior. But as for tours? This was 23 years in the making. But not due to lack of effort… we all remember the visa issues from last year that forced them to postpone such a tour. Luckily enough, things worked out this time around and we were treated to a tremendous performance by the Norwegians. And the three opening acts? Just as impressive.For a bit of background, this was actually the first show I have attended this year. I understand 2016 may be young, but when you attend as many show as I do, a two month gap is significant. However, it was all worth it considering the whole weekend was a bit of a Nine Circles Podcast reunion. Myself, along with Dan and Kevin, were all present for this show at the Brighton Music Hall, a bar/venue that can probably hold about 500. This particular show ended up selling out and it would eventually feel like it as the night went on. I know this was Dan and Kevin’s first experience at this spot, but in all honesty it was much the same for myself. Of course, I had seen Arsis here a couple years back, but that night was mostly a blur (mistakes may have been made) so I barely count it. …Let’s get into the music.
The show opened with local atmospheric black metallers Lord Almighty. I would love to be able to speak to this band in detail and give a full account of their set, but unfortunately I only caught the tail end of it. And given how slow the line to enter the venue was this evening, I am going to deflect that blame to the Brighton Music Hall. Regardless, Lord Alrighty offered a nicely melodic, rather folk-infused, take on black metal that had just enough grit and power to align their performance with the subsequent acts. They sounded tight, the acoustics were fine, and the crowd seemed receptive to them overall, so I would definitely consider their set a solid showing. And then came Vattnet Viskar.
I have never been disappointed by a Vattnet set, and that trend continued tonight. Without getting into the actual setlist, I will say that many favorites from Settler were featured and they were performed with as much fire and energy as they ever have been. And being at the very front of it all only added to this effect. Since this show was Kevin’s first live experience with Vattnet, I will use his phrasing (probably not exactly) to summarize: Their albums do not do their music justice. That does not mean their records aren’t good — obviously Settler was one of my favorite albums of last year. But once you see these songs performed live, they become so much more. If you haven’t had a chance to see Vattnet in person yet, get on that. This current tour would be a good opportunity.
Once Vattnet wrapped up, we moved onto the third band on the bill, and that would be the notorious Young And In The Way. I finally had my chance to see the band well-known in part because they once forced a venue to close due to damages from animal blood they had sprayed during their set. No such incidents occurred this evening, as the blackened crust band from North Carolina stuck to a more straightforward performance. Their last album, When Life Comes To Death, was one I picked up after stumbling across it in my local record shop last year. At the time, it hadn’t done a ton for me. Sure, it was hateful and raw, but that seemed to be more or less it. But with time it grew. And then tonight, after seeing many of these tracks live, it clicked. The organic aggression and blistering ferocity, despite it’s relative simplicity, is absolutely resonating when seen live. My understanding is that this is the first YAITW tour, and if that’s truly the case, they are off to a hell of a start.
But the focus really should be on the headliner, Taake, who finally took the stage around 11:30PM. And the crowd was ready for it. By this point, all those tickets that were sold, all those that could be sold, were all turned to the stage. It had been at least a couple of years since I had last seen the (what I consider) black ‘n’ rollers, so I didn’t know what to expect in terms of setlist or imagery. And I still couldn’t list many of their actual tracks; Taake has been a ‘live only’ band for me to this point, so I just let that concept roll into this evening. Out they stepped in full corpse paint, and immediately ripped into their set. Hoest, of course, was the highlight. This is his project, with the rest of the band basically being live participants. Hoest was engaged with the audience, full of energy, and very clearly just loving every moment of this experience. Well, ‘clearly loving’ in the unique way that one in corpse paint would be described as such.
For about 45 minutes they tore through one track after another with virtually no breaks. Then, after a very brief departure, they continued on with a 25 minute encore. Yes, the encore was about half as long as the preceding set. But it was absolutely worth it, with the highlight being (spoiler alert) the cover of GG Allin’s “Die When You Die.” Totally unexpected, but I don’t think a single person in attendance didn’t love every second of it. Taake played for over an hour, yet not a moment was wasted. Given the recent struggles of setting up a North American tour, I would say the performance was absolutely worth that wait and being among the first to experience it felt like a privilege.
This tour has only just kicked off (Boston Saturday, Montreal Sunday, Ottawa Monday) with many major cities still upcoming. I highly encourage attending if possible. It is a phenomenal combination of bands that all maintain their own style of music, yet all worked together well as a lineup. Not to mention that from a quality standpoint, each and every band delivered. Normally I walk out of a show thinking ‘X could have been clearer’ or ‘Y wasn’t loud enough’, or… something. No moments stand out along those lines. From the sound to the visual performances, the first night of the first North American Taake tour impressed on every level and is great start for 2016’s concert slate.
“Ein Bier… bitte.”