For all North American Enslaved fans, March was a pretty exciting month. Not only did they unleash their 13th studio album, In Times, but they crossed the seas for a three-week coast to coast tour. Enslaved filled their line-up with a blend of doom and jammy rock n roll. Pacific Northwest Doom acts YOB and Ecstatic Vision. I had the pleasure of catching this tour at Baltimore’s Soundstage, but unfortunately it was on a Monday. As a freelancer, weekdays don’t mean much to me and most weeks Mondays are equivalent to Friday, but for the masses it is a night when most do not head downtown for a show. Even with a pretty light crowd, the bands still put on both intense and energetic performances.
Witch Mountain fronted by Uta Plotkin, another curly-haired sister, was the first band to hit the stage warming up the crowd with their unique blend of soulful vocals, blues and heaving doom. Even though, they are not doom the mood was not broken by Philly’s Ecstatic Vision. Turning down the stage lights and letting the Christmas lights shine bright Ecstatic Vision’s set was 40 minutes of jammy rock-n-roll made complete with African tribal influences, bells, interesting percussion and of a saxophone.
I will openly admit to being pretty excited to catch YOB and even more excited that they were opening for Enslaved. Their energy seemed to be a perfect pairing for the lighter, trance-like tones of the headliner’s new album In times. With all their tracks well exceeding 10 minutes, YOB’s set was split into 4 songs. No flashing stage lights and only red to illuminate them, the mood as properly established for 45 minutes pacific northwest doom display. They swayed and the crowd swayed… we all moved as one with the rhythmic deliverance, trance like
All of this progressive and doom, was all leading up to Norwegian Black Metal legends Enslaved. Appropriately, Thurisaz Dreaming was first to blast out of the speakers and shake everyone out their doom-induced comatose. Obviously, they are on tour to support of In Times, so the set list was a mix of key tracks from the new album to old classics. Even though the album was just released a few short weeks ago, a good part of the crowd, myself included, knew the new tracks. I have a certain sweet spot for this new album and was really happy that Building with Fire and Thurisaz Dreaming were included.
Unfortunately, I think the lack of crowd made an impact on the everyone’s energy levels. It was a lot harder for the crowd to maintain its enthusiasm and vigor. Not to say that there were not a few devoted guys to maintaining a mosh pit during every mosh appropriate moment, but five men can only do so much during a full set. Gruetle did his best to liven up the crowd with his wit, but it was not hard to miss the edge of moderate frustration in his tone. Somehow in their long history, Enslaved has never played Baltimore before which is probably one of the other reasons why they didn’t have a better turnout and let’s be honest, a better crowd.
Sadly…March is over and so is the tour.