As a lame adult with growing responsibilities, I don’t get out much for concerts anymore. As Danny Glover puts it in Lethal Weapon, “I’m too old for this shit.” But that doesn’t mean there aren’t those circumstances where someone comes through who I am dying to scratch off the bucket list. Taake coming through the US is one of those times. After a long fiasco with their visas leading to delays, the tour is finally afoot, and I had the pleasure of catching them at Dante’s in Portland for one of the best live performances I have ever seen.
Forgive some of these crude photos. I am no master photographer. Dante’s is a venue in downtown Portland at 350 W Burnside St. Sporting two bars in the two main areas, it’s a great place for refreshment and entertainment. On the right side is a smaller section perfect for merch tables and chatting with mixed crowd. I enjoyed speaking with a number of nice individuals who approached me due to having been at the same Absu show for which I was sporting a T-shirt. Nice people with whom I shared some of my writing and discussed many a great band with.
On the left side is the staging area. Dante’s has a great open area for the audience, but the stage is low and intimate; just the way I like it. Plenty of standing room, but there are also a few seats at the glowing red bar to the left which is where we started the night. $2 PBR’s paired with the already cheap tickets was definitely an added bonus. Forget stadium shows. This is what I live for.
ROUND ONE: UADA
This was actually my second time catching these Portland natives live, the first being at the aforementioned Absu show. Let me tell you, aside from Hoest and crew, these guys were my favorite performance of the night. I was a little disappointed that their set was first since the crowd was still filtering in and looked a little sparse. But the band didn’t seem to notice. They sound live just like they sound on record, playing much if not all of their critically lauded new release, ‘Devoid of Light.’ The tremolo lines have such a great union of fury and emotion in their lightning speed and melody. Everyone made their contributions known, from the drumming to the commanding howls, shrieks, and growls.
But the band clearly recognizes that a live audience begs for more than just great music, they came to see as show. As such, expect a great visual aspect to UADA‘s performance as well. Aided by simple touches of backlighting, a fog machine, and the member’s black hoods; they are truly terrifying to behold on stage. The one drawback is a common one with any group featuring a vocalist who also carries guitar duties: there’s less movement. But never fear, as their fairly stationary delivery further adds to the singular haunting image of three dark silhouettes in the mist.
ROUND TWO: WINTER IN THE BLOOD
I was not at all familiar with Winter in the Blood, but they play a more atmospheric brand of black metal than most of the other bands who played this night. As such, their set was a little more melancholy with the crowd simply grooving to the tunes as opposed to getting fired up. They also forego much of the hallmarks of the genre in terms of trading face paint for T-shirts, jeans, and an overall focus on the music itself. They seemed very passionate in their playing, and I appreciated the mixed vocal duties that came in a variety of styles. Things do get a bit heavier when they are screaming in tandem. Not bad, but I was a little underwhelmed. When I have the time I would like to check out their album on bandcamp.
ROUND THREE: WOLVHAMMER
I had never heard Wolvhammer prior to this show either, but damn they were quite good. Mixing black metal with a bit of hardcore, it was an intense set that really got the crowd going. The freedom of the vocalist was a nice warm-up for what was to come. This guy was all over the stage. In between tracks he made decent banter before exploding once more at the crowd. His look with the tattoos and sleeveless shirt definitely added to the hardcore ethos that is already in the music. Everyone was extremely energetic and the music was just plain raw. I definitely started to drift away from the bar at this point to get into the action. Highly recommend checking these guys out.
THE MAIN EVENT: TAAKE
Holy crap. Nothing could have prepared me for this set. My wife is not much for metal and very choosey about what she does like (Amon Amarth is one of her favorites), yet she was right up front with me, dragging me closer and really getting into it like I had never seen her before. I wish I had better pictures of the drummer, as he was sporting some wicked face paint like a skull missing its jaw. Anyways, they already had me going before coming out as I caught a glimpse of the banjo sitting in the corner. Oh yeah. It’s on.
Yes, they fucking played Myr, one of my personal favorites. But that was just a small part of what the band had in store. I swear they played ALL of my favorite tracks from his early solo work to present day. I was particularly pleased with the attention given to ‘Noregs Vaapen,’ which along with the debut is one of my personal favorite albums. Hoest came onto the stage with an aggressive, unbridled energy that I am not sure I have truly experienced before. True to his second wave roots, he sported an open, punkish leather jacket, tattered jeans, combat boots, and of course his particularly gritty face paint. Taking swigs from what looked like a champagne bottle between songs, he embodied the spirit of both black metal and punk rock from the moment he stepped on stage to the moment he left.
I simply can’t say enough about how good these guys were on all fronts. The guitarwork was flawless, the bass player and lead guitarist had some great interplay with their dual foot-on-the-monitor moments reminiscent of the old days of heavy metal, the drumming was ferocious and always on point, and of course Hoest is just a force to be reckoned with. Between his nearly indecipherable banter, occasional violence towards the audience (pretty sure he kicked someone?), and randomly throwing a box of Voodoo Donuts (a Portland delicacy) into the audience; we were in both heaven and hell. He even grabbed my wife by the hand at one point and didn’t seem to want to let go. I have to admit, I was jealous…of her. Call me, man. She even got a donut and a guitar pick straight from him and the bass player.
All said and done. This was a fantastic night. I certainly paid for it the next morning given it was a Wednesday and we didn’t get back til 2:30 am, but damn it was worth it. The crowd even ate up having water spit on them by the rhythm guitarist. Multiple mosh pits broke out for key riffs, though my ragged, old ass stayed out of it this time. I learned my lesson at the last Converge show I went to. Everyone at the show was totally cool coming everywhere from Germany and Norway to right here in Portland and Vancouver, WA. I met some cool dudes who I hope to see again, the performance was relentlessly entertaining, and the drinks were cheap. What more could you ask for? So if Taake happens to be coming to your neck of the woods, I recommend you snatch up the tickets right now and don’t miss perhaps the defining metal show of your life. More pictures below. Full album at my Facebook Page.