At about 3pm on the night of the gig, I’ve just got to Sheffield, in the north of England, and there are people walking about dressed as pirates. There is no doubt I’m in the right place, Alestorm are in town, and with them, hoards of costumed alcoholics. Sure, the same can be said of any metal gig, but this time, there are more hats.
The usual check in, shit, shower, a clean shirt and I’m off to the gig, walking from my hotel it seems that Sheffield is a bit of a party town, maybe the booze was in the air, maybe it’s just the new uni students haven’t yet had time to get bored with the place, but there is a cool feel to the town.
There was none of the wandering about unsure if I was walking in the right direction this time, I need no map nor magic compass, just follow the pirate with the gimpy leg. He’ll lead me to the beer and metal.
I arrive hoping my name is actually on the door. It is and with it a AAA pass for the photo pit, and everywhere else. I love this reviewing gig. To my left as I walk in the venue is the largest merch stand I’ve seen at a gig this size, directly across from them is the first bar. I decide the rest of the venue can wait. The 4 minute walk from my hotel has made me unusually thirsty. Knowing I’m not even going to bother counting my drinks I choose by what will be easiest. Carlsberg is £3 a pint. A good choice as it tastes like beer, and 3 pints for £9, it’s like a pint for free after 9 pints. After those 9 pints, the best kind of pint is a free one. Even if you actually pay for it. Pirate logic rules the night.
My thirst quenched, my attention turns to the stage, which coincidentally is when I find out what 8 bit pirate metal sounds like. If a pirate fucked a Nintendo while listening to Melodeath, Rainbowdragoneyes would be it’s bastard child. Sceptical at first, I couldn’t help but enjoy it eventually. Eric puts on a great show. A great way to open Piratefest.
After his set I’m back at the bar then out to the smoking area. Smoking areas usually only get a mention if I can find an interesting way to describe the poxy nature of them, like the entirely degrading pig pen at the hifi, or the mob rule of ACDC lane, but this one is just fucking huge. Well lit and almost free of security guards. Less of a chance for some meathead to take out the anger he feels about the shrunken nature of his steroidal scrotum on some poor drunken pirate pretending to have a sword fight with a guy in a parrot costume. I’ve no idea where the parrot kept his sword. Or who won, but later I saw the now half naked parrot man in the pit. He’d grown hands with which to hold a beer…clever drunken parrot man.
Back inside and Redrum are just kicking off. I’ve never heard these guys before, and knew almost nothing about them, but I was impressed, more melodic than both Lagerstein and Alestorm, definitely English, and with a hyperactive little bassist, who brings all kind of energy to the show, their sound was good, until there were differing guitar parts, Bekkie was drowned out. And sitting behind the keyboard it was about halfway through the set when I realised there was more than one guitar. Something that became a little distracting when Sam Wood switched from guitar to bouzouki. Not so much that I lost the feeling of the show.
I Turn to make my way back to the bar and outside, and wonder where the fuck all these people came from. It was a good crowd before Redrum, but now the venue was beginning to become packed. I like this as the 2nd bar near the pit made it easy to get some beers. Because of the heat in the venue and difficulty in keeping beer anywhere near the plastic cup in the pit, I start buying two at a time. Also I like beer.
Something which just now I realise I have been without for the time I’ve been writing. Something I shall have to remedy.
The addition of beer to my current situation brings me nicely to Lagerstein. Brisbane bastards, masters of beer and Bundy. They have played Melbourne while I’ve been in Melbourne, but for some reason I was elsewhere, doing something that in comparison seems to have been a bad idea. Fucking blown away. Not the party they bring when they hit the stage, they’re tight, and good. Even without the inanity of the pirate garb, they would be a damn good live show, with it however, there is a reason Piratefest is seen by quite a lot of people as a coheadlining tour. With a behemoth on bass that makes me look like a Sterge, he’d make Chuck billy look like a fucking school girl. And he’d be big enough to treat him like one too. If you’ve not seen them, you have to. Unless you’re the kind of person who thought my review of Alestorm’s new album lacked substance, in which case you should do what you do every weekend, stay in, watch home alone, play UNO, and listen to Johnny Farnham sing one is the loneliest number while dressing your cats up as the members of KISS.
Alestorm take the stage to a huge roar from the sardines in the pit. That roar continues for over an hour and a half of antics, revelry, drinking, and fucking pirate metal. Less of a gig and more just party being led by drunken Scots (is there any other kind?), the pit was intense and matched the energy and power coming off stage. Occasionally some of the kids teamed up on a drunk version of me that seemed to lose all regard for his bag full of photography gear and joined the fuck in. for 90 minutes I was a younger less fat version of me. I still had no hair but I could pretend. In that pit I was no longer the sweaty guy. Everyone was. All of us fuelled by beer and a band that was named for and powered by the same. Playing most of their new songs from Sunset on the Golden Age, without forgetting that they have 3 other songs and a legion of fans wanting to see them live. This night started off as a gig and ended as a party. With everyone involved. Everyone up front anyway. I didn’t meet anyone that didn’t think it was a great show. Or that was sober and not driving. I don’t know when I get back to my hotel, or what I ate on the way. All I know is that it was probably the best thing ever. And I didn’t look nearly as sober as I thought I did when ordering it.
The second best way to end a night after a gig is to not remember how you did it. Thanks to all the bands and the people at the gig that made it one of the best I’ve been to.
Originally Printed in Trendkill Magazine