Cernunnos Pagan Fest 2014
Venue: La Machine du Mouline Rouge
23 February 2014
23 febuary 2014. After a journey of about 500 kilometers we made it to the city of love; Paris. We didn’t just come here for some sightseeing but for a night of metal! In the Moulin Rouge!
Cernunnos Pagan Fest promised us a day with ten different bands spread over Europe. We prepared for battle.
There was a long queue on the streets of La Machine du Moulin Rouge. We took our place in the queue and after waiting for at least half an hour we finally could go into the venue. At the entrance we found out why it took so long to get in. There was just one ticketbooth for all the visitors. This might not be very efficient for a festival with this many visitors. We could hear that the first band has started in the small hall. First we ran upstairs to the cloakroom to get rid of our coats. Unfortunately we found another long queue and only one man working who, eventually, could hang away our coats.
When we finally reached the small hall, Kroazhent was just introducing their last song. On the stage we found five musicians. We could hear a drumkit, different types of interesting flutes, a violin and guitars. It was not metal, it sounded more like folkrock, but definitely good! The musicians seemed a bit shy and I was already feeling sorry for missing a great deal of this performance. From what I could hear they are very interesting. Unfortunately I haven’t heard enough of their show to really write a detailed impression though I do think this band could be very interesting for anyone who love the combination of folk and rock/metal. I’m surely keeping an eye on them!
After the last tunes of Kroazhent we could hear that in the other hall Niburta had already started their show. We tried to hurry ourselves to the large hall but moving halls was not as easy as we thought. Everybody that had enjoyed the show in the small hall, were now trying to rush a few stairs up to the large hall. That was a bit of stress since Niburta had already started. I have discovered their music a few months ago and was really looking forward to see them live. Niburta did not disappoint us!
The nine Hungarian musicians seemed quite relaxed on stage and were having fun. They played quite a big deal of their first full-length album ‘Scream from the East’. Among the songs were also my favorites ‘Dance of Satyrs’ and ‘Nap És Hold’. Usually I’m not a big fan of female singing in metal, but in this band the male and feminine singing was really nicely in balance and it did not bother me at all. Apart from that, these girls can sing really well. Also what makes this band interesting, apart from their original melody lines, is their use of ethnic instruments. For example they use a violin and a bagpipe, but also a kava flute, gadulke and a kobza. This, together with the characteristic singing, makes this band original and interesting.
In between all the folkmetal there was this moment for a more quiet “drinking tune”(Forebears’ Dance) which resulted in some funny dances by some of the bandmembers on stage. A more quiet, instrumental piece was a nice change in the set.
I noticed that the crowd in Paris seemed to be more quiet than what I’m used to from the audience in the Netherlands or from German festivals. During the songs the French audience was more quiet but will show their enthusiasm during the applause.
Niburta received a huge applause which they highly deserved. Near the end of the set they played a new song(Two Faced) from the upcoming album. If you love folk and metal, make sure to check them out!
Slowly every square inch of the small hall was filling up with audience to see Myrkvar. The intro was played and one by one the musicians entered the stage. The atmosphere in the hall was nice and it seemed that everyone was ready for party.
The first song, Voorspelling, after the intro was, to be honest, a bit complicated to get used to. There are so many rhythm changes in the song that it was hard to get into the music and the performance. It seemed like I was not the only one who thought this because as the show continued the audience seemed to have been warmed up enough. The band treated the audience on Dutch folkmetal inspired by Germanic mythology and history. A heavy drum, nice grunts, a melodic violin and the guitars resulted in a heavy but melodic whole. People nodding along to the rhythm changed pretty fast into a headbang party and in the middle of the little hall there arose a nice moshpit. This seemed to spark the musicians even more. The frontman tried to make contact with every corner of the hall while the others gave everything they had. This definitely worked because the more rhythms the band played, the happier the chaos got in front of the stage.
This really was a performance which made me forget to pay close attention because I was actually at work as a journalist. I had the intention to take a picture of these wonderfully dressed men and lady but the battle won. I completely forgot. The audience so enthusiastic that the entire place in front of the stage was transformed into a huge viking danceparty moshpit, including a few crowdsurfers every now and then. Dance for your life or leave the hall! 🙂
Madness in Paris. When the end of this show came closer, when we had sung along and the famous Myrkvar-polonaise has been danced, everyone seemed thankful to have been part of this show.
During the outro(which reminds me a lot of the Sowulo project by two of the Myrkvar bandmembers) people were really friendly on the dancefloor. Music unites. When, later, we came along the Myrkvar merchandise table the band seemed really busy with people thanking them for the show. These vikings got themselves a new horde of French fans, luckily. They’ve deserved it!
After the show of Myrkvar we heard that Bran Barr had already started in the large hall. First we really had to catch some breath from the previous performance and get something to drink. When we made it to the large hall we couldn’t find a spot from where we could see the band. There were so many people! Bran Barr did sound really nice so we tried to find ourselves a nice spot but unfortunately couldn’t find one. We decided to then take a break instead.
The evening before the festival we had already met some musicians of Celtachor during the Cernunnos pre-party in a Parisian metalbar. Really friendly people. Honestly, I have to confess that so far I haven’t been really interested to look into Celtachor. The way they present themselves with their bandlogo, bandname and CDcovers, they did not appeal to me that much. Honestly, I was expecting another average folkmetal band playing Celtic stories type of songs.
But! That is not at all acurate! I am really happy that I went to see them live!
Celtachor has much more black metal influences and complexity than I had guessed from their visual presentation! On stage we found five Irishmen with passion. A really interesting mix of black metal and some folk influences. I was hooked right away. The singer seemed to have contact with everyone in the hall and everybody seemed to enjoy the music. I can’t say much else than that they’ve played a really good show with a nice variety of music by playing heavy and slower tunes. Which also surprised me was the female drummer, cool! During the end of their performance they dedicated a song, a new song, to the organization and audience of the festival. I’m really impressed with this band and their live performance!
I’ve seen Fejd play live once before and I remember really well the strange mix of feeling the need to either headbang, to mosh or to dance. I was really looking forward to this show by these Swedish men with their melodic folkmetal. They played in the big hall and there was a lot of audience.
They played really steady and enthusiastic. I mainly heard songs from the last two albums(get them!). This was again one of these shows which made me forget to look for details to write about. I was carried away by the experience of the music. The combination of instruments(the nyckelharpa!) and the characteristic voices and singing makes that there is no other band like Fejd.
What really surprised me though was the, what seemed to me, mellow audience! Most people were nodding along to the rhythms but that was basically it. As the show progressed the atmosphere got a bit more party-like where some people would dance and there even were some crowdsurfers. Though I think Fejd deserves a better party than what they got from the audience today. Nevertheless I really liked their show and hope to see them again soon.
Himinbjorg / Festival Market + CateringWe tried to see Himinbjorg but unfortunately got caught in the same situation as during Bran Barr… Himinbjorg was playing in the small hall which was packed with people and we couldn’t find a spot where we could see what was happening on stage. That was sad because I would have liked to see some black metal and from what we could hear they did sound pretty good. We tried to find a place to quietly watch the show but when we couldn’t find one we decided to go and have dinner instead.
Ordering a beer(9 euros for a pint, crazy Frenchmen) took long. On average we’d had to wait about ten minutes for our order. It seemed that there wasn’t enough crew behind the bar to handle these many visitors. This got a bit annoying since the running order was already really tight and the longer you have to wait in line for bar/toilet/food, the more you miss of the actual shows.
During our break during Himinbjorg we decided to sit down and have some dinner. La Machin du Moulin Rouge is located at a street with many little restaurants or take-aways. We’ve heard though that once you leave the venue, you’re not allowed to go back in anymore..?
So. We conquered the long queue for the food and tried our best French to try to translate the menu. Luckily our French friends had joined us so they could help us with translating. There was a variety of offers, and even a vegetarian offer. After standing in line for twenty minutes it would have been our turn to order. The cooks said something to the people in the queue in French. A bit annoyed and hungry now, we asked our friends for translation. Apparently the organization had decided to pause serving the visitors, and start feeding the bands instead. So we were standing there waiting, while three cooks were trying to help the bands. We didn’t understand. Why can’t they make sure the bands get their food in the backstage or send more cooks/people serving so that we don’t have to wait for each other like this? Now we already had been standing in line for twenty minutes, then we were told to wait and were standing waiting another twenty minutes. Such a waste of time while good bands are playing downstairs! 🙁
When we finally got some food we joined Myrkvar at the table. The quality of the food was nice but we’ve lost a lot of precious time by randomly waiting in line.
After eating our dinner quickly we rushed downstairs to see a few of the last songs of Manegarm. When we reached the large hall we found the audience in a partymood. They seemed to be having a good time with these Swedish men. In front of the singer there was a huge Algir sign standing on stage and on the stagebanners we noticed a design featuring Mannaz runes. And extra confirmation that we’re dealing with pagan metal. The band played nice and steady though honestly I think the stageperformace was a bit boring. There was not much motion on stage but that didn’t seemed to matter much, the music was good. I personally really liked that they played the song ‘I Evig Tid’ which reminds me of the time I had just started listening to folkmetal, many years ago! 😉
Unfortunately we had to miss the first half of the show, it sure was a good show! They will also perform at the Ragnarök Festival in Lichtenfels. I hope to see a complete show there!
Someone had recommended this band to me. Angantyr is a black metal band from Denmark and they would play in the small hall. I personally really liked to hear some black metal after all the folky stuff and this was a nice warming-up for Primordial who would play next. It sounded nice but after a while I lost a bit of interest. I couldn’t find what would distinguish them from other black metal bands. Also there was too much talking in between the songs that wasn’t so interesting. A real bonerkiller would be the line “the more you drink, the better our music gets!” … ?
Technically they were not bad and some pure black metal was refreshing within the line-up too. But somehow this performace didn’t impress me too much. Maybe another time.
We left the Angantyr show a little earlier to get some beer and to get ourselves a nice spot in the large hall. When we reached the place in front of the stage where Primordial would start, there was a fire performance going on. I think it’s a nice idea of the organization to hire a group of performers to entertain the people while waiting. Having experience in fire performance myself, I could tell that the show we were watching was really simple. We saw three women holding fire fans while doing repetitive arm moves and do some belly dance. In the meantime Angantyr was done with their show in the little hall so all visitors were now gathered in the larger hall to see Primordial. To be honest, I was not at all impressed by the fireshow. As soon as they left the place in front of the stage, everybody rushed forward to get themselves a nice spot to see Primordial. We got ourselves a nice spot too and I have to admit that I had been looking forward to the Primordial show a lot! Excitement!
The curtains opened and through the hall ‘Dark Horse On The Wind’ by Liam Weldon was played. A song that reminds me of many characteristic Irish songs for freedom and justice. A perfect warm-up for Primordial. I had goosebumps. One by one the musicians entered the stage, accompanied by the welcoming applause and fists in the air.
Primordial opened their show with No Grave Deep Enough, a fine choice. Followed by Journey’s End and Bloodied Yet Unbowed.
As Rome Burns was dedicated to the situations in Ukraine. “Fight for justice but don’t look to the past, look to the futute”. It was clear already. Primordial fights! For freedom, integrity and honor. This is something you learn from the music, lyrics and confirmed by the fierce presentation of frontman Alan Averill.
As always I was highly impressed by singer Alan. He has so much strength on stage and has a great talent to reach every individual watching. I’ve seen many people sing their lungs out and I can include myself to that list of people. We were headbanging and could see a sea of fists in the air. Everybody was in this. This is one of those bands that offers you freedom to release some of your personal frustrations within (the themes of) their music. I’ve seen many people, myself included, feeling freed by the music.
They also played Sons of Morrigan, The Mouth of Judas, Heathen Tribes, The Coffin Ships(dedicated to Ireland) and eventually Empire Falls. It was another really, really good performance, just like I had expected from these Irishmen! They seemed grateful for the night and Alan thanked the audience after almost every song. This was definitely one of the best performances of the night. Though I have to stay honest… I’ve been lucky to have seen them a few times now and I must say that it is a bit sad they usually play the same songs. Among these songs are some of my favorites, but this way I will never get to see some other favorites live.
Nevertheless, a wonderful performance and a great closure of this festival!
Cernunnos Pagan Fest was a festival with an amazing line-up in a really interesting venue in Paris. La Machine du Moulin Rouge has very interesting decoration(especially loved the Wonderland area in small hall!) and halls on which you could watch the band on the floor in front of the stage, as from the surrounding stairways or balconies.
However I am sad to also leave some critical points according the organization. I had a strong impression that the festival could have used more crew. Pretty much everywhere, in line to the entrance, the cloakroom, the bar, the food, we have been waiting in queue too long. Especially the situation and waitingtime at the dinnerplace was not so nice.
I also feel that the running order was too tight. We could have used another five of ten minutes in between the bands so we would have had less stress going from one hall to the next, or to get a drink or visit a toilet without having to sacrifice music for this.
All in all I’m grateful to the organization to bring together such an impressive line-up in this funny venue in Paris. I also enjoyed the pre-party in the Black Dog metalbar on saturday, this gave a nice opportunity to get into the partymood and to meet some of the bands. A nice deal at the bar during the pre-party was that when showing your festivalticket, you’d get half off of your order. Fun!
It has been an amazing weekend with many great adventures. Many thanks to everyone who was involved! 🙂