Photos by David Rubene
My Uber dropped me off at the Mill City Nights a few minutes after 8:00 pm on Tuesday night. To my surprise there was already quite a line outside Mill City Nights, a venue that’s become somewhat of a staple in the local music scene but will unfortunately be closing it’s doors next week. I squeezed my way instead to meet up Twin Cities Media’s own David Rubene and snag a decent spot before the show started.
Perhaps it was the fact that tonight’s show was one of the last SwordLord shows that would grace this venue that contributed to the palpable energy in the air. Or maybe it was the fact the Twin Cities was in the midst of its first substantial snow falls of the season, and Minnesotans always seem a little extra giddy (or anxious) when the first snow of the season starts to fall. Whatever it was, the cold, snowy night Tuesday night in Downtown Minneapolis was the perfect backdrop for the Sonata Arctica show.
There were three bands that took to the stage tonight in Minneapolis – Omninum Gatherum, Leaves Eyes,and Sonata Arctica. Each of these bands hail from Finland so they are no strangers to the cold and snow, so I like to think they felt right at home tonight in Minneapolis.
The first band took to the stage shortly after 8:15 pm. As someone fairly new this scene, I realized I wasn’t sure who this first band was. I looked around and leaned over to a couple and asked who was on stage first. The girlfriend told me it was Omnium Gatherum (I guess the giant banner hanging on stage should have been my clue). Her smile and pleasantries were not exactly what I was expecting from this crowd. But we exchanged some small talk and all settled into our place in the crowd for the show. I leaned back against the wall and was impressed with the energy that Omnium Gatherum took to the stage with. The six piece melodic death metal came out at full speed – long blonde hair swinging and banging along to every beat on their 45 minute set. Omnium Gatherum played to the crowd with the intensity of a headlining act, not an opener and the crowd seemed to reciprocate. As the set rolled on, the crowd seemed to warm up as the set continued (the beer and whiskey everyone was sipping on probably helped too). Frontman Jukka Pelkonen urged the crowd out of their comfort zone with invitations “Come closer, don’t be shy. Come up here and head bang like you know you’re suppose to.” Each invitation to the crowd was spoken through his thick Finnish accent and accompanied with a big smile. For a band that plays with such intensity, they still seemed like they were having an absolute blast. “Let me see those hands up in the air,” Pelkonen urged. This invitation reminded me that “hands in the air” is pretty much universal, across every language and every genre, and everyone was just there to have a good time.
Leaves’ Eyes closed out their set with a big bow, much like the close of a Broadway play and the crowd generously poured on their cheers and applause. Siirala was greeted by a slew of eager fans ready to take selfies near the merch table, but she carried herself with such a grace and a poise. Her charisma, energy and overall performers spirit seems to spill over off stage as well.