show review

Kvelertak @ A&R Bar 11/20/13

Lisa Sanchez
Let me be honest, when Norwegian rockers Kvelertak took the stage at Columbus's A&R Bar I was mostly convinced I had stumbled into a beer-swilling animal cult. Lead singer Erlend Hjelvik walked out wearing a life-sized owl headpiece complete with glowing yellow eyes. The headgear covered Hjelvik's eyes, which caused him to blindly sing and conduct through half of the band's first number "Apenbaring." Talk about setting the mood. After the owl flew offstage to down liquor and score chicks, the party really started.
Kvelertak's Erland Hjelvik sports an avian headress during the opening number.
(Sanchez 2013)
Kvelertak performed on November 20th in support of High on Fire on their North American Tour. The Norway natives are a six-piece ensemble compiling elements of punk, metal, and good, old-fashioned rock and roll. Since their impetus in 2007, Kvelertak has released two full-length albums both in Norway and the United States. The band's most recent album, Meir, dropped in March of this year and reached the number one position on the Swedish Album Chart.

Kvelertak pulled no punches in Columbus. With their infectious hooks and energetic stage presence, Kvelertak made the small stage at A&R Bar seem like a stadium show. Unfortunately, guitarist Vidar Landa was injured for the performance. This may deter some bands, but Landa took the stage on crutches and played the entire show without any problems. Landa demonstrated a real tenacity; head banging and performing guitar choreography while sitting on a stool. It really puts it into perspective when lesser known bands commit to "The-show-must-go-on" while pop stars cancel shows for tummy aches.

Injuries aside, the fellas of Kvelertak never stopped moving, thrashing, or jumping. All of this action while the six-piece still delivered a thundering onslaught of songs. The band was engaging, charismatic, and the lead singer could catch his own spit. Now, that's talent. On a personal note, it was very refreshing to see a band that did not put on airs (aside from the slightly theatrical owl hat). These were just real dudes playing intense music for a packed house of music fans. I can't imagine a better scenario than that.

Kvelertak put on one of the best live shows I've seen in a long time. Their music is groovy and exciting, plus, the men playing it are ravenous about their stage presence. If you can get that kind of entertainment for less than 20 dollars your night is pretty awesome. All of the band members were able to sync up at the right times and put on a great show without breaking a sweat (well, ok, maybe a little sweat). At one point, Hjelvik took a brave stage-dive in the packed bar during "Kvelertak" and through some woodland-magic managed to be carted to the stage only for a belly-flop encore.

For a band that only sings in Norwegian, Kvelertak cultivate a lively stage aura that transcends language barriers. The crowds were getting into power-blasting songs like "Bruane Brenn" and "Kvelertak." I'm working on the assumption that most of the Columbus crowd were not fluent in Norwegian, so Kvelertak have the magical quality to teach a second language. Everyone speaks the language of drum and bass.

After the band's performance, I was able to speak with guitarist and backup vocalist Maciek Ofstad who pronounced his fondness for the state.

"Ohio is fucking awesome! We love Columbus" stated the guitarist.

As a Clevelander, I asked if the band was slated to do any upcoming shows up north. To my dismay, I will have to travel to Columbus for any future Kvelertak shows, "Cleveland fans, come to Columbus" said Ofstad. Rude Cleveland metal fans, you have offended the great Norwegian Owl God and ruined it for the rest of us.