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(Live Review) TYR + TROLLFEST + SUPPORT - Chicago, 4/5/24


The Beard & Little Johnny

Hello again metal fans, friends and followers, it is your reviewing dynamic duo The Beard and, of course, Little Johnny and we are on the road again as we continue our never ending 2024 tour and a very busy metal month of April with show #16 and bands #59-62 as we hit Reggie’s Rock House in Chicago for:

  • Faroe Islands based Viking metal band Tyr

  • Norwegian folk metal band Trollfest

  • North Carolinas melodic death/folk Aether Realm

  • San Diego's pirate band The Dread Crew of Oddwood.


This is a sold out show, so the lad and I arrived early hoping to actually land a non-standing spot. Well, at least I hoped for that, Little Johnny was just excited about an evening of pirates, Vikings, and Trolls. I am fairly sure there’s no actual Trolls little dude.


First up was the Pirate band The Dread Crew of Oddwood.

This was a five-piece mix of folk, metal, and Celtic music utilizing such instruments as accordion, mandolin, tin whistle, drums and stand-up bass. They are touring behind their fifth release 2024’s Rust & Glory. The room was already three quarters of the way to being a sardine can and this crowd was the Beard's people.

At least one of every three attendees had a full long beard. Johnny remarked, “Hey Beard, this is like the witness protection program for you. Well, I mean if you were like 40 years younger.” “Johnny, I’m only 57.” “Really? I always thought you were like 70. But don’t worry Beard, you look good for a guy who probably went to school with Ozzy.” You know, I really hate Johnny sometimes.

The Dread Crew of Oddwood hit the stage just after 7:30 with their brand of acoustic pirate goodness. They began with a pirate polka. It’s kind of cool to see a metal crowd enjoying accordion and mandolin music. These guys looked like pirates and gave a bawdy 30-minute set that was well received by the Reggie’s faithful who enjoyed shouting along. A unique act to be sure, but kind of fun. Johnny enjoyed bouncing around and pretending his IPA was a flagon of ale with his fellow buccaneers as he shouted the chorus to their song “Give me your Beer.”



Other memorable moments included the song “Giant Fucking Demon Crab” and each pirate (in unison) consuming an entire Chicago hot dog (in one single bite) live on stage as “a sign of respect to your culture.” Funny stuff. Not to be lost, underneath it all though was that these gentlemen could actually play their acoustic instruments. The Beard is going 80 plus a couple extra for selling a unique act well, so total grade 83/100.



Second up tonight was a mix of melodic death metal and folk music from North Carolina's AEther Realm supporting their 2020 release Redneck Vikings from Hell.

The singer (Vincent Jones) visually screams redneck coming on stage in flannel shirt and cowboy hat. About two seconds into song one though, the hat was gone. Jone’s vocals were semi clear, but the music was borderline folky death metal with touches of keys and an Amorphis, Insommium type of vibe, just not as fully smooth.



Song three generated the first full pit and the lad was circling with the full crowd elbows pumping. AEther Realm plays fine, but the Beard is becoming a bit jaded as my thoughts were that I have seen this style done better by several other bands. Donny Burbage’s guitar solos were particularly good though and taking that into consideration, I can see allotting a fair 76/100.



Third up tonight were the eight-piece Norwegian folk metal act Trollfest. 

Despite having existed for almost twenty years, having ten full length releases, and having toured extensively in Europe, tonight will be the first time here in Chicago in about ten years. Most of Trollfest's lyrics are in Trollsprak (which is apparently a mixture of Norwegian and German). So THAT I expected.


Trollfest emerged with all band members wearing giant pink flamingo costumes. THAT I did NOT expect. The lyrics as indicated were in some language not understandable. The music was folk with some metal styling but also pop, techno, and dance. This act had a “very” unique presentation and performance. Various instruments were used including accordion, saxophone, and a bouzouki.


Little Johnny had a gigantic open mouthed “what the actual fuck!” expression on his face as he watched this set. “I was ready for Trolls Beard, but Pink Flamingos? This is a weird night. Time for another beer.”


This was a really difficult band to grade because I have almost no references to draw from given what this was. Maybe Nanowar of Steel is close, but I have not seen anything quite like Trollfest. At one point they did a song where the band kept making various parts of the audience sit and other parts jump around and then switching the sections, so everyone was doing everything. Johnny said it was like morning exercise at the orphanage except that flamingos were conducting it instead of penguins. Okay little dude, THAT one was funny.


During the song “Hi-de-ho all drinks on me” Johnny went to the bar, pointed at the stage, and said, “Those Flamingos just said they would buy me a beer.” Reggie’s staff disagreed. I guess as a metal set this is a 60/100 but as something totally unique, it is a 90/100. So, I will call it 75/100 and punt.



Finally, we got the headliners Tyr from the Faroe Islands (which is north of Scotland, and south of Iceland, yet somehow belongs to Denmark.)


Tyr brought their four-piece Viking metal act and were touring behind their ninth release 2024’s Battle Ballads. At this point we have had west coast pirates, east coast flannel wearing death/folk and Norwegian Flamingo Trolls. I truly have no idea what is about to emerge next. Tyr brought big lights, and a big show. With clean singing, after everything we have endured thus far at least I can finally say “This” is metal.

Nordic sing-a-longs and epic tales of Viking glory. Tyr is a folksier, tamer Amon Amarth. Same Celtic spirit, just less raw aggression. That is not to say Tyr lacked aggression ... there was just more of a Scandinavian feel and less a guttural growl of rage like Amon Amarth. Tyr pounded away with hits from their new release Battle Ballads. Little Johnny now has a new power metal mosh step he does where he strides in a circle with an invisible upwards held sword in his hand. I don’t know if it will catch on, but he seems committed.


Some songs were done in Tyr’s native tongue, but the power metal structure was unchanged, driving leads from Hans Hammer, big drums from Tadeusz Rieckman, while vocalist/guitarist Heri Joensen shouted out the lyrics whatever they were. The material from their new CD was good, and I found I enjoyed those more than most of the older stuff. Probably because I did not know the older material and, like all bands, Tyr played the new material with more energy and fire.


The music had an alien feel to it, like, yes it was metal, but it really seemed to belong to another country and time period, not the US and now. I liked that. It stood out and (for both me and Little Johnny) tonight the headliner eclipsed all the shock and awe effects of the other bands on the bill by just playing their stuff their way. Good Viking set and the Beard awards 88/100 to Tyr.


So, this wraps up another metal show and although it was indeed one of the stranger ones, we have little time to contemplate as the review bus rolls on. Be sure to keep up with our metal reviews every Wednesday & Thursday (right here on The Mighty Decibel.) Catch all the videos from all the shows on TIKTOK by searching and following thebeard0728 or #thebeardandlittlejohnny and keep up with all our non-metal stuff by friending and following Mark McQueen on Facebook.

Until next time, this is The Beard & Little Johnny saying ... Stay Heavy & Horns Up!!!


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