After an extraordinary evening with Ace Frehley, my excitement guided me elsewhere in Manhattan for a night of sea shanties, mythical hell-raising riffs, vibrant dance parties, and Norse mythology told through song at the Gramercy Theatre. It was Asgard meets New York featuring Tyr, Trollfest, Aether Realm, and the Dread Crew of Oddwood. As the Vikings and shield-maidens of the bands they were excited to see lined up early, I knocked back a steak burrito bowl at the Chipotle next to the venue and joined them shortly after. At 6:00, we entered through the gateway of the auditorium.

The five pirates in the Dread Crew of Oddwood were the first main band. They took us on a thirty-five-minute unplugged high-sea adventure. Acoustic instruments can be fickle to play. It all depends on the atmosphere. They proved they were masters of their chosen mahogany and sounded like the house band alongside Alestorm aboard Le Ship of the ghostly pirate, Captain LeChuck from the Monkey Island franchise. They kept the vibes chill but enjoyable as an opening act. It was nice to see some laddies and lassies river-dancing to their music.

Powerful folk metal from North Carolina! Aether Realm, the band I was there to see, was up next. Fucking hell, they were good! A – LOT – of the early attendees had fun seeing them. The guitar duo of Donny Burbage and Heinrich Arnold and bassist/vocalist Vincent Jones provided a much-needed shock to the system New York needed to get the audience fired up for a fast-approaching rose-colored party of the tallest order from Trollfest. Aether Realm wasted no time to show off their melodic ferocity for forty minutes. Hunt the Dinosaur drummer Andrew Ramirez subbed in for Tyler Gresham and kept it locked like an absolute beast as the pit went wild for songs like the Magician and TMHC. I highly recommend seeing the redneck vikings from hell, especially if you are into bands like Children of Bodom and Nekrogoblikon.

All dressed up as pink flamingos to further invoke the flames of folk metal, Trollfest glided onto the stage like the manifestation of a Ru Paul fever dream. They were ready to p.a.r.t.y. Every micro-moment, from the songs to the humorous stage banter from Trollmannen to the ridiculous crowd participation, equated to Trollfest putting on a top-form performance. All types of crazy dancing, moshing, and crowd-surfing were encouraged as I waved my arms around like a viridian Gumby on the dance floor. I was dancing in the second row as the five Norwegian captains of amusement jammed on Happy Heroes, Renkespill, and more. Another entertaining highlight was watching nearly everyone either pogo dancing or row boat on the floor during Kaptein Kaos. The crowd participation during that song was a mess, but sometimes messy is alright. Trollfest did well and readied the boat to the Faroe Islands with Tyr.

After Trollfest brought the shocking pink fun times, it was almost time for the return of Tyr. With thunderous applause and a lively energy, Heri Joensen, Hans Hammer, Gunnar Thomsen, and Tadeusz Rieckmann graced Manhattan one by one, striking fast and striking hard with By the Sword in My Hand to break the Gramercy for the Nordic journey ahead for an hour plus. Tyr is a band I had been wanting to see headline for years. They delivered a killer setlist, bringing out the best of their career with new cuts like Axes and hits like Hail to the Hammer. The acoustics sounded folkloric. It is unreal how crisp the Gramercy Theatre can sound depending on the show.

Tyr was back with a literal bang, bringing epicness and heavyness to the table, but even the mightiest vikings can succumb to technology. In true Spinal Tap fashion, the laptop that ran what was perceived to be a click-tracking program got unplugged not once but twice during By the Light of the Northern Star. While Heri tried to fix that technical difficulty, Hans, Gunnar, and Tadeusz jammed on Black Night by Deep Purple and Metallica’s Blackened before trying it again, shrugging off the same issue, Tyr decided to move on with the rest of the performance. Ah well, c’est la vie. Tyr told four more tales of Norse mythology, encoring their set with Sinklars vísa and Hold the Heathen Hammer High. Tyr provided an equally epic and passionate experience. I hope to see them again.

After witnessing an event reminiscent of the Paganfest tours that blazed across North America in the heat of folk metal mania from 2008 to 2014, three hundred warriors exited the Gramercy Theatre with Danish pagan pride resounding in their hearts, only for me to return to said venue twenty, twenty, twenty-four hours later to ride out a brilliant triple-header of concerts with some good, old-fashioned rock and roll from three of the finest bands of the eighties, you are likely to see live.

Pre-order Tyr’s upcoming album, Battle Ballads here