Wolves in the Throne Room / Shibboleth Sons of Norway Hall, Victoria BC January 7

Wolves in the Throne Room / Shibboleth Sons of Norway Hall, Victoria BC January 7
Perhaps without a hint of irony, the Bellingham Olympia, WA "eco-anarchist" black metal outfit Wolves in the Throne Room came north of the border for a show in a hall usually frequented by Victoria's seemingly miniscule Norwegian community. Yes, a black metal band playing in a Norwegian community hall. Anyone else see the funny in this situation? But humour and fun was not on the docket.

Opening locals Shibboleth's plodding black metal got a good response from the crowd, who consisted of a mix of crust punk hippies drinking water out of Mason jars and dreadlocked Phish fans who would stop on a dime, whip out a hacky sack, and start footbagging right in the pit. Seriously, this happened, and more than once. Shibboleth had some decent chops, and also a singer who had trouble understanding the midrange capacities of the PA system.

You know things are going to get weird when a band starts hanging up nature-themed tapestries and bringing pine branches from outside to layer the stage surface. The Weaver brothers in Wolves in the Throne Room are known for their love of the wild, and what better way, it seems, to show their appreciation of Mother Nature than by cutting branches off the pine tree at the end of the venue parking lot. The band spent more time prepping the stage with candelabras, incense and other such nonsense (mini-flashlights strapped to their heads) than they did tuning their instruments. It was the fine art of carefully planning where that fourth oil-burning lantern should be placed, not to mention the goblets.

Once they started in with their amalgam of black, crust, doom, folk metal, it became apparent Wolves in the Throne Room shared more similarities with the slow-burn method than whatever frantic black metal band are smearing the most pig's blood over themselves these days. The slow, sludgy passages included one note being played every 30 seconds, leading to chaotic black metal frenetics, followed by feedback-drenched song segues. By the second half of their set, they had even the tru-est black metal fans impatiently checking their iPhones for new corpse paint photos on Facebook.

Oh, and turns out some of the show attendees were allergic to pine needles and/or incense. Either that or the painful sameness of Wolves in the Throne Room's hour-plus set forced some people out of the venue early. Dreadlocked hacky sack dude thought the show was killer.