Heilung’s Live Spectacle at The Riverside Theater in Milwaukee, WI on Sat, April 20th, 2024: An Immersive Journey of Sound, Story, and Spirit

Heilung at The Riverside Theater in Milwaukee, WI on Sat, Apr 20, 2024: Blending Ritual and Performance in a Mesmerizing Forest Dance Music Experience...

 

Words/Photos: Chris Rugowski

https://www.chickenortheeggphotography.com/

 

 

As I spoke to the crowd before the show, one of them compared Heilung to EDM, except he called it “FDM” (Forest Dance Music). While we cannot strictly compare Heilung to “dance music,” there was plenty of dancing happening both on stage and off stage.

Heilung is not a group you just listen to; this is a group you feel in your body and soul. Chances are you either get into the music or you don’t – sort of like EDM. That’s not to say some people won’t get into it after a while, but I remember first hearing this group and it stuck to me like glue. Everyone I’ve talked to who has heard this group generally agrees.

You don’t come to Heilung for the music alone. You come because the music speaks to you. There is a storyline happening in front of you on stage during every song. It’s like an opera that uses lots of world languages, both dead and alive. You become one with the pieces as the scenery comes alive in front of your eyes. It’s an art piece as much as a performance.

If you’ve only ever listened to their studio albums, when you go see this band live you’re in for a real treat; they have different arrangements on songs, and different voicings, and of course, in a live setting, the lights, fog, dancing, etc., make the music and scenery that much more special.

A shout out to the sound and lighting crew; damn, these guys did an AMAZING job. It looked and sounded perfect throughout the entire theater, of which us photographers were given free reign for the first three songs.

 

The lights went down and thus begins the ritual….

They of course opened with the opening ceremony,

Remember, that we all are brothers

All people, beasts, trees and stone and wind

We all descend from the one great being

That was always there

Before people lived and named it

Before the first seed sprouted

 

At this point, no one was sitting on the first floor, and most people were chanting along. Even if you wanted to, you wouldn’t have seen anything. The pit was overflowing with attendees for starters, and you wouldn’t have been able to see over them.

With the opening ceremony complete, they began the set with “In Maidjan,” and we were all entranced, having taken the red sonic pill of primal drum beats, throat singing, and fire.

Having the ability to run around the theater for the first three songs, I was enjoying my time taking in the sounds and visuals through the lens. This theater is massive, by the way. I was sweating by the end of the 30 or so minutes, but it was very much worth it.

I walked around to a few different places just to experience the show from a different perspective sans camera after our allowed time. Although once I was able to find my place in the theater and really get in touch with the music, the scenery, and atmosphere, everything transformed.

It was “Tenet” before I really settled into my place. During this one, the warriors with the runes painted on their bodies were quite the scene. To me, this was probably the most powerful song in the entire set. Maybe it’s because I found my place and was able to relax into the primal beats.

During “Traust,” I found the lighting to be really neat, like an underwater scene. The bass was shaking the metal grills on the wall of the old theater. The act of tying the ropes around the girl was quite impressive; the control of the scene, the storytelling of the scene was beautifully done.

“Anoana” in a live setting was 100% more powerful than I remember seeing and hearing when I was in Chicago in 2022. I really enjoyed this version. I know it’s the same song, but the venue helped bring this song to life a little bit more. The lighting matched the vocals, which were on point.

Then we get to this “Elddansurin,” and all the lights go out as they bring out the burning antlers. The fire was a nice touch, and it was truly neat to see how well it lit the theater. Who knew such small flames could make such a difference? There’s a philosophy to this, I’m sure. The dancing on the stage and continuous movement on stage was like the flame dancing as Kai Uwe Faust beat the warrior’s shield. I really wish I could’ve taken photos during this song because that fire was powerful.

We are at the end with “Hamrer Hippyer,” and the version they did here has really changed from what one may have heard on their 2017 “Lifa” album. The progression of this song to now has been really neat. While it was difficult to watch for me because of the back strobes, once those ended, I was able to really enjoy the presence of the song and the scene on stage.

Overall, seeing people come together for a common cause and embrace a night of healing, as the German word “Heilung” translates to in English, was a beautiful thing. I left this show with a sense of happiness that I don’t always get from shows. Sometimes you’re sad they’re ending. Other times you’re happy for it to be over. This one for me could’ve kept going. I was just starting to get into it when the ending ceremony began. I didn’t want it to end, but I knew after what I had experienced that night things would change for the better. It was exactly what my mind, body, and spirit needed to be a part of for two hours or so.

This is one group where everyone gets along. There’s no negativity or ‘holier than thou” attitudes to be found. We’re all a part of the experience; we’re all getting cleansed energetically and spiritually.

Knowing this was their last time in the US for a while too, I was beyond grateful to have been allowed to be a part of the event to not only capture it but write a review for it too. If you see this group coming ANYWHERE near you, go. Seriously. GO. Don’t miss your opportunity because you don’t know when your next one’s going to be.

The group has a packed 2024 all things considered, hitting Europe with select dates in the June-September timeframe, and Australia/New Zealand 10/30-11/18, check out their website to purchase tickets, https://www.amplifiedhistorytour.com/

SETLIST 4/20/24

Opening Ceremony

In Maidjan

Alfadhirhaiti

Asja

Krigsgaldr

Hakkerskaldyr

Svanrand

Fylgija Ear / Futhorck

Tenet

Traust

Anoana

Elddansurin

Hamrer Hippyer

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HEILUNG’S LIVE SPECTACLE AT THE RIVERSIDE THEATER IN MILWAUKEE, WI ON SAT, APRIL 20TH, 2024: AN IMMERSIVE JOURNEY OF SOUND, STORY, AND SPIRIT
HEILUNG’S LIVE SPECTACLE AT THE RIVERSIDE THEATER IN MILWAUKEE, WI ON SAT, APRIL 20TH, 2024: AN IMMERSIVE JOURNEY OF SOUND, STORY, AND SPIRIT

HEILUNG’S LIVE SPECTACLE AT THE RIVERSIDE THEATER IN MILWAUKEE, WI ON SAT, APRIL 20TH, 2024: AN IMMERSIVE JOURNEY OF SOUND, STORY, AND SPIRIT

Photo Credit: Chris Rugowski

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