Tesseract: Right Between The Ice

It’s a bitterly cold -10 ̊C, there’s snow and ice everywhere you look, the complimentary Jägermeister is flowing at a rate of knots and at least two members of Tesseract are stark bollock naked. Welcome to one of the weirdest gigs you’ll ever see.

Of course, when the Brit tech-metallers invited Hammer over to Lapland’s Snow Village – a family-run hotel, restaurant and resort made annually out of nothing but ice – to see them become the first band ever to perform atop an igloo on a stage made entirely out of snow for Jägermeister’s Ice Cold gig series, we were only ever going to say yes. But it’s fair to say that no one involved knew quite what an endurance test it was going to be./o:p

After being layered up and driven through a seemingly infinite amount of woodland, we reach the venue in time to see Tesseract setting up for soundcheck. “We can only do one song before my hands start to freeze and I can’t feel them,” says guitarist James Monteith. “I genuinely don’t know what we’re going to do tonight.”

There’s not enough time to worry about it, as the band are whisked away on a snowmobile to sample some of the local culture. This amounts to meeting a young lady called Heidi who raises reindeer and invites us all into her tipi to sample some homemade buns and berry juice. Which seems like a good opportunity for founding member Acle Kahney to reflect on his own personal journey.

“I started this project alone in my bedroom,” he recalls. “So to think we’re about to do this once-in-a-lifetime gig that no other band has ever done is quite surreal.”

Could it signal an iconic moment in this chapter of Tesseract’s career? “Well, we’re working on new material,” says Acle. “So this feels like the end of something. And with the way Dan [Tompkins, vocals] has come back and the place we’re in now, maybe it is a signpost to where we’re going.”

Berry juice quaffed and culture experienced, we head back to the Snow Village for a meal of sautéed reindeer at the Ice Restaurant (with tables and chairs all made from ice, of course) before the band navigate the frozen backstage passageway and climb the steps to the roof to play a 75-minute set of shimmering, groove-laden progressive metal to 100 or so inquisitive locals. They sound incredible, but the thing that really makes this gig memorable is the setting.

Amazingly, the Northern Lights settle above the stage just before Tesseract appear and, coupled with a phenomenal light show and the freezing air rising from each member, it looks less a rock show and more like a scene from Close Encounters Of The Third Kind. Drummer Jay Postones, in particular, is quite a sight with his riser being 20 feet above his bandmates./o:p

After the gig everyone retires to the Ice Bar, where the free Jäger is flowing. Many of those present – including a crowd that Dan rounded up at a local bar the night before, whilst stood on a table hollering and handing out flyers – have gathered here to do a shot with the band.

“It’s such an honour,” beams Dan between high fives and slurps of alcohol. “There are over seven billion people on Earth and we are the only five people that have ever done that.”

And how was the gig to actually play? “I usually keep my eyes shut and play,” says Jay. “But I had to occasionally look around and take it all in. Plus my drums had ice forming on the rims as I played! It was ridiculous!”

…as is the rest of the night – as the celebrations begin in earnest, the fun and games of staying in a hotel made entirely of ice come to the fore. We’re quite coy here at Hammer, so we’ve managed to keep away from the drinking game that involves an ice slide, a bottle of Jägermeister and a clothes-removing forfeit. We’re not sure that’s ever been done before, but clearly Tesseract aren’t a band that are afraid of a challenge.


Four more gigs hosted in weird and unexpected locations…

Rage Against The Machine On Wall Street

Never shy of “sticking it to the man” an’ that, Rage Against The Machine forced the doors of the New York Stock Exchange to close when they filmed the Michael Moore-directed video for Sleep Now In The Fire on the steps outside the building.

The Cramps In A Mental Institution

The psychobilly punks offered to play a free gig in California’s Napa State Mental Hospital in 1978. Which considering their music would put even the sanest individual into a state of psychosis, was probably a bloody stupid idea.

Ozzy Osbourne At Buckingham Palace

The ‘Party At The Palace’ was held to celebrate The Queen’s Golden Jubilee in ’02. Ozzy performing to a bewildered aristocracy would have been the weirdest moment… had Brian May not opened proceedings by butchering the national anthem on her maj’s roof.

Metallica At The Ministry Of Sound

This is a music venue, so it’s not that odd. But the biggest metal band ever playing the home of dance music?! We can’t help feeling that was your doing, Lars! FFS!/o:p

Since blagging his way onto the Hammer team a decade ago, Stephen has written countless features and reviews for the magazine, usually specialising in punk, hardcore and 90s metal, and still holds out the faint hope of one day getting his beloved U2 into the pages of the mag. He also regularly spouts his opinions on the Metal Hammer Podcast.