Mongolian folk-metal is probably an unfamiliar genre of music for most people. If the thought of it has you imagining exotic folk instruments, double bass, and heavy guitar riffs, you wouldn’t be far off. Though it’s a new sound for a lot of us, Tengger Cavalry has been fine tuning the style since the band’s formation in 2010. Originally a solo project created by vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Nature Ganganbaigal, Tengger Cavalry has since evolved into a full touring band. On Sunday night, the Cavalry charged through Three Links in Deep Ellum as part of their An Evening with Tengger Cavalry North American Tour. The appropriately named tour allowed for Tengger Cavalry to play not one, but two sets. The first set consisted of traditional, (mostly) acoustic, folk songs, while the second set showcased more of the band’s metal offerings.
Just after 8:00 pm, Tengger Cavalry began their sound check. With the garage door retracted to the ceiling, the unfamiliar sounds of Mongolian throat singing echoed into the streets of Deep Ellum. Beautiful melodies of the tobshuur and morin khuur (traditional, stringed Mongolian instruments) had pedestrians stopping out front to investigate the unique tones. At the conclusion of sound check, the band was happy to chat with fans at the merch booth and answer questions. To my surprise, there was a decent crowd on hand to witness the Cavalry’s first ever Dallas show.
The acoustic-folk set began with tracks “Cavalry in Thousands” and “Expedition,” both from the band’s 2013 release, The Expedition. Nature Ganganbaigal was joined on stage by Pat Reilly (guitar), Tamir Hargana (morin khuur, vocals, throat singing), Greg Baker (bass), and Randy Tesser (drums). I’m not sure how they managed it, but the Three Links sound crew had the tones mixed perfectly. The traditional folk music gave me chills. The folk instruments pierced through the PA at just the right level as the throat singing was masterfully harmonized. Clad in traditional Mongolian outfits with a cowboy hat mixed in (Nature now lives in Austin), watching Tengger Cavalry was more than attending a concert, it was a cultural experience. After the 30 minute folk set, the band took a break before returning to the stage to entertain with their brand of Mongolian Metal.
At 10:30 pm, the band took the stage for a second time. This time, Nature had replaced the cowboy hat with a traditional Mongolian headpiece and put on a mask complete with glowing eyes. The crowd gathered at the front of the stage and the hair began to fly. The second set kicked off with the metal version of “Cavalry in Thousands,” followed by the title track of their latest 2018 release, Cian Bi. The energy from the band emanated to the crowd as the set charged on with “War Horse,” “Our Ancestors,” and “Ride Into Grave” and “Glory.” Nature and guitarist Pat joined the crowd in the mosh pit during “Wasted” from their 2016 release kAAn. The set concluded with the track “Tengger Cavalry” from their 2010 release Blood Sacrifice Shaman. If you haven’t checked out Tengger Cavalry, I highly recommend that you do. There’s a little bit of something for everyone in their music and their live show is one of the best I’ve seen.
– Corey Smith
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