Mastodon – November 9th – The Ogden Theatre

Photos By Mitch Kline

The Scene: While it wasn’t quite sold-out, the packed crowd that ventured out to The Ogden to catch Mastodon last week displayed an incredible amount of energy as they thrashed in unision in front of the stage.  As a testament to the wide appeal of the headliners music, it was the kind of crowd where guys with piercings and face tatoos and polo wearing yuppies slammed into each other with giant smiles on their faces before hoisting a skinny teenager up to surf on a sea of outstreched hands.  While plenty of the older folks had earplugs jammed into their heads, I heard countless screams of approval when the soundman boosted the volume well past the earsplitting level just a few songs into Mastodon’s set.  It was, simply put, a metal show and just about everyone on hand knew what they were in for, and was thrilled at the prospect of a morning of ear ringing and maybe even a bruise or two.

Opener: Red Fang. Portland crushers Red Fang warmed up the room quickly, unleashing a relentless thirty minute barrage of riff-heavy, sludgy rock and roll. I hope to see much more of this band in the future.  

The Dillinger Escape Plan: In direct contrast from the straight forward, driving sludgefest of Red Fang,  The Dillinger Escape Plan’s set was frenetic and, well, wild. There’s no doubt about the energy from the stage, with band members climbing on and jumping off over everything on stage and heaving themselves into the crowd. While there is no doubt that they have a legion of dedicated fans, I’ve got to be honest and say that the screaming, obscenity filled noise that filled the room for 45 minutes was pretty much lost on me.

Mastodon: If you have any doubt Mastodon is carrying the torch for metal music, look no further than one of their live shows. The Atlanta quartet barreled into the Ogden Theater last Wednesday in support of their outstanding fifth studio release, The Hunter. The band thrashed through their hour and a half, twenty-one song set, with little time wasted on stage banter. That said, there’s no need for banter or theatrics with Mastodon. Instead, their all-out live assault, which spans their entire catalog, speaks for itself.

Fittingly, the set started with “Dry Bone Valley,” one of the strongest songs on The Hunter, followed by “Black Tongue,” the first single from The Hunter. The band wasn’t about to turn the night into a run through of their latest release though, and soon unleashed a run of songs from Blood Mountain and Leviathan, arguably two of the best metal albums of the last ten years. This stretch of progressive metal mayhem was highlighted by the back-to-back Blood Mountain prog-metal masterpeices “Capillarian Crest” and “Colony of Birchmen.”

The rest of the set was more of the same relentlessness. From the brutal, riff-heavy assault of The Hunter tracks like “Curl of the Burl,” “Spectralight,” and “Bedazzled Fingernails,” to the genre-defying “Circle of Cysquatch” and “Aqua Dimensia,” Mastodon whipped the crowd into a frenzy. With ears ringing from the final notes of “Blood and Thunder,” many in the room were shocked when the band left the stage and the lights came up eliminating the possibility of an encore.  Despite the abrubt end to the show, there was little doubt in the room that metal music is alive and well as long as Mastodon is around.

Setlist: Dry Bone Valley, Black Tongue, Crystal Skull, I Am Ahab, Capillarian Crest, Colony of Birchmen, Megalodon, Blasteroid, Sleeping Giant, Ghost of Karelia, All the Heavy Lifting, Curl of the Burl, Spectrelight, Bedazzled Fingernails, Circle of Cysquatch, Aqua Dementia, Crack the Skye, Where Strides the Behemoth, Iron Tusk, March of the Fire Ants, Blood and Thunder

Energy: A
Sound: A
Musicianship: A+
Stage Presence: A-
Set / Light Show: B

Overall: A