Mastodon's Troy Sanders performs at the Wiltern
Photo: The Recording Academy
Welcome to The Set List. Here you'll find the latest concert recaps for many of your favorite, or maybe not so favorite, artists. Our bloggers will do their best to provide you with every detail of the show, from which songs were on the set list to what the artist was wearing to which out-of-control fan made a scene. Hey, it'll be like you were there. And if you like what you read, we'll even let you know where you can catch the artist on tour. Feel free to drop us a comment and let us know your concert experience. Oh, and rock on.
By Jamie Harvey
In the wake of the heaviness of Red Fang and the chaos of the Dillinger Escape Plan, I stood front and center at the rail for my 11th Mastodon show on Nov. 1 at the Wiltern in Los Angeles.
The last time I saw them was in August with Soundgarden and I had promised myself that I wouldn't put myself in this position again, since I felt like I almost died. But here I was again. That's what great music does to you.
This was the first night of a tour in support of their most recent release, The Hunter, which takes a step back from their 2009 progressive metal concept album, Crack The Skye, in favor of a more straightforward hard rock approach with very tongue-in-cheek song titles.
Beginning with two tracks from The Hunter, "Dry Bone Valley" and "Black Tongue," I took in these songs as it was my first time hearing them live. Since vocal duties are shared between three of the four members — drummer Brann Dailor, guitarist Brent Hinds and bassist Troy Sanders — the songs began to take on another dimension for me as I learned each of their roles.
"Crystal Skull" took the crowd back to 2006's Blood Mountain, and "I Am Ahab" took us even further back to 2004's Leviathan. "Capillarian Crest" was one of my favorites of the night. As the notes flew from Hinds' guitar, you couldn't even see his fingers move they were going so fast. "Colony Of Birchmen," which garnered the band their first GRAMMY nomination in 2006 for Best Metal Performance, complemented "Capillarian Crest" well as they sang the solemn lyrics, "Gone away/My heart's gone away/Take everything/My heart's gone away/Take it now."
The long instrumental portions of "Megalodon" and "Sleeping Giant," two of my other favorites of the night, bookended the lyric-forward "Blasteroid," showcasing both Mastodon's musicality and songwriting strengths.
Hearing "Ghost Of Karelia" took me back to when I first fell in love with Mastodon, when I followed their tour all over just to hear Crack The Skye performed in its entirety over and over again.
Four songs from the new album came next. Usually, when a band does this merely a month after the album's release, the crowd loses energy because they don't know the words. This was not the case this time. The crowd sang along and were just as enthusiastic about the new material, and the band seamlessly played old and new material together with the same kind of energy. While Mastodon has maintained a certain level of complexity, I noticed how they've experienced with progressive metal over the years in comparing old and new tracks.
"Circle Of Cysquatch" is always amazing live, as is "Aqua Dementia." Those are two songs that make me headbang until my neck hurts, and possess so much energy that they light the band with a different fire. "Crack The Skye" took me on a journey because there are so many parts to that song, the way it swells and then crushes when it turns heavy.
The end of the set featured two songs from their first album, 2003's Remission, interwoven with two crowd favorites — "Iron Tusk" and "Blood And Thunder." And with that, like tracks of the great beasts that once roamed the Earth, Mastodon's set showed us where they've been and where they're going.
"Dry Bone Valley"
"I Am Ahab"
"Colony Of Birchmen"
"Ghost Of Karelia"
"All The Heavy Lifting"
"Curl Of The Burl"
"Circle Of Cysquatch"
"Crack The Skye"
"Where Strides The Behemoth"
"March Of The Fire Ants"
"Blood And Thunder"
To catch Mastodon in a city near you, click here tour dates.
(Texas-based Jamie Harvey is the rock community blogger for GRAMMY.com. She attended 112 shows in 2010. You can follow her musical adventures and concert recaps at www.hardrockchick.com.)