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Mighty Mastodon

4 Feb

I dropped history as quick as I could in high school. Still, I did think I knew what a Mastodon was. Prehistoric, huge elephant-type, right? Now, I am not so sure. I am thinking a Mastodon is an animal of magic. Or at least that’s what it was last week. And it had a number of tricks up its furry sleeve.

1. No-frills rockers Red Fang in the support slot
Hailing from Portland, this authentic four-piece is lovable for so many reasons. They make awesomely insane videos. They seem totally down-to-earth. They look like they immensely enjoy being on stage. They make you wonder how they ever found each other. And they really, really rock. A solid circa three-quarter hour set long. It was awesome to see these guys do their things someplace else than youtube. And what a monster groove. My buddies, all Red Fang fanboys, were elated. It definitely calls for getting all the music available and diving headfirst into it (possibly holding a liquid refreshment in each hand).

Mastodon @ Frankfurt Batschkapp and Essigfabrik Cologne2. Letting The Hunter speak for itself
There are chatty bands and there are not so chatty bands. I usually like it when there’s some talk between songs but for a band as atmospheric as Mastodon, shutting up really suits the show. They simply let the songs do the talking. Lots of stuff from the new record “The Hunter” on this tour, but also a few favorites from previous albums, lined up snuggly to form what feels like a narrative one could get lost in. I’ve never been to a show that told a story before. It semi-boggled my mind.

3. Charisma
Yes, I used that word. It’s usually reserved for self-important press outlets and frontmen like Bono. And it’s usually not used for four guys based out of Atlanta, sporting some very individual concept hair. But, regardless of the billions of years of jading gigxpertise under my belt, Mastodon did manage to create the illusion that they were truly playing for me – well, and everyone else there, obviously. Experiencing that is like the rock-version of finger-pointing, and it wraps you up in this beautiful gig bubble. It’s an incredible feeling and contagious, it seems – looking around the audience I saw a lot of blissed-out faces. And the best news is: this “high” lasts for a day or so. I mentioned this to a bearded ally of mine who has close ties to Mastodon and there was little surprise. Supposedly, I got a full dose of the Mastovibe. Which would explain why I went to see them again just four days later.

4. Sound you want to wrap your head around
Mastodon’s thickly layered sludge rock is the metal equivalent of 500 count Egyptian cotton. You can sink into it. You can feel it’s layers. It’s densely woven and intricate. It’s almost impossible to wrap your head around. But when you do, it’s like somebody pressed play in your mind. And the movie that follows is one of the best you’ve ever seen.

See, it was magic. All the way from the highly energetic “Dry Bone Valley” to the sing-along set-closer “The Creature Lives”. If you’re not intrigued yet, I fear you may have the emotional landscape of a Keanu Reeves character. If you’re a little petrified of experiencing this for yourself, I totally understand. However you feel about it, I would recommend that you do go see Mastodon for yourself. But if you come out a relentless fangirl/fanboy, don’t say I didn’t warn you.

More on Red Fang here.
Read Red Fang’s awesome blog here.
More on Mastodon here.

P.S.: On the subject of connections in metal, I read that bassist/vocalist Troy Sanders’ brother is Kyle Sanders of Bloodsimple, one of my all-time favorite bands. Looks like some families get all the talent.