The Fox Theater, Oakland, California
May 1, 2014
This was one of those rare all killer, no filler bills featuring 3 bands that fall into Umlaut's favorite category. Attending shows at The Fox was made infinitely more surgical when Rudy's Can't Fail opened next door; pre-gig food and libations was never easier. I don't know if it's merely a coincidence but it seems like guest lists always arrive late at The Fox. I'm not saying this to slam anybody.. but it's odd.. but in the end everything usually works out fine. If only all shows were this easy:
According to the Umlaut Archives this was the 3rd time I've seen Kvelertak. Due to the slight Will Call drama and the early set time, I missed the first song or two of Kvelertak's short 30 minute set... which was a bummer because I've come to be a huge fan of these Norwegians. I always enjoy when an opening band takes over a stage and makes it their own and that's what Kvelertak did. There was a decent crowd on the main floor to urge them on, but our pre-show meal was longer than their set. Given the circumstances, I was just happy to have seen these warriors from the North again. However, I did miss the owl mask which left me feeling empty.
According to the Umlaut Archives this was the 5th time I've seen Gojira. The Frenchmen were as brutal as always and had more stage production than the headliner which was interesting. The set's 2nd song 'The Heaviest Matter of the Universe' was quintessential and the best I've ever seen the band lay it down. Yes, their songs all tend to sound blast-beaty samey, but I admire how they can generate pit action that is as frothy as a café au lait at a Parisian cafe in the Spring. Croissant 'N Roll!
According to the Umlaut Archives this was the 16th time I've seen Mastodon, which is hard to believe. It's weird how trivia like that pops up after you've been following a band for 10 years. They opened with the vintage 'Hearts Alive' and it reminded me there was a time when I was annoyed that Mastodon basically "borrowed" so much from Neurosis (song structures.. vocal stylings..). I stopped short of calling it plagiarism because Scott and Steve of Neurosis both played on Mastodon albums. If they didn't have a problem then neither did I and once I got past that I became a Mastodon fan. Compared to past tours the staging was stripped down simple with no video screeens... but they did break out the lasers mid-set. Tonight also featured a nicely compelling setlist that pretty much spanned the band's entire discography but did not include 'Blood And Thunder'... but did debut the great new song 'High Road'. Speaking of "high".. there was alot of pot smoke being generated by the crowd. Contact. High.
If you bought one of every Mastodon merch item you would have paid around $350. On the way back to the car, some pimply-faced teenagers called us fags. As I was typing this I realized just how much I've been around Mastodon over the past 10 years and I had not really thought about it until now. It's interesting how 16 shows in 10 years fly by just.. like... that.