Monday, April 20, 2009

Pleistocene Rock Revisited

Almost 4 years ago to the day, Umlaut and Mastodon were both HERE..

Mastodon / Kylesa
Great American Music Hall, San Francisco

April 19, 2009

According to the Umlaut Archives, this was the 6th time I've seen Mastodon, but I have to admit that my fandom probably spiked back in 2005 with the Leviathan album. In the meantime, Mastodon has built a solid fanbase and this show sold out a month in advance. Impressive.

There was some last minute ticket drama that found me holding 2 extras, but it was nothing some text messages couldn't solve.. THANKS to Alan and HRC for helping me find worthy takers. Better feast than famine, right?

Umlaut is of the opinion that as good as Mastodon have been, they initially copped alot of their riffs and style from Neurosis.. However, there doesn't appear to be any hard feelings since Scott Kelly has appeared on the last 3 Mastodon albums.. and Dave Ed was at the show tonight. Yet, it's another example of that timeless Lock 'N Loll irony of the band who copies being more popular than the original. I just hope Mastodon says a prayer to Steve von Till's beard before they go onstage this Summer opening for Metallica in Europe.

In a scenario that was eerily similar to last week, Mastodon performed their new album Crack The Skye in its entirety. I had been listening to the new album for the past month, but it just wasn't clicking for me... However, on the morning of the show I put it on over Sunday morning coffee... and... the new songs finally clicked with my brain. Weird. I then listened to it 2x more over the course of the day to get my head around it a bit more. Evidently the story that Crack The Skye tells involves astral travel, wormholes, and Rasputin......... Well, okay then!

Whether the story translated to the live stage or not is a subject to debate, but this was easily the best Mastodon set that I've seen in 4 years and the use of a fancy LED video screen behind them took their presentation to another level.. The band was much more focused while playing the new material then I think I've ever seen them before... and the encore set of older material put the new songs in perspective and acted as a thunderous conclusion to a pretty epic performance. However, they didn't play 'Blood And Thunder'.. which I thought was odd since it's the closest thing to a "hit" Mastodon has had to date. Oh well.

The visual presentation for Mastodon's show was designed by Josh Graham... who is the full time visual artist for... Neurosis. Remember what I said earlier about Mastodon "borrowing" from Neurosis? I'm just saying...

It was the hottest day of the year in S.F. so far... which meant it was a fucking sweatbox inside the Great American.. There was also an unusual amount of sweaty Bay Area Metal Royalty in the venue tonight including Jason of Black Cobra, Dave of Neurosis, Matt of High On Fire, 2/3 of Totimoshi, Rob of Machine Head, 1/2 of Metallica, and 107.7 The Bone Metal Zone DJ Nikki Black (who I finally introduced myself to; I had sent her a buncha Metal swag last year..). You don't see that much Metal talent all in one place very often.. Oh, and Jello was there too; he's now been stalking me at 6 of the 18 shows I've been to this year so far. Here we go again.

However, as good as Mastodon were, Kylesa made the show for me; I fucking loved them! Normally 2 drummers onstage would irritate me, but Kylesa utilizes this band configuration (2 dummers, 2 guitarist, bass) to create a heavy Tribal Metal Groove thing rather than the generic riffs that most other Metal bands generate these days. I started typing this rant after I got home.. It was after midnight and I cranked the latest Kylesa CD that I bought at the show.. It was 78 degrees inside Casa de Umlaut due to the heatwave and Buggers The Kittie played with the cellophane wrap from the CD as I got sucked into Kylesa's volume all over again. Unexpected magic is the best kind. Ironically, 2 years ago I had a different reaction to the band. Hmmm.

It's always nice to attend a show where you know that if you got into a fistfight there would be people who have your back.. so a shout out to Ray, Old Metal Tim (not to be confused with Timo), Jason, Alan, and HRC.

I was crazy from the heat and wasn't in the mood to do a merch audit, but Kylesa only charged $20 for a shirt AND a CD! Unexpected bargains are the best kind. On the way back to the car, some pimply-faced teenagers called us fags. THANKS to Old Metal Tim for letting me skate into the show as his +1... For The Newbies, some history:

Old Metal Tim with Mr. Kilmister - 1986