Mastodon @ Starland Ballroom (2/10/2007)

I had only caught Mastodon once before but really loved what they were all about so I made sure that my weekend of Metal with my friends would be complete by getting to their show at the Starland Ballroom in Sayreville, NJ tonight. Sadly, a last minute snafu/miscommunication had me unable to take photos at the gig but report on it we did and to read this item just continue past their logo below.

Logo - Mastodon

Artist: Mastodon
Venue: Starland Ballroom (New York, NY)
Opener: Converge, Priestess
Date: 2/10/2007
Label: Warner Music Group

When you listen to what Mastodon has done musically with their debut release “Leviathan” and then follow the progression along to their major label release “Blood Mountain”, you will find that they are unlike most Metal bands that are on the scene today. Obviously they are heavy as their name implies powerful giants from ancient times but there is nothing “Old School” about them. In a world of Extreme and Black meets Death Metal we find Mastodon changing the mix by offering up elements akin to Fusion and Jazz. The resulting mix gives the listener Metal music that is both technical and avant-garde which gets twisted around into new blends of aggressive music. Tonight the band would be playing a sold out gig at Sayreville NJ’s Starland Ballroom, and given this was the only vicinity show for me I just had to make sure we brought some level of coverage to the readers. I headed to the venue from Upstate New York with SoT’s Pete Pardo and I think we clocked about eighty miles from door to door by the time we arrived. After some initial confusion with entry we eventually made our way inside. Priestess and Converge would be direct support for the show but we would sadly miss anything that Priestess would be playing. Instead we would be in place at the exact time that Converge would be hitting the stage and at first I looked forward to this since I had heard several good things about them from fans of the Metalcore genre. To be quite honest, they just didn’t do it for me and while energetic on the stage were coming off as if they were playing one long song. Every riff seemed the same and the singer was just not as original as others I had seen of late. Some of the crowd loved them, and others were not. My section kept hoping that each song was the last and as they progressed I hungered more and more for Mastodon music. Perhaps they are better on recording than I was able to appreciate at this gig. We shall see if they are on a bill I attend again.

It was a Metal thunder clap when Mastodon hit the stage and by now the entire floor of Starland was like an ocean of humanity. I’ve attended sold out shows at this place before and each audience becomes an entity unto itself so this was interesting to observe. I had secured a great spot on one of the side areas of the club which allowed me to see over the masses and right onto the stage. This is part of the appeal of this venue as there are a number of such locations and it allows the reviewer or the timid a little safer vantage point during the shows. I admit that being in such a venue under the circumstances was an incredible experience and this is part based on watching Mastodon’s continual climb to the top of the Metal Mountain. I caught them as an opener for Slayer on a couple of occasions and with each appearance they seemed to be winning more and more fans over with their impressive and expressive levels of performance. Twin guitar slayers Brent Hinds and Bill Kelliher quickly begin to mystify the crowd with their techniques and string shredding abilities. Bassist Troy Sanders growls through the material but it is more impassioned than a typical gut wrenching Metal style that many others are doing. Through it all is the incredible drumming of Brian Daillor – this guy is probably one of the best that Metal has in its ranks at this time. He performs like an octopus and is a machine of constant motion. He proves that the level of technical acumen can increase exponentially in this kind of music if you know how to execute it.

As a fan of Mastodon who is still on the new side, I was completely blown away by this show. The set list focused not only on their two well known releases of “Leviathan” and “Blood Mountain” but also delivered a couple of surprises. You could easily tell by the reaction of the audience that these regular guys from Georgia are one of the most appealing and hardest working of them all when it comes to bands on tour. I don’t think anyone in attendance found any problems with the songs performed tonight. The energy in this room was intense and it looked like Mastodon was feeding off the power show by the flying bodies from the crowd. Oh yes my friends the moshing and crowd surfing was in full force from pretty much note one. The bands ever-climbing success might surprise some people but if this is the case then you need to both open up your mind and also check them out in concert. They are an experience that you will not soon forget and this is a great aspect to take away from a performance since there is no reliance on tricks or video screens. It is all about the Metal when it comes to Mastodon. Don’t miss the boat on these guys and make some time to see what everyone is so excited about.

Set List:
1. This Mortal Soil
2. The Wolf Is Loose
3. Crystal Skull
4. Capillarian Crest
5. I Am Ahab
6. Sleeping Giant
7. Circle Of Cysquatch
8. Iron Tusk
9. March Of The Fire Ants
10. Where Strides The Behemoth
11. Mother Puncher
12. Aqua Dementia
13. Bladecatcher
14. Colony Of Birchmen
15. Megalodon
16. Blood And Thunder
17. Hearts Alive

Official Web site: www.mastodonrocks.com

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