Mastodon @ Brixton Academy Review (Feb 11th 2012)
“Forget it man get with the countdown, Shake this square world & blast off for kicksville“. Metal in the last 20 years has been giving off a bit of a toxic stench. Too much shouty teen angst, mixed with too much focus on image, has left the genre hobbling along like a three-legged dog. Where are the bands that give off an aura like Metallica, Rammstein, Colour Haze, Kyuss, Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden and Blue Cheer? Mastodon be one of them, but other modern metal bands seem to follow a very specific and uninspiring formula. Technically good, but on an emotional level (be it wanting to go mental or just smash something), many just don’t cut it.
I’ve been a ‘fan’ of Mastodon since they released the immense concept album Leviathan. I use the term ‘fan’ loosely, as I’d never actually seen them live and only own Leviathan and Blood Mountain (the rest are Spotify listens…at the moment). Pathetic, really.
My expectations before the gig? High. With a supporting line-up of Red Fang and Dillinger Escape Plan, surely the night was going to be mental.
From experience, weekend gigs for medium/big artists are very hit and miss. More people means more chance for inane chatter during the performances. I’d be surprised though, as metal crowds are generally one of the friendliest and most knowledgeable. Beforehand, food was at Loco Mexicano which is located by Victoria tube. Solid enough Tex-Mex, but wouldn’t take an excursion to go there again. Brixton Academy is always a good venue, partially because of their 100% awesome hotdogs.
We caught the last few songs of Red Fang. Technically good, but they suffered from the dreaded Support Band Syndrome (a little uninspiring and nondescript). Saying that, I would catch them again, as there was enough there to warrant a second watch. Now onto Dillinger. So shit, they made me want to relive Toy supporting the Horrors. I would like to see what their practice sessions are like. Based upon what I saw, I would expect them to involve questions such as: ‘shall I jump off the amp 79 or 76 times?’; ‘is my amp big enough?’; ‘is this pulled face awesome?’; ‘shall we play our songs in tune?’. I jest, they would never mention anything about music. The best part of their set happened when I helped to break up a fight (there goes the friendly metaller statement). Devil horns and bouncing, that’s what Dillingers do best!
After what felt like a century, a PROPER band made its appearance (Mastodon and Dillinger are worlds apart). Fans want to see good intense music, with a bit of mayhem thrown in. Shit bands don’t seem to understand that music creates the mayhem, not over-the-top actions.
Each band member provides vocals. These range from solid (Troy), angry strangled cat (Brent), knackered drummer (Brann) and fierce scream (Bill). Musically, they were very tight, and pretty much showed how metal should be played; making you feel like your face has just been put through a lawnmower, yet you still want more. The Hunter songs were really impressive live, so the album has been on repeat a fair bit since then. The biggest song highlights were March of The Fire Ants (amazing example of Brent’s cat scream), Black Tongue and getting to sing along to Blood and Thunder. Towards the end of the set, the intensity got so much that jumpers and shirts were being thrown all over the place. Now I say thrown, there’s a good chance people were literally exploding (like in War of the Worlds). The pièce de résistance was the releasing of red balloons from the Academy ceiling. Red balloons at the Brixton Academy at a Mastodon concert, mental! This is the point where I took THE photo (a rare thing for me), which shows the security guard ‘Dobbie’ in front of the mixing desk and the balloons. Shortly afterwards, the band took a photo of the crowd, announced it was their biggest UK gig to date and said their goodbyes.
On the way out, I managed to drop my ear plugs in some fluid. It may have been vomit, urine or beer, I have no idea. I will just need to remember to wash them before my next outing. I also managed to direct someone to a club I didn’t know, through guess work. The guys selling the cheap fake T-shirts outside Brixton are annoying, but hey not everyone can spend £15/£20 on an official band shirt.
Mastodon are an amazing live band. Overall, an amazing gig that will be making its way into my top 10 memorable gigs.
- Red Fang
- Dillinger Escape Plan