Last week, the conceptual prog/thrash/stoner metal masters in MASTODON came to the intimate Fine Line Music Cafe in the heart of downtown Minneapolis’s club district in support of their brilliant new album Crack the Skye, and without a single word spoken to the audience the entire night, the band played through a gripping set that left the devoted Minnesota crowd salivating for more. It’s one thing to make every one of your albums into a separate concept piece, but it’s an entirely different story when you are able to execute that concept, front-to-back, in front of the live audience. However, MASTODON succeeded at just that by dedicating the entire first half of their set to the new release, and it didn’t even end there; in fact, they treated each of their releases with the same type of reverence, playing back through their career with mini-conceptual sets devoted to Blood Mountain, Leviathan, and Remission as the night went on…
Crack the Skye was played in order, and it couldn’t have sounded better than it did at the Fine Line on Wednesday, April 29. The guitar interplay was thick, loud, and crunchy over the insane drum backdrop from Brann Dailor, sounding both heavy as hell and as lush, beautiful, and textured as you might imagine. MASTODON has the unique ability to play heavy rock that tends to get tripped out but never loses sight of the fact that it’s main purpose is to fuckin’ rock! Fine Line’s sold out crowd showed that they certainly appreciated the heaviness throughout the night, and the moshing only subdued a few times during some of the most Pink Floydian moments. Meanwhile, those not partying down front were treated to a kaleidoscope-like psychedelic visual display that cycled through pictures of bearded men and other epic imagery behind the band, appropriately reflecting the all the mind-bending nuances of the mammoth performance (and definitely justifying any audience cannabis consumption taking place before they took to the stage) as they took shape in front of us.
MASTODON, "Oblivion (live at Fine Line Music Cafe, 04/29/09)"
videos courtesy of Chris Deline at CultureBully.com
However, things really kicked into high gear when the band stepped back onto stage for their second set of the night. As the band roared into the first notes of the psychonaut thrasher “Bladecatcher” from Blood Mountain, a renewed fervor hit the pit that didn’t let up until the end. Fans seemed to celebrate each time a new song began, a sure sign that of the future trouble the band might have in putting together albums that can stack up adequately against their back catalog. Nevermind that now though, because at the Fine Line last week the band had more control of their sound and their crowd than any other band I’ve seen all year. The show was an ambitious one, but in the end it brought things full circle, beautifully introducing fans of the old the the new and vice versa.
more MASTODON videos: Bladecatcher | Colony of the Birchmen
MASTODON photos: Gallery
Ghost Of Karelia
Crack The Skye
The Last Baron
Colony Of Birchmen
The Wolf Is Loose
March Of The Fire Ants
Not to be outdone, the underground pyschedelic sludge metal vets in KYLESA came into town supporting their new album Static Tensions, and they played a set that left most of the unsuspecting crowd taking serious note of who was on stage in front of them. To anyone in metal band, KYLESA’s dirty, headbanging sonic presence is quite enviable, and the fact that they’re the direct support to MASTODON’s sold out tour is probably even more enviable. To sum it up succinctly, this cult of sludge is truly a “band’s band”, if you know what I mean; during KYLESA's performance, most of the dudes in the room that I recognized from other area bands were standing at attention on their tippy-toes, both watching intently and likely fantasizing about stepping in as the band's sixth member. Everybody sings, they’ve got two drummers, males, females, and they play some very, very, very sick music. I mean, what's not to love?
KYLESA photos: Gallery
As expected, the underground prog/sludge heavyweights in INTRONAUT started things off properly with their poly-rhythmic doom metal. Most of the set was focused around Prehistoricisms and The Challenger EP, with only a single song taken from earlier material. All around, the band sounded extremely tight and super heavy last night, and for as technical as their music is, they still came across as a pretty carefree group of musicians. If I would’ve found them in the venue, I would’ve gladly offered to roll one up with the dudes like they requested mid-set.
INTRONAUT videos: The Challenger | Whittler of Fortune
INTRONAUT photos: Gallery
photos and writing by Ryan Buege from Mind Inversion
videos filmed by Chris Deline at Culture Bully