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CONVERSE REPRESENT Night 4: QUICKSAND, MASTODON, HIGH ON FIRE, SAVIOURS, & HOT LUNCH

Last night was night four of the Converse Represent Free Concert Series and holy hell was it a night. Slim's became the palace of all things metal…and shoes, or rather sneakers as their ads wallpapering the venue insisted.

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Slim's was laid out in a way that I have never seen it before. On one wall was a projection of the lineup (you know, just in case you'd rather not look at the stage) and on another was a loop of cheering people, Twitter/Instagram photos that posted as the bands were playing, and a map of San Francisco showing what neighborhoods were being represented (get it?). The support beams of the venue were plastered with flyers of each night's event and there was even a photo booth downstairs. It felt very much like Converse was trying to recreate the feel of a South By Southwest showcase, and that's what the show felt like from the beginning. There were short sets, everyone seemed to be in a hurry, and there was advertising for one brand everywhere.

San Francisco's own Hot Lunch led the night with an upbeat brand of bluesy stoner rock. Their sound sits somewhere between Clutch and Graveyard, but they more straight up fun rock'n'roll than anything. The band was tight, akthough the star was guitarist Aaron Nudelman with his Kirk Hammet School of Wah leads. The locals on the floor gave it up for their fellow San Franciscans.DSCN1892

Next was the Oakland doom quartet Saviours. I have heard a lot about this band over the past few years from some metal hipster friends, and every one of them are right. They are a gem that not enough people have heard of. They play a faster, almost thrashy at times, style of doom influenced heavy metal with harmonized guitar-work and the flyest bassist I've ever seen in Carson Binks. Their set was one of the stronger ones of the night and featured a few special guests, one of which was Mastodon guitarists and face tattoo enthusiast Brent Hinds.DSCN1951

As pleased as I was to find that the bands I didn't know prior were great, it was time for the reasons why I was there in the first place. The first being High on Fire.

I haven't taken the opportunity to see Matt Pike's post-Sleep trio live in a number of years, but the fact that they are a force on a stage never left me. Their four song set was akin to a beating, both sonically and literally, since this was the first time a pit broke out during the evening. "Frost Hammer" and "Snakes of the Divine" were stand outs, but the set was start-to-finish unbelievable. DSCN2028

Then… Mastodon. Throughout the night you could spot members of Mastodon around the venue and the guys were all smiles. Spirits were high and that energy translated into a fun and, at times, funny set from the guys. Unsurprisingly, the band's set consisted mostly of songs from their newest record The Hunter, what did surprise me as a long time fan was the complete lack of anything from Leviathan or Remission. I cannot complain too much though considering they played my favorite tracks from Blood Mountain ("Crystal Skull") and Crack The Skye ("Oblivion" and the title-track). I did hear someone behind me whine, "Aw, no Blood and Thunder?" though. I had not seen the band since their Crack The Skye tour (with High on Fire oddly enough), and finally experiencing songs like "Blasteroid, " "Stargasm," and "The Sparrow" in person completely made the night. It was crazy seeing them at the level they are in a smaller room like Slim's too. Now I actually want to go to Mayhem Fest just to see them again.photo

Following the closing notes of "The Sparrow," there was a real end of the show vibe and people began to make their way towards the door while Mastodon began to pack up. Drummer Brann Dailor got on the lead mic, thanked everyone for coming, then asked for us to stick around for his favorite band Quicksand. I literally forgot there was more to the night because Mastodon, owned the night like the headliner they usually are.

Quicksand hit the stage and those who knew the band before that night went apeshit. However, many Mastodon fans didn't slow their trek to the exit. If you're like me and aren't that familiar, or familiar at all, with Quicksand it should be said that they aren't metal. They're in that weird 90's not-quite-metal/not-quite-grunge pocket with bands like Helmet. I read "Post-Hardcore" for them, but with bands like Dance Gavin Dance repping that genre these days, I can see how that might be an insult. Anyway, It was an odd headliner for the night, but it was quite a "get" for Converse since they reunited (again) last year. Yes, it is an odd transition from proggy space sludge or whatever Mastodon is into unique 90's-sounding alt-rock/harcore in Quicksand, but it worked in the end since they can pull on a hell of a show. They converted me too. I'm planning on picking up one of their records this afternoon.DSCN2113

In summary, Converse Represent night four was a great success.

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For those in the Bay Area, the new Converse store, the reason for all of this, opens June 28th at 828 Market St.

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