Mastodon & Dethklok 11/20/09
The Palladium – Hollywood, CA
Words/Photos by Reverend Justito
On the night of Sunday, November 15th, 2009 I was sitting on the floor of my bathroom puking into my recently cleaned toilet when the unthinkable happened. With no warning at all, warm liquid poop flowed right out of my bottom and straight into my underwear. As I sat with vomit dripping from my beard and pants full of feces, I knew that it could only get better. No matter how rotten I felt at that moment, it would one day pay off. That day just happened to be Wednesday (my first day back at work after having the 24 hour flu for about 36 hours), as I explained my experience in 140 characters via Twitter to the fine folks @thepalladium. They took pity on me and decided to help me gain back the 9 pounds I had lost earlier that week by giving me two free tickets to see the Mastodon and Dethklok co-headline their fine venue (I explained I needed something heavy to weigh me down). Having seen Mastodon before, I knew I ran the risk of having my pants fill with warm liquid scat again, after all, how many bands do you know who actually sound like their name? Sure, Tenacious D may claim they will blow your ass out, Mastodon actually will.
Now, in the interest of fairness, I have to admit, I don’t watch much Television (LOST, South Park and live sporting events for those keeping score at home). So while I have heard of Dethklok from Adult Swim, I had no clue what to expect. Despite the fact they closed the show, and I usually try to write these in order, I want to discuss them first since I don’t have a ton to say. I suppose I expected a Gorrilaz vibe – some ugly old dudes playing backlit behind a video screen with the cartoon superheroes doing whatever it is they do front and center for the mostly male audience. I was slightly wrong, as the video is actually behind the old ugly dudes (not that I am one to talk, 30 and pooping myself). I must say overall, I was very impressed. First off, the music was very heavy, which was nice (I assumed it be more Stryper than Black Dahlia Murder based off how the cartoon characters look). The highlight in my book was the Mermaid Abortion Squad jam, which was a song/video that had a checklist of weapons for Mermaids who swim around and well, you can guess the rest. If anything stuck with me from their set, it’s that I really need to start watching more adult swim. I laughed at many of the cartoon intermissions (kudos to the guy who left the stage to pee) and the songs were really good. I think it may be time to add a third show to my small Television habit.
With money being tight, I had been very bummed that I would miss Mastodon. Ever since I heard “March of the Fire Ants” on Headbangers Ball half a decade ago, I have been obsessed with the beefy Georgia four piece. For as many issues that I have with Live Nation, I can’t thank them and The Palladium enough for choosing me as one of the winners of the twitter free ticket give away. Having missed openers High on Fire and Converge to get a pre drink at the Frolic Room, I managed to walk and get a spot on the floor the second the house lights came down for Mastodon. I got very excited when the band opened with the epic “Oblivion”. I got even more excited when they went right into “Divinations”. Having done no research pre-show, it was this moment that I realized that perhaps they were still playing their most recent release Crack The Skye. I didn’t make it to Coachella, so I assumed I had missed it with their small spring tour, but by the time the band reached the thunderous third track – “Quintessence” I knew for a fact that my blessings continued. I love seeing bands perform albums start fo finish live, and Mastodon doing such a feat – wow. I am as guilty as the rest of listening to my IPOD on shuffle, but as someone who has always appreciated albums and long works, I fear the mainstream death of the album. In a year which a lot of good records have been released, Crack The Skye has managed to stay in heavy rotation over the year.
At the end of “Divinations” I basically stuffed the camera away, further altered my own reality and enjoyed the southern tinged post hardcore sludgeadelia journey. I watched and tried to figure out how they do it. How do they make something so heavy, so brutal yet flow, evolve and sound so pretty at the same time? Musically, the highlights of the album (at least for me) are the longer tracks “The Czar” and “The Last Baron”. The later, was so heavy at the end, I truthfully feared for my bowls (it only got worse with the pre-recorded music that made up the encore break). For as wrapped as I was in the performance, I really am at a loss for words. Mastodon is just that good, and watching them perform an album from front to back was just too much for me to comprehend and try to explain.
The encore I thought was really cool. I assumed they would play some of their bigger numbers, but thankfully I was wrong. The opening duo of “Circle of Cysquatch->Aqua Dementia” just took everything up a level in both heaviness and intensity. When not following trippy images on the screens behind the band, I notice it’s hard to peel my eyes from both bassist/vocalist Troy Sanders and Guitarist/vocalist Brent Hinds. The duo are larger than life and very intimidating, pounding the stage like two pre-historic terrors. Their screams make you feel as if you have had your chest crushed by something out of Jurassic Park, and as sick as it sounds, it’s a feeling I can never get enough of. That’s why I was sad when it was all over. The band closed the night with the elephant tit heavy “Mother Puncher”. 11 songs over approximately 90 minutes simply was not enough for me, I needed more. Sadly, that was not to be, so I headed back and grabbed myself a strong drink, thankful for a night of free music and clean underwear.