Ghost & Mastodon 04/26/12
Gibson Ampitheatre – Universal City, CA
Words/Photos by Reverend Justito
Universal Studios Hollywood is always a bizarre place to see a heavy metal show. As you make the long walk from your car to the Gibson Amphitheatre it’s hard not to laugh as metal fans stuff their faces with food court fair as tourists walk past and modern day Madonna songs blast upon the jumbotron. I actually thought it was an odd place for the Heritage Hunter Tour to be stopping in Southern California and upon seeing how many sections of seats were closed off inside the large venue it was at least refreshing to know my suspicions were correct. Undersold or not I was just excited to be catching Ghost and Mastodon together.
The show was set to kick off at 8:15 pm, but actually started around 8:13pm. As music you would hear on church during Sunday morning service rang through the PA many fans rushed in from the lobby to their seats. As the intro music faded the familiar bouncy bass line of “Con Clavi Con Dio” began and our ritual was underway. For thirty minutes Ghost enchanted the few diehards who made it into the venue while winning over every single individual smart enough to show up on time. Having spent a decade now living in Los Angeles, I don’t recall ever hearing a band refer to us as Tinsletown, but that is exactly what Papa Emeritus addressed us as. With the band’s February 2012 appearance at The Roxy being one of the best shows I have ever had the privilege of seeing, I knew a 30 minute opening slot would never be able to compare. While brief, it was still magical and I am still convinced that one day we will be watching Ghost headline venues this size in America. For the first time in my life I actually taped an entire performance of a band, and you can watch Ghost for yourself down below.
The last time I saw a show at Gibson Amphitheatre, Live Nation incompetence cost me a chance to see Mastodon. Thankfully that was not the case on this night. Having just seen the band in New Orleans last October, I was excited to see what they could do in a “headline” capacity. With their most recent release The Hunter being my top album of 2012, I was hoping for a set that was heavy on songs from the record and I got exactly that. Opening with “Black Tongue” we were in store for 75 minutes of hard hitting Mastodon action.
The group followed up “Black Tongue” by taking it back a few years to Blood Mountain. Both “Hand of Stone” and “Crystal Skull” got the mosh pit moving as an impressive light show caused more than one fan to fight of seizures. Yet after those two songs, the next 45 minutes was dedicated to material from The Hunter. With limited interaction of the crowd, highlights of this run of songs included “Dry Bone Valley,” “Octopus Has No Friends,” “Blasteroid” and of course the title track “The Hunter.”
The group snuck in a stellar version of “Crack The Sky” before going back to more songs from The Hunter. Instead of listing off all the songs the band played; let’s just say they didn’t play one of my favorites “Creature Lives.” That didn’t matter as the show was still incredible. The problem with Mastodon is that they are too good. It’s hard not to say cliché terms like “they killed it” or “brought the house down” because that is exactly what they do. Towards the end of the set, they did sneak in fan favorites “Aqua Dementia” and the mighty “Blood and Thunder” before closing with “The Sparrow.”
What I really love about Mastodon is that they change things up each time you see them. I do believe this was my 5th time seeing the band and I am inclined to say this was the best one yet. Phenomenal playing, killer light show and the sound was superb. As I am not a fan of Opeth (I have a ton of respect for them, but they tend to put me to sleep) I called it an early night and made the long walk back to the car grateful to catch two of the best live bands on the planet together on a Thursday night in Tinsletown.