Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Mastodon at the Music Hall of Williamsburg

Has it occurred to anyone recently how progressive metal has finally gotten cool? It took some doing, of course: a lot of the flash that prog metal drew from prog rock had to be stripped away, the music had to acquire some more brutality, and having all of the major players look like members of hipster nation certainly did its part to garner some acceptance among the more br00tal-loving indie kids, but having musicians with big beards playing eight-minute songs with heavy riffs in unusual time signatures is as much a driving force in metal right now as bleak black metal soundscapes or crushing groove riffs.

Leading the pack, of course, is Mastodon, the beast that launched a thousand supporting acts, including tourmates Intronaut and Kylesa, and a band of such stature that they could use the idea of playing the entirety of their new album Crack the Skye as a selling point for attending the show. Perhaps we really do live in the new no bullshit era, because a premise that would seem overhyped and overblown on the surface (Really? The whole album? Isn't that a bit, well, pretentious?) was merely the first act of a performance that flowed seamlessly through an additional forty or so minutes of material from Blood Mountain, Leviathan, and Remission without straining the listener's attention span. Seriously, these guys are really that good.

Hanging over a railing on side platform that runs along the stage left side of the Music Hall of Williamsburg's wonderful space, I watched the crowd - many of whom had been rocking out for hours - throw themselves into a frenzy during cuts like "Megalodon" with the same wild abandon that they had shown all night, tapping into what seemed a limitless supply of energy. I watched the band move from the translation their current melodic tale of mysticism and magic to the far more brutal blasts of songs like "Bladecatcher" and "Crystal Skull" with intense, overwhelming authority, making everything look so very easy to accomplish. I saw them bask in the audience's glow without saying a word while still making us feel like we were all part of the same metal brother-and-sisterhood. Let's not put too fine of a point on it: I was fucking blown away.

1 comment:

JB Martell said...

I can't be the only one in the world that thinks its nice to finally seeing Mastadon get some mainstream success. I know its about the music, but its also nice to get a big fat pay cheque for your hard work.

Oh and long live the flying V playing YETI