Last Thursday night, when half of the Bay was either at the Warriors game, or at home watching it, a different type of crowd piled into the Fox Theater in downtown Oakland. Dressed for the occasion with in seas of black tshirts, jeans, and the occasional his and hers booty shorts that read “Asstodon” across the cheeks. This discerning audience came for one reason (well two, if you count drinking as a reason, which I ALWAYS count drinking as a reason) and one reason alone, to watch Mastodon, and Gojira completely destroy the stage.
With “Once More ‘Round The Sun” set for release at the end of June, Mastodon has embarked on one last tour to squeeze that sweet sweet juice from utters of “The Hunter”. Having toured last year with The Rockstar Energy Mayhem Festival, and only playing a measly 40 min set, This time they are headlining like a Boss, and bring out French metal mavens Gojira and Kvelertak.
There is something special about seeing a band perform right before they release a new album. They don’t have any need to load up the setlist with material that you have no doubt been blasting on repeat for the last 2 years, and they get a chance to pull out some long missed, but not forgotten tracks from heir back catalog.
After a truly massive set by Gojira which completely blew the minds of many in the audience, Mastodon took the stage. Bathed in blue and green lights the quartet from Atlanta started the night off with the deliberately slow intro of “Hearts Alive” from “Leviathan”. However, this was only to lure the audience into the false reality that Mastodon would be playing a laid back, groovy setlist. For “Hearts Alive” was followed up by “Divinations” and the so good it hurts “Crusher Destroyer” from the “Remission” album.
Although there were a couple tracks from “The Hunter” peppered into the setlist, Mastodon kept it to old school mayhem and mostly pulled from “Blood Mountain” and “Leviathan” With Brann’s drums set to “murder” through the whole night, and the rest of the band crushing the strings with blacksmith like precision, Mastodon escaped their “Sludge Metal” label, and swiftly transformed into a thrash powerhouse.
Towards the end of the night, Mastodon treated the Fox Theater to a preview of a brand new track off “Once More ‘Round’ The Sun”. “Chimes at Midnight” features old school “Leviathan” style rythems and vocals by both Troy Sanders and Brent Hines.
Having seen Mastodon live half a dozen times in the last decade, this was by far the best performance I have seen. Troy Sanders has really come into his role as a lead vocalist, and the foursome is playing better than they have ever played.
“Once More ‘Round The Sun” comes out on Reprise Records on June 24th, and the band has pre-order bundles for sale now, including a double LP vinyl release featuring highly psychedelic artwork by Oakland’s own Skinner.