On Monday night, Denver hit the motherload as Mastodon, Eagles of Death Metal, and Russian Circles took the Fillmore Auditorium stage. Over the course of the night, hearts would come alive, beating furiously along to the glorious beat of metal and rock n’ roll. Feast your eyes on their unparalleled performances.
In the dark, Russian Circles arrived, ominously looming over you like shadows in the night. Brief moments of light illuminated the stage, allowing their faces to appear ever-so briefly. As darkness consumed the venue once again, Russian Circles allowed the mood of the music to take over the room rather than the performance. This created an intense, yet chilling, atmosphere that surrounded the open space around you. Everything was consumed by Russian Circles that night, even the minds of those who listened to them, making their performance just as unfathomable as it was tangible.
Eagles of Death Metal
The Eagles of Death Metal came to make a bang in Denver with their high voltage performance. Over the course of their set, we’d move in the night all the while rockin’ and a rollin’ to their feel good music. “I Only Want You” grooved out, laying destruction upon the Fillmore Auditorium. Jesse Hughes was already immolating the true definition of a rockstar as he stood triumphantly at his mic stand with a guitar around his neck and a cigarette in hand. He lifted the devil horns up in the air, causing a sea of devil horns to follow suit and rise in front of him. He makes it look so easy as he prances and boogies across the stage, chasing the devil out of our souls and filling our hearts with nothing but peace, love, and rock and roll. Their set was just getting started, and they were already setting the stage on fire.
You just can’t help but love you some Eagles of Death Metal, who are quite possibly some of the most likable humans on the face of Earth. They make you feel like you are a part of something as they bring you into their thrilling world. Though their energy is extremely infectious, their eye-catching talent and musicianship is just as remarkable. Dave Catching, in particular, rivals Jesse with his crazy guitar playing abilities, particularly witnessed in their electric cover of David Bowie’s “Moonage Daydream.” Towards the end of their set, Dave and Jesse duked it out in an intense axe battle. The winner was tough to discern with each putting their own unique flair on their solos. Their whole set was full of memorable moments like these that not only entertained you, but moved you.
As the night began to zipper down, the Eagles of Death Metal left the stage after bringing down the house. The music may have stopped, but the smiles continued on thanks to yet another solid gold performance.
Before the conception of Mastodon, it seemed that music of this kind was a dying breed. As other bands took a more commercial route, Mastodon took the high road to become the musical rarity that the world was so desperately in need of. On record, they are unbelievable, but their live show is even more of a surreal experience. That was something I very quickly learned Monday night in Denver as Mastodon thunderously awoke from their slumber, like a sleeping giant, to wreak havoc upon the Fillmore Auditorium. The events that followed would crack open the sky and rock our world.
Mastodon wasted no time, quickly and powerfully kicking things off with the first track, “Sultan’s Curse”, off their recently released and highly regarded album, Emperor of Sand. It was the perfect way to start off the night as a statement of Mastodon as they currently stand. In an ancient kingdom of beloved tracks, “Sultan’s Curse” stood out profoundly as Troy Sanders roared out, “Tired and lost, No one to trust, Who is there to give the push”, amongst rolling dunes of music. Suddenly, you find yourself trudging hopelessly through the desert with the hot heat of the scorching sun radiating down brutally upon you as you are taken through the lyrical brain of Mastodon. From the very beginning, their technical prowess and never-ending ability to impress provided an oasis in this seemingly vast and substanceless desert, refreshing us all with their undying passion and eclectic performance.
Also performed off Emperor of Sand were “Ancient Kingdom”, “Precious Stones”, “Show Yourself”, “Roots Remain” and “Steambreather.” Though they performed quite a few tracks off their most recent release, it was clear that their roots still solidly remain as they paid homage to every step in their career from Remission with “Mother Puncher” to Once More ‘Round the Sun with “Ember City.” Rather than make a setlist of their most listened to hits, they created one that would be appreciated by even the most dedicated of Mastodon fans. One particular standout moment came with “Oblivion”, which created a burning fever within the crowd. As always, it featured that glorious juxtaposition between Brann Dailor‘s crystal clear vocals and Troy’s guttural drawls, which was just as catching live as it is on record. I also have to pay respect to Bill Kelliher and Brent Hinds, who riffed us all into oblivion as the night went on, particularly in songs like “Crystal Skull” and “Roots Remain.” You know you are at an awesome concert when people go just as crazy–if not crazier–for the guitar solos as they do for the choruses and hooks.
The best thing, however, about a Mastodon concert is the experience. As they get lost in the music, so do you. And though they take what they do seriously, they don’t take themselves too seriously, making their show a natural and accurate representation of who they are both as a band and as people. A good example is Brann, who was posted up in back, staring us all down through the openings in his drum set. Clowns surrounded him, manically smiling as they seemingly peered through our souls. Mastodon aren’t afraid to be themselves, and that’s something you hardly see anymore on stage let alone on record. Brutally honest and unafraid, Mastodon, though successful, are not an immolation of anyone but themselves.
As our tumultuous, yet glorious, journey with Mastodon came to a close, we headed once more ’round the sun with them as “March of the Fire Ants” roared out, giving us all one last triumphant moment with the unstoppable workhorse that is Mastodon, a band that we’ll all love and respect until the bitter end.
Were you at the Denver date of Mastodon’s Spring tour? Share your favorite moments with us in the comments.
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