Review and Photos by Mike Bax
You could call this tour a victory lap, seeing as Mastodon went on the road in North America with Gojira and Kvelertak earlier this year. I’m betting that many of the attendees this evening were repeat offenders (like myself) getting back in on a good thing. Tonight, much like the run of dates earlier this year, was an epic display of modern metal and I was completely happy to bask in its glory once more.
The Mastodon merchandise booth was heavily hit early on, this evening. I was in the venue shortly after the doors opened, and the majority of shirts the band had for sale were available in only XXL and XXXL sizes. Some of the designs the band had available were quite desirable, but many patrons chuckled at the available sizing and walked away.
The main difference from the April/May 2014 run of dates and these current dates is that Mastodon’s latest album, Once More ‘Round The Sun has now been released. The band serviced their back catalogue earlier this year, and showcased two new tracks – but tonight, anticipation of some new material was high. Mastodon totally delivered the goods, playing over half the new album in spectacular fashion. I heard a few people spewing that there wasn’t enough old stuff tonight. I can only assume they weren’t in attendance for this tour’s first run.
Opening with ‘Tread Lightly’ and the title track of ‘Once More ’Round the Sun’, the bar was set high for the evening. Cast against a beautiful luminescent backdrop of Skinner’s album cover artwork, the band spent the entire evening washed under stark colours (yellow foregrounds against red backgrounds / white foregrounds / metallic blue backgrounds) for the majority of the evening. A myriad of lasers and billowing dry ice added to the show’s dramatic effect and was met with howls of approval from the crowd.
One of the things that stood out was the early attendance and appreciation of all the bands on the bill. Montreal gets it right. I heard numerous fans in Toronto saying they liked Gojira over Mastodon or vice versa. I heard nothing like this in Montreal. Perhaps it was being said in French and I simply missed it, but I highly doubt that. Montreal and Quebec are both metal friendly towns, with fans that are affably into the genre. The vibe in the room at Métropolis was that of excitement and anticipation for all of the bands – this alone made the evening extra special to be a part of.
Mastodon went on to play ‘The Motherload’, ‘Chimes at Midnight’, ‘High Road’, ‘Halloween’, ‘Aunt Lisa’ and ‘Ember City’. Intermixed with some of the band’s finest material from their back catalogue, winding things up with a raucous rendition of ‘Blood and Thunder’ before winding things down again. Brann Dailor walked to the front of the stage after the set and addressed the crowd, citing Montreal as a city that has always supported them, thanking everyone in the room along with the opening bands. He said that being on the road is hard to do, but playing to a crowd like this one made him feel like he was with family, and that it’s people like those in the audience that made doing what they do an enjoyable thing.
Mastodon’s performance was excellent. The mixture of old and new went over really well. The ‘Hey, ho, let’s fucking go’ crowd sing-along during ‘Aunt Lisa’ was worth the trip to Montreal in and of itself. Troy Sanders, Brent Hinds, Bill Kelliher and Brann Dailor were all in high spirits, exuding an energy that was ultimately quite contagious. The band played ‘Pendulous Skin’ over the PA as fans left, in honour of their friend and collaborator on the song, Isaiah “Ikey” Owens who recently passed away October 14th.
Bayonne, France four-piece metal meisters Gojira pummelled the Métropolis audience for over 45 minutes and delivered over eight songs. Even as the techs tested the bass drums before the band hit the stage, you could tell that their set was going to be bloody loud by just a few drum kicks. Singer / guitarist Joe Duplantier addressed the audience in fluent French a few times throughout their set. By the time the band was crunching out the crescendo ending of ‘Ocean Planet,’ their first song of the evening, everyone in the room was euphorically captivated by their massive stage presence. Joe, along with Mario Duplantier, Christian Andreu and Jean-Michel Labadie delivered nothing but their A-game. I’m sure everyone felt like the set was too short. As a band filling a guest spot on a tour package as great as this one, there really was nothing else to be done. They played well. They played great songs. They will be back. What they delivered this evening was utterly awesome to behold, and added to the show’s effect seamlessly.
The lesser known (but no less awesome) Kvelertak took the Métropolis stage at 7:30 sharp. The Stavanger, Norway six-piece band has two wonderful albums of Nordic stoner rock, and they played seven songs from their repertoire for an impressive amount of early attendees. Erlend Hjelvik, Kvelertak’s singer strolled onstage adorned with a stuffed Owl obstructing his face, and managed to work his way through the majority of the opening track ‘Bruane Brenn’ before stage hands helped him remove the bird so he could get to work thrashing about the stage with his bandmates. Kvelertak sing all of their material in Nordic, but that matters very little. What’s important is that their material translates into everything that really matters on this side of the pond: ballsy music played exceptionally well. Kvelertak finished off their set with one of their finest songs, appropriately titled ‘Kvelertak’, extending the song’s ending riff to maximum effect as the majority of the audience bobbed their heads along with the band.
Mastodon / Gojira / Kvelertak was easily one of the best triple touring bills of the year. We were lucky enough to get all of the bands to clear their schedules and entertain a second run of dates, and I was lucky enough to absorb the tour twice.
Once More ’Round the Sun
Chimes at Midnight
Blood and Thunder
Pendulous Skin (outro)
The Heaviest Matter of the Universe
Toxic Garbage Island