November 17, 2014 Mastodon, Gojira & Kvelertak startling Halloween The Paramount Huntington, NY 10-31-14
On Friday October 31st The Paramount in Huntington, N.Y. was filling up with Teddy Bears, Penguins, Mice, and a Horse headed guy wearing a shirt that said, “I was on the cover of Remission.” It was Halloween, and also the night when Mastadon, Goira, and Kvelertak strolled into town for the twelfth show of an eighteen stop tour . Originally a package put together in May, this would be the second and final leg of North American touring for the bands in 2014. Already built up to be an exciting night, a mood of fun, mischief, and, of course, metal was ready to take over Long Island’s premier venue.
First up was Kvelertak (Norwegian for “stranglehold”) from Stavanger, Norway. It was clear that their name fits them well as they grabbed the crowd’s attention immediately when lead vocalist Erlend Hjelvik walked out, donning his signature “spread Owl” head dress, and guitarist Vidar Landa began the intro to “Apenbaring” with a great riff. The rest of the band joined in, and Kvelertak produced a non-stop set of up-tempo, high energy metal mixing tracks from Kvelertak (2010) and Meir (2013). In the full spirit of Halloween, some of the band was festooned in blonde wigs and devil horns, and others in long robes, while guitarist Bjarte Lund Rolland had faerie wings and a cooked chicken on his head. As if that was not enough, Kjetil Gjermundrod was a convincing Yoda behind the drums! It is no wonder that each time concert goers see this band they grow to love them more, and for a different reason at every show. With a crowd-pleasing mix of vintage hard rock and party metal, Kvelertak put forth a solid set to kick things off. This is definitely a band worth giving a closer look.
Next up, Gojira took the stage to the beautiful and haunting sounds of whales singing, signaling the beginning of “Ocean Planet.” Dressed as a metal band from France, Gojira, from Ondres, was greeted by an enthusiastic crowd. From “Ocean Planet” they went right into “The Axe” from their latest release, L’Enfant Sauvage (2012), then proceeded to pound the audience with “The Heaviest Matter of the Universe” followed by “Backbone.” Looking to take things to the next level, lead vocalist Joe Duplantier called upon the crowd to wake up as the band went into “L’Enfant Sauvage.” The room heated up, and the crowd began mimicking the band’s thrashing even more, and all heads were now banging and whipping. Duplantier watched with pride as the crowd surfed and slammed into one another as if they knew the end was near. Bassist Jean-Michel Labadie and drummer Mario Duplantie continued to elevate the room with their boundless energy and sweat, as the band concluded their brutal, tight set with “Toxic Garbage Island” and “Vacuity” from The Way of All Flesh. Gojira has a unique sound, mixing many different elements of metal using melodic blends of technical guitar work, deep, powerful vocals, and fast-paced, precise drumming. They certainly delivered a great show, although a bit short, but anyone who knows this band will always be hungry for more.
The final chapter of the event was about to begin with American metal juggernauts Mastodon ready to take the stage. Mastodon is an ever- evolving progressive metal band that has gotten a lot of attention of late with a new album, Once More ‘Round the Sun, and a video release of “The Motherload” that has people talking. They arrived in Huntington to face a crowd that has embraced their current direction. With a mix of fans that span the band’s six records, starting in 2002 with Remission, along with those that have recently discovered the band, missing were any feelings of betrayal that normally exist when a band changes and evolves as much as Mastodon has. The first thing all eyes in the audience were drawn to was the amazing backdrop of the album art, done by Oakland based artist Skinner. Incredible artwork has been a part of Mastodon’s appeal from the beginning, and this piece continues the tradition with its eye-popping brilliance. That theme continued with Brann Dailor’s Tama drum kit dressed in the same color scheme with matching kick drum head.
Walking out to an already frenzied crowd, Mastadon began with new tracks “Tread Lightly” and “Once More ‘Round the Sun,” immediately enticing the packed house to sing along. Lead guitarist Brent Hines, adorned in an Afro wig the size of a Volkswagen and ’70s sunglasses, amazed his followers with smooth flowing guitar work. Hines and Bill Kelliher, dressed as… well, Bill Kelliher, traded and weaved masterful guitar licks and riffs throughout “Blasteroids” and “Oblivion,” then into “The Hunter” and “Crack the Skye” respectively, before playing standouts, “The Motherload” and “High Road.” Keeping the audience singing along to every word, Mastodon were the masters of this ceremony and the audience was taking in each moment of it all.
Adding more amusement to the evening, drummer Brann Dailor, dressed as “Burger King Diamond,” with face paint and a crown, sang lead on killer track “The Motherload.” Then, with more crowd interaction, bassist Troy Sanders, his face and shirt covered in blood like some kind of demon wolf, owned center stage while delivering a strong lead vocal on “High Road.” Proving they had not forgotten their past, the band went back in time to a heavier era, busting out an inspired, “Aqua Dementia” before “Old Nessie,” a song that had been missing from the set in recent years. Performing songs from 2006’s Blood Mountain, 2011’s The Hunter, and 2009’s Crack the Skye, Mastodon represented themselves well, covering fan favorites from across their entire catalog. One could even see Hinds smiling under his ‘fro to a swirling pit of costumed dudes and chicks, slamming, sweating and surfing to the thunderous crescendo of chaos as the band played “Megalodon,” “Crystal Skull,” and closing track “Blood and Thunder.”
Mastodon was, in a word, brilliant. They grabbed the audience, picked them up over their heads, and slammed them to the ground repeatedly throughout the night, and, amazingly, the crowd still wanted more. As a spent 3/4 of Mastodon left the stage, having given everything to the crowd that night, a somber Dailor walked to the front of the stage with fists filled with drumsticks as a reward for the sweaty mass of humanity. Dailor spoke of the recent passing of Craig Aaronson, who signed the band. Wearing a heavy heart, clearly emotional, he dedicated “Pendulous Skin” to Aaronson. As it played over the mains, Dailor delivered drumsticks into the crowd and thanked everyone for a great night. This was a wonderful tribute to an integral part of Mastodon history, and it certainly was a great night that no one will soon forget.