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May 14, 2007

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House of Blues

Monday, May 14

Mastodon is already toting a heavy burden. It's been heralded as metal's new champion, as it's quickly risen from the underground to the delight of critics and headbangers alike. But on its current tour, it has a different weight to bear. Namely, it was the headliner on a bill with three bands that could have easily taken top-billing themselves. Opener These Arms Are Snakes got the crowd moving with frontman Steve Snere's sultry, Mick Jagger-like finesse, guitarist Ryan Frederiksen's Jimmy Page-meets-post-hardcore riffs and some spastic dance grooves. Cursive followed with a set that seemed to match the cabaret décor of the House of Blues. The band (which added two horn/key players for the tour) was decked out in three-piece suits, while singer Tim Kasher waved, shouted and stomped like a vaudeville showman. Against Me! may have put on the best performance of the evening, however, with pre-set sing-alongs showing that they had won over the crowd before even taking the stage. When the curtain did open, members of the black-clad band looked like they were having the time of their lives (despite their grim attire) as they blasted through a number of punk-rooted tunes with nearly no breaks. The band's fervor translated into a faster-than-usual tempo on some songs, but none of their melodic charm was lost in the process.

Mastodon, then, had its work cut out for it, and while its musicianship trumped all the other acts, showmanship was lacking. From the psychedelic light swirls to the band's near-lethargic attitude, it was as if the guys didn't care. Luckily, after a few songs and a couple guitar changes, Mastodon seemed to hit its stride. Devil horns were thrown up, air guitars were shredded, and big dudes with bad facial hair tried to growl along. It was in the latter part of the set when Mastodon lived up to the hype, delivering technical and precise playing while emanating the type of presence that could rock an arena. — Matt Whelihan

Free Time

Anastasia Pantsios