Live Music Review: Mastodon & Clutch – The Missing Link Tour
I went to go see Mastodon and Clutch last Wednesday at the Hollywood Palladium. Okay, right off the bat, I have to say it’s not fair to either band that I had gone to see Faith No More the week before. They had a lot of hype to live up to. As it were, probably too much. While this show was not quite as good, it was still highly enjoyable.
It’s a different type of music, so it’s a different crowd. Faith No More attracts the metalheads and jam band crowd, while Mastodon and Clutch attract the stoner rock and prog rock devotees. (Stoner rock, for those readers who don’t know, is down tempo music that relies heavily on the bass guitar. You don’t have to smoke weed to enjoy stoner rock, that’s just the genre’s moniker.)
I had never been to a show at the Hollywood Palladium before, but I really liked it. It’s located right on Sunset Blvd just east of Vine. There’s lots of parking and eateries in the vicinity, so it’s a pretty convenient place for a concert. Like all things Hollywood, though, traffic is atrocious. My favorite aspect of the venue is the layout. Unlike the Wiltern, the Palladium is a big open floor that’s accessible to everyone. None of this “extra $30 for the pit” nonsense that you had at the Faith No More concert.
This time around, it was me, Dave, and John. (John won his tickets at the last minute, lucky bastard.) He had arrived early to catch the opening act, Graveyard (from Sweden). Dave and I joined after they were done, but we did get to hear the last two songs while we pounded some Red Bulls in the lobby. I liked it and will give their records a listen. They play psychedelic, bluesy rock, so they were a good fit for this tour.
I wasn’t sure which band would play first, because Clutch and Mastodon are co-headliners for the duration of the tour. Clutch played first. They are an older band, and they set the groundwork for a lot of the “stoner metal” bands to follow. However, Mastodon is probably more popular right now so it made sense that they were last to play. That said, I enjoyed Clutch’s performance a bit more. They seemed to have a bit more energy and they interacted with the crowd more often and more effectively.
I have known of Clutch for a long time, but when I had heard their music in the 90s I wasn’t into it. (I was a snot-nosed punk rock kid.) It was only this year that I really got into them, and it was because of this tour. I didn’t have a lot of time to familiarize myself with their music, but I think I did a pretty good job of getting up to speed before the show. They’ve released ten studio albums plus three live albums and two albums of B-sides… There’s a lot to digest, in other words.
The setlist was excellent, and is actually a pretty good primer if you’ve never heard the band. (I’ve included it below.) They picked a good range of songs that spanned their (long) career, including two new ones. The highlight for me was the song Texan Book of the Dead off of their 1995 album Clutch. It’s a really catchy, fast rocking song with a nonsense chorus. It’s a lot of fun, in other words. I tried to sing along as best I could, but the delivery is so rapid fire I had trouble keeping up. I’m also a Clutch noob, leave me alone.
This was (hands down) Neil Fallon’s show. As frontman, he interacted the most with the crowd. He didn’t talk often, but when he did he was just as engaging as when he was singing. He also played the guitar on select songs. He even played the cowbell.
Dave and I jumped in the mosh pit for their last two songs: Electric Worry and One Eye Dollar. Electric Worry was the first Clutch song I heard, and remains one of my favorites. This one I did know all the lyrics and could (and did) sing along. It really closed the set with a bang.
Setlist: The Mob Goes Wild | Profits of Doom | Earth Rocker | Crucial Velocity | Gravel Road | Unto the Breach | Pure Rock Fury | Texan Book of the Dead | Cypress Grove | Cyborg Bette | The Regulator | X-Ray Visions | Energy Weapons | D.C. Sound Attack! | A Shogun Named Marcus | Electric Worry | One Eye Dollar
Setlist: ★★★★★ out of 5
Sound: ★★★★ out of 5
Energy: ★★★★ out of 5
Live Performance: ★★★★ out of 5
Overall: ★★★★ out of 5
My anticipation was high for Mastodon. I had seen them before, but it was in 1999 before they made a name for themselves and before I could appreciate them. At that time, they played at a dingy club in NYC and were a very brutal metal band. Now, Mastodon is more progressive space rock. The heavy elements are there, but they’re toned down a lot. I like both, but I’d be lying if I didn’t tell you I miss their heavier days. Shame on me for waiting sixteen years to see them a second time.
Mastodon put on a solid performance, but I think they’re more of a studio band. There’s not a lot of movement or audience participation in the live show. There is some, but it’s very limited. The musicianship was top notch, though. All four members are highly skilled at their instruments, but Brent Hinds is an especially gifted guitarist. Maybe the second best I’ve seen. (The best has to be Tosin Abasi of Animals as Leaders). I’m just in awe of what he can do with six strings. Or twelve! (He played a double necked guitar for part of the performance, which I don’t remember ever seeing in a live setting before.)
Unlike Clutch, Mastodon focused heavily on their new songs. Their two latest albums are very good, but they’re missing the teeth of the earlier work. They played nothing off their oldest records, and only two songs off their (arguably) best record, Leviathan. For me, the highlight was the song Megalodon, off of that record. It’s very fast and very heavy. I even started a mosh pit! Yeah, I’m way too old to be doing that.
The last song was a fitting closer. It was the epic song titled The Czar off of their phenomenal 2009 effort Crack the Skye. It was a perfect way to end the night. Brann Dailor, their drummer, got up afterwards to chat with the audience to thank us for coming. It was nice to be appreciated, but it was a bit anticlimactic after watching them perform a twelve-minute prog masterpiece.
Neither band performed an encore, which was a bit of a letdown. I think this was due to a time constraint. I also was a bit let down that Mastodon didn’t perform the song Blood and Thunder. Neil Fallon (Clutch’s singer) provides guest vocals on the album and he was there to do it live, if necessary. It didn’t happen though. I’ve included the video, for your enjoyment.
Mastodon is a fantastic band, and easily one of my favorites. The show they put on was more than adequate… I just think my hopes and expectations were a bit too high. I love these guys and you should definitely go see them. The guitar work alone is a sight to behold. If you’re into heavy music, you need to pick up all of their albums, too.
Setlist: Tread Lightly | Once More ‘Round the Sun | Blasteroid | Oblivion | Chimes at Midnight | High Road | Aqua Dementia | Halloween | Aunt Lisa (with The Coathangers) | Bladecatcher | Black Tongue | Ember City | Megalodon | The Czar
Setlist: ★★★ out of 5
Sound: ★★★★ out of 5
Energy: ★★★★ out of 5
Live Performance: ★★★½ out of 5
Overall: ★★★½ out of 5
Overall, this was a very enjoyable concert, if not the best I’ve ever attended. I would definitely recommend seeing both of these bands live, especially Clutch. Thursday, I’m headed to see Coheed and Cambria, and I’m stoked. They put on one of the best shows I’ve seen so I’m looking forward to writing another glowing review for next week.
- Tomahawk (feat. Retox)
- Coheed and Cambria (feat. BTBAM & Russian Circles)
- Black Sabbath (feat. Andrew WK)
- Vampire Weekend (feat. Beirut)
- Fit for a King & For Today
- ††† (Crosses) (feat. Omniflux & Spirit in the Room)
- Soundgarden & NIN 2014
- Dr. Octagon (feat. Avalon, Gap Dream & No Parents)
- Faith No More (feat. The Urinals)
- Mastodon & Clutch (feat. Graveyard)
- Coheed and Cambria (feat. Seahaven)
- The Appleseed Cast (feat. Adjy & Coaster)
- The Smashing Pumpkins & Marilyn Manson
- Danzig (feat. Cancer Bats & Saviours)
- Imagine Dragons (feat. Halsey & Metric)
- Between the Buried and Me & Animals As Leaders (feat. The Contortionist)
- Deftones & Incubus (feat. Death from Above 1979)
- 2015 Summer Rankings
- Blindside (feat. Hearts Like Lions)
- Puscifer (feat. Luchafer)
- The Black Queen (feat. Drab Majesty)
- Joe Satriani
- Coheed and Cambria (feat. Glassjaw, I the Mighty, Silver Snakes)
- Killswitch Engage (feat. Memphis May Fire, 36 Crazyfists, and Toothgrinder)
- Andrew Bird (feat. John Grant)
- Lamb of God (feat. Clutch and Corrosion of Conformity)
- At the Drive-In (feat. Le Butcherettes)
- The Dillinger Escape Plan (feat. Author & Punisher)
- Guns N’ Roses (feat. The Cult)
- Animal Collective (feat. Stuart Copeland)
- Alice in Chains (feat. The New Regime)
- Temple of the Dog (feat. Fantastic Negrito)
Giraffe Tongue Orchestra (cancelled)
- 2016 Concert Rankings
- August Burns Red (feat. Protest the Hero, In Hearts Wake, ’68)
- Norma Jean (feat. He Is Legend, Capsize, Comrades)
- Red (feat. Wolves at the Gate, Message from Sylvia, Death Therapy) (coming soon)
- Mastodon (feat. Eagles of Death Metal, Russian Circles) (coming soon)
- Pixies (coming soon)
- Tool (feat. Clutch, Fantomas, Primus, Melvins, Crystal Method) (coming soon)
- Rise Against (feat. Deftones, Thrice) (coming soon)
- Dead Cross (feat. Neil Hamburger, Ho99o9) (coming soon)
- Banks (coming soon)
- Between the Buried and Me (feat. The Contortionist, Poluphia, Toothgrinder) (coming soon)
- The Offspring (feat. Well Hung Heart) (coming soon)
- Russian Circles (feat. MGR) (coming soon)
- Our Lady Peace (feat. Smashing Hearts) (coming soon)
- Animals As Leaders (feat. Periphery and Astronoid) (coming soon)
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