Live Music Review: Tomahawk concert at the Mayan Theater

I had the immense pleasure of seeing one my favorite musician’s bands last night, Tomahawk (fronted by Mike Patton). It was at the Mayan Theater in downtown Los Angeles, and I went with my friend Dave. If you’ve never been there, I recommend the venue. They’ve got a whole pre-Columbian Mexican theme in the decor which definitely added to Tomahawk’s sometimes tribal music. In the line to get in, Dave and I made a few “single-serving friends”. One was a young woman from Chicago, who claimed Mike Patton was standing right next to us. And I missed it. As Mike Patton superfan #94857 I was devastated at possibly missing a chance to meet one of my heroes. I’m going to convince myself she was mistaken. We also chatted with a young guy and his girlfriend about Wal-Mart Black Friday tramplings… I guess the link was the line outside the club, and how we were waiting for something worthwhile instead of saving $5 on DVDs.

DennisDave and I were among the first inside the club, and were able to get some excellent spots on the upper level, where they allowed drinks. (The main floor was all ages so alcohol was not allowed.) It was about an hour before the opening act came up, and Dave noticed someone he knew. On closer inspection, he said it was an actor from a TV show he’s watching. I noticed his companion was Dennis from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia… Later it hit me that Danny DeVito is a superfan too and maybe he turned “Dennis” onto Mike Patton’s work. Or maybe it was the other way around.

RetoxThere was an opening band called Retox. They are local to LA, I think. Very punk. The music was very fast, very loud, and very cacophanous. Melodies were hard to come by, and the vocalist screamed everything. I may have been more into them 8-10 years ago, my tastes have evolved and changed. I did appreciate that at the end of their set, the vocalist said something like, “Thanks for dealing with our shit.”… He knew no one was there to see them except their girlfriends and moms.

Then, it was time for Tomahawk, who came on to rapturous applause. While the roadies/staff were setting up, the sound system was playing the chant that the Atlanta Braves use at their games while the fans do the tomahawk chop… fitting. I don’t know what it’s called, I think it’s called the “War Chant.” As soon as Tomahawk took the stage, Patton declared, “This is a new song…” and then proceeded to play a few seconds of the chant that had been playing for what seemed like an hour but was probably more like twenty minutes. That got quite a few laughs. Tomahawk wasted no time and got right into my favorite song of theirs: “God Hates a Coward.” (Click here to see an older performance of this song, it’s fantastic.) Through the course of the set, they played 3 or 4 new songs off their new record, “Oddfellows”… I enjoyed them, but I’ve only listened to the album once so I didn’t know them as well as the others and couldn’t sing along. Most of the set was made up of songs from their first 2 albums, including “Capt. Midnight”, “Rape This Day”, “Flashback”, and “Birdsong”…

While all four band members were lively and passionate, I was especially drawn to John Stanier (the drummer, ex-Helmet) and his intensity and precision. Duane Denison is a fine guitarist, and last night he put forward a solid performance. I had seen Trevor Dunn a couple months earlier at the Melvins concert, and it was a nice change to see him playing the electric bass instead of a stand up bass. Very different instrument, very different style of music. He’s a great addition to Tomahawk, and obviously has quite a history with Patton. And the main attraction, of course, was Mike Patton. I spent most of my time watching him perform. Not only is he a musical genius, but he’s also a master performer. It seemed like every line he sang was accompanied by a complementary movement. He was very animated, and extremely passionate. You could tell he’s doing what he loves.

Tomahawk Mayan

My only complaint is that they only played one song off of my favorite Tomahawk album, “Anonymous“, and it wasn’t until the encore… For those who don’t know, “Anonymous” was an album of rock arrangements of old Native American chants and songs. It’s called “Anonymous” since the original musicians are all unknown. The song they played was “Totem” and it’s one of my favorites. I guess I understand why they focused on their other material since “Anonymous” was a huge departure and somewhat of an outcast album. The closer was a cover of George Jones’ “Just One More.” It was a fitting closer, somehow. Enjoy it for yourself by clicking here.

All in all, great times, great music, great company.

Setlist (Click link to purchase an MP3): God Hates a Coward | Flashback | Oddfellows | 101 North | Stone Letter | Birdsong | Rape This Day | Baby Let’s Play ____ | Capt. Midnight | White Hats / Black Hats | I.O.U. | Rotgut | South Paw | Point and Click | Mayday | Laredo

Encore: Totem | Just One More (George Jones cover) | Pay to Cum (Bad Brains cover)

★★★★★ out of 5.

Concert Reviews

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