Monday, November 2, 2009

Live: Dethklok, Mastodon, Converge and High On Fire @ Hammerstein Ballroom 10.29.9

Life is funny. In a genre as inherently cartoonish as metal (both to the positive and negative), I guess it was inevitable that a metal cartoon band would exist. The idea that they would tour with legitimate bands in big rooms all around this great nation of ours is a little bit more mindboggling.

Presentation was another issue. Was there going to be a live band? Were they going to kick it Gorillaz style and play behind a screen that the animation was projected against? Or maybe split the difference? Metalocalypse musical mastermind Brendon Small plays guitar in the live band and does the Nathan Explosion vocals (as he does on the cartoon), so you would figure that there would be a live band and it would at least get a little bit of shine. I'm told the first tour had the band behind the screen, but this tour had the band backlit enough to see the band a bit. I'll get into the rest of the crew in a sec.

So the crew primed the pump a bit before we headed uptown. For the first time in a while, I (and we) was interested in seeing the entire bill. We circled the wagons at Hammerstein a little after seven and got inside to see the last four or five songs of the Converge set. I've never thought that Converge were the tightest live band and the prospect of seeing them in a place as cavernous as as Hammerstein was not one that bode well. Jake was all over the limited amount of place openers were afforded and there we definitely fans in the room, but I wasn't crazy about the set. I'm sure they are crushed.

Co-headliners Mastodon were up next. While my state of inebriation at the beginning of the set was well into the realms of shithouse drunk, I figured that maybe they would light a fire under my ass. Sadly, I couldn't have been more wrong. Very, very boring. There were pretty decent visuals, but the most striking ones were the stars I'd see when I'd almost fall asleep on my feet and smash face first into Eric or Paul's back. (Apologies, gents). Mastodon played the new record in it's entirety and followed up with some chestnuts at the end, but I was profoundly underwhelmed with the whole set. Suffice to say, Mastodon are not this man's kind of red wine band.

Dethklok were up in short order. If you're a nerd, and I am, the live band is kind of a Stats-Pro wet dream. As I mentioned, Brendon Small helms the band, but he's got ex-Zappa sideguy Mike Keneally backing him up on guitar. Drum God Of Thunder Gene Hoglan is on the stool, paired with SWR product rep/ex-Zappa dude Bryan Beller on bass. Lots of times these fantasy parings seem better on paper, but understand that they fucking killed it. The animation was typical Metalocalypse, but as consistently hysterical. It wasn't synched hard to the music, but the synergy was pretty bad ass. I felt like a fucking 12 year old and loved every minute of it. Plus, they played the Duncan Hills Coffee Jingle and, as luck would have it, I like coffee, so it was pretty win-win all around. See this tour any way you can. If it's a real big room, maybe think about showing up a little late.



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