Tag Archives: Review

Mastodon – Beachland Ballroom – Cleveland, OH – 05/02/2009 – Concert Review

I am sure it is safe to say that there was a lot of ringing going on in the ears of many fans who attended the Mastodon show at the Beachland Ballroom in Cleveland, OH.    Of the hundreds of shows I have attended in my time, this was by far one of the loudest.  The show was sold out, and had been for months, so needless to say there were a lot of excited folk in the house.

When I first heard that Atlanta heavy metal / prog rock artists Mastodon were going to be playing at the Beachland Ballroom with special guests Intronaut and Kylesa, I knew it would sell out quickly because of the smaller capacity venue.  Sadly I was not able to get a ticket in time and I really thought that I was going to miss this show.  As luck would have it someone reached out to me with an extra ticket.  Matt, you are my hero.

Before I even continue I need to make it clear that I am “one of those fans” meaning that I am not a long time Mastodon fan.  I have heard of them since they started and checked out their material but it was not until Crack The Skye that I really started to appreciate them.  Since the release I have collected the band’s entire catalog and realized what I had been missing.  Call me what you want, Crack The Skye is still my personal favorite album by the band so one could imagine my excitement to witness the entire album being played start to finish with no interruptions.

My two friends Shannon and Josh from West Virginia had mentioned they were making the 4+ hour drive to see Mastodon and that they had purchased tickets earlier.  We decided to meet up and attend the show together.  After many hours of showing them around Cleveland (My Mind’s Eye was a fav stop for them) we finally arrived to the Beachland Ballroom three hours prior to showtime.  We arrived early to meet up with Matt and also check out Music Saves as well as other shops on Waterloo.

Brann & Shannon
Brann & Shannon

As luck would have it members of Mastodon, more specifically Brann Dailor the drummer, and guitarist Bill Kelliher were checking out Waterloo Ave, mostly looking for some food.  Shannon spotted Brann while we were shopping inside Music Saves, and being the huge fan she is she took off out the store and was able to get the ultimate concert souviner, a photograph of her and Brann.  Brann was more than kind to pose with her and even thanked her for having the picture taken with him.  Shannon’s day was complete and the show hadn’t even started.

Metal fans young and old filled up the Beachland Ballroom at a quick rate and Intronaut began the show to cheering fans.  Having never heard their material before I got a kick out of how they would throw in almost jazzy sounding instrumental breaks in between their brutal heavy metal playing.  Sadly they only knocked out a couple of songs and left the stage leaving some of the fans wanting much more.

Kylesa was up next and having never heard them either I was not sure what to expect.  While the band set up Josh noted that there were two drum sets on stage and in no time the sludge metal act were hammering out songs impressing me and my out of town concert buddies.  I loved how the singing duties revolved around the stage while the duel drummers almost seemed to out drum one another.  I’ll be checking this Georgia act out some more soon.

The crowd in the venue seemed to double just before Mastodon took stage.  Just prior to them doing so I was able to exit the Beachland Ballroom and hand off a ticket to Adam who had to work late but managed to meet us there just in time.  We all found a spot just in front of the soundboard and planted out feet for what was to come.

It seemed that Mastodon came to Cleveland to do their job and then leave.  They never said hello, they just picked up their instruments and began playing “Oblivion”, the first song off of Crack The Skye.  The stage was clear of distractions with the exception of a giant screen hung behind them.  During the performance, strange visuals were propped up on the screen showing black and white images that reminded me of something H. P. Lovecraft might have written a story about with helmeted warriors, wizards, and fair maidens as well as a cosmic atmosphere.

The band members some bearded and messy haired, minus drummer Brann Dailor who is more of a clean cut chap, were not there to entertain, they were there to perform.  The band collectively kept concentrated while executing their latest masterpiece to the fans and did so very well.  The band continued playing until the album was covered start to finish and then left the stage for a break.  Hearing the entire album played live was just incredible.

While on their short break a great Mastodon album cover morph animation displayed on the screen that kept repeating itself almost hypnotizing the fans making them scream louder and louder for the metal band of the night to continue their performance.

The band returned to stage and offered a selection of tracks from their past albums Blood Mountain, Leviathan, and Remission.  The songs were much faster and, to some, were songs fans came to see.  Even if I am “one of those fans”, I enjoyed what I heard and a couple of the tracks were familiar to my ears.  I was enjoying every eardrum destroying moment and felt cheated when the band finished their final song and exited stage.  I was selfish and I wanted more.

Considering the band will be touring with Metallica this summer I think it is safe to say this is the last time Mastodon will play smaller venues.  I am glad to have been a part of a more intimate show that evening as were everyone else surrounding me.  It was a top notch performance by an up and coming metal band I have the feeling will be going places in the music world.

Here’s a video a fellow concert goer took of Mastodon opening the show with “Oblivion”. Not the greatest quality but it should give you a taste of what I experienced that amazing evening:

Street Dogs – State Of Grace – CD Review

One of my favorite Irish infused, punk rock bands the Street Dogs dropped yet another release over the summer titled State of Grace.  Fronted by the one time lead vocalist of the infamous Dropkick Murphys, this CD delivers powerful punk rock anthems fueled with a traditional Irish feel to it.  This is the band’s fourth release and their first under Hellcat Records.

Street Dogs
Street Dogs

Lead singer Mike McColgan is one of the most American punk rockers you will ever meet.  Before fronting the Dropkick Murphys, he served time overseas during the Gulf War to help pay for school.  When he returned, he helped start the Dropkick Murphys in 1996 and released Do or Die; it was the only album he released with the band.  In 1998 he left the Dropkick Murphys to pursue his dream of becoming a fireman.  Fast forward a couple of years later to 2002 and McColgan got the music fever again and started the Street Dogs.

On their fourth full length release the five-some sounds stronger than ever.  Album opener “Mean Fist” is impressive with a full on punk rock approach start to finish.  “Into The Valley” sounded like an anti-war group marching song insuring escalating spirits for all soldiers involved in this senseless war.

Other stand out songs are “Rebel Song” with McColgan signing his heart out about standing up in a poor nation to rise above.  The song reassures the underprivileged that they should continue to do what they do and unite.  “The General’s Boombox” continued the high spirit lyrics about staying true to yourself.

“Elizabeth” reminds me of an Irish pub song that everyone in the house could sing-a-long to.  Another sing-a-long track “Two Angry Kids” would be best listened to away from the bar as the song makes you want to dance wildly around and pump your fists in the air.

“San Patricios” is by far my favorite track.  The Irish meets Mexican song is insane.  I loved the Spanish singing and guitar riffs layered with punk rock.  The Irish/Mexican unity track recalls back to the times when the Irish teamed with the Mexicans for their fight against the US to save Mexico.

If you are looking for a band that has similarities of the Dropkick Murphys keep in mind that even though McColgan was the original lead vocalist that the Street Dogs take a different approach at Irish punk rock with less bagpipe playing and alcohol inspired tracks.  From political views to the love of family and friends this CD was amazing especially the third time I listened to it.

The first listen was an introduction but by the third listen I was hooked.  This is one of the better punk rock albums that has been released in 2008.  Street Dogs exist because of the love of music for an Irish gent straight out of Boston.  If you are looking for punk rock at its finest go out and grab a copy of State of Grace.

Check out the Street Dogs live this fall.  For more info visit their website or check out their MySpace.

Concert Review: Radiohead At Blossom Music Center, Cuyahoga Falls, OH, 08/04/08

Originally posted on Blogcritics.Org 08/05/2008

After four long years the innovative rock act Radiohead decided to make a stop at Blossom Music Center before their adoring Ohio fans.  It was no surprise that the show was sold out, as many in Ohio and the surrounding states planned this special day months in advance knowing that the band rarely tours. Rumors of Radiohead touring were finally laid to rest at the end of February, when the band announded their second leg of the North American tour.

Sold out crowds mean traffic jams, and I am pleased to say that with the help of Google Maps I avoided the mile-plus long backup that filled up Route 8.  Parking the car and walking almost a mile to the coveted amphitheater did not get my spirits down as I was excited to be seeing Radiohead for the fourth time in my life. This was their third time returning to Blossom Music Center in the last seven years.

One thing I admired about the show is that it was “green.”  The beers were served in biodegradable cups made form corn, and the merch was made from recycled materials.  I opted out from dropping $40 on a T-shirt formed from plastic bottles, but did spend some money on a container made from recycled aluminum material.  The container stated “Radiohead Tour 2008 H2O” and posted the amount of water bottles that are sold every year (18 million).  I thought it was a good keepsake, and at the same time my personal small way to help the envoirnment.

I barely obtained a ticket this year (and yet again it was a lawn seat), but I was OK with that and so were the rest of the people around me.  Opening act Grizzly Bear tried to entertain the crowd, but their music just was not providing the energy to everyone.  Some fans sang along to the indie sounding band from Brooklyn, NY, while others mocked them.  Still, they seemed honored to be touring with such an influential band.

The sun set showcasing a beautiful partly cloudy sky when Radiohead took the stage.  The band opened with “15 Step” from their latest, pay-what-you-feel-like album In Rainbows.  The light show behind the band was their best yet in my opinion, with what looked like reflective bars with a media screen behind them.

It was not until the band started playing “Pyramid Song” that I realized how lucky I was to be stuck in this crowd of people.  Looking around I saw hippies, punk rockers, families, and the occasional scenester all collected on a hilly lawn on a warmer than normal summer evening.  I smiled because I knew that even though it was my fourth time getting to see them live, they still enthralled me.  I also admired the looks on the faces of the fans that clearly were attending their first Radiohead experience.

Some songs sounded a little more natural with acoustics, while others were overly processed with sweet samples and electronic beats. Regardless of how they tweaked their material it was a real treat to listen to them.  The crowd was also entertaining to watch especially when someone took it upon themselves to throw about 200 light sticks in the air, only to have the crowd continually throw them towards the stage.

Focusing on newer material, I sometimes found myself not as entertained, but soon the light show helped redirect my attention as did hearing some older material like “The National Anthem” and “Climbing Up The Walls.”  One thing that was irritating was that where I was standing I could barely see the band and had no idea when they left the stage, only to return to for an encore.

One of the highlights of the evening for me was hearing “Paranoid Android” live.  I have and will always love that song.  On top of that, there was the always amazing guitar solo in the middle of it which in turn had the entire crowd cheering at the top of their lungs.  After “Street Spirit,” the band left the stage and came out once again for a second encore.

Thom Yorke took a minute to state “this is most definitely a love song” before the act started playing “House Of Cards.”  Ending the show was Kid A’s “Everything In Its Right Place,” a another song I was hoping to hear.  It was a nice ending to an amazing performance.

The show seemed to blow past much faster than previous performances, yet they were onstage for over 2 hours.  Before I knew it I was in what my friend called the “ET shuffle” as closely grouped fans slowly made way back to their vehicles.  During the long walk, we spoke about how awesome it was to see them live once again and how breathtaking they are.  It was truly a special evening, thanks to one of the most important bands out there on the rock scene.

Set List:

Set list:
15 Step
There There
Morning Bell
All I Need
Pyramid Song
Nude
Weird Fishes/Arpeggi
The Gloaming
The National Anthem
A Wolf At The Door
Faust Arp
Exit Music (For A Film)
Jigsaw Falling Into Place
Idioteque
Climbing Up The Walls
Bodysnatchers
How to Disappear Completely

Encore 1:
Videotape
Paranoid Android
Dollars and Cents
Reckoner
Street Spirit

Encore 2:
House of Cards
Lucky
Everything In Its Right Place

Additional Comments:

Thanks to the wonderful invention of YouTube I was able to get a better look at what was going on at the show that amazing evening.  Each member of that bad has their own special talent/ability that when combined create the mezmurizing music that is Radiohead.

If you need proof check this out:

Notice Jonny Greenwood replicating the Jimmy Page like guitar playing with a bow.  Amazing.