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.
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: