Live Reviews

Mastodon – Live

Mexico City Jose Cuervo Salon

A few words of advice: if you’ve been suffering from an upset stomach, then the bass-heavy rumblings of a Mastodon gig probably won’t do you any favours down below. Still, the Mastodon live experience does offer plenty of aural and visual pleasures, and that’s why your correspondent is here tonight, diet cola in hand and Imodium tablets in pocket.

The Jose Cuervo Salon is a fairly slick venue, its only notable characteristic being the dozens of bottles of the world’s best-known (but definitely not best-tasting) tequila lining the walls. Thankfully such shortcomings are made up for by the enthusiasm of the 2,000-odd fans in attendance, some of whom have travelled from as far as Guadalajara (roughly a 7-hour drive) to be here tonight.

Yokozuna kick things off with a two man guitar n’ drums assault. Spidery garage rock riffs are definitely their forte, although the occasional slower numbers also impress with a sleazier, darker ZZ Top vibe. Unfortunately, what starts as a taut and punchy set soon degenerates into a loose, haphazard instrumental workout; and whilst the duo certainly aren’t boring to watch, they fail to leave a particularly lasting impression.

When Mexican metal fans start cheering, they do so with the kind of fervour that you’d usually associate with a football match. The chants of “MAS-TA-DON! MAS-TA-DON!” begin long before Atlanta’s finest arrive, and mutate into gargantuan roars of delight as the surging riffs or ‘Oblivion‘ engulf them like some kind of metallic tsunami. Mastodon’s forte has long been their ability to experiment without slipping into the murky waters of self-indulgence, and hence the likes of ‘The Czar‘ are infused with all manner of unpredictable musical twists and turns. One thing they do fall short on is crowd interaction, but then again, if you had songs this good, you’d happily let them do the talking for you.

As great as the material from their recent ‘Crack The Skye‘ sounds, the band really step things up a gear for the encore, unleashing the hardcore fury of ‘The Wolf Is Loose‘ as a gigantic circle pit ensues before their eyes. ‘Iron Tusk‘ brings things to a close, with bassist Troy Sanders lurching around the stage like a deranged, drunken man-mammoth. Or should that be man-mastodon? Either way, this band’s musical evolution continues to set them apart from the pack in fine style.

Alex Gosman