Mastodon / Between the Buried and Me - live in Fargo (Cover Artwork)

Mastodon / Between the Buried and Me

live in Fargo (2010)

live show

The metal genre for me has been a tricky one to actually appreciate and enjoy for the last 12 years or so. With the insurgence of nü-metal, it really turned me off to most bands out there. But if I had to pick the best metal band at the moment in the last 10 years, it has to be Mastodon. And lucky for me, they finally came back to Fargo 10 years later after an infamous story of them not being able to get into Canada and playing a local bar to make up for it (wish I knew which one, though). They are the headliners for this year's Volcom Tour with Between the Buried and Me, Baroness and Valient Thorr as the openers. Here's a rundown of the show.

The show took place at The Venue at the Hub, which is one of the bigger venues for music in town. The crowd had a weird mix of Hot Topic kids, actual metalheads and bros that are there because of the bar (the Hub is a notorious "bro" bar and The Venue is one of six connecting bars in it). It was an almost full house (a little more or about the same in comparison to the NOFX show two weeks earlier at the same place).

Valient Thorr kicked things off as the band to beat. I have seen them twice before (both times at Riot Fest 2008) and their live show is something to behold. Thrash/southern rock 'n' roll straight from the planet Venus! Valient Himself, the lead singer, has a great amount of energy at every show. With their southern roots, he comes across very much like one of those evangelical road show preachers. They cranked out the old and the new. Look for a new album from these guys this fall. And try to catch them live while you're at it.

Baroness was up next. They're one of the bands I discovered more of last year with their Blue Record (one of the best of 2009), and they pretty much proved it with their set. Their set pretty much is a blend of stoner metal and progressive metal (in the Mastodon vein). Be warned: The set was very much more instrumental and had very few vocals in their songs. Keep an open mind when listening. I really like them and they're great live. Also, it was bassist Summer Welch's birthday that night. He first dived into the crowd when the set was done and then most people involved with the tour came on stage and had the crowd sing "Happy Birthday."

Between the Buried and Me was up next. Music technicality-wise, this was problem the band of the night that showed it the best. Very much in the vein of Dillinger Escape Plan metal, these guys push the limits on what metal can be. Most of their songs are almost 10 minutes longer (exaggeration) so they only had a few songs to choose from. There were at least two songs played from each of their releases, but more of The Great Misdirect, their latest release.

Finally, it was Mastodon's turn. They came out and showed why they are possibly the best metal band around at the moment. The first half of the set was the entire Crack the Skye album. Now, I know a lot of people out there don't like this album, including two of my friends that went to the show and almost left. But I grew into the album more and more with each listen. It is pretty much a prog metal/concept album masterpiece. The band cranked through the entire album without a problem. There was a screen behind them which I basically couldn't keep my eyes off of. It was pretty much 1920s-era film involving Rasputin (who is referenced throughout the album). After they finished that part of the set, there was an intermission for a bit and then they came back for 30 more minutes or so to play a second half of different songs off of Remission, Leviathan and Blood Mountain. And how glad am I that they ended with "Blood and Thunder" from Leviathan? That has to be the best metal song from the last decade. Mastodon was definitely at the top of their game, demonstrating why they're one of the best metal bands out there.

Set list:

    Crack the Skye (entire album):
  1. Oblivion
  2. Divinations
  3. Quintesscence
  4. The Czar: Usurper/Escape/Martyr/Spiral
  5. Ghost of Karella
  6. Crack the Skye
  7. The Last Baron
    Second set:
  8. Crusher Destroyer
  9. Crystal Skull
  10. I Am Ahab
  11. Capillarian Crest
  12. Circle of Cysquatch
  13. Iron Tusk
  14. March of the Fire Ants
  15. Blood and Thunder

This is possibly the best show of the year for me thus far. But it's only May so there should be plenty more to come. As far as a "metal" show, this is probably the best one I've been to. All the bands were great and in top form and all had a different sound which made the lineup really interesting.