This past Friday I once again got to enjoy the blessings of living where I live and doing what I do. Several months ago I scored a ticket to see Mastodon, with Gojira and Kvelertak, at the Tabernacle in Atlanta. At roughly $45 after fees, it was on the top end of what I’m willing to pay for a ticket. I’m glad my desire for live metal won out over my frugal nature. It was quite the show.
I left home early, calculating extra time needed for gas, bank run and traffic. I had not added in the insanity of Atlanta Friday evening traffic. After passing FOUR accidents on my way, I feared I would be late for the show and be forced to see the bands from the rafter seats or the back of the room (however, truth be told, the upper balcony seats at the Tabernacle are fantastic). The traffic gods smiled upon this weary traveler (ok, ok, it was only 25 miles) and I made to Luckie Street (actual name The Tabernacle is on) in good time. After passing ridiculously priced parking lots, I made my way to my usual deck and paid the $5. I walked confidently to The Tabernacle…only to find a line wrapped around the block. It appeared my confidence was a bit premature in it’s appearance. I got in line and feared poor seating (The Tabernacle is general admission).
The doors opened and the line moved quickly into the venue. Younger fans made their way to the merch tables to load up on t-shirts. The bars began pouring rivers of beer for college aged guys and older metalheads alike. Would be moshers made their way to the stage, to be as close to the action as possible. I would normally follow them, but knew I wanted to have a better experience than being jostled all night. I made my way to left side window well.
As I have written about before, The Tabernacle has two fantastic window wells beside the bars on either side of the stage. They follow the rise of the floor and once in them, the patron is elevated about three feet above the crowd. This was to be my perch for tonight’s festivities.
While waiting for the show to begin, I noticed the new monitors the Tabernacle had thoughtfully added to help those in the back view the show. They were displaying upcoming concerts and safety announcements. “No Smoking”, “The 1975-SOLD OUT.” That had me weeping for the future. I’ve heard the 1975. They suck donkey balls. Anywho, the ads kept coming. Nothing interesting, until I saw the Tabernacle had banned moshing and crowd surfing. I chuckled to myself. Being a veteran of many, many metal shows at this very venue, I knew that was like asking a fish not to swim.
Kvelertak’s appearance on the stage interrupted my laughter. I had never heard them before that night. I figured it was another time waster band, those bands designed to make you feel like you saw more entertainment than you really had, justifying climbing ticket prices. I was wrong. That’s right, you heard it here. That Nerdy Metal Guy admitted to being wrong. Kvelertak blew me away! I was beyond pleasantly surprised. I was elated. Their triple guitar attack, interweaving to create a groove through the listeners brain, entranced me. I couldn’t understand a single word the singer uttered, but his voice was powerful and hypnotic. He could have been telling me to drink high fructose corn syrup for all I know, but he was freaking amazing at his job. (Downside: he spits. A lot. I have a rule: spit on me and I’m knocking your teeth out. This made me glad I was in my perch, a good thirty feet from the stage. He kept performing and I enjoyed the show without going to jail.) Kvelertak played a blistering 35 minute set that had me headbanging with my fist in the air the entire time. I put them on the list of bands to watch for return shows.
The crowd was reaching capacity limits and my bladder began to beckon that it might be a good idea to visit the lavatory. I ignored it. If I had been there with a group of friends and had means to reserve my spot, that would be one thing. Being a lone wolf, I was forced to guard my territory. I fretted over this dilemma for a few minutes, when Gojira hit the stage.
I became interested in Gojira after Jason Newsted mentioned them on That Metal Show. Definitely not to be taken lightly, Gojira is a mixture designed to stimulate the brain as well as the fist. Complex rhythms mesh together to ensnare the listener and capture them before they realize it has happened. This was to be quite the sight.
That Nerdy Metal Guy must admit, I have no idea what the names are for the majority of Gojira’s songs. I typically listen to them while driving and while i own three of their albums and keep them in heavy rotation, it ends there. I have no setlist to provide readers. I can say they did L’Enfant Sauvage (the song, not the album in entirety), but it ends there. I can, however, say they controlled the room. Taking cues from the immortal Ronnie James Dio, they made everyone feel important, from the kids in the front to the stragglers in the back. They held the crowd in the palm of their hand and rewarded everyone for laying down their hard earned money. My favorite memory of the night was looking out at the crowd, a see of horns pumping to the music. I swear, Joe Duplantier could have commanded the crowd to pick up the building and carry it to France and they would have done it or died trying. (Should Gojira come to your town, GO! You will not be disappointed)
Gojira played for just shy of an hour and in the break between bands, my bladder began to remind me that it was not to be ignored. I looked around the room and debated giving up my prime spot or risking an embarrassing incident. My bladder was silenced by the appearance of Mastodon.
I am a pretty big Mastodon fan. I dig the complexity of their songs, the intellectual lyrics and the fact they are from my hometown of Atlanta. I own all their albums and the are in frequent (daily) rotation on my i-phone. I was…a little let down.
I’m going to give the guys in Mastodon a break. It was hot and crowded. I needed to pee pretty badly and was also a tad hungry. And, I had been listening to LIVE AT BRIXTON a good bit and was wanting a live recreation of that. That’s not what I got.
They are a damn fine band. Tight as a tick on a drum. But, the set was heavier on songs from the latest album (understandably). I wanted “Curl of the Burl” and “Dry Bone Valley.” I was to be disappointed. “The High Road” was fun and “The Motherload” sounded great. “Once more ’round the Sun” had my fist in the air, but I found the heat, the crowd, the slower paced songs and the pressure in my bladder to take a group toll and I made for the restrooms.
The Tabernacle has restrooms upstairs and downstairs. The downstairs are located off a great room that houses merch tables, bars and food vendors. After emptying my bladder for what felt like fifteen full minutes, I made my way to the bar and had a non diet friendly Coke and a soft pretzel. There are large screen TVs showing the band in the room, so i missed very little of the concert. I noshed on my pretzel and sipped my Coke and relaxed in the absence of 4999 other bodies being pushed together around me. I made my way to the merch tables.
I am well known to my friends as a concert t-shirt junkie. However, as my income has decreased and my bills increased, I now find it insane to pay $40 for a t-shirt. I had checked the websites for both bands and found I could order shirts from both bands for less than they were charging for a single shirt, and that included shipping!
I did see the merch guy for Kvelertak. I’m a sucker for good jokes and he had a sign saying “I tell jokes for tips.” I dropped $5 in his jar and he came to life. He told five of the funniest, dirtiest jokes I have heard in a while. As I have readers of all ages, i’ll not repeat them here, but definitely have some zingers for the next boy’s night out. I thanked him and returned to the ballroom.
I took a spot in very back and found the view was actually good. I caught the last three songs, the heartfelt thanks from Mastodon for making their homecoming a sold out extravaganza and I made my way out.
As I drove home, I pondered this show, my change of opinions for all bands involved and my desire to see more bands live. I realized I made the mistake of having expectations with Mastodon. My expectations of Kvelertak where very low and they blew me away. My expectations of Gojira weren’t much better and they were fantastic. My expectations of Mastodon were for them to play exactly what i wanted to hear and I ended up let down. They played stuff i liked, but I wanted a live replication of LIVE AT BRIXTON. That was unfair. I instead need to go in without the expectations. Enjoy this show as different and new. Let it flow with it’s own energy.
And so i encourage everyone to flow with their own energy and enjoy the beauty of the new experience. Good night.