BAY AREA BACKSTAGE

Metalocalypse: Dethklok & Mastodon 2009 Tour
With High on Fire & Converge

By Dianthrax

If it wasn’t obvious enough by now to anyone who’s ever met me, talked to me, or seen any of my social network pages; I’m a huge geek. I like comic books, science fiction, video games, Star Wars, Buffy the Vampire Slayer- the list just goes on and on. So how did someone like me end up doing something as wickedly awesome as reviewing concerts and movies for Bay Area Backstage? Most of the time while I’m standing in a crowd of fans screaming my head off and jumping around like a cricket on crack I ask myself that exact question. Tonight was another one of those times. I’m standing there feeling the jelly in my eyeballs vibrate to the sounds of Mastodon and all I can think is “I can’t believe I’m going to get to see Dethklok perform live! Right now, at this very moment, Brendon Small is in this very building and from now on, every time I watch Metalocalypse I’ll get to tell myself ‘Hey! I saw those guys live!’” It was all very groupie-esque and embarrassingly fan-girlish. Being the geek that I am, of course I’m an avid viewer and big fan of Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim. This would include both Metalocalypse and Home Movies. When I learned more about them and discovered that the same guy comes up with the two shows equally hilarious and vastly different types of humor I was duly impressed. When I went on to discover that the guy is also the co-producer, co-writer, composer, musician, and voice actor…well, I’m fairly sure that’s when the fan-girl affliction settled in. Brendon Small is kind of like my Robert Pattinson. When I found out that Dethklok would be going on tour I knew instantly that I wanted to go, so away to my computer I scurried only to discover that said tour would not be coming to San Jose. They weren’t even coming to San Francisco! The closest performance to me was the one in L.A. and I knew that was out of the question (I have to save up for Comic-con 2010.) I resigned myself to being pouty and bitter about it when low and behold, fate stepped in and they added extra shows to the tour, the last of which was at the San Jose Event’s Center on Saturday November 21st. I was very un-Metal in my girlish celebratory dancing. For reasons that I shall not go into- reasons involving getting lost after having a late start- I am sad to say that I missed both High on Fire and Converge completely. I arrived at the show just before Mastodon took the stage so unfortunately I have no way of reporting on those two bands and how they performed that night. I also have to admit that I’m really not all that familiar with Mastodon. In the weeks prior to the show I listened to their music, read the band history and member bios, visited their official as well as fan-based websites- the same things I do for every band I’m going to write about. But at the time I had thought I would be writing about four bands

instead of two, so I divided my time so that I could also look into Converge and High on Fire. Rather than insult you and try to act like I know more about them than I actually do, I’m stating in advance that my observations are those of a virtual Mastodon virgin. Watching Mastodon perform was a bit like watching a very trippy movie with a super-loud soundtrack. Behind the band there was a huge screen that showed and odd assortment of images and black and white film clips. I’m not sure if the clips were from older and lesser known horror movies, or if they were something the band had made specifically for them. There were dancing skeletons and creepy devil faces combined with colorful images of space. Swirling nebulas and spiraling stars meshed with the macabre colorless scenes in a way that made me feel like it was designed to go directly along with the music in order to tell a story of some kind. It also made me feel like I was missing the point entirely. Perhaps if I was more familiar with the band’s lyrics it would have made more sense. There was a distinct transition when the band played songs off their new album “Crack the Skye” both in the mood of the music and in the imagery on the screen. I have to say that I liked them both much better. The music was more melodic and evoked a pleasant sense of simultaneous confusion and awareness in what I felt like I was being told by the songs. There were pictures now of animals, “new age” symbols like the third eye, interpretations of nature scenes as well as strange visual of recreations of classic literary allegories, like The White Whale from Moby Dick moving on the giant screen. I felt like that part was over with much too quickly. While visiting the Mastodon site and reading what the band members themselves had to say about this album I came across these quotes by Troy Sanders, the band’s bassist and vocalist: “It was to truly dig in and pull personal inspiration from both the darkest and dearest parts of our souls, and simultaneously with our wonder and amazement of the entire universe… Its two totally different things, diving into a small part of your soul and then being mesmerized with the wonders of our universe.” He also called it “the most natural and brutally honest next step of Mastodon's evolution.” I’m not sure how this compares to what the band has said and done in the past, but this album and the way they explained how it came about made Mastodon far more interesting to me; a band I’ll listen to and learn about because I want to and not because I need to. After getting over my mild shock and awe from Mastodon, I went back to my state of tingling-all-over and grinning like the Joker in anticipation for Dethklok. I really wasn’t sure what to expect. I mean, logically I know that there’s two people who do all five voices; Brendon Small and Tommy Blacha, and that the band’s music for the TV show is played by Small and Gene Hoglan on drums. I also knew that they had two other musicians who played with them just for the tours; Mike Keneally and Bryan Beller. What I didn’t know was how well this would all come together or if it would seem at all like it was a real band called Dethklok performing. I knew that I could look up past performances online but I purposely stayed away from those, wanting to have my own experience untainted by expectations. It was both a blessing and a curse to be standing amidst the crowd, which was where I chose to watch the show. The downside was that I’m only 5 foot 7 ½ inches tall and towards the back, which made it very difficult to see the actual band members playing on stage (or to get any really excellent pictures. Sorry about that.) On the other hand, because I couldn’t see them very well it was easy for me to focus on the screen and imagine that there really was Nathan, Toki,

Skwisgaar, Pickles, and Murderface performing right there in front of me. That was pretty fun, though I do wish that I could have seen more of Brendon. Then again, I have copies of the photos he did for Playgirl magazine so really I can see pretty much all of him whenever the urge strikes me. In fact, I’ll be right back… I don’t know what else there is to say about the Dethklok show. I mean, it was freaking Dethklok! The music was brutal and totally kickass with songs like “Awaken, Murmaider, Birthday Dethday, and the Duncan Hills Coffee Jingle.” They also showed their music videos along with brief pauses to allow for some comedy, such as Murderface stopping the show and just walking off stage to “go take a piss.” There was even an appearance by the band’s endlessly patient and rather sexy manager/lawyer Charles Foster Ofdensen. It was just perfect! I’d go again in a heartbeat and recommend that anyone else do the same if given the opportunity to, whether you’re a fan of the show/Metal or not. It was quite the singular occasion and much like Metalocalypse itself, should really be experienced rather than described. Till next time Klokateers, M.M.M. Dianthrax

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