Big Top, Sydney NSW
March 26th, 2018
There is something to be said about having supporting bands. Even if they’re bad, they still do the job of getting the crowd to anticipate the next band. So it is a bit unfortunate that there was no ‘support’ band per se, and we’re thrown headlong into the popular whirlwind that is Gojira right of the cuff. Playing a set that relies heavily on cuts from Magma, the French powerhouses absolutely dominated the stage. ‘Stranded’ and ‘Silvera’ saw raucous shouting and applause, not to mention got the crowd banging their heads in time with each other.
However, it is their older material that saw the crowd really get involved. Fan favourite ‘Flying Whales’ had everyone leaping off the ground in unison to that wonderful, bouncy riff. Arguably the coolest track off From Mars to Sirius, ‘Backbone’ also saw the crowd whip themselves into a controlled frenzy with a circle pit to rival a tropical cyclone. The largest response was by far received by their set closer ‘Vacuity’ which may just be be the most amazing song to be ever played live, as its pounding, warped guitar work seeps into your being, causing sanity to become unhinged, letting the music take over and control your body. With that completed though, the set from Gojira felt all too short, and was over.
Arraying themselves on the stage, one can’t help but wonder how four men of such disparate ever ended up together. Maybe it was fate that drove them all together to form the mind bending unit that is Mastodon. Anyway, with no more ceremony than a cleared throat, the band launches into ‘Sultan’s Curse’. As it’s the first chance at hearing all these new songs live, I can say I was fairly excited for the experience, and the first few bars of the song did not disappoint. Seamlessly weaving in the older ‘Divinations’ and ‘Crystal Skull’ also served to elevate the feel of the show, as every song is so unique, it’s wonderful to experience the differing eras side by side.
Only taking a minuscule break from playing to briefly greet the crowd, the songs began anew. Single after single poured out of from the band, even privileging us all with the oddly mesmerising ‘Toe to Toes’ from the Cold Dark Places EP which saw a bit more experimentation (if that was possible) from the quartet. One thing I did notice is that a lot of the tracks were really Brent Hinds and Troy Sanders oriented in the vocal department, which you will not hear me complaining about. Hinds has such a captivating voice and it’s a treat so hear his grimy, almost unrefined voice on ‘Megalodon’.
As song after song rolled out of the speakers and over the crowd, and thrust after thrust of Sanders’ penetrated the eyes of those watching, all I could think was that Mastodon truly do have a vast and gleaming catalogue of tracks at their disposal. From Emperor of Sand, seven songs were played and there were still some that I would’ve enjoyed hearing. Then two to three from all the rest of their albums… Well no complaints here. The last three songs were definitely the highlight of the set; it’s easy to see that Bill Kelliher thoroughly enjoys smashing through ‘Motherpuncher’ and ‘Steambreather’ as much as we all did. But the crowd was unrivalled in their fierce support of ‘Blood and Thunder’. As Sanders’ bellows his way through the song, the crowd was, if not more forcefully, mirroring his every move. But all dreams must come to an end, and as the song comes to a close, so does the Monday night’s festivities. Thanks Mastodon.
Mastodon Setlist —
Colony of Birchmen
Toe to Toes
Ghost of Karelia
Blood and Thunder
Review by Dylonov Tomasivich
Revisit our Download Festival coverage here
Mastodon – Download Festival Sideshows
March 28th @ Eatons Hill Hotel, Brisbane