Friday, January 25, 2008

Ma-sonics // Alone on a Hill

Laal and i caught Mastodon and Neurosis at Brooklyn Masonic last night. a fun and happy if rather boomy show. hung out with many cool folks, including dudes from the awesome Warmth, the ever-awesome Emily K and an old friend from far back whom i sort of never thought i'd see again.

anyway, the show! it was absolutely freezing out and due to some crowd-control mishap, we had to stand outside for a good while even though the show had already started and we already had tickets. i hadn't brought my jacket, so that ended up being really, really fun.

so we missed a bit of the Mastodon set, arriving just as they were ripping into "The Wolf Is Loose." it was jam-packed and really shitty sounding on the floor, so we made our way up to the balcony where there were these awesome bleacher-type seats that were excellent for mosh-pit gawking. the hall was large, old and pretty gorgeous--it had kind of a grittiness to it, kind of like a VFW hall or like Warsaw if you've ever been there. nothing too ornate, but it was elegant nonetheless.

Mastodon live pretty much does what they do. i'd say their last show i saw (at Webster Hall w/ Converge right around the time "Blood Mountain" came out) was a bit better in terms of energy and vibe--and certainly overall sound--but they are always really fun to watch. they're pretty workmanlike, just churning out songs--the sound was so boomy it was almost like they were playing in the next room. the overall effect of checking out their set for me was like a parade of familiar awesome riffs. i know ALL Mastodon's riffs from the past few albums, but i'm always at a loss to ID which ones come from which songs and in what order they appear. maybe that's a knock on their songwriting cohesiveness, but it also makes for a fun, surprising time seeing them live b/c all of a sudden one of your favorite riffs will pop out of nowhere and you'll be like "hell yeah!" (setlist-wise, i heard no new stuff, as was rumored; just favorites from all three recent albums. no "Colony of Birchmen" or "Bladecatcher," unless they played them before i got there, which was a bummer...)

only caught a bit of Neurosis. have never been a huge fan and have always sorta felt that they're a band people like to namedrop more than listen to. plus, the bands they're said to have influenced (Isis, etc.), i'm really not into at all. that said, what i saw of their set i thought was really solid. first off, the sound was 100 times better for them than for Mastodon. the music was pretty much what i expected: dire, abrasive doom sprinkled with atmospheric passages, but they sounded pretty goddamn massive. i was pretty blown away by the power of Scott Kelly's vocals--really soulful and gritty bellowing. the vox and the overall sound reminded me a lot of this incredible band Stay Fucked played w/ on tour: The Felon Wind, from Atlanta. (i actually like the Felon Wind a lot better than Neurosis! one reason being that their drummer swings like hell...) anyway, Neurosis took forever to set up, but i guess it was worth it since they had this big-ass projection screen behind them--videos of flowers blooming, wolves running, etc. etc. pretty standard-issue "avant-metal" visuals, but it was easy on the eyes.

on the way out, i beheld an amazing sight: the Masonic Temple's calendar of events for January, which listed "NEUROSIS/MASTODON" amid members' birthday parties and baby showers!


must say i'm pretty thrilled with the Mosaic solo Andrew Hill set i ordered. i was starting to get scared that i'd never listen to a jazz CD that wasn't Tyshawn Sorey's "that/not" (man, that's a sick record), but these discs quickly supplanted that.

Hill solo is such a complete trip. this stuff feels really sumptuous and even wistful at times, but there's this extremely strange sense of choppiness at play too. Hill's movement across the keys can feel extremely smooth one second and then halting and almost unsure the next. he demands total engagement. his dynamics are very strange too, like sometimes he'll be playing extremely softly and this just bash out these big blocky chords. there's a kind of cubist feeling of constantly changing directions, but it always feels completely intutive.

the experience of checking this stuff out is totally different than group Hill, b/c with nothing tying him down, he sounds so much more intensely abstract, but also so much more romantic. some of this stuff has a sense of swooning. all the titles describe California cities, and you get the feeling that he's very taken with the sunlight and such. three CDs worth of pieces that all kind of sound the same--reflective, eccentric, balladlike, fractured--and it's such a treasure, just constant surprise. btw, 2/3 of this stuff is previously unreleased. pick it up--it's a great way to remember the master.


Alex said...

The Masonic Temple was a pretty sweet spot despite the entry issue (which left me and Nick out in the cold for half Mastodon's set). We went in search of a bathroom upstairs and found a labyrinth of rooms and passages, even a weird altar!
I agree that Mastodon's sound wasn't great, but they always bring it, no matter the obstacles it seems. I'm a huge Neurosis fan and really enjoyed their set, so no let downs at all on that front. That was probably as close to a "religious experience" that a soulless atheist like me gets.
BTW, now I gotta check out some of those bands you fellas toured with...

Anonymous said...

weird that the sound could be so different between mastodon and neurosis, must be the sheer number of amps?

is this like the first use of the masonic temple for shows? i lived a couple blocks from the place for 5+ years and never heard of anything going on there. figures, i move and stuff gets interesting.

Anonymous said...

found this, kinda blushin.
-gene from atlanta/ the felon wind