Metal Dream Team: Dethklok, Mastodon, Converge, High on Fire @ Roseland Ballroom in Portland, 10/2/09

Most of the metal community let out a collective hurray- or threw horns, or whatever- when this tour was announced. I knew immediately that I would catch a few dates of this tour to take it all in. Last night’s show was the kick off for the tour.

I’d also never been to Portland before, so this was a good excuse to take a mini trip. After wandering around the streets, visiting the row of food carts and some very bizarre thing called The Church of Elvis, I went to scope out the venue. It was 2:30p or so, and only 2 or 3 people were waiting….which always makes me laugh after following Nine Inch Nails around for so long and (there would be hundreds in line already). After snapping a picture of the marquee, I turned around and the Dethklok bus drives by, followed by the other buses. Of course this is the kind of timing I have.

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I continued to wander around some more, taking random pictures of things and quoting Metalocalypse on twitter. It felt weird to get ready for the show at 5pm, but the start time listed on the ticket was 6:30pm, so I figured that getting there 45 minutes early would suffice.

There was a huge line wrapped around the block when I got there, so I figured that I’d lost my chances of getting a good spot. The line was heavily male, and Portland seems to be the kind of town where people go to shows in large groups. They also were all pretty young. So, of course, people are looking at me like, ‘who is this weird chick by herself’. Someone actually asked me, “Who are YOU here to see??” At least I decided not to wear my ‘Explode Me’ shirt….since no one had dressed up as a character from the show…..disappointing! I really wanted a picture with a Dr. Rockso!

The venue was weird. You had to go through metal detectors to get in…..seriously? I just did this at the airport…..kind of overkill. Also, there isn’t a coat check. Feeling kind of down on the start of the show, I get a place one person from the barrier at my usual corner of the stage, and waited to pounce on any space that opened up.

Promptly at 6:30p, High on Fire took the stage. They are local to me- from Oakland- but for some reason I had never been able to catch them until now. I had thought the guy standing by the line outside smoking a cigarette looked familiar- turns out it was singer/guitarist Matt Pike. Their sludgey metal kicked off the show well, but their 30 minute set flew by. Pike sounds a lot like Lemmy, who just so happens to be playing the same venue tonight. I could tell that the Portland crowd was going to be pretty mellow already, save for a small pocket in the middle.

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At this point, a space opened up at the rail and I snuck right in. Score!

I’d heard great things about Converge live. They definitely remind me of Dillinger Escape Plan…mathcore with insane energy. When they were setting up, the bassist was doing the mic checks, and I guess the sound guy had him keep talking into it, so he was saying, “awkward, this is really awkward…..please hurry up…” It was hilarious. When the band launched into their set, vocalist Jacob Bannon ran out on the stage. Whoa, he is intense to watch…he runs back and forth, spinning around, screaming until he’s red in the face. When he’s not screaming, he does this thing where he raises his arm towards a band member, likes he’s conducting a metal orchestra. They had to deal with an asshole heckler, who when Bannon announced the name of the next song they were to play, said, “I don’t care! Hardcore Sucks!!!” I don’t understand people who do this….but he handled it well by replying, “I don’t care, either!!”. Their set was slightly longer than HoF’s, at 45 minutes.

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The kids next to me on the barrier had to be brothers or something, because between sets, they would literally take turns punching each other, like Beavis and Butthead or something. I thought it was really odd, because they were completely still during the sets….not even a head nod.

This marked the third time for me to see Mastodon this year, but it was the first time on Brent’s side. I knew without question that we’d hear Crack the Skye in it’s entirety again…and it’s a testament to how much I love that album that I’m still looking forward to that, and will hear it several more times on this tour. From this point on, security wouldn’t let you take pictures, even with cell phones….I snuck a couple, though. The visuals on the screen in the back alone could suck you in for the entire set- they were different from the show I saw in the Spring. But I can never peel my eyes away from the band. I could probably watch Troy Sanders play for 24 hours straight. He just makes me really happy. He was wearing a shirt with a little unicorn head on the corner at the bottom. Love it! Brent was the most on fire that I had seen him…. doing some impressive kick jumps at times. And then there’s Bill, with his magnificent hair….oh, and stellar guitar playing. There were a few times Brann was visible from his blur of drumming…what a machine.

I don’t know how the guys can still make you feel like this is the first time they’ve played the album in its entirety after touring non stop since March in support of it. But, there is a marked difference when they moved onto their other material. Their intensity skyrocketed when they started the second part of their set: ‘Circle of Cysquatch’, ‘Aqua Dementia’, ‘Where Strides the Behemoth’, ‘Mother Puncher’, and their cover of The Melvins’ ‘The Bit’. They did need the assistance of lyrics sheets, though- which I thought was a bit odd. The crowd’s energy went up as well- the crowd surfers started to come over the barrier, and the people next to me actually moved a bit to the music. I loved every second- Mastodon gets the longest set of the 4- at about 90 minutes.

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It feels like the show should be over, but the fact that I still get to see Dethklok is almost overwhelming. Though I will say that it’s a bit difficult for me to transition from Mastodon- ‘the real deal’, to Dethklok- ‘the cartoon band’. But Dethklok is really as real of a band as can be- they are all talented musicians with great songs.

Last time I saw Dethklok is a great story– starting with a canceled show due to a fire at The Fillmore, and ending with me getting my picture taken with Brenden. The show kicks off with Deththeme, as it should, and moves through a balance of songs from the first and new albums. There are several awesome clips on the screen for the show….I won’t ruin them for you, but they are as hilarious as you would expect. But I will adopt the phrase ‘Sweet Blowjob Metal’ as a descriptor for a genre of metal bands now.

As I watch Brenden up there, I have to wonder how he feels about all this. It’s got to be pretty cool to go from working in television to having Mastodon open for you. But he’s a really awesome guitar player…and the rest of the band is top notch as well. I think if anyone has reservations about them, they should put them aside.

I’m also thinking that I’m falling out of love with Toki Wartooth (he answered my question first here)…..Nathan Explosion might be where it’s at.

I can’t wait for the new season of Metalocalypse, which starts in November, which will be right before I rejoin the tour for two dates in Texas.

My word of advice regarding this tour: get there early. It’s all wrapped up by 11pm, in time for everyone to go home and watch Adult Swim.

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