My Musical Adventures

Black Gives Way to Blue: BlackDiamondSkye: Alice in Chains, Deftones, Mastodon @ The Joint at the Hard Rock, 10/16/10

I have little faith in anything except that life always balances itself out. In fact, I’m kind of obsessive about it: the minute something bad happens, I get through it by knowing something good is coming my way. And then when something good happens, I know bad is lurking around the corner. Perhaps this would be ok if my life dealt in highs like winning $50 on a scratch off ticket and lows like a DVR malfunction. But my past 2 years have been a dramatic series of extreme highs and lows; the kind an outsider deems exciting or unfortunate, but to me, has both propelled me closer to my dreams and my destruction.

“Overwhelmed you chose to run…”

I sat in the small town nail salon watching the manicurist at work. I’ve chosen a deep shade of blue instead of my usual black. I’m thinking about leaving for Las Vegas the next day when it hits me: Black Gives Way to Blue.

Black. Bleak, the color of mourning. Emptiness, despair. Hopelessness. My last few months. This trip would be my first excursion back doing what I love. And while I knew it wasn’t a ticket to instant happiness, I was hoping at least it would be baby steps in the direction of just feeling blue.

“I don’t wanna feel no more, it’s easier to keep falling”

Mastodon: the band who’s album, Crack the Skye, accompanied me through a lot of life changes last year.

Deftones: their latest album, Diamond Eyes, has been in constant rotation for me since my mother’s death.

Alice in Chains: the band who’s music has intertwined with my life for nearly two decades in increasingly unexpected ways.

Normally this would be the kind of tour where I would have gone to several shows, but life got in the way. I was lucky to even be able to make it to the final show of the BlackDiamondSkye tour in Las Vegas.

There’s just something different about attending shows in Vegas. Add to the mix that this was the final show of the tour and the last shows in long touring cycles for both Mastodon and Alice in Chains, and there was bound to be some interesting twists and turns to the evening.

Waking up relatively early by Vegas standards in a marshmallow bed, we ordered room service and turned the TV up to drown out the loud sex our next door neighbors were having. I’ll put it this way, I could tell through the walls that that girl was faking it. Sorry, dude.

Then we were off to the spa, where my masseur played Depeche Mode over the speakers and we talked about music the entire massage. He even had a Trent Reznor story.

While trying to shop for our Halloween costumes, we walked by Mike Tyson, who is surprisingly short and made us feel like we were in our own version of The Hangover. He smiled at us, and I thought about how easily he could cease my existence.

We had VIP tickets for the show, meaning that our ticket came with swag, a meet and greet with Alice in Chains, and early entry to the show. We went downstairs to the hotel bar to have a drink, where we encountered several members from the opening bands, whom we bought margaritas for. Earlier, my friend had found a $100 on the ground, so we invested it back into the music.

We joined the lengthy line at our designated time for the meet & greet. Having done this once before, I wasn’t very nervous this time around. My excited/nervousness stemmed more from this being my first big show back in action after nearly a 4 month hiatus, and I could feel myself putting pressure on the night to be perfect.

So I was worried when it was announced to us in line that Jerry Cantrell had just been diagnosed with walking pneumonia and Sean Kinney had the flu. We were assured the show would go on, but it was impossible not to think about the implications this might have on the performance.

There was a large group of girls who apparently follow the band everywhere who seemed to be having some sort of meltdown, so they were handled separately from us, and we became the end of the line. The autograph portion came first, and the guys were all nice and chatty as they signed my poster. When I got to Kinney, who was last, I jokingly told him that earlier this year he had given a drumstick to two girlfriends of mine that I stood next to at shows, so I was starting to get offended. He promised to give me one if he made it through the set and could find me. Back in the line, we waited for pictures next. We squeezed in between them and got one ‘normal’ and one ‘fun’ shot. I’m sure they were stoked that we marked the end of these meet and greets…they have to be exhausting, especially when you are sick.

aic m&g

Back outside the venue, we experienced a little NIN style line drama as a bunch of people were in front of us that shouldn’t have been, and our main deal is that we like to have a good spot on the rail. However, once inside, we ended up with the perfect spot easily. All was in order to have a great time once we were over the placement hurdle.

pic from chaka chaka on buzznet

The Joint is a giant venue with little personality. The show was sold out, and the excitement and energy brewing behind us was palpable. This tour, to me, had several similarities to last year’s NIN/JA tour…3 bands with 3 different crowds, and I was in a minute minority of people who care for all three.

Mastodon took the stage at 8pm. It would be the first time for me to see them where they didn’t play CTS in it’s entirety. Wow, what a difference that made. Their energy was so much more chaotic, their playing, more frantic and unpredictable. It was a special set to me. It felt odd to hear the CTS songs out of context, but having them woven into the older material really showed off how they can stand on their own. You could tell the guys were putting everything out there at this last show, and were having a good time doing it. I saw William DuVall watching the set from the side stage and realized that there is an Atlanta connection there. It was hard for me to grasp that this was the beginning of the show and not the end. I just had one problem with the set- it was entirely too short!

“Don’t stay, run away…”

Mastodon photos by my partner in crime

Setlist:
Naked Burn
Divinations
Oblivion
Crystal Skull
Colony Of Birchmen
The Czar
Megalodon
Blood and Thunder

The Deftones’ set was brutal. The crowd pushed hard as Chino flailed and screamed above us. The ramp set up on stage for him to jump around on made it feel like he was standing on top of us at times….but being so close to his insane energy was rather amazing. Speaking of ramps, I found it to be an interesting coincidence that the hotel was hosting the Dew Tour S