Monday, May 14, 2012

Free concert? What??

It's been over 5 months since my last post, for reasons that I will elaborate upon at a later date.... For now, let's just get down to another of bob_o's magical music reviews!

Thursday April, 26th started off like any other day. Rolled out of bed, rolled into work, grabbed my much needed morning caffeine and started checking my email. One in particular immediately grabbed my attention; "Congratulations! You're's winner...." Jeeze. This spam filter really isn't working very well. But curiosity got the better of me, so I opened it. According to this email, not only had I won's contest, I had won tickets to see Ghost, Mastodon and Opeth. Bull. Fucking. Shit.

 I've never won anything in my life, let alone something that I would actually want. After a few disbelieving emails back in forth with Blistering Editor-in-Chief David Gehlke and Live Nation rep Lennora Jules, they convinced me that this was not a joke. I had indeed won tickets to see 2 of my favorite bands together. As in, at the same time. But wtf? I hadn't entered any contest, nor was I familiar with Blistering (which, by the by, is a bad ass website dedicated to only the best hard rock and metal). But that was now peripheral to the fact that there was two tickets waiting for me at Will Call! So I hit up my friend, co-worker and fellow metal-head Juan Ibarra. Me: "Hey Juanito! You want to go see Ghost, Mastodon and Opeth tonight at City Walk? For free??" Juan: "What?? Do I have to decide right now?? But yes! Jessss!" Hahaha! I love it when an impromptu plan comes together. (I found out a week later that good friend Cody Strong is the one responsible for entering me into the contest. Thanks Cody!)

The drive to Universal City went smoothly, except that when we got within 10 miles of City Walk, my GPS and Juan's GPS started bickering and we got slightly lost. No biggie.

We picked up the tickets from Will Call and entered the Gibson Amphitheater right as openers Ghost were taking the stage. We took our seats and started listening to the odd Swedish quintet. Neither Juan or I were overly familiar with their music, but I can tell you that half-way through their set, we were both converts to what some have jokingly called the "easy listening" of metal. They have a very laid back and somewhat progressive approach to their music.

It flows nicely, while still having the ability to make you bang your head, despite the absence of what has become standard fare for metal vocals: screaming, growling, shrieking, etc. In fact, the most extreme aspect of vocalist "Papa Emeritus'" vocal style is his accent, which is actually very mild. I think that one of the most hypnotic things about Ghost is their stage presence. Papa Emeritus glides onto the stage, looking like a Pope from your nightmares, complete with ghoulish face paint and bizzaro-world Habit. The other members of the band, known only as the "Nameless Ghouls" don Monk's robes that look like they were stolen from the late 15th century. Their appearance aside, this band is awesome. And despite their relative anonymity in the American metal scene, the crowd seemed to be enjoying it as much as Juan and myself. Regardless of the overtly Satanic lyrical content, haha!

Next up was Mastodon. And while I was really excited to see them play again, my apprehension definitely got the better of me (read why here). Unfortunately, my skepticism became reality as Mastodon launched into one of the most lackluster performances I've ever seen from a band as big as they are. It felt like an hour of goin'-through-the-motions. And while musically they sounded perfect, the vocals were weak, with the exception of Brann's vocals which were near flawless.

To be fair, when Troy and Brent were singing newer songs, they sounded a lot better. But while playing pre-Crack the Skye tracks (though they only played 4), Brent's pipes sounded likely to give out at any moment. Being a metal vocalist, I can understand what a strain their style of vocals can be on your vocal chords... But why not simply change it up a bit so that it's easier to perform? I dunno.
Also much to my disappointment, as previously mentioned, they only played 4 older tracks: "Hand of Stone" and "Crystal Skull" from Blood Mountain, and "Blood & Thunder" and "Aqua Dementia" from Leviathan. And admittedly, I hate to be "that guy", bitching about wanting to hear "the old shit", but here we are. Well written, recorded and executed though it may be, it lacks intensity. Though admittedly, what it lacks in intensity, it makes up for with tasty progressiveness.

I guess my biggest gripe with them was their near complete lack of stage presence. They can't all be zingers, right?

Opeth. What can I say? Opeth came out and wowed as usual. Mikael was his same dry, sarcastically entertaining self. And they performed an awesome assortment of their material spanning their entire 22 year career. From beginning to end, Opeth delivered the goods. Though I should admit, that this seems to be business as usual for the Progressive Metal band (and I don't care if you don't want to be labeled a "Metal Band", Mikael! You write and play metal, albeit some of the most progressive of metal ever to be recorded). 

They began with the first 3 tracks from their latest release, Heritage ("The Devil's Orchard", "I Feel the Dark" and "Slither", respectively). They then played what sounded like listening to their catalog on shuffle: "Windowpane", "Burden", "The Lines in my Hand", "Folklore", "Demon of the Fall" and "The Grand Conjuration". Every member of the band was on-fucking-point. Amazing. Opeth never disappoints.

Here's a few from their set list:



And I know they didn't play it, but here's "Heir Apparent", just for fun!


Overall, it was a great night. And I know I shouldn't complain about Mastodon, considering I got the tickets for Free Ninety-Nine. But... seriously Mastodon. C'mon guys, seriously. . 

I'd like to thank David Gehlke at and Lennora Jules at Live Nation for their patience in regards to my incredulous correspondence and for the the tickets! I had a blast! Thanks to Cody for entering me in the contest and thanks to Juan for accompanying me! 

Thank you for reading.


  1. Nice piece, dude. Glad you were able go. Ghost is badass in the goofiest way possible.

    1. Thank you, Morgan. Goofy is definitely a good way to describe them, haha!