LondonNet Gig Review
The Mean Fiddler
165 Charing Cross Road
London WC2 0EN
Tottenham Court Road
Atlanta's Thin Lizzy-loving metal savants besiege the Mean Fiddler.
I was leaning against a pillar at a packed Mean Fiddler, waiting
impatiently for the Mastodon show to start, when I was approached
by a man on whom I had a good six to eight inches and probably thirty
pounds. I hunched over and listened to him rant about the majesty
of the band taking stage, acquiescing with a nod every now and again,
feeling even more Amazonian than usual. After the band completed
a churning, face-melting rendition of Island, he turned to me and
said, grinning, "That Brann Dailor is one sick bastard."
It was strangely, if aptly, emblematic of the entire show - an
aural assault perpetrated by the coupling of the Atlanta, Georgia
band's exemplary technical prowess and penchant for truly epic rocking.
It doesn't seem befitting, though, to talk about them in technical
or academic terms (Melville references notwithstanding), but rather
in the simple sort of superlatives employed by my new acquaintance,
who could be called no less than a superfan. Since becoming unlikely
critical darlings, Dailor and co. have been able to straddle a fan
base that encompasses both metal purists and dabblers, perhaps because
of a brand of metal alchemy that spawns a staggeringly intricate
yet accessible brand of steely heaviness.
Accordingly, though, a reserved foot-tapping didn't suffice as
the band ripped into "Megladon" from their new album Leviathan
- I found myself gritting teeth and (almost) head banging, although
I eventually had to move away from my diminutive pal as he launched
into a weird frenetic mix of Tantric head-bobbing. The magnificently
anthemic "I Am Ahab" garnered an audience chorus sing-along,
and the deified poses the band struck immediately afterwards, with
guitars held overhead, seemed in celebration of having harpooned
the leviathan himself.
Although they're firmly rooted in metal, vestiges of hardcore tinge
the band's sinuous sound. Wicked riffs surface amongst Mastodon's
bass laden, driving metal, and belie a penchant for the sort of
rock gods of yore that wielded their instruments like phallic extensions
- the band summoned the spectre Thin Lizzy with a cover of "Emerald"
before a thundering rendition of the Melvins's "Bit".
After the show, I passed by a man taking swills from a bottle of
beer whose ears appeared encrusted by dried blood. I guess it could
have been incidental - a result of poor hygiene - but I'd like to
think it was just a telling index of the sheer girth of Mastodon's