For anyone surprised to see Mastodon, a progressive metal band, performing an acoustic set amongst the fish in a Georgia aquarium, think back to Leviathan (2004)—a Mastodon album essentially dedicated to Moby Dick. If any rockers were going to uproot their entire style for the sake of a fish-based venue, it would be Mastodon.
Perhaps only Mastodon could so gracefully perform deep tracks in an acoustic style—simultaneously pleasing old fans while welcoming in a handful of new ones. Those deep tracks ranged over the band’s entire discography, beginning with “Naked Burn.”
It’s easy to lose track of the vocals behind a metal band, but the toned-down drums and slow guitar plucking allowed the sultry voice of lead guitarist Brent Hinds to shine through. A deep appreciation for “Naked Burn’s” lyrics wasn’t an expectation coming into the live stream but was certainly a feeling viewers walked away with.
Before track two, “Asleep in the Deep,” began, bandmates discussed the inspiration behind the piece. Drummer Brann Dailor, who sings the song, ties its meaning to childhood memories and, oddly enough, Rosemary’s Baby. On the other hand, guitarist Troy Sanders connected “Asleep in the Deep” to the MASH theme song. Regardless of the core memory “Asleep in the Deep” provoked, however, it was sure to be a sensation, with its seamless harmonies and catchy rhythm.
Next came “The Czar.” Out of the entire set, the performance of “The Czar” offered the most drastic differences from its original version. In discussing the rendition, bandmates agreed that the alternative version best represented who they are today. Following “The Czar,” Mastodon performed a brand new song, “Skeleton of Splendor,” from their upcoming album. The song is said to be a “thank you note” to the band’s late manager, Nick John. Behind the purple lights and flawless performance, any onlooker could see the significance this song held for the band. If the upcoming album is to be anything like the performance of “Skeleton of Splendor,” it’s sure to make history.
The fifth song, “Sleeping Giant,” kept theme by breaking theme. With its ending sounding as if an entirely new song was beginning, Mastodon kept with the spontaneity their ever-changing music is known for. The next song, “The Sparrow,” kept emotions high after Dailor took the time to explain the song’s one and only message: pursue happiness with diligence. The lyric was penned to paper after the band’s accountant lost his wife, Susie, to cancer. Susie’s life message was to pursue happiness with diligence—an important reminder for the short lives we live.
Quickly following, “Thickening” played for the long-distance masses. With its upbeat tempo and sweet grooves, “Thickening” doesn’t sound like a traditional Mastodon song. The power of the song, however, is undeniable—earning it a top rank amongst other experimental tracks of The Hunter.
In no short supply of dedications and inspirations, Mastodon performed the final two tracks, “Elephant Man” and “Pendulous Skin,” in honor of Joseph Merrick. Joseph Merrick’s story proved as a touching tale to the band, proving the strength of the misfit community.
In departure, the band thanked the fish, packed away their instruments and left with one final message to the audience: this show was to be in loving memory of Nick John—an unforgettable purpose behind an unforgettable live stream.
Photo Credit: Boston Lynn Schulz