Let me start off by saying that I love all three of these bands, and I have been looking forward to this show since I got confirmed to photograph it. I had always wanted to see what Dethklok - a made up band based around a cartoon show - sounded like live. And ever since Axe To Fall came out (even before, when I saw teasers of their new stuff up on their myspace) I've been wanting to see Converge (for the fourth or fifth time - I forget). And I’ve never seen Mastodon.
Now, I got there right as Converge took the stage and, as most people could have predicted, Kurt (the guitarist) had taken center stage and was jamming out to Plagues. Every time I’ve seen Converge, they’ve opened with Plagues, and it never fails to get a crowd riled up. Within seconds of the opening riff, there was already a circle pit in the middle of Hammerstein Ballroom, NYC. As soon as Jacob Bannon starts his signature barking, the crowd erupts, as fans chant along.
Moving on to perform pieces from their latest album, Axe To Fall, a giant screen behind them lights up with the album artwork as they play the title track, 'Dark Horse', and 'Reap What You Sow'.
Moving on, Converge goes on to churn out more crowd favorites such as 'Last Light', and 'The Broken Vow'. The stage presence is immense, as Jacob runs back and forth along the stage, Nate swings his bass like he’s the only one on stage, while Kurt scales away on his guitar. Lets not forget about Ben, who’s slamming away in a fury behind everyone else.
Needless to say, when you go to see Converge, you can expect an amazing show. As they leave the stage, I wonder how anyone could follow an act like that.
As Mastodon takes the stage, I immediately notice that the setting will be totally different. The ballroom is filled with ambient lighting and synths bounce off the walls. They come out in flashy space pants (note picture) and start playing some of their new wave metal. Its easy to just sit back with no energy and let your legions of fans do all the hyping.
..And that’s pretty much what they do. I enjoy Mastodon’s music, but their live performance is nothing extravagant. At least, not for me. They stand around, and play their instruments. Don’t get me wrong, they play them well, but its just not... exhilarating. Its not personal with the fans. Its hard to make photos look exciting... when they’re really not. Who knows, maybe they had an off night? I’ve heard good things about Mastodon’s live performance.
After the hour and a half (or so) that was boredom during Mastodon’s set (at least for me), a giant Nathan Explosion from Metalocalypse came on the screen and a short mini scene for the popular Cartoon Network Adult Swim series came on.
After the little movie, the people known as Dethklok took the stage. Now this isn’t really a live show either. Its just to play songs from some peoples favorite cartoon series. All the microphones are distorted to give the impression of the TV show, and everything is tightly preformed. They sound good! They play everything right, but, once again, where’s the movement? Then again, it felt to me as if more people were watching the big screen playing the animation behind the performers, so maybe it did work? Maybe Dethklok was a success for those who went to see them. Didn't strike a match with me, though.
I guess I’m just a sucker for stage performance. I’m a sucker for bands that move around, bands that engage with the fans, and I’d rather have that than a fancy light show.