Mastodon and Russian Circles at ACL Live, Austin, TX, 5/20/2017

Mastodon is a band that has come a long way over the years.  The first time my punk rock fiancee went to a Mastodon show with me she turned around during their first song and asked, “Are these guys homeless?”  When they first started out, they were just flat out harsh.  They were just scruffy looking dudes laying down brash vocals and sludgy-as-hell riffs.  I never really pegged these guys as a band that would ever achieve wide-spread acclaim and acceptance outside of the underground metal world.   How things have changed.  Playing the Moody Theater at ACL Live is truly a mark of “making it”.  This is just as beautiful and best sounding venues a band can play.  It was an appropriate venue for Mastodon to put on what was probably the best performance I have witnessed by the band.

This show was a band completely on top of their game.  There have been shows in the past where Mastodon’s live sound was not completely up to par.  A complaint bantered around was that their live sound was just a bit muddy in comparison to their albums.  Maybe it was playing in a venue with superb acoustics, but Mastodon just sounded crisp on this night.  Also, the visuals the band brought with 6-8 video towers were sufficiently trippy to match the songs.  For those of Mastodon’s fans concerned about the softening of their sound over the years, this performance should put such fears to rest.  All of the earlier albums were well represented on the setlist.  This show was a statement by a band that is operating at a peak and it bodes well for these guys going forward.

An added bonus of this show was getting to see Russian Circles play a large venue.  Russian Circles is truly one of the special bands operating in the underground metal scene.  I always love seeing small bands getting an opportunity to play a venue other than a small club.  Their sound was simply powerful to behold in this venue and from the response of the crowd, it seems like they may have made a few new fans.

The Eagles of Death Metal were also on the bill, but their performance really didn’t warrant a serious mention.  It would have been nice to see a better band filling their slot on the bill.

Some samples:

Sultan’s Curse (excuse the initial focusing issue…it clears up)




Circle of the Cysquatch

Russian Circles-Deficit