Live Concert Review

Against Me!, Mastodon

Live (May 15th, 2007)

The Kool Haus- Toronto, Ontario




As torrential rains poured down on Toronto last Tuesday, you could tell there was something more in the air than just a storm. A fantastic tour was also raining down on the Kool Haus that involved These Arms are Snakes, Cursive, Against Me, and Mastodon. I couldn’t wait to see how this mixture of diverse bands was going to play out.

Now because of the intense rains, and the majority of people who can’t drive in the rain, I had to miss the first two bands on the bill due to traffic. But when I finally did arrive, the Kool Haus was filled with hardcore punks, coolest of the cool indie kids, and my favorite, the ass kicking metal heads. One group of fans would scream for Against Me, and the rival Mastodon faithful would chant for Mastadon. It was all in good fun and it kept the energy flowing.

Then our four favorite sons from Gainesville Florida came out, dressed in black, and as the intro drums from Pints of Guinness makes you Strong kicked in the Kool Haus went nuts. Once again I don’t know if it was the storm outside, but I have never seen a Toronto crowd with as much moxie as I did that night. Fists were thrown, and security did not mess around as a steady parade of punkers were marched out the front door, as Against Me ripped through their songs. It got so bad at one point, that front man Tom Gabel had to ask the security “What was going on”?

This is the second time I have seen Against Me playing recently with no noticeable bottles of Budweiser littering the stage. I am not sure if the boys are going alcohol free during their performances, but I have also never seen them as tight as they were that night. This band has been on the road constantly, and even though they haven’t been around all that long, they look like seasoned veteran road warriors up there, and they play like it too.

They focused heavily on their released material but also played three or four new songs that have me physically counting down the days until their latest release “New Wave” drops. There is a reason there is so much buzz around these guys, and they have to be seen live. I find it intriguing how they seem to close themselves off to the audience between songs, never speaking to the crowd, and then as soon as they strike the chords, and Tom begins to sing, it is all about delivering perfection to the audience.

After a short set change, and an exodus of happy pogo’rs, a sea of angry devil horns filled the Kool Haus, as it was now time for a little metal brought to us courtesy of Mastodon. Security was already uptight from the Against Me show, so their intensity was felt by the kids in the front row. Mastodon was touring in support of their latest release Blood Mountain.

Now I am not familiar with the band at all, but I really enjoyed their rootsy, thundering, technical, authentic metal sound, which they created, and the drummer’s kit was painted to tribute Randy Rhodes, which I thought was really cool.

I thought the show was really successful, and nothing was lost with the drastically different music styles the bands played.and gave music fans from all genres something to bang their heads to.