REVIEW: Mastodon Rocks! Emperor of Sand Tour Takes Over New York

Brent Hinds and the rest of Mastodon took to NYC’s Hammerstein Ballroom last Thursday to in conjunction with promoting their new album, Emperor of Sand, and along with them came one of my favorite rock bands, Eagles of Death Metal. An odd combination, you say? Absolutely, but one that shined brightly nonetheless as EODM rocked the house and Mastodon followed up by bringing the house down in front of what definitely looked like a sold out crowd.

I walked in just in time to see Eagles of Death Metal, and I had never seen EODM before- partly due to not realizing just how amazing they would be live, but also partly due to the Bataclan terrorist attack that subsequently took them off tour for a while, and I really am glad they’re back on the road and back to kicking ass, because Jesse Hughes & co are absolutely phenomenal and very quickly cemented themselves as one of my new favorite rock bands. EODM had time for 9 songs, which is never enough for a band but even less so when they’re kicking ass and playing the kind of feel-good music that can make anyone’s day better.

On offer were tunes like I Only Want YouFlames Go Higher and the closing number, Speak In Tongues, along with a new age rock n roll rendition of the late David Bowie’s tune Moonage Daydream. Like I said, 9 songs is never enough and that’s much more true with a band like Eagles of Death Metal, who are so good that they need to come back around on a headline tour so I can see them play a full 90-minute set. I’ll be listening to them a lot more, probably in the car with the windows down and the system up, pissing off the next to me who is invariably blasting 2 Chainz or some other hip-hop artist. Check out a few of our Eagles of Death Metal photos below.

Jesse Hughes of Eagles of Death Metal at Hammerstein Ballroom in NYC

Finally, it was time for Mastodon to come out and absolutely rock the foundation of Hammerstein Ballroom with a 20-song assault on the ears of the many, ripping through 7 tracks off their newest effort and album by the same name as the tour, Emperor of Sand. Somehow I had also never seen Mastodon before, and how stupid am I for going through the last 17 years without seeing them? My brain hurts just thinking about. For a band that’s been around as long as Mastodon has, surely I would have had an opportunity to see them before, right?

So for my first Mastodon show, they opened up the festivities – amid multiple 7-foot-high pillars of LED lights – with Sultan’s Curse off the new one and from there would run through Ancient KingdomAndromedaPrecious StonesRoots RemainShow Yourself – my favorite tune off Emperor of Sand – and a couple others from the new album. The full set will be at the bottom, as always. We reviewed the album here, but what’s more impressive is how much better the new material sounds live despite the album already being incredible.

What was even cooler, at least for me, was that I got to hear Chimes At Midnight live. Nothing like hearing your favorite song by a particular band played live in a great venue, and that made this one even more special on top of being my first – and definitely not my last – Mastodon show. The quality of music is obviously first-rate, and it’s really hard to believe they’ve only been a band since 2000. Okay, I was like 13 when they became a band and I was still listening to Creed – shut up – when Mastodon became popular, so maybe it’s not so bad that I hadn’t seen them, but still, it’s probably something I should have done a long time ago, because the energy and the show they put on is up there with some of the best shows I’ve ever been to. If you’re a hardcore Mastodon fan, you know this already. Somehow, I missed the memo.

Somehow, I’d always opted to see other bands when a choice had to be made, and with today’s shocking and sad news of Chris Cornell’s sudden death and apparent suicide, I’ve realized I need to make an effort to see as many iconic bands as possible. You never know when it’s just going to be over, or when you’re watching someone’s last performance. It’s made me appreciate even more the greatness that is Mastodon and the legacy they will one day leave behind, and I can’t figure out what took me so long. It truly is astonishing that I was somehow able to justify not seeing a band as good as Mastodon, and they are very good, especially live, and this show will be one I never forget. Go see Brent Hinds and the boys while you can, because there will be a day when we’re talking about Mastodon the past tense and sadly, we may never see it coming.

Photo gallery and setlist below.

Troy Sanders of Mastodon rocking out a Hammerstein Ballroom

Mastodon setlist:

Sultan’s Curse

Divinations

The Wolf Is Loose

Crystal Skull

Ancient Kingdom

Bladecatcher

Black Tongue

Colony of Birchmen

Ember City

Megalodon

Andromeda

Oblivion

Show Yourself

Precious Stones

Roots Remain

Chimes at Midnight

Steambreather

Mother Puncher

Circle of Cysquatch

March of the Fire Ants

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