Mastodon is a metal band that I have been recently introduced to and fallen in love with. I am not, by any real measure, a metal fan, but Mastodon has really grabbed me. They're the kind of metal band that Pitchfork would rave about, even as they make fun of you, indie poseur, for wandering away from your precious Bright Eyes and Decemberists LPs (no, not CDs). How can you not love a band that writes hard-rock songs about Moby Dick?
So, of course, when I heard that they were playing in Portland, I had to go out immediately and buy tickets to the concert. (Don't let me lie to you like that -- it's not nice. My friend Eric (no, not Eric) heard about them, bought the tickets, and invited me along). Of course, four hours of driving on a worknight to see them at the Hawthorne in Portland was but a small price to pay in sacrifice to the rock gods (who hopefully shall soon be opening the Secret Underground Vault). Of course, the concert was amazing and well worth the trip.
I'd never been in a mosh pit before, which was more fun than I thought it would be. I was near the front of the audience (small venue for a Grammy-nominated band), and try as I might to stay on the outskirts, I was repeatedly pulled from my comfortable, horns-throwing position near the stage and shoved, thrown, and bruised until I was able to force my way out again (I'm still sore, three days later). There's a weird sense of etiquette, though -- people were getting punched and shoved and thrown around, but the moment somebody fell over or lost their shoe, everything ground to a halt as people helped them to their feet or they reclothed themselves. Also, a 250-pound, muscular, bald guy grabbed me by the shirt during the last song and proceeded to scream along with the song in my face. Good times, good times.
I also don't think I can imagine another concert whose audience consists of equal parts the lady at the left and the gentleman at the right. There was a continuous spectrum ranging from hipster to metalhead, with all possible variations in between represented. (For most of the concert, there was a tiny woman wearing a Ninja Turtles t-shirt immediately in front of me, and aforementioned bald, tattooed guy to my left). It was neat. Music uniting disjoint social subgroups. Kumbaya and shit. I also saw the cutest little metalhead ever, an eight year old boy who was apparently there on some sort of bonding expedition with his dad.
Should be an interesting contrast with the Decemberists concert I intend to attend in May.