Cult of Luna, Hang the Bastard and more. A job finding free parking. One disappointing meal in Wetherspoons, accompanied by more satisfactory beverages. A quick few in The Hatchet, which is heaving to bursting this evening, and looking noticeably metal; the acoustic artist out the back, no doubt thankful for the exposure that the gig in the 02 Academy has gained him this evening. One extensive queue. In. Its not long after doors opening before first up Red Fang take to the stage. The majority of the sold out crowd are in, a few stragglers still stuck in the queue and the odd few scattered at the merch stall and the lower bar. The rest are in the hall, ready, waiting or already rocking. Opening up the evenings entertainment Red Fang are welcomed by an already warmed up and receptive crowd. The vast majority are here for Mastodon and for them Red Fang sit just right. Filling the academy with big, dirty riffs, you can see all those down on the floor slowly headbanging in unison; its almost hypnotic. Red Fang are no newcomers but theyre still working their way up the food chain, but if tonights reception and tonights display is anything to go by theyll be eating their way up it soon enough. Theyre blend of heavy and fuzzy metal, thats equal parts Kyuss, Mastodon and even Monster Magnet, retro fused but modern stoner, goes over very well with the hordes gathered for tonights gig. http://youtu.be/fuRKRFjm-HA Skimping on the usual between bands cigarettes, myself and a friend work our way through the crowd heading for the bar or for a fag, instead opting for good spots for when Dillinger make their presence known. The last (and first) time I saw the Dillinger Escape Plan was in this very venue; headlining in support of their last album Option Paralysis (with Rolo Tomassi and The Ocean in tow). Suffice to say it was an experience with the band pulling off an incendiary performance and the crowd going just as batshit crazy as the band themselves. However, that was with a crowd there for DEP, tonight the crowd is... not so much. Though Im sure Dillinger will be brilliant Im concerned about the crowds response, they are an acquired taste after all. With that said as stage time draws nearer the faithful appear to be working their way in. Having already had the set list predetermined to me by my friend based on his internet scouring of their set lists prior to tonight, Im expecting a few omissions that I would otherwise liked to have seen. However, thankfully, hes wrong, almost immediately, when the band explode into opener Panasonic Youth; contrary to his predictions. Instantly the core central and front of the crowd erupt; out comes the pit, hands in the air, unison bellowing and screams of the lyrics right at the stage. The band see about making the most of their shorter supporting slot. As ever delivering an obscenely tight performance given the technicality of the songs their playing, switching between time signatures in as much time as it takes some bands to play a riff, and best of all, as ever, the band are throwing themselves around the stage and as kinetic as the crowd theyre inciting. Its kind of incredible to watch, and kind of incomprehendable. Pulling in some emphatic sing/scream alongs, especially to songs like Milk Lizard, Farewell Mona Lisa and Black Bubblegum. Vocalist Greg Puciato test the crowd by challenging them to know their finale doubler of Sunshine the Werewolf and 43% Burnt, the loyal in the crowd respond accordingly and Greg dives into the crowd handing the microphone to all those who know. My friend got hold of that mic twice. And he got the mic for Knife Party when he saw Deftones. Prick. http://youtu.be/-Q5qvft2i-s Soaked through with sweat we make our way back out of the crowd to our friends. Time for alcoholic refreshments and cigarettes earned. With the physical exertion out of the way, my body drained of sweat its time to fill it back up and let the drinks flow as plentifully as the riffs, with Mastodon arriving to the stage. A band Ive always been meaning to see before now, and kind of regret having not seen them given my kind of disappointment with their previous two albums (Crack the Skye and this tours focal point The Hunter), however everything up to that point was and still is brilliant, so I was looking forward to them tonight. Opening with Dry Bone Valley and Black Tongue, you immediately get a feel for the evening. Tight and by the book. It promises be quite the book too with a 23 song long set list, and lets be fair, Mastodon havent spent these years writing 2 minute 3 chord punk songs. Tonights gig (and Mastodons back catalogue) has been brought to you by the word epic. After the initial welcoming punch to the gut of new material, the band start to trundle through their earlier back catalogue and really get the crowd going with favourites from both Blood Mountain and Leviathan. With the set list in its 20s the band are able to fit in all the necessary to keep the older fans happy whilst also showcasing the new material, which about mid set becomes the complete focus point, with song after song delivered from The Hunter. http://youtu.be/labytsb3gfI Regardless of this the crowding are absorbing everything Mastodon hit their way, a crowd that is exceptionally varied in age, gender (I know theres only two... well technically) and musical background. Testament to the appeal that Mastodon have and how far theyve come in conquering not just the metal scene but generally just alternative music fans, though of course the bearded and heavy are plentiful in number as well. Mastodon know that its the old ones that are the best and bring the evening to a close with a choice selection of tracks from not just Leviathan and Blood Mountain, but also Remission. Though their encore sees them joined by Red Fang for a rendition of Creature Lives from The Hunter. Newer tracks aside (bar a couple), the set on offer for the crowd tonight was a great one, and youd be safe feeling the crowd left happy, however it felt a little like another day at the office. It was tight, sure, and it was heavy, but it was clean and kind of lifeless for a live performance. You could have been listening to the CDs in a sweaty venue. Great songs, great set, but the performance itself not so much.