By: The Busted Amp Staff
Joseph: Oh, Mastodon. One of the biggest names in metal right now, Mastodon stopped by Cincinnati on their Emperor of Sand tour, an album which I did not like at all. For me.....it's been a long time since I really got into a Mastodon album. I'd say their cold streak for me dates all the way back to 2006's Blood Mountain. So I went into this show skeptical. I was worried that what happened for me on Emperor of Sand, and basically every Mastodon album of the past 10 years was going to happen live. Unfortunately, I was right. Every song sounded the exact same.
It wasn't all bad, however. The night started with an interesting, instrument-only band called Russian Circles. A band which I would never see as a headliner, but was a really solid opening salvo for the heavy rock evening. While many love the "experience" that comes with watching an instrument-only heavy metal band, I am not necessarily one of them, so I got a little bored as their set wore on. Fortunately, because they were the opener, their set was short and sweet, hence why it was a solid way to wet our rocketites. (Get it? Rock appetite? I'll see myself out)
After Russian Circles, though, came the entire reason I personally was there: Eagles of Death Metal. One of my favorite bands in existence, and first time I've seen them live since they were the headliner at Le Bataclan on November 13, 2015, Eagles of Death Metal tore the roof off the Taft Theatre, tearing through a criminally short 50 minute set. The set offered something of a bit of closure for me. The terrorist attacks back in 2015 struck a nerve with me as both Derek and myself had seen the band just a few months before that, but it was truly uplifting to see the band rocking and rolling once more. I have no qualms when I say I wish Mastodon had opened for Eagles of Death Metal and not the other way around. Oh and Brent Hinds from Mastodon opened the Eagles of Death Metal set with them on guitar. That was pretty cool.
After Eagles of Death Metal came Mastodon. The set started out strong with the band playing several tracks off of Blood Mountain and keeping things diverse, however after their performance of 2006's "Colony of Birchmen," things started to fall apart. Every song sounded exactly the same. It was impossible to differentiate these songs, and the overall set declined pretty rapidly in the second half. Sadly, by the end of the set, I was just happy for it to be over. There's no doubt that Mastodon is a great heavy metal band, and perfect for hour-long sets at a music festival. But their material is just too similar for an enjoyable 90 minute headlining set. And there was no encore, which was kind of weird. The band played "March of the Fire Ants" and was like, "Ok! We're done here! Thanks for coming!" While this is a trademark of the band, it's still pretty jarring for a regular concert goer. I like being able to take a breath and prepare for an epic encore. Ultimately, while I'm glad I can officially check Mastodon of the list as "seen them," I really wish I had seen them open for Eagles of Death Metal. Or on the farm at Bonnaroo. But, beggars can't be choosers.
Derek: If you were to name a group of bands that I discovered solely from Rock Band, Mastodon is probably at the very top of that list. To this day, "Colony of Birchman" is one of my favorite songs to play, and I was more than excited to see them live. The problem with seeing a band like Mastodon at Taft Theatre is obvious once you enter through one of the four doors at look around the famous Art Deco room. The main theater is entirely seated. For a band like Mastodon to play there, with no room for jumping around and yes, moshing, it creates quite the disconnect of energy. I was hesitant to buy tickets for this very reason, but because of Rock on the Range, the hard rock and metal festival in Columbus, the last time Mastodon performed in Cincinnati was over ten years ago at Bogart's. Add to this a few consecutive sub-par albums (even though I enjoyed Emperor of Sand much more than Joseph), and there was a real feeling of urgency to see them before their prime is too far in the rearview mirror.
The mix of songs were about what I expected. They played the majority of Emperor of Sand and five tracks from Blood Mountain. The rest of the set was a peppering of songs from their other five albums. In hindsight, I'm glad they played a good amount from Blood Mountain, my personal favorite, but I can't help but wish there was less Emperor of Sand, because it really played into the issue that Joseph stated above. A lot of the songs from that album sound too similar to create an engaging show. I found myself watching individual band members perform and day dreaming, whether it was Brett Hinds barely opening his mouth as he growled his vocals or Brann Dailor's amazing drum fills, something that made Mastodon's songs so enjoyable on Rock Band. Everything about the second half of the set played against the casual metal fan, which was most certainly us. The individual instrumental performances were there, but the show dragged on after a while.
For me, the show can be summed up with a series of maybes. Maybe it would have been different in a general admission theater. Maybe if people were allowed to move around instead of being stuck in their seats there would have been more energy. Maybe if the ushers didn't scold concertgoers for having half a foot in the aisle it would have made for a better vibe. Maybe when you have a metal show at Taft Theatre you don't put two extra rows of folding chairs in the front and call them "pit seats". Maybe.
Rock on, dudes.
The Wolf Is Loose
Colony of Birchman
Chimas at Midnight
Circle of Cysguatch
March of the Fire Ants
By: Thunderblast Cochran
[ Founder's note: Even though Derek & Joseph attended this show, we invited a close friend and die hard Red Hot Chili Peppers fan to provide the review for this show. We hope you enjoy it. -Derek ]
Seeing an act as venerable and ubiquitous as the Red Hot Chili Peppers is an altogether different experience than the kinds of low-key, low-price, general admission shows a twenty-something like me goes to when he has no other weekend plans. You buy the tickets months in advance, agonizing over the high sticker price and exorbitant vendor fees. You know that you could have spent twice as much to get seats from which you could actually see the band clearly. You hope that thirty-plus years of touring has produced a seasoned act that transcends the limits of a stadium-sized venue and delivers a satisfyingly energetic experience, even if you’re clear across the building and stuck in the two square feet of personal space allowed by seats that a bargain cinema would turn its nose up at.
Thankfully, the Red Hot Chili Peppers still know how to put on a show. The attentive fan will be able to detect hints of a template, a rote quality to the proceedings that is inevitable for a band that regularly embarks on eighteen-month tours and seems unable to turn down a headlining gig at a music festival. I have seen the band three times now, twice with the current lineup and once with the legendary John Frusciante, and I can say that this was the show in which they seemed least engaged with the audience, with barely a break to acknowledge Flea’s love of Bootsy and Catfish Collins. Instead, they filled the space with music, jamming through a set filled with surprisingly deep cuts that had a visible effect on the audience: after back-to-back performances of “If You Have to Ask” and “Me and My Friends,” large swathes of people had sat down, no doubt wondering what they were listening to and when the band would just play “Under the Bridge,” already.
They never did. For a band with enough hits to fill an entire set with nothing but and still have enough singles for an entire second set, the Chili Peppers showed an admirable commitment to diving into their catalog to find the funk. They played more songs from 1991’s Blood Sugar Sex Magik than 2016’s The Getaway, the album the current tour is supposed to promote. They ignored smash hits like “Under the Bridge,” “Can’t Stop,” and “Scar Tissue” in favor of “Sir Psycho Sexy,” “They’re Red Hot,” and “I Could Have Lied.” It was a show for the fans and obsessives, and it delivered.
Anthony Kiedis, who is 54, appears to be the only remaining member still fully committed to performing shirtless for at least part of the set. Everyone in the band, with the exception of the decades-younger Josh Klinghoffer, has slowly fallen into the persona of aging rock star. Yet they still retain the energy and aggressive musicality that propelled them from the 80’s L.A. punk scene to international superstardom. I find myself wondering when biology will finally catch up to them. They wear more clothes now, and perhaps they don’t jump quite as high or dance quite as much, but the Red Hot Chili Peppers are a machine that shows no sign of breaking down. They will probably keep going until they drop—and if they can continue filling stadiums, why shouldn’t they?
Around the World
If You Have to Ask
Me & My Friends
Feasting on the Flowers
Sir Psycho Sexy
They're Red Hot
Suck My Kiss
I Could Have Lied
By the Way
Give It Away
By: The Busted Amp Staff
Derek: After a stellar set from Pixies next door at Madison Theater, a portion of the crowd wandered over to the smaller, more intimate Madison Live! for a $5 unofficial aftershow with Louisville, KY's garage rock breakouts White Reaper. For the next hour, White Reaper tore down the house with the heavy riffs, sleek synths, and party anthem vocals. The band has made waves with last two releases, including their latest The World's Best American Band, and their live show solidified them in my mind as one of the most fun, high energy shows out there. Tony Esposito's vocals tore through the dancing mosh pit at the front of the stage while keyboardist Ryan Hater's antics on keys brought to mind a cape-less Rick Wakeman from the prog-rock band Yes. Brothers Sam and Nick Wilkerson kept the driving beat on bass and drums. It was quite the showing for the Louisville band, and I wish more people had found their way over from the Pixies show; the room was only about half full. Were they dissuaded because of the late start time? Were they turned off by the hardcore punk openers No Parents? Personally, I enjoyed No Parents and thought some of their lyrics were hilarious.
Either way, I think it's safe to say that you'll be hearing much more of White Reaper in the next few years.
Joseph: HOLY SHIT. What a freaking show. I needed that. I think we could all use a good punk show to get our blood pumping every now and again, right? The overall show was pretty short, so I wish more people would've taken advantage of the $5 asking price, but I'm sure glad we did. The show started with hardcore punk artist No Parents, who had a short but very sweet set. The band embodied pretty much every punk stereotype out there, but there's nothing wrong with that. I was a bit disappointed by the mix, as it was next to impossible to hear the lead singer, but.....then again it is a punk show, so who cares, right? [Derek: I heard the vocals just fine through my earplugs. Invest in a good pair, everyone. It does wonders...]
After No Parents came White Reaper. Unlike Derek, I was pretty unfamiliar with the band. I had listened to The World's Best American Band, but I failed to hear the magic that has made White Reaper one of the hottest bands in the punk genre today. Well, after their blistering, loud, crazy, dance-your-heart-out-like-you-just-don't-care set, I could see why. The band has an absurd amount of energy, and their latest album translates over extremely well live. Then, combined with songs off their previous two albums.... they were simply unstoppable in the small, intimate space of Madison Live! Their 2015 album White Reaper Does It Again has been on repeat for me since the show, and I can't wait to see them again. They're playing at pretty much every festival in existence this summer, and I can't recommend it enough.....go see them. They're probably playing pretty early in the day at whatever festival you're going to, so do yourself a favor. Get there early that day, and see White Reaper. They just might be the best set you see all day. I can't wait to see them again at Bunbury, Bonnaroo, and Lollapalooza. (I'm not kidding when I say they are playing at every festival in existence this year).
By: The Busted Amp Staff
Derek: It was the perfect storm of an evening. Joseph and I were lined up to see the legendary Pixies, and then immediately following, an aftershow featuring one of my favorite up-and-coming bands, White Reaper (You can read that review here). It did not disappoint.
Most are familiar with how big of an influence Pixies were on other grunge era bands like Nirvana. Kurt Cobain famously listed their 1988 album Surfer Rosa as his 2nd favorite album of all time. Now, nearly 30 years later, the band is back and have two new albums with their reunited lineup. The only difference between the original lineup and now is the absence of founding bassist Kim Deal, who left the band in 2013 and was eventually replaced by Paz Lenchantin.
A sold out crowd greeted the band as they came on stage. Side note: Both them and opener Public Access T.V. came on early, which according to rock lore is a sign of the apocalypse.
Anyways, their 28 (!!!) song setlist focused mainly on their two late 80's albums, Doolittle and the aforementioned Surfer Rosa, along with their latest album, last year's Head Carrier. Lead singer Black Francis sounded great; his distinct voice was perfectly mixed. In fact, overall the sound was incredible. Whoever was working sound did one of the best jobs that I've heard with what I am sure is a difficult band to mix properly.
Joseph: I'm not gonna lie....I had the time of my life at these shows. While I came in not knowing much about any of the 4 bands playing, I left as a newly converted fan. The night started with Public Access TV and Pixies, and after listening to Pixies I could hear why Cobain held the band in such high regard. Despite a somewhat lackluster crowd energy at the Madison Theater, there was a palpable, borderline magical, energy to the band's set, and they didn't waste any time between songs to let that energy fade. Their MASSIVE setlist, combined with consistent playing, made this set feel similar to something like Twenty One Pilots set I saw back in March (which you can revisit here) except the crowd wasn't anywhere near the same energy level in return. But Pixies didn't care, and neither did I. This show was a blast, and if they're in your neighborhood you should definitely take the time to see them.
Un Chagga Lagga
Something Against You
Monkey Gone to Heaven
Head On (The Jesus and Mary Chain cover)
Winterlong (Neil Young cover)
Where Is My Mind?
Ed Is Dead
Wabe of Mutilation
Planet of Sound
Might as Well Be Gone
Into the White
Who are we?
Derek Jung and Joseph Kathmann -- Just two ordinary (debatable) guys that love talking about music. You can read more about us here: