From The Pit! Mastodon/Clutch/Big Business - 4/26 - Showbox Sodo

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By Grady Tyree

About a month ago, I had the pleasure of joining a couple thousand or so brethren down at the Showbox Sodo to check out the Missing Links Tour, featuring Mastodon, Clutch, and openers on the first leg of the tour, Big Business! To say that this was going to be an epic show of high volumes would have been an understatement, as all three bands pushed the amp levels way past 11 and proceeded to leave anyone not protecting their ears with a persistent ringing that was sure to last a few days. I had always wanted to see Clutch and Mastodon on the same bill – it’s like watching a student not only play to the same level as the teacher, but to also exceed the teacher at certain points. Clutch has been doing this longer than most bands, having passed the two-decade threshold in 2013, and they’ve influenced most of the bands categorized in the blues/stoner rock genre. The dudes in Mastodon have always spoken highly of Clutch, and some of their recent albums have ventured into more of the stoner rock/metal territory than previous efforts. Having Big Business set the table was a no-brainer for these guys, as they specialize in both stoner metal and sludge metal, the sweet spots for the bands following them.

I arrived a few songs into Big Business’s set and was immediately struck by two things: A) the band was performing as a two-piece (last time I saw them, they were a trio, opening for The Sword at Neumos); B) their drummer was out to punish those drums like they stole his life savings from him! The last time I saw BB, they were thundering, and that had not changed on this night either. Jared Warren (bass/vox) and Coady Willis (drums/vox) were a force to be reckoned with, blasting through a 45-minute opening saga that was the perfect mix of sludge and power. Willis was insane as he beat his drums with over-sized matchsticks, and when he switched from the floor toms to the multi-cowbell he had set up on his left-side, you could really tell how skilled he was as a drummer with his ability to go from sheer power to finesse in a split second.

After the set from Big Business, it was time for the masters of blues/stoner rock to grab the audience by the shirt-collar and take them on a sonic journey from Beale Street to oblivion! Clutch came out and put the pedal to the floor as they launched into “The House That Peterbilt,” followed by “A Shogun Named Marcus” and “Pure Rock Fury.” From there, they spent a lil time playing some of my favorite cuts from Blast Tyrant – “The Mob Goes Wild” and “Profits Of Doom” – before a crushing rendition of “Burning Beard” from Robot Hive/Exodus. The Maryland natives also let the crowd know that come September, there would be a new album coming – Psychic Warfare – and treated the crowd to a taste of things to come with a live performance of the title track. Other highlights included “Spacegrass,” “Earthrocker,” “Escape From the Prison Planet,” and “Crucial Velocity.”

As the crowd took a few moments to catch their breath, fill the lungs with carcinogens or pour ungodly amounts of beer, liquor, or water down their throats, the mighty Mastodon made preparations to take the stage and send everyone home with severe ear and neck issues after their crushing set! Brent, Troy, Brann, and Bill all took their respective spots on the stage and pummeled the crowd for the next hour-and-a-half with crushing cut after crushing cut from their mammoth catalog! Immediately, the boys from Atlanta jumped into “Tread Lightly” and “Once More ‘Round The Sun” from their most recent release before churning into “Blasteroid,” and then “Oblivion” from The Hunter and Crack The Skye respectively. After playing two more singles from the new record, they dove deep and laid waste with the trippy, thrashy “Aqua Dementia” from Leviathan. They treated the crowd to the shredding instrumental mind-funk that is “Bladecatcher” from Blood Mountain, complete with crazy lazers shooting out above the crowd, and followed that show of force with “Black Tongue,” “Ember City,” and the crushing “Megladon”! The guys put the finishing moves on the patrons in Sodo with the epic prog-tastic track, “The Czar: Usurper / Escape / Martyr / Spiral” from Crack The Skye, topped off with the crowd-pleasing “Blood And Thunder”! This tour is just ramping up on the East Coast, and they’ve brought along Graveyard to open for that side of the country, so if you’re in the path of this epic tour de force, then go and get swept away in the thunderous cloud - you’ll be a stronger person afterwards!