In order to properly celebrate the birthday of Missoula’s Rock Radio Station, festivities included a visit from Mastodon, who was on their North American tour with support from Eagles of Death Metal and Russian Circles. The tour is a must for fans anxiously awaiting Mastodon’s most recent studio album, Emperor of Sand, as the group delivers a live debut of new music. For that reason and many more, the sold out crowd flooded the Wilma Theater in Missoula,Montana.

The two-level venue had already become packed before the opening band and was filled with not only those local to the area, but many that ventured in from a far. A couple who had drove from five hours away shared that their car broke down along the road, so they parked it and rented another. They enthusiastically remarked, “Nothing was going to stop us from getting here tonight!”

By the time Russian Circles stepped onto to the dimly lit stage, the crowd was already rows deep of people maneuvering their way to get the best possible view of the Chicago-based instrumental trio. Guitarist Mike Sullivan, bassist Brian Cook, and drummer Dave Turncrantz took to the stage and delivered a live performance that could be more accurately described as a rhythmic experience. The microphones on stage were not used for vocals, but instead to enforce the onslaught of chord progressions that rode controlled and surprising peaks and valleys. Entering this instrumental world allows the listener to follow the creative exploration of complexity which is certain to evoke an underlying emotional response. Performing mostly shrouded in darkness with occasional zaps of intense light, their command was constant and formidable.

Next, the Eagles of Death Metal hit the stage by opening with the theatrics of frontman Jesse Hughes, who immediately enticed a collective roar from the crowd. The band’s current touring line-up followed suite, with Brent Hinds of Mastodon joining the first song as a guest guitarist, and a wild, energetic groove took over. They tore through rockers such as “I Only Want You” and “Speaking in Tongues,” but they also gave homage through a David Bowie cover. EODM is an American rock band and despite their name, they are not a death metal band. The name is intended to be humorous, stemming from a story that involves wondering what a cross between the Eagles and a death metal band would sound like. Hughes himself is a personality who cannot be contained, as this electric frontman shimmied, grinned, and cajoled the night away. Whether it was while playing guitar or not, he also encouraged everyone around him to join in the high-octane fun. Hughes rocked white pants with red suspenders during the set, and ended it by throwing his shirt into the crowd.

The evening progressed and the venue became full to the brim with eager concertgoers, as the headliners would soon take their place on the stage. The Grammy Award nominated, Mastodon, consists of guitarists Brent Hinds and Bill Kelliher, bassist Troy Sanders, and drummer Brann Dailor. Described by some as an American heavy metal band while others cast them into a hard rock category, Mastodon is clearly ambitious and fearless with songwriting that blurs the lines between styles and genres. Their extensive set-list demonstrated a solid mix of classic songs and encompassed the raw intimacy of their recent album.

Mastodon may have the experience of opening in large arena locations and playing to numerous sold-out shows around the globe, though it is endearing to see them chose to play at smaller venues in more rural areas. It is not surprising that they continue to make an impression and further their fan base.

Mastodon set-list:

  1. Sultan’s Curse
  2. Divinations
  3. The Wolf Is Loose
  4. Crystal Skull
  5. Ancient Kingdom (live debut)
  6. Bladecatcher
  7. Black Tongue
  8. Colony of Birchmen
  9. Ember City
  10. Megalodon
  11. Andromeda
  12. Oblivion
  13. Feast Your Eyes
  14. Show Yourself
  15. Precious Stones (live debut)
  16. Roots Remain (live debut)
  17. Chimes at Midnight
  18. Clandestiny (live debut)
  19. Mother Puncher
  20. Circle of Cysquatch
  21. March of the Fire Ants

Gallery: Mastodon

Gallery: Eagles of Death Metal

Gallery: Russian Circles