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Mastodon rages on for a capacity crowd at The Electric Factory

Mastodon | photo by Pete Troshak | flickr.com/photos/petryfrompa
Mastodon | photo by Pete Troshak | flickr.com/photos/petryfrompa
The best metal band of their generation blasted a capacity crowd at The Electric Factory with an impressive seventeen song career-spanning set on Saturday night. Over the course of fourteen years and five albums Mastodon has unleashed their musical ragings against the dying light and the general frustration of everyday human existence to an ever-increasing audience. Don’t let the “metal” classification scare you off though, theirs is thinking person’s music with complex, constantly shifting song structures and probing, literary lyrics usually provided by drummer Brann Dailor. Mastodon’s albums have frequently been thematic, with subjects like wormholes and being a soul inhabiting the body of the “mad monk” Grigori Rasputin (2009’s Crack The Skye) and Moby Dick (2004’s Leviathan.) Mastodon is on tour leading up to their much anticipated next album Once More Around The Sun that is due out June 24th.

The group took the stage with no fanfare and immediately launched into “Hearts Alive,” a thirteen minute-plus snake-like guitar opus from their breakthrough, Leviathan. Clouds of smoke billowed out from behind the stage, the band was bathed in an eerie grey/green light and the packed floor of the Electric Factory was immediately turned into a bobbing, horn-gesture-throwing, sweaty sea of bodies. At the back of the stage under a huge psychedelic painted backdrop and sandwiched between two huge stacks of amps, Dailor thunderously pounded his drums. Singer/Bassist Troy Saunders bounded around pumping out thudding bass notes and wailing into a mic at center stage. (By the way – Saunders has a Rasputin-like beard, which has it’s own Facebook page.) Guitarist Bill Kelliher and guitarist/singer Brent Hinds anchored the right and left sides of the stage respectively. Kelliher sports an impressive handlebar mustache and an even more impressive array of riffs that he spent ninety minutes dropping on the audience. Hinds is a bearded, burly menacing figure who facially resembles an angry Zeus on stage. He hurled forth lightning bolts from a battered Gibson SG all night long, unleashing blistering volleys of notes and hammering riffs to the crowd’s delight.

As the band played they were constantly bathed in aquatic green and blue lights or sinister red lights. Behind them, three light cannons alternated between blasting out grids of laser lights that segmented the air above the crowd and spewing forth shimmering holographic, 3-D, upside down pyramids of green light. One early musical highlight was “Capillarian Crest” with Dailor constantly leading the shifting gears of the song with his drumming and tight, spiralling interlocked guitar parts from Hinds and Kelliher. Mid-set came two highlights in the form of thrashing speed metal riffs of “Megalodon” and some amazing dark harmonies from Hinds, Saunders and Dailor on the cosmic stoner rock of “Oblivion.” Soon after the fans received a preview of their new album and maybe one of Mastodon’s best songs ever in “High Road,” a chugging rocker with a soaring chorus that manages to sound like something that might be blasting out of radios all this summer while simultaneously still sounding distinctly like Mastodon. They closed with a loud/soft combo of songs. First up was a thrashing rendition of “Aqua Dementia” that whipped the crowd into a moshing frenzy one last time. Mastodon followed it up with the almost prayerful dark beauty of “The Sparrow” which they dedicated to a lost friend before leaving the stage for the night, hopefully to return soon.

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: Mastodon at the Electric Factory, Pine Barons at Vinyl Revival, the Italian Market Festival

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Mastadon | photo courtesy of the band

American metal/ prog-rock band Mastadon will bring their crushing sound and screaming vocals to the Electric Factory tonight. With a new album, Once More ‘Round the Sun, due out June 24 via Reprise Records, there should be plenty of new material for the show. Get tickets to the event here. Watch “High Road” below.

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Pied pipers of Manchester pop, Elbow played to a rapt Electric Factory audience

Elbow | Photo by Sameer Rao
Elbow | Photo by Sameer Rao

If Elbow’s goal is to take over the United States and blow out whatever competition they might get from Coldplay, to whom they’re often compared, then they still have a ways to go. They are, however, taking mighty and affirming strides.

Taking any memory of their stale and poorly-received set at 2011’s POPPED! Festival – the last time the Manchester five-piece played in Philadelphia – and throwing into the fire, Elbow rewrote their legacy at last night’s near-sold-out show at the Electric Factory. In between perfectly-executed songs spanning their six-album career (including most of 2014’s acclaimed The Takeoff and Landing of Everything, lead singer Guy Garvey played troubadour and master-of-ceremonies to the hilt. Throughout the set, he cracked jokes at his bandmates’ expense, singled out audience members, celebrated one couple’s recent marriage, and taunted the crowd with allegations of poor sing-along volume (“Washington was pretty good…I think Boston was the best one so far”). During those songs, he was a grandiose pied piper, raising his hand to the audience with every acrobatic vocal run and compelling ongoing attention from a rapt audience. If this gig was any indication, they’re on a course for even greater success.

Joining them was American-born, Iceland-based singer-songwriter John Grant, who rivaled Elbow for heart-on-sleeve intensity and cheeky self-deprecation . Check out a gallery of photos from the show below.

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Elbow Brings whimsy and delight to the Electric Factory tonight

elbow | photo via elbow.co.uk
elbow | photo via elbow.co.uk

British musical exports tend not to make the same impressions as American ones. For as long as the cross-Atlantic musical conversation has involved mutual influence and spawned massive crossover successes (Radiohead, Coldplay, The Strokes, the Dandy Warhols, etc.), there have been artists on both sides whose fame has been largely confined to one side or another.

Elbow (sometimes stylized “elbow”) have spent much of their seventeen-year career in the same category as acts like Kate Bush and the Stone Roses – critically acclaimed on both sides of the pond, but only truly popular in the UK. Chalk it up to whatever you want – the thick Manchester accents, the sometimes-twee references to localities that escape even the staunchest Anglophiles – but they never quite hit here. Their last Philly gig, at 2011’s POPPED! Festival, was met mainly with stares and boredom by an audience rabidly awaiting Cage the Elephant.

Now, this epically-oriented quintet looks to be reversing their fortunes with this year’s The Takeoff and Landing of Everything (Fiction/Concord). Released in mid-March and immediately entering #1 on the Billboard Heatseekers Chart, the band’s sixth full-length album marks their evolution from prog-inspired alt-rockers (in the vein of contemporaries and supporters like Radiohead and Coldplay) to anthem-churning arena act. The album’s lead-off single, “New York Morning”, illuminates their capacity for shimmering beauty on a broad scale (as well as its applicability for an increasingly-rabid American market). With tonight’s gig at the Electric Factory (one of the few stops on their North American tour to still not sell out), they just might prove themselves capable of finally bridging the cross-pond gap.

Elbow plays the Electric Factory tonight with opener John Grant. Click here to purchase tickets and find more information.

 

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Born entertainer Childish Gambino gives a steller performance at the Electric Factory

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Childish Gambino | Photo by Rachel Barrish | rachelbarrish.com

Donald Glover is a man of many traits; an actor, a comedian, a writer, but this night he was his musical moniker, Childish Gambino. The Electric Factory was packed with eager fans anticipating what was sure to be an epic performance. The background was lit with a twitter feed where fans could type in anything and it would pop up on screen which ensued hilarity and a lot of sexual innuendos.

With no opening act, only a DJ that played 90′s hip hop singles like “Hot in Herre” and “MotownPhilly”, the crowd was getting antsy. Especially when there was a dropped phone call over the loud speakers that beeped for a few minutes before Gambino finally entered the stage.

Ok, so I haven’t really been to many hip hop shows, with the exception of Macklemore & Ryan Lewis at the Roots Picnic last year. So in my head all I picture is the main rapper and DJ in the background. That was not the case here, the stage was packed with instrumentalists from a keyboardist, two guitarists, a DJ, a drummer, and probably a few others. Not to mention his posse of folks just chillin’ in the back on couches. The backgrounds were stellar, they included a house with windows , crazy blue and white surging lightning bolts, and an outdoor bonfire.

Gambino gave a strong performance and commanded the audience with rap ballads and power chords featuring thoughtful lyrics about racism, politics, family, and love.

He belted out tunes from his latest LP, Because the Internet as well as a few numbers from his previous, Camp and ended the night with a special freestyle with fellow artist, Steve G Lover.

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: Grouplove at Electric Factory, Philly Jazz Project “Who’s Got The Jazz” at World Cafe Live, and Goldfrapp Tales of Us at the Trocadero

Photo via facebook.com/grouplove
Photo via facebook.com/grouplove

Since their official debut in 2011, Grouplove have made themselves pretty hard to resist with upbeat poppy anthems that they’ll recreate live tonight at the Electric Factory. Their new album Spreading Rumours arrived late last year led by hit single “Ways to Go”. Watch them play “I’m With You” below and get tickets here.

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: Flogging Molly at Electric Factory and Incan Abraham at Boot and Saddle

Photo via floggingmolly.com
Photo via floggingmolly.com

Flogging Molly have been making celtic punk cool for nearly 15 years and tonight they’re taking the Electric Factory stage on their annual Green 17 Tour. For the 10th year in a row, the LA natives will play a bunch of shows as a countdown to St. Patty’s Day. The band hasn’t made much noise musically since their last album Speed of Darkness hit shelves in 2011, but it left fans wanting more from the seven-piece ensemble. Get tickets here and watch “Drunken Lullabies” below.

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