Published Sep 20, 2010When it was announced that Mastodon, Deftones and Alice in Chains would embark on a North American tour this fall, some were sceptical. What did prog-metallers have in common with a quirky L.A. band and veterans from the '90s grunge scene? Well, apparently from the throngs of folks that braved the crappy weather to head down to the Molson Amphitheatre on Saturday the sonically eclectic line-up made sense. One of the issues with having three relatively big-name bands sharing a stage is that someone has to be the supporting act and unfortunately, Mastodon drew the shortest straw. Playing tracks from Crack the Skye, they deviated from last year's tour of playing the album in its entirety by mixing it up with Blood Mountain's "Colony of Birchman," and fan favourite, "Blood and Thunder" from 2004's Leviathan.
Often the supporting acts also get the short end of the stick when it comes to lighting, so while you could barely make out one Mastodon band member from another, you could definitely see the Deftones, as they entered the stage in an explosion of white, pink and red spotlights. Singer Chino Moreno and bassist Sergio Vega (who replaced ailing Chi Cheng) commandeered the stage, Moreno singing passionately to the crowd. Opening with "Diamond Eyes," the title track from their latest album, their set consisted of both new and old, including "Change (in the House of Flies)" from 2000's White Pony.
It's doubtful that the youngish crowd actually remembered the first incarnation of Seattle's Alice in Chains, and despite the surprising decision to open with classics "Them Bones" and "Dam that River" instead of "Check my Brain" off their latest, Black Gives Away to Blue, once singer William DuVall sauntered onstage, it was quite clear that despite the golden oldies, this was a new band and era. Yes, he has vocal chops similar to deceased singer Layne Staley (but less nasal), but his incredible vocal harmonies with co-vocalist / guitarist Jerry Cantrell, his '70s blaxploitation outfit and proud afro asserted his individuality and his rightful place in the band. Not only is DuVall the creative injection the band needed to reinvigorate their recording career, but a welcome addition to a band that was too important to be dismissed as just another grunge-era band from an inconsequential decade in rock music history.