PHOTOS: Mastodon and Primus at the Fox Theatre May 16

Photo credit: Perry Julien
EPIC BACKBEND: Troy Sanders of Mastodon at the Fox Theatre May 16.

WHO: Mastodon and Primus

WHAT: After opening act All Them Witches made the trek from Nashville to play the dinnertime slot, Mastodon took their hometown stage like viking warriors tearing through a perfectly calibrated set. Songs such as “Sultan’s Curse,” “Ancient Kingdom,” and “Show Yourself” from last year's Emperor Of Sand were blended with a run of crowd pleasers, reaching all the way back to 2004’s Leviathan for the almighty “Megalodon,” to a career-spanning setlist featuring “Crystal Skull,” “Divinations,” “Ember City,” and more.

The band clearly relished every moment of stage-time at the Fox Theatre, a beautifully ornate room with Moorish design that underscores Mastodon’s elegant tangle of bold and palatial metal textures. This was Mastodon’s second time playing the Fox, a victory lap that raised the energy level to the heavens. It’s a hometown high to see these guys gracing the stage in the classiest venue in town, and their return is a testament to the group’s persistence and dedication to their craft.

Primus was the headliner, although in retrospect, it might have made a bit more sense to flip-flop their time with Mastodon. True, Primus is a legacy act at this point, harboring a sound and vision that appeals to skaters, frat dudes, jam band people, and metal heads alike. But it’s difficult toggling from the full-throttle assault of Mastodon to the brownish hues of goblin rock that Primus has spent decades perfecting. There is no denying that Les Claypool and Co. have carved out a singular space for themselves in the universe — Primus is truly one of a kind. Still, it’s hard to top Mastodon playing on their home turf. The group fished on, blending hits with deep cuts, “Wynona's Big Brown Beaver,” “Harold of the Rocks,” and encore performances reviving “My Name Is Mud,” “Too Many Puppies,” and “Southbound Pachyderm” — “What an ingenious device,” indeed.

WHEN/WHERE: The Fox Theatre, Thurs., May 16. See below for Perry Julien’s gallery of photos from the show.

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