We’re too English for this shit. It’s 5:30pm when Hammer pulls up at Sunset Cove Amphitheater in Boca Raton, Florida, but the temperature’s still in the high 20s and it’s so muggy that everyone’s swimming in their own sweat. The fact that we’re all black-clad in our favourite Gojira and Mastodon shirts isn’t helping, either.
Such is the price you pay to witness history. The state that’s survived hurricanes, alligator infestations and the unending buffoonery of ‘Florida Man’ faces its heaviest-ever threat tonight: a kaiju and a big fucking mammoth have become metal’s most destructive co-headliners and are trampling their way across the United States.
Still, there are worse venues to be in as you’re pummelled with prog metal for three hours. Sunset Cove is essentially a mini open-air festival ground, albeit ten times more picturesque than most. Flanking the beige-coloured stage are rows of palm trees (because Florida) and behind the overpriced food stalls along the perimeter is a great, shimmering lake. Greenery, water and capitalism surround this evening’s 6,000-strong audience, keeping them in place for Mastodon’s sonic assault.
Atlanta’s eight-legged wrecking machine are famously hit and miss outdoors. There are nuances within their hammer-headed psych-metal that demand tip-top sound, while the hallucinogenic imagery on their video backdrop sometimes weakens in the sunshine.
However, watching the band dispense the LSD-dripped majesty of Divinations and Andromeda as darkness creeps over Boca Raton is a transcendental experience. The acidic beauty of the kaleidoscope visuals and three-man vocal melodies are almost as compelling as when the foursome go full riff mode. Although this lot are touring after the evocative prog of 2021’s Hushed And Grim, this is a full-throttle throwback set: as Iron Tusk, March Of The Fire Ants and Mother Puncher rear their heads consecutively, their brutish sludge blasts everyone’s brains all the way to Cuba.
On any other night, Mastodon’s collision of might and splendour would have made them show-stealers. But Gojira are an untamable beast. Now of festival headliner stature in Europe, the French giants condense their pageantry, pyro and setlist into one 70-minute thrill ride.
Although the pick-scrapes and smashing snares of opener Born For One Thing hit like a death blow, the rising melody in that chorus could soundtrack the subsequent ascent to Heaven. Meanwhile, fireballs explode with every breakdown. Plus the backdrop clips add new depth to the batterings, like when Art Of Dying’s accompanied by the image of a tree turning into a bloke.
Such sights are the sole frill of a focussed rampage. Amazonia snaps necks with its Sepultura grooves, The Chants shreds voices with its whoa-along hook, The Gift Of Guilt demolishes hearts with its lyrical poetry, then you’re broken. True to both their own monstrous names and that of this two-headed tour, Gojira and Mastodon have marched into Florida, destroyed everything from your body to your mind and left you wrecked in the aftermath. Getting absolutely obliterated has never felt this magnificent.
Mastodon Sunset Cove Ampitheater Boca Raton Florida setlist
1. The Wolf Is Loose
2. Crystal Skull
6. Sultan's Curse
7. Fallen Torches
8. Pushing The Tides
9. More Than I Could Chew
10. Aqua Dementia
12. Iron Tusk
13. March Of The Fire Ants
14. Mother Puncher
15. Circle Of Cysquatch
16. Blood And Thunder
Gojira Sunset Cove Ampitheater Boca Raton Florida setlist
1. Born For One Thing
4. Flying Whales
5. The Cell
6. The Art Of Dying
8. Another World
11. The Chant
12. The Gift Of Guilt