Mastodon, Clutch 'Missing Link' tour hits Oakland

Neil Fallon of Clutch

By Paul Piazza

It’s a rare event when you get a pair of bands co-headlining a show when they both happen to be at their creative peaks. It’s even rarer when the marketing geniuses who package the event actually nail it with the tour’s official title.

Enter the aptly-named “Missing Link” tour, which brought stoner metal progenitors Mastodon and Clutch to the Fox Theater in Oakland on Tuesday. Why “Missing Link”? It’s a non-scientific term for any transitional species, especially one connected to human evolution. In this case, each band has been overwhelmingly accountable for facilitating the metal genre’s evolution.

Both bands are huge in Europe, but Mastodon drummer Brann Dailor can still wander into the lobby between sets and be virtually unrecognized by fans here.

But that’s okay, because this genre is less about image and more about pushing the boundaries of heavy sounds. Mastodon in particular has developed in a most interesting way. The critically-acclaimed band, which gained worldwide fame for its interpretation of the novel Moby Dick on the album Leviathan, has continued to evolve with each album. On the latest, Once More ‘Round the Sun, Mastadon succeeded in introducing layered melodic vocals into its dynamic, psychedelic sound. Drummer Dailor impressively played complex drum parts while handling many of the vocals from the new record, while bassist Troy Sanders stalked the stage with malicious musical intent.

Clutch is led by singer Neil Fallon, who once again proved that he is an overwhelmingly charismatic frontman. The robust, bearded fella prowled the boards with attitude. He leads a phenomenal band that punctuates its powerful grooves with alternate blasts of heaviness and go-go, which reflects Clutch’s Maryland roots.

Luckily, such potentially hazardous tour titles as “Dude, Where’s the Metal?” or “Munchies and Mayhem” were never considered by these promoters.

Troy Sanders of Mastodon

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