May 022012

On Monday night, April 30, 2012, a group of friends and I eagerly made our way into Showbox SoDo in Seattle to watch and hear Opeth, Mastodon, and Ghost. By the end of the night, we all agreed that it had been an excellent show from start to finish. The acoustics and sound quality in this venue were superb, and each band was firing on all cylinders.

I brought my Samsung TL500 camera with me, which in my clumsy, untrained hands is still more of a mystery than a comfortable tool. Nevertheless, I took pictures of each band — though not for long, because I wanted to immerse myself in the sights and sounds rather than fuck around with the camera. But the damned thing is nearly idiot-proof, and I got some decent pics, considering who took them. The best ones decorate this post.  You can imagine how bad the others look.  But first, a few notes about the performances.


I saw this Swedish band a few months ago in a smaller venue, and this performance was virtually a carbon copy of the previous one — except this time I didn’t get to hear them play their cover of “Here Comes the Sun”. After that earlier show, half-drunk and fully delirious, I posted a status on our FB page that to this day has received more “likes” than any of our notices about NCS content: “Any band who can make ‘Here Comes the Sun’ sound evil deserves a blowjob.”

That’s really Ghost’s trick in a nutshell: They write and perform these really catchy, quasi-psychedelic pop-rock songs that would have been right at home when Flower Power was king (except with a heavier low end), yet make them sound infernal. Their costumes and stage presence and the lighting really underscore that satanic aura in a live setting. The visual display is just a kick in the ass to watch. But make no mistake — whoever these dudes are, they are talented musicians, and the Pope has a killer set of pipes.

I don’t know how many people in this packed audience knew what Ghost was about before this show, but I heard lots of grinning metalheads talking about them throughout the night.


This band just kills it in a live performance. They played a really long set with songs scattered throughout their discography, and I was struck again by how really talented each of Mastodon’s members is as a musician. Perhaps the biggest standout for me was Brann Dailor’s drumming, which was truly superb — precise, incredibly varied, and marvelously designed to both fit and enhance each measure of the music. And man, everybody sings, too! And although Troy Sanders and Brent Hinds capably carry the main load, every member has a good voice.

And fuck, the light show!  It was off-the-charts good. Beautiful colors and effects, and synchronized tightly with the music.


Opeth was the headliner on this particular night, and I confess that I approached the opening of their set with trepidation.  I missed them the last time they were in Seattle on their first post-Heritage U.S. tour, but friends of mine who were there said the sound quality was muddy and the music was so heavily devoted to Heritage that boredom set in. And these are friends who have a greater tolerance for the prog-rock bent of Heritage than I do.

The set began with “The Devil’s Orchard” and it stayed in a Heritage-style vein for a long time, with nothing but clean singing and subdued instrumentals. Don’t get me wrong — the songs were good, for what they were, and the band sounded great. But I still got pissed off all over again.

Let’s be honest: I’m pretty sure the majority of the packed house of people in attendance that night were serious, long-standing Opeth fans, and they didn’t get to be Opeth fans because of a steady diet of songs like “The Devil’s Orchard”, “I Feel the Dark”, “Folklore”, or even “Burden”. I sure didn’t.

So, I tried to wait patiently, hoping for the appearance of at least a few of Opeth’s heavier songs. And thank dog, I got my wish. At the end of the night, they reached back to My Arms, Your Hearse for “Demon of the Fall” and closed out the set with “The Grand Conjuration” from Ghost Reveries. You could feel the energy level in the venue spike, and those songs got the loudest reaction of the night. But of course they did.

So I left Showbox SoDo happy and fired up and thankful, yet again, that I have metal in my life. All things considered, this was a great show.

Now, a batch of pics:






  10 Responses to “OPETH-MASTODON-GHOST IN SEATTLE 4-30-12”

  1. Thanks for the report! I was considering driving up from Portland to see this show because I was so unfulfilled from seeing Opeth in their Heritage tour. While it sounds like it was still a Hertiage-heavy set, I’m glad to see that they threw in some harder stuff at the end.

  2. I had no idea you lived in my city! I agree, Sodo has probably the best sound out of any venue in Seattle; it’s Market brother is a joke in comparison. I missed the show because I was still on my way back from the Gilead Media Fest, would have loved to go.

    • Wow — you went to the Gilead Festival? I would have loved to see that — incredible line-up of bands. And yeah, Showbox Market has really poor sound. Unfortunately, I just saw that the Meshuggah-Baroness-Decapitated show has been moved there next week.

      • Fvck, I didn’t know they moved it. Oh well, that won’t stop me from going.

        Yeah, Gilead was an absolute blast. Super rad times with a small group of dedicated fans and bands.

  3. Had the same experience in Denver. Sounds like Opeth played the same set. Near the end you could tell everyone was getting restless, a few guys yelling out, “play some fucking metal!”

    Then the intro to “Demon of the Fall” stared, and the crowd exploded. One of my favorite fucking Opeth songs! It was a great night. My neck still hurts from slamming my head forward over and over. (Not so young anymore.)

    Nice pictures by the way!

    • Thanks man. Your description of what happened in Denver is so similar to what happened in Seattle. Really makes me wonder what is going through Akerfeldt’s mind, because he must have experienced the same restlessness/yelling from the crowds on the last tour, too. He has to know that Opeth fans want a mix of the band’s music — not necessarily all heavy stuff, but a fucking mix! He’s so damned charming in his between-song bantering and the band has created such a wonderful legacy that it’s hard not to be forgiving, but I’ll tell you what: If Opeth hadn’t ended the night with those two songs, I would have left in a foul mood despite all the wonderful music from Ghost and Mastodon.

      • You’re right about the banter. Akerfeldt had the crowd laughing between songs. What was strange was he commented that he was sorry the band was “shoving our new stuff down your throat.” Then they played “Folklore.” It was almost as if he was being forced to push Heritage, though I’m probably reading too much into it. Just an odd thing to say.

        I agree. Mix it up! I didn’t become a fan of Opeth listening to nothing but Damnation songs. I saw them on their last tour, and when Opeth finished playing the only way to describe the crowd was dejected. Last week, when Opeth finished playing “The Grand Conjuration,” the only way to describe the crowd was fervent. It was fucking great!

        • I couldn’t hear everything he said before “Folklore”, but I had a sense that he was almost apologizing, but I can’t believe that anyone picks their set list but him. I really can’t get my mind around what’s going on. But everything is relative — what frustrates me about Opeth would be music that many other bands would sacrifice their grandparents to create.

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