It's hard to imagine a bill that better represents the cream of the indie, punk, metal, and hardcore scenes. Mastodon is the main course; its jackhammer throb and neo-Sabbath sludge -- combined as it is with prog-inflected melodies -- create a visceral experience capable of both blowing your mind and bludgeoning you into submission. Each album has been better than the last, though it's fair to wonder -- especially after last year's major label effort, Blood Mountain -- just how broad the appeal is for music this brutal. What began life as singer and guitarist Tom Gabel's anarchist rants, accompanied by just acoustic guitar, slowly grew into Against Me!, a full-fledged band whose punk energy and angry rhetoric has the riotous, rootsy feel of the Pogues covering the Clash.
Of course, one can only imagine the kind of backstage conversations Gabel has with Cursive frontman Tim Kasher, who last year penned the group's best album, Happy Hollow, a candid, multiperspective look at religion. While still inspired by Fugazi's brand of post-punk, Cursive's latest boasts more hooks and melodies.
Noise rock/spazzcore adherents These Arms Are Snakes constantly bend math-rock riffs into chaotic arrangements that suggest a less ADD-addled version of Blood Brothers.
As fans' genre identities continue to blur, we're hopeful we'll be treated to more sonic smorgasbords like this tour.