While anticipating both the Mastodon and Forty Furies shows two nights in a row, my friend Jaque from Portland said we had to go to both, because, “Good metal shows in this town are precious.” Even though there are many options to see live music every night in Asheville, there is simply more loud rock in Jaque’s hometown. But this town could, and did, throb under our feet. I really enjoy putting in my earplugs and getting my spine rocked at a metal show, but I was inspired to write this review because of the love and support I saw from the families of these musicians.
It’s been exactly 10 years since I saw Mastodon at Krazy Fest. I was interning at Jade Tree, and met the band while I was working the label’s merch table. At that time, the Atlanta metal band was fairly new on the scene, but serious contenders none the less. They still look like three Viking brothers, and play like it, too. It is so much fun to watch musicians who are well-practiced, and that’s definitely what you’re listening to with these fret workers. Some say it makes them sound slick, but much like a well-practiced jazz musician, the more technical skill you have, the more you can do.
ASG photo by Joshua Curry
The real highlight for us at the Mastodon show was enjoying the show while standing beside the family members of opening rock band ASG. The North Carolinians have their new album out on Relapse, and were kicking a rockin’ sound. The mother of one band member was just about the cutest little lady, standing out in her pretty white top and mom-jeans. Throwing up hand-horns and banging her head along with the rest of us, she beamed with pride.
Legend has it that throwing your hands in the air with a horn shape comes from Dio‘s grandmother, who pointed horns with her hand to ward away evil spirits. So, turns out all those metal kids rocking the horns in the air aren’t worshiping the devil. They got it from a metal god’s grandma.
I know what it takes for a musician to get to the skill level I witnessed during the ASG set, and it’s hours of practice over many years. Metal moms, especially metal-drummer moms, have to deal with loud music bursting out of bedrooms, basements and headphones. I had to introduce myself to this lovely lady, and thank her for encouraging the arts. She smiled and said, “He’s working so hard, and having success with it, so I told him to go for it.” You rock, mom!
Forty Furies photo from the band’s Facebook page
The next night, we made our way to The Odditorium for the comeback and final show for Forty Furies. Bassist Jed Holtvedt is leaving town, and so is one of the heaviest bass sounds coming out of Asheville’s loud-rock scene. Though the Forty Furies haven’t played shows in months, news of their practice sessions piqued interest in the scene, and the hard work paid off. The set was more than just fun and loud: The rhythm was super tight, and the vocals roared. The room sparked with energy and enthusiasm from the band’s fans, and there was a lot of love from some moms in the crowd. Jed’s sweetheart, Amy, is a potential metal-mom herself, and will be sorely missed when they relocate. The Forty Furies fans already look forward to the reunion show.
As music fans look to metal, electronic, and hip-hop music for some of our generation’s new jazz voices, some of our families won’t get it, but the ones who do will encourage us to get to work. Thank you to the parents who support diligent practice, and to the ones who don’t get it but try.