THE NEW YORK TIMES REVIEWS LAST WEEK’S NEUROSIS / MASTODON SHOWS
Last week the legendary doomsters Neurosis — with Mastodon along in support — performed two headlining shows at the Brooklyn Masonic Temple in New York, the perfect setting for such a cosmic event. The review, by Ben Ratliff, frames the mystique of Neurosis in a meaningful way, juxtaposing the band’s history and legendary/cult status with the sonic and visual elements of the show. But it’s the last paragraph of Ratliff’s review that I find most telling:
Mastodon, whose metal genealogy is easier to discern, doesn’t need to play opening slots at 1,000-seat halls; it’s more popular than that. But its members are full Neurosis supplicants, so such a thing happened. Hearing a metal band operate on Mastodon’s level — all its breakdowns and reconstitutions, suite form and odd time signatures — was nice; hearing it with some houselights on and at lower volume, in full opening-band mode, was even sweeter. It reminded you that even the highly accomplished still have heroes.
Really it’s the first sentence that is the most enlightening, and here’s what I wish to address: neither Axl, Kip or I, all of whom went to the show, are that big on Neurosis. But we were certainly excited to see a band of such cult status and one whose live performances are few and far between, and the $25 was worth the price alone for a Mastodon set in such an intimate setting, even for a truncated setlist. Neurosis sounded great; they were tight, good musicians, the sound was crisp, the performance was engaging, and the visuals were cool. But when all was said and done, none of the three of us walked out wowed or any more interested in Neurosis than we had previously been.
The bottom line: Neurosis is one of those bands that you’re supposed to like if you’re amongst the metal cognoscenti. But by and large, this is what I’ve found: if you grew up more on the punk / hardcore side of things, you absolutely love Neurosis, a band who themselves started out, as the article states, “as a hard-core punk band, making rickety songs in speedy two-beat rhythms.” And if you grew up more on the metal side, as Axl, Kip and myself did, you just aren’t that impressed with them and don’t get what all the fuss is about. In short, if you grew up thinking Iron Maiden is cool, Neurosis probably ain’t for you; if Minor Threat were your heroes, check this band out pronto.