Photos: Mastodon & Opeth @ Southside Ballroom 11.27.21

It’s been a long two years since two icons of modern prog rock have hit the road, and on Saturday night you could tell they had both missed it! Finally, after what has felt like years of planning and talking, Atlanta’s Mastodon and Sweden’s Opeth rolled into the Southside Ballroom on a coheadlining tour, along with the Swiss band Zeal and Ardor opening.

It was an evening bathed in blue light.

Mastodon and Opeth have been alternating the headlining slot, and for the Dallas show, Mastodon closed out the night. Due to a miscommunication on what the set times would be, I missed Zeal and Ardor, which was a massive bummer. I saw them a few years ago opening for Baroness and their set was amazing. Z&A has been releasing a few tracks from their upcoming album and they have been phenomenal. It’s rare that a band creates music that is heavier and more aggressive than their initial releases. Hopefully, when they release their new album after the beginning of the year, they will roll through on a tour of their own. 

Next up was Opeth, who delivered a masterclass in prog rock precision. Just before kicking off this tour, Opeth parted ways with their drummer Martin ‘Axe’ Axenrot who had held down the position since 2005. Sami Karppinen from the Finnish band Therion took Martin’s place, and from my perspective, didn’t miss a beat. Opeth are underappreciated by the mainstream metal crowd but are masters of their craft.

Finally, to close out the show was Mastodon, who are supporting their latest double album, Hushed and Grim. Released on Halloween, Hushed and Grim pays tribute to the passing of former manager and friend Nick John.  Seven of the fourteen songs played on Saturday night were from Hushed and Grim, including the opener Pain With an Anchor, which immediately got the crowd fired up. The following hour and a half was an explosion of energy from both the band and the crowd. You could tell that the time off had pent up the boys and they were ready for a release. 

I’ve seen Mastodon on eight different occasions, and for the first time in a long time, there seemed to be a new fire ignited in the band. A fire I might not have seen since the release of 2009’s Crack the Skye. Maybe it’s the creation of an amazing double record that consists of material close to their hearts, or maybe it’s being able to play in front of people again since the beginning of the pandemic? Whatever it is, it made this Dallas stop a fantastic show.