Words/Photos: Chris Rugowski
Milwaukee – The Mega-Monsters Tour came to the Summerfest grounds at the BMO Harris Pavillion on August 23, 2023, and rocked late into the night. This outdoor pavilion seats about 5,000 people and if I had to guesstimate there were about 3000 there between everyone. A decent night and a decent crowd. Metal and great metal fans. It was hot too, obnoxiously hot and humid, I have to give it up to the Summerfest group for providing free water to concertgoers, it was brutal out until about the time Mastodon started.
We didn’t get to shoot Lorna Shore, and I didn’t get into the area to watch the show, but from what I heard in the distance it was a great show. The other photographers I talked to said the show itself was great too, the band was tight and the sound was excellent.
Now for the meat…er metal maybe?…. and potatoes.
Gojira came on stage ready to rip your faces off, fog billowing from the stage, and they got playing, We were all standing on the side of the stage ready to go in for songs two, three, and four and in this moment I happened to see a monarch butterfly flying up from the stage, not a prop by any means, a real butterfly you could tell by the way it was moving, plus what metal band would use butterflies as props? Anyway, it was natural beauty mixed with hard rock for a minute and it was a real moment of clarity for me being at the show. Gojira is one of my favorite bands and this was my first time being able to see them and photograph them. This show for me was a transformative experience.
The lighting for the whole set was great, the LD had a handle on this. Plus the sound throughout the venue all night was great no matter where you went. When these two things combine you know it’s going to be good. Not all venues have this going for them.
The band was tight and talkative. I’ve heard that this band can be the type to get on stage, do their thing, and leave, allowing for some allure at the same time I suppose.
During the drum solo, he held up signs to get the crowd moving, this was kind of fun, going from a drum solo into Grind was awesome with the timing changes in that song.
When they got to Another World Joe said “The next song is about building a rocket and getting out of here but realizing there’s no better place than Planet Earth.” Befitting of the background video.
Then they hit Silvera, and seeing this song made the night for me. The Pyro in sync with the last bit of the song was the cherry on top.
They ended their set with two crowd-pleasers, The Chant and Vacuity. Vacuity’s video on the back wall was really interesting as it tied together the theme of the night with the tree and water and people, and life with other elements they had going on in other songs. It felt kind of like Pink Floyd’s The Wall to a degree. The upside-down sparklers were a bonus too, that was neta.
Mastodon gives me hope for my abilities to still rock out when I am 48-50. Now, I am only 37, so it’s not like I have far to go…but just watching them on stage was a reminder to myself that I can still kick ass on a loud rock the older I get.
But to the show, their lighting was exactly what I thought would be there, trippy, and fun, while they rocked out.
I especially liked the drummer’s set with all the neat designs on it. It fits the feel of the band which of course has a very graphically centric theme across their album artwork, songs, and their live show.
In the end, if you can get to this tour before it ends on 9/2 in Denver, CO I would highly suggest doing it.