Originally published in ‘zine issue #27, 2003
The Ottobar, Baltimore, MD
by Taryn Wilkinson
Relapse’s Contamination Tour presented the Ottobar crowd an impressive lineup which included the bands Swarm Of The Lotus, Misery Index, Dysrhythmia, and Uphill Battle, with Mastodon as the headliner.
Equipped with capturing charisma, Swarm Of The Lotus opened with a set that gave the crowd a potent taste of their metal edge. By drilling pieces that were solely instrumental in addition to their usual set, their talent was that much more pronounced. Unfortunately, one wouldn’t have guessed by the general reaction of the crowd (an annoying phenomenon that would carry on until Mastodon came on stage!) that the band had been all that enjoyable, which I found somewhat bizarre.
Misery Index, though they gave a good performance as well, generated perhaps even less enthusiasm from the crowd. Personally, I didn’t feel that their music fit the bill very well, especially with the absence of Cephalic Carnage, who might have complemented them better.
The crowd was still relatively sparse and even lethargic when Dysrhythmia performed, but that wasn’t a large surprise, considering the band is purely instrumental. Naturally, their style contrasted quite a bit to the other bands, as did Misery Index’s, but I usually find their sets to be a pleasure, as they are undeniably talented musicians with a unique approach.
Winding down for the night, Uphill Battle approached the stage (this being around the time in which the crowd’s concrete apathy really started to become a drag). It seemed to take a few songs for the band to get it fully together, but once they were warmed up and comfortable, they definitely gave a powerful performance––my favorite of the show. I thought it especially interesting to catch the vocal diversity between the three singers. It was somewhat refreshing.
For the first time that night, everyone seemed to gather like eager fleas, once the samples (I believe one was taken from the film Happiness) leading up to Mastodon’s performance began. Mastodon played a lengthy set which appeared to take the crowd quite thoroughly. With this new electricity of stimulation, things picked up and became more interesting by far. The band played incredibly well, demanding this energy from the crowd, while belting out their masculine riffs. To top off their set, Mastodon ended with a Thin Lizzy cover, which proved to be a definitive smash hit. ■