w/ special guest: Mondo Drag
March 14, 2016
The Masquerade (Hell)
I first heard Pentagram back in like 1993 or so and I totally remember thinking that they were just ok. I also remember thinking that they didn’t suck but that they just sounded kind of like an American Black Sabbath. Nothing groundbreaking. Imagine my surprise when all of the sudden the name Pentagram was popping up all over the place in 2011 after the release of the documentary, Last Days Here. Last Days Here documented the near rise, crash, burn, and rise again of Bobby Liebling. All of the sudden, Pentagram was like this huge thing (even bigger than they were in their heyday) and ol’ cracked out Bobby Liebling was now cleaned up (so they say) and hitting the road with a revamped version of Pentagram.
Pentagram has been to Atlanta a handful of times since that documentary but I missed each show. I never thought much about it but I knew that it was something that I had to see for myself. Actually, I couldn’t wait to attend and see if they could live up to the level of hype that they have been receiving over the years.
Opening things up was California psychedelic prog rockers, Mondo Drag. Mondo Drag is out supporting their latest masterpiece, The Occultation of Light and I have been asked numerous times to describe this band. The best way I can describe them is if Deep Purple fucked Black Sabbath while ELP and The Doors watched. Anyways, the band kicked things off with “Zephyr” from their 2015 self titled album and right off the bat the band sounded absolutely amazing. The layers of face melting psychedelic rock coming from the stage hit the crowd like a wave as everyone just seemed to be engaged and drawn into song. The six minute epic masterpiece, “The Eye” from the latest album was hands down the show stopper as at this point the audience had become one with the band.
As I looked around the room, all eyes were fixated on Mondo Drag. I heard things like, “This is amazing” and “This is blowing my fucking mind” as the band delivered their mammoth 45 minute set. The set was made up primarily of new material which I loved as it showed the band’s pride in their new material. Hell, they should be extremely proud of this genre bending album as it is without a doubt one of my favorite albums of the last decade. Mondo Drag definitely made a huge impression on everyone (including me). The only thing I would recommend is that with every Mondo Drag ticket sold, you should get a free drip pan to catch your melted face.
At this point, Hell was pretty packed and a bit more than 3/4 full. The intro music came on and people let out a huge roar as the house lights went down. Pentagram took the stage and kicked into “Death Row.” The band actually sounded fucking amazing. Musically, they sounded bombastic and heavy as all fuck… but then here comes Bobby Liebling. I’ll be honest. I really had high hopes for Bobby’s performance but he was a hot mess. He looked like he needed dialysis or to be fed the souls of younger musicians just to stay standing up straight.
I don’t know if he’s using again or if all those hard years are finally catching up with him but Bobby Liebling did very little to impress me. As a matter of fact, I kind of found it sad and really felt bad for him. Between his incoherent stage banter and looking like he could barely stand up on his own, Bobby Liebling basically looked like death took him and then gave him back because he didn’t want him anymore. Musically, I thought Pentagram sounded absolutely fantastic and tight as hell and audience was absolutely insane. They were completely eating it up and singing back words and whatnot. It even had me thinking, “I wonder what these folks are hearing that I’m not because all I hear is an incoherent, off key, mumbling skeleton.
Speaking of the audience, I just have to take a moment to point out that this was, hands down, the strangest audience I have ever seen at a metal show. First off, I have never seen so many tall people at a metal show. At 5″10, I felt dwarfed for the most part. Also, where did all the hot chicks come from? I have never seen so many attractive females at one metal show and finally, how about the lesbian couple that made out so hard they fell into the mosh pit, got up, and then one of them started making out with a guy who was pretty much having sex with her while the band played on. It was really bizarre and gross but kind of like watching a snake eat a mouse. It’s gross as fuck but you can’t help but watch.
Pentagram closed things out with “Broken Vows” and then returned to the stage for a very rough and off key encore that contained an extremely rough “Be Forewarned.” It was so rough that I heard a guy next to me say, “I wish they would’ve never played that song because this is how I will always remember hearing it live.” Yup, it was that bad. It was weird but I think so many people get wrapped up in nostalgia that they can’t see/hear what’s really going on up on stage. I was just like, “What are they hearing that I’m not?” Seeing Pentagram live was definitely an eye opener for me and in a lot of ways just an all out weird experience. It’s an experience that I don’t need to have again but it was an unforgettable one nonetheless.