Live Shots: Tomahawk at the Great American Music Hall

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Tomahawk gave two rare live performances this weekend at the Great American Music Hall, the second of which this photographer attended, and — as to be expected from most things involving Mike Patton — it was flawless, aggressive, and there were lots of dudes in the crowd.  

The night started interestingly enough, waiting in line behind Jello Biafra at will-call and hearing him give his name to the woman behind the glass, while a few people behind me whispered, “that’s Jello Biafra.”  I don’t think he remembered me, but he stepped on me during the last Melvins show I photographed at GAMH. That time, I looked up and he said, “sorry” and I was like, “awesome.” 

Anyway, back to the show. Aside from a stricter than usual photo policy forcing me up into the balcony (there was no way I was pushing up front, Patton fans worshippers are rabid), it was spectacular. Tomahawk opened with "Mayday," from Mit Gas, Patton quickly emerging from behind his computer and drum machines and charging towards the crowd, whipping it up and still giving plenty of attention to the band, often turning to face drummer, John Stanier, to whom he remained precisely, rhythmically locked all night.

The band maintained the same level of energy throughout most of the show, with the occasional pause to simultaneously admonish the audience and make sure everyone was having fun. One audience member who made the mistake of having his iPad out during the show, presumably to take a photo, clearly provoked Patton’s ire, and was called a “fucking idiot” from the stage and told to “put it back in his man purse.”

The set included a healthy dose of songs from every album, culminating in a highly energetic performance of “Laredo,” in which Patton used the repeating line “The cat’s in the bag and the bag’s in the river” to showcase the full range of his vocal, tics, growls, and whispers.

The group returned to the stage for two encores, the first being the jazzy “Rise Up Dirty Waters” off of its new album, appropriately titled Oddfellows. Duane Denison remarked that he was nervous to play this one, as it had not been performed live before, but they all seemed to nail it, with Trevor Dunn’s walking bass line and the Lynchian vocal-guitar melody putting what many thought was a quiet cap on the night.

But no, Tomahawk returned to the stage again, this time Patton in a hockey mask, the eyehole of which he fed his microphone through and proceeded to blast into Bad Brains’ “Pay to Cum” and “How Low Can a Punk Get.”

Vocally, he was a pretty convincing HR and although he didn’t do any backflips, he did manage to get a few stage-dives in, much to the chagrin of security who immediately found themselves engaged in a tug-of-war, Patton as the rope, against the crowd. It was an exciting end to a highly entertaining show. Also, props to the guy that jumped off the balcony on to the speaker stacks.

Setlist:

Mayday

Flashback

Oddfellows

101 north

Stone Letter

Birdsong

Rape This Day

Honeymoon

Capt Midnight

White Hats

God Hates a Coward

IOU

Rotgut

Southpaw

Point and Click

Laredo

Encores:

Rise Up Dirty Water

Pay to Cum

How Low Can a Punk Get