It's been a banner year for Atlanta metal behemoth Mastodon. The group's fifth album, The Hunter, debuted at No. 10 on the Billboard 200 in September, achieving greater commercial success than any of its previous releases without sacrificing its infernal snarl. Not since the group's September 2010 show opening for Alice in Chains at Lakewood Amphitheatre have Troy Sanders (bass/vocals), Brent Hinds (guitar/vocals), Bill Kelliher (guitar/vocals) and Brann Dailor (drums) played a hometown show together. That's about to change, however, when Mastodon headlines the Missing Link Festival at the Tabernacle Friday, December 2.
The Missing Link is a mini-fest organized by Mastodon to stir up some hometown pride. "There are a lot of cities that are proud of their local rock bands and get behind their cause when they start doing well, but it's difficult to make that happen in Atlanta," Dailor explains from a hotel room in Montreal just a few hours before playing a show there. "There have been several times when I've met people in Atlanta — in Little Five Points — and they have no idea that Mastodon's from Atlanta. They're like, 'What are you doing here?' It's kind of weird."
As the year draws to a close, Mastodon's "Curl of the Burl" single is receiving steady airplay from Norway to Japan, but Atlanta's radio stations remain indifferent.
Watching a deserving Atlanta artist fail to get local airplay is nothing new around these parts: Remember the lack of airplay that Big Boi received when he released Sir Lucious Left Foot: The Son of Chico Dusty? "That's sort of the same thing we're experiencing right now," Dailor says. "You'd think these radio stations would see the opportunity and say, 'Let's grow this thing here, in their hometown,' but we're just going to keep doing what we do."
Mastodon is currently on the road with New Jersey's maniacally complex metal heads the Dillinger Escape Plan, and Portland stoner rockers Red Fang, who are also playing the Missing Link. To bolster local support, garage-punk heavyweights Black Lips have been added along with Tiger! Tiger! and MonstrO. Nepotism notwithstanding, MonstrO is Atlanta's latest psych-metal export, in which Mastodon bassist/vocalist Troy Sanders' brother Kyle follows his lead. The group's self-titled debut was released in September (Vagrant). Experimental post-garage rock ensemble Tiger! Tiger!, whose "Amnesiac's Dream" b/w "To Whom It May Concern" 7-inch is out this month via Atlanta's latest indie upstart Pygmy Records, features Dailor's wife Susanne Gibboney singing and playing bass. It's all a family affair in one way or another.
Like Mastodon, Black Lips have had an equally triumphant year following the release of the band's Mark Ronson-produced fifth proper album Arabia Mountain.
This is the first time that any of these bands have ever played a bill together, and if it works out, they plan to do it again. "I love Atlanta," Dailor says. "I moved here from Rochester, NY, several years ago and I talk it up wherever I go. I'm always excited to see bands from here doing well, and hopefully, a fest that celebrates some hometown talent could help make some progress."