Tomahawk at Voodoo Fest in New Orleans, LA
Since their debut album in 2001, Tomahawk has been a champion in the underground with their twangy riffs, bone crushing drum hits, eerie synth sounds, and the ever impressive crooning styles of Mike Patton. This indeed is a supergroup: John Stanier from Helmet on drums, Duane Denison of Jesus Lizard and USSA on guitar, Mike Patton from Faith No More, Mr. Bungle, Fantomas, Peeping Tom, etc. not just singing, but using all kinds of distortions and keyboards.
The first show since in almost a decade was held at the New Orleans Voodoofest among a variety of bands on the last day of the festival. For instance, Tomahawk went on the Le Carnival stage after a two-hour local bounce showcase, a New Orleans hip hop made for booty-shaking. Mike Patton would later introduce his band saying, "We are Tomahawk: booty shaking music of another kind."
The crowd slowly started to build at Le Carnival stage. No matter which project or band, Mike Patton and company always set up and sound check their own gear, which as an audience member just builds the anticipation. The opening sample from the band led right into a cult favorite from the first album "God Hates a Coward." The crowd was in full on participation-mode as the band then played another fan favorite "Flashback." Patton downsized his usual onslaught of Roland keyboard, tons of additional mics, and mixing boards to a Mac laptop, a smaller midi control keyboard and one smaller condenser mic used for just a moment during one song. He was so enthused about the performance, even shouting and yelling away from the mic just because he couldn’t contain himself. He would often take his mic away from the front of the stage, crouch by the drums while singing into it, then burst back to the laptop stand, nearly knocking it into the crowd. The only problem was that his vocals were far too low. He was just barely heard over the other instruments, and he knew it. He yelled at the mixer on the side of the stage to turn him up, but it never happened. However, he still performed amazingly and passionately.
Duane sported a half stack amp, his arsenal of delay pedals, custom hollow body guitars and his gentlemen style fedora hat. For those who have never seen Denison live, his guitar playing is truly unique to the world of harder rock and fusion. He uses single notes that magically give a fuller sound than standard power chords. On bass duties for this show is Trevor Dunn, of Mr. Bungle, Fantomas, and Secret Chiefs 3. The band then played tracks from their second release "Mit Gas" such as "The Bird Song" and "Rape This Day." Mike Patton later yells to the crowd "Anyone wanna go skinny dipping after the show?" as he points to the small nearby bayou. “Let’s roll around in some crawfish." This would only be one of three comments to NOLA-specific things, as he later introduced the band with a Cajun yell "Aaaayeeee."
With the exception of sound technical difficulties by the sound engineer, the band was in top form, even treating the audience with at least three new songs. It ranged everywhere from old school punk, to Bauhaus sounding jams, and mellow dramatic rhythms similar to songs like "Point and Click" from the band’s first album. The ending track was "Laredo", but we didn’t want it to end, the consensus in the crowd was mutual: we are happy Tomahawk is back, and the new album will be one of the most original and creative releases of the year.
Emily is an avid supporter of the New Orleans scene, often filming shows and conducting interviews with local bands to help promote their music. She also runs her own site dedicated to the New Orleans scene, Crescent City Chaos.
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