Story and Photos: Spencer Fleming
It was bring your parents to work day this week. I had the pleasure of shooting Mammoth WVH at The Bourbon Theater in Lincoln Tuesday (9/5) and got to bring my mom as my guest. She was super excited being a long-time Van Halen fan. As soon as Mammoth formed as a band she said "Ooh I want to see Wolfie". I too was stoked to see "Wolfie" and his crew after shooting them back in 2021. This time around Mammoth was out in support or their brand-new album Mammoth II and they were ready to tear the place down!
Before Mammoth we had our faces melted by the legendary Lincoln band Freakabout. I've had the pleasure of seeing Freakabout a few times over the years, but I can easily say this was the best set I've seen from them yet. They were in top form with loud, fuzzy guitars, hard hitting drums, groovy bass, and hauntingly beautiful vocal harmonies from lead singer Cortney Kirby. Guitarist Aaron mentioned that he caught Van Halen the last time they played Omaha in 2008 and the crowd lit up. I saw several Van Halen shirts in the crowd, for obvious reasons.
Freakabout was the perfect opener for Mammoth as they lean towards classic rock with just a touch of prog. If you get the chance to see these guys you definitely should. They're easily in my top five active Nebraska bands.
Before Mammoth came out Animal from 104.1 The Blaze thanked the crowd for coming out to support on a Tuesday right after a holiday. It may have been a Tuesday but with a good size crowd the Bourbon was ready to keep the holiday weekend vibes raging!
Mammoth arrived and opened with the track "Mammoth" from their debut album Mammoth WVH. With tapping solos and an upbeat groove Wolfie and his band were off to a solid start. A few songs later Mammoth played a bonus track from Mammoth WVH titled "Talk and Walk". This one is such a bop. The chorus feels almost like a rocked out doo wop vibe. While Wolf has definitely established his own sound there were moments of Van Halen influence that shined through. For example on the song "Like A Pastime" from the new album Mammoth II, there's a small section of harmonics that sound just like the harmonics on "Panama", right before David Lee Roth says "Yea, we're running a bit hot tonight". Your homework is to listen to both songs and tell me if I'm right.
"Like A Pastime" also had a bit of Muse flair with a quick pace and even a few blast beats thrown in! At the end of the song the drummer extended the blast beats a bit and Wolfie did some heavy shredding. He said "We could do some metal!" Honestly, they totally could and I think a lot of people would be into it, myself included.
The thing that's so cool about Woflie is he makes playing the guitar look so effortless but he's totally humble. He seems like the kind of guy you would want to hang out with or invite to a barbecue. Throughout the evening there were marks of his Dad, the legendary Eddie Van Halen everywhere. Wolfie's guitars, amps, and pedals all bore the now-famous EVH logo. Before the song "Think It Over" Wolfie told the crowd "This is my Dad's favorite song". Towards the end the band played "The Distance" which was written in memory of Eddie Van Halen. As my favorite Mammoth song, this was my favorite highlight of the show.
The band did a quick break before coming back for a two song encore of "Celebration At The End Of The World" and their biggest hit "Don't Back Down". After coming back out Wolfie said "Why do we do that? It's so silly. Tradition? I'll do some research and let you know". Seriously guys, his charm level is off the charts. Before kicking into "Don't Back Down" Wolfie introduced his band and ended with "And I'm Wolf" throwing up the peace sign. How can you not like this guy?
This will definitely go down as one of the best shows of the year. A huge thanks goes out to Animal & 104.1 The Blaze for bringing these killer bands and giving me the honor of capturing all these cool moments. Also thanks to The Bourbon Theater for always being such a gracious host and helping with media access. Andrea, Aaron, Becky, you guys rock!
Mammoth II is available now on all streaming platforms.