Live Review: Gojira — The Fonda Theatre
Sat, 26 Jan 2013 10:48:45
"Are you alive?" Gojira singer and guitarist Joe Duplantier asked the sold out Fonda Theatre in Los Angeles last night.
The crowd didn't have a choice but to respond with a deafening roar. They were most definitely alive and everyone else within earshot also undoubtedly shot to life at the sounds of the French phenomenon's majestic and masterful metal.
Ever since unleashing last year's flawless L'Enfant Sauvage, this beast has been trudging towards the top of the genre. Last night solidified their status as its current kings though. In league with Metallica, Tool, and Pantera, Gojira possess the kind of otherworldly, elegant brutality that fortifies legends.
After unveiling a life-size replica of the human head that adorns their recent masterpiece's cover, stars lit up on a black backdrop. One by one Joe, his brother and drummer Mario, guitarist Christian Andreu, and Jean-Michel Labadie took to the stage. A swell of feedback enveloped the cheers as "Explosia" burst from their instruments.
For the next six minutes, the pit moved in unison to the swirling and soaring riff and vocal assault of Joe and Christian. Mario's drumming remained utterly impenetrable as they launched into "Flying Whales", switching from polyrhythmic shuffling grooves into staggering double bass. He's one of the best to ever step behind a kit in terms of precision and power. Christian infused distinct eerie flourishes of intensity to "Backbone" as the band stomped around the stage and Jean-Michel's bass was so tough it could've shaken the Hollywood sign out of the hills.
"This place is fucking beautiful man," smiled Joe before launching into a blissfully destructive "The Heaviest Matter of the Universe".
He channels mystique and message lyrically, while delivering each song with raw, real catharsis. Joe has rightfully risen to the rank of modern metal icon on his own right.
Before a crushing and catchy "L'Enfant Sauvage", he urged, "We need to protect our inner child. If we don't want to become zombies in life, we need to stay fully awake". Eyes were open in Los Angeles like never before as the band's sonic heft moved in tandem with the psychedelic and hypnotic visuals projected on the head in the middle of the stage. Everything cascade as an immersive aural experience. "The Art of Dying" and "Wisdom Comes" opened up the rabbit hole with savage ripping and grooving. Mario's drum solo stood out as equally mind-numbing and marvelous. The barrage never relented on "The Axe", while "The Gift of Guilt" gave one triumphant farewell.
Earlier in the evening, Devin Townsend delivered a potent, powerful, and poetic set of solo fare. With a screen behind displaying a myriad of warped and tripped-out visuals, he conjured up infectious and invasive heavy music like a mad genius. Townsend's a virtuoso, and his playing remains simply mind-blowing. "Kingdom" and "Planet of the Apes" swung from decimating chugs into strangely ethereal and artful passages. He joked, "We know you're nerds! Don't pretend you're not!" and added, "We all rip off Meshuggah" in a hearty bellow.
Townsend really rips off no one. He's his own zany animal, and the bouncy "War" proved that. The Epicloud gem "Lucky Animals" ignited movement across the floor, while demented visuals added another dimension to "Juular".
Before "Grace", he offered, "I'm 40. I wish I could care, but I don't. I love playing metal."
Metal is all the better for it. It'll always be alive and kicking at the hands of bands this goddamn good.
Were you there?