GAY FOR GOJIRA
I love Gojira. I love them the way Mel Gibson loved that lady he killed all those people for in Braveheart. I love them the way Mel Gibson loved that lady he killed all those people for in Lethal Weapon 2. I love them the way Mel Gibson loved that lady he killed all those people for in Mad Max. I love them the way Mel Gibson loved the son he killed all those people for in The Patriot. I love Gojira the way Mel Gibson hates the Jews.
I haven’t really written a show review in awhile, and the reason is, I haven’t felt motivated to. I’ve seen some good shows these past months, and Scion was certainly assloads of fun, but nothing has really knocked my socks off in a long time… until now.
Only two words can really articulate how we felt about the French metallers first-ever NYC headlining gig, which took place last night: “holy” and “shit.” Watching this band just absolutely murder it for an hour and fifteen minutes gave me chills the same way, say, a great Tool show gives me chills; Gojira live are that fucking good.
The band played songs from all four of their albums – yes, even 2001’s Terra Incognita was represented – and their musicianship is almost unreal in its power and precision. With a bare minimum of between-song banter, Joe Duplantier leads the group with the stage presence of a giant; when he’s not obligated to be near a mic for vocal duties, he often lifts his guitar and runs around the stage as though John Williams’ theme from Superman were playing in his head. And that might come across as totally silly, if Duplantier did not seem to indeed be some kind of superman. He and co-guitarist Christian Andreu often finger tap in perfect unison, and have re-claimed the technique from the mindless Van Halen-wanna bes, making it an actual effect to benefit actual songs; they’ve made an old trick seem new again.
Meanwhile, I think bassist Jean-Michel Labadie needs to be tested for epilepsy. Seriously, the guy headbangs as though he were actively trying to violently shake his head free from his shoulders, like he wants his skull to detach and fly off into the crowd. And he does that pretty much all the time. He scores extra points for his synchronized headbanging with Andreu; they do it in a way that seems natural, not overly choreographed, as though they really do just happen to be headbanging at the same moments during the same songs in the same style of headbang. Too often these days it feels like bassists get lost amongst guitar heroics and lead singer dramatics, but Labadie is an honest to God stage presence in and of himself.
Then there’s drummer Mario Duplantier. HOLY CRAP. This man is a god. A FUCKING GOD. He played a drum solo. Drum solos feel increasingly rare these days, and for good reason. Generally, as a rule, I’d say if you’re a drummer and your name isn’t Mike Portnoy or Danny Carey, you probably should not take a drum solo. Too many drummers either get caught up in just playing really, really fast without showing any sense of structure or giving the crowd any reason to give a fuck, or they go too far in the other direction, playing simplistic, uninvolving drek. Mario Duplantier played a perfect combination of the technical and melodic – seriously, his solo could pretty much have been a song unto itself – and the guy plays his fucking guts out. AND THEN HE PLAYS SOME MORE. And he never fucks up, he never slows down, he never shows signs of exhaustion. I have never been, and will never be, in such good shape.
The band played all ten boner-inducing minutes of “The Art of Dying” and an abridged version of the title track from The Way of All Flesh. Then they walked off-stage – but the house lights didn’t come up. “I never thought I’d say this, but I hope they play an encore,” I said to Vince. “I was just thinking the same thing!” Vince exclaimed in reply. Given that we fucking hate encores, this is a true feat.
The band did return, of course, and tore through a bone-crushingly good rendition of “Vacuity” that elicited the biggest pit of the night. When they were finally done for good, all I could think was that I wanted to see them play some more. If Gojira come anywhere near your town, make it a priority to go check them out. You will not be disappointed.