Since the cancellation of the 2012 North American summer tour dates with Lamb of God and Deathklok, Gojira finally made their way back to Pittsburgh at Mr. Smalls in Millvale. The voyage of the French Death Metal quartet had been much anticipated by fans from all over. Vans and buses with out of state license plates halted to a stop near the venue mid-day, and metal-heads alike sifted through the doors like a clown car. The energy and camaraderie was thick in the teasing spring air and sun, as an omen that this was going to be an experience of a life-time for all.
Pittsburgh Music Magazine had the pleasure of meeting and interviewing Devin Townsend himself for the second time, hours before the doors opened. As myself and Chief of Operations Alan Welding walk into his dressing room backstage of the venue, we are greeted by the pleasant echo of Townsend ripping through a new amp head. After Townsend energetically and genuinely asked us how were both doing, we jumped right into our extensively interesting interview.
After meeting with Townsend, who is unbelievably down to earth and intelligent, we ran into a few other down to earth dudes, to say the least. Catching up with Gojira themselves, Joe Duplantier on vocals and rhythm guitar, and Jean-Michel Labadie on bass was another incredible highlight. The guys chatted with us for a few minutes, asking if I was sick since they could hear it in my voice, and disclosing that they too, were also feeling under the weather. As a fan (and when I say fan, I mean A HUGE FAN), you never really know what you’re going to get when you meet your most revered musicians. ALL of Gojira’s discography plays on my iPod constantly, and “The Way of all Flesh” NEVER makes its way out of my car. Joe and Jean-Michel were extremely friendly and confirmed my admiration for their music, and the embodiment of the positive image they portray to their fans all over the world.
Hours later, the Atlas Moth, an American Post-Metal band from Chicago, warmed the stage with an impressive tone for The Devin Townsend Project, and Gojira. Townsend followed, surprising the hell out of me with his gritty performance. Behind closed doors this guy is a total gentleman and overall extremely intelligent goofball. On stage he is a total ‘effing rockstar. Switching out numerous guitars after nearly every song and flipping pedals left and right, this guy and his band members absolutely blew me away with their huge sound. Townsend’s ludicrous stage presence made him all the more charming and ominous, and his Rocky-Horror style really appealed not only to me as a new fan, but to the rest of his loyal followers.
The finality was the entrance of the ultimate rockstars themselves. Gojira besieged with “Explosia,” and an energy and aura that I’ve only ever dreamed of experiencing with a live performance. Something is so very different about Gojira in so many ways. Not a second went by that they didn’t have the entire audience by the pits of their stomachs, unable to blink with anticipation for every synchronized beat. I had to catch myself in the moment and stay with the performance in order to absorb it to the fullest, as much as I wanted to drift into a lullaby. Slaying songs like, “Vacuity” and “The Art of Dying” transitioned the entire set in the strongest, and most flawless performance I’ve ever witnessed. Everything was perfect, down to the implausible drum solo that left us totally speechless, to the faultless extended experimental solo from Mario Duplantier. Nearing the end of the set, Mario delivered an intensively moving statement paralleling, “This song is about the inner child that we all have protecting us. Always be true to yourself,” segwaying into “L’Enfant Sauvage.” Gojira was demanded back to the stage with an ear-shattering encore, where they absolutely killed “The Gift of Guilt” off of their new album, L’Enfant Sauvage. At no point in time was anyone lacking in energy or true commitment and passion to give Pittsburgh an incredible show. Their entire performance just made about 75% of every other metal band I’ve ever seen look like little girls. These guys were so crisp and clean that one could literally hear a pin drop at a pause from anywhere in the venue, and Jean-Michel delivered one of the most undulant bass performances unlike any I had seen. Oh yeah, and did I mention they were sick?
All Pictures copyright AWeldingphoto and Pittsburgh Music Magazine 2013