On Monday night the 28th of January, I entered the Marquee Theatre after having walked from the parking lot across the street. I had a feeling this concert would be a big one, but I didn’t think I’d have to use the $7 lot. After taking my usual arms-crossed stance at the back of the venue, I was greeted by a slow and sludgy, atmospheric sound by a newer band out of Chicago called The Atlas Moth. I’d never heard of them before, but I had a feeling I would walk away with an interest in what albums these guys had put out so far. They received a pretty decent crowd reaction after finishing each song, which is a somewhat unusual occurrence at a metal show. Some of us metal heads, especially the ones who are actually musicians, tend to judge a band immediately and maybe even a little unfairly. In my experience at live metal shows, the lesser known bands don’t usually get the credit they deserve, and that’s usually due in part to anxiousness for the main band. However, The Atlas Moth put on a solid performance for everyone, and left the audience giving fair praise. They used both clean vocals and growls, done by two different vocalists. I always like this because it gives a band more variety and is an excellent way to pull more listeners. Their melancholic guitar melodies played in both clean and distortion were beautiful. The bassist deviated from the guitarist a healthy amount, which was very tasteful. To tie it all together, their drums were crisp and precise. All in all, The Atlas Moth’s set was moving and impressive, and I’m anxious to see them again. I will say though that I feel they were a little slow, especially to get ready for a band like the Devin Townsend Project. I believe if they were to play right before Gojira, it would’ve been perfect. They were a great opener pick for this tour, with their mix of psychedelic, doom, and progressive. Upon visiting their Facebook page, their bio simply states “Smoke ‘em if you got ‘em”, and it includes a rather diverse list of influences, including The Flaming Lips, Neurosis, and The Cure. If you like stoner/sludge metal as much as I do, these guys are exactly the band you’re looking for.
On to the Devin Townsend Project. Oh my god, where do I even begin? This was my second time seeing them live, and I adored what shenanigans he pulled during the Katatonia tour last September. He included his usual “ZTV” videos for the audience to watch while the sound guys did their thing, and we were all staring up at the screen above the stage, watching viral YouTube videos like “Chocolate Rain”, “The Badger Song” and “Cows Cows Cows” by Cyriak – a favorite channel of mine. He did the same thing during the Katatonia show, so I was prepared and excited. However, the people around me had absolutely no idea what they were in for. There were a ton of laughs and “What the F***”’s, and I thought it was a brilliant way to keep the audience engaged while the boring sound check was in process. Once the sound check was finished, the screen pulled up, the lights when out, and the crowd cheered. Out walked the band, and then Devin Townsend. He was wearing a black tank top under his plaid long sleeve, button-up shirt (which according him to him he hadn’t taken off in three weeks), and these incredible Grover shorts. I had trouble deciphering which Sesame Street character it was – first thinking it was Cookie Monster, then Oscar the Grouch. However he later confirmed it was Grover, and I lost my head. Not only do DT and I share the same nationality, not only is he a metal icon (holding the band Strapping Young Lad under his belt), not only was he obviously the physical inspiration for the Metalocalypse character Pickles… but he also shares a love for my favorite Sesame Street character. Great minds think alike, eh? Moving on. I noticed his set list was almost identical to what it was in September, playing songs like Juular, Lucky Animals, and Planet of the Apes – which has a great Djent-like sound that I love so much. I danced a little, sang along, and laughed at his kooky stage persona. They went on to play another favorite song of mine, “Kingdom”, which had a great chorus for the audience to sing along to. At the end of the set, they played “Grace”, which was filled with an alarmingly blatant and positive message stating, “Never fear love” (during a circle pit he demanded, I might add). What an extremely refreshing thing to hear in an otherwise black-hearted community. Between the awesome metal, hilarious facial expressions, and entertaining videos during the sound check, his performance was fantastic, and I would gladly pay to see him 43 more times if I could.
After DTP left the stage and the sound guys threw their guitar picks out into the crowd, we waited. The anticipation for Gojira was immense. After a few minutes of speaking with fans around me about what songs we were hoping to hear, the backdrop on the stage was revealed. It was beautiful. It was the album cover, which depicts a tree growing inside a silhouetted human head, which was illuminated with flashes of multi-colored lights, and stars behind it. There was much appreciation from the people around me for this. Shortly after the backdrop was revealed, there were chants of “GO-JIR-A! GO-JIR-A! GO-JIR-A!” A few minutes of this passed, and the band exploded onto the stage with “Explosia” – a song off their new album “L’enfant Sauvage”. The audience was chaotic, but the moshing didn’t start until they played some of their older, heavier songs – specifically from “From Mars to Sirius”. I was standing right next to the enormous amplifier on the left side of the stage. The bass was so loud and perfect that it was rattling my ear drums – a delightful feeling. Then it was time for them to play another new song, this time the title track, and it was introduced to us in a gracious way. Joe Duplantier told us the song was written about the oppression and genocide of Native Americans, which received quite a welcoming response, being in Arizona. If there’s one thing that attracted me to Gojira, it’s Joe’s impressive vocals. His growling is fantastic, but even more-so is his ability to scream on pitch. He constantly displays diversity in his vocals, accomplishing what is known as vocal fry – clean and dirty vocals at the same time. You don’t hear that done well in many metal bands today. During the beginning of the next song, “The Art of Dying”, the crowd was captivated by the extremely complex percussive intro and the incredibly heavy wall of sound that followed. It was difficult to pull my eyes away from Mario, as he tore it up with an amazingly intricate section of drumming at the beginning of the song. Somewhere between “Toxic Garbage Island” and the drum solo, the brothers Duplantier expressed the diversity of their talent by deciding to completely switch rolls for a short time. Mario had extremely impressive death metal vocals, while playing his brother’s guitar and Joe showed us that he was also a formidable drummer. The vocals during Oroborous caught my attention when I noticed that he was both tapping on his guitar and singing at the same time. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything quite like that. It was just another amazing display of talent from this incredibly gifted band. The drum solo was just… crazy. I really don’t have enough words in my vocabulary to describe how intense and technical Mario’s solo was. There were times where his arms were nothing but a blur. The crowd demanded an encore after a couple more fan favorites. They came back onto the stage, energetic as ever, and played “The Gift of Guilt” – another beautiful song off of “L’enfant Sauvage”. When all was said and done, they expressed their deep appreciation for their fans, throwing out picks, drum sticks, shaking hands, and taking a bow. Normally by the end of the headlining band, I am completely exhausted and rush to my car. This time, I found myself wishing they would have played for twice as long. This was my first metal show of the year, and it’ll probably be the best.
The Heaviest Matter of the Universe
The Art of Dying
Toxic Garbage Island
The Gift of Guilt