Maybe I’m getting older and a bit more grizzled, or perhaps douchebags tend to show up at larger shows simply given the ratio of people. My night started with a guy telling me I need to go away because his jacket was on a table to reserve it for a friend. When I didn’t budge, his buddy then came at me angrily repeating the same thing. Seeing as this guy was half-drunk and I was not in the mood to deal with him, I moved on, pointing out it wasn’t a fucking restaurant. He called me a whore or something, and I didn’t respond since I felt sorry for him since he probably doesn’t get laid often.
With that small annoyance off my chest, I found another spot in the packed house that a couple kindly let me squeeze into. Not too long after, England’s TesseracT hit the stage on cue with the eight o’clock start. The band walked onto a dark stage lit up by spotlights dotted along it. Before the show I spotted many folks wearing newly purchased-shirts of the band, so it was no surprise when the crowd erupted once they started playing. Under blue and white lighting, they opened with “Phoenix” off their album Polaris. It had a ballad vibe to it, and it didn’t take me long to appreciate vocalist Daniel Tompkins’ talent. For the most part it was clean singing, and he had flair about him onstage, with interesting movements and pauses. At some points I felt he was a crossbreed of Incubus’ Brandon Boyd and The Mars Volta‘s Cedric Bixler-Zavala (for the sake of comparison). They went on to play other songs off the same album, like “Survival” and “Dystopia.” Guitarists Acle Kahney and James Monteith provided some pretty catchy riffs, but with less headbanging than I’m used to seeing.
I found it hard to get into their set as it continued. Perhaps some friends over-hyped them for me, but while they were by no means bad, they just didn’t do much for me. However, when bassist Amos Williams belted out some nice growls, I perked up. They went on to play several tracks from the album Altered State including “Of Matter: Proxy” and “Of Mind: Nocturne,” to name a few. At some points the strobes used during their set was a bit much for me, and between that and the red and blue lighting, I felt for our photographer Tom. Overall, it was a chill set, and at the end of the day it seems they delivered to their fans in the crowd, given the crowd’s chants of their band name and the generous applause end of their set.
Headliners Gojira hit the stage around the 9:20pm mark, and I, among many others, was stoked to see this France metal act. The first thing I noticed was that drummer Mario Duplantier was up on a rise; I appreciated that since I could take in his skills from afar. With a projection screen behind them showing luminous clouds, they got into “Only Pain” and several other tracks from their most recent album Magma, the release of which is what brought about this tour. Someone dropped an inflatable shark from the balcony onto the mosh pit, and it was on! Joe Duplantier is a great frontman – along with his amazing deep-growling voice, he conveys emotion in his words with several hand gestures (if he’s not shredding riffs on his guitar). I couldn’t get enough of his voice: it’s unique, and along with crunchy riffs it’s what initially drew me into Gojira. I learned as the set went on that I have a lot of catching up to do on their music! I didn’t know many of the tracks, but they were so good it was a moot point for me. I was stoked they played “Wisdom Comes” off The Link.
As the set went on, Joe and bassist Jean-Michel Labadie were like caged tigers, crossing each other along the stage while churning out the fury. After playing thirteen or so tracks, they exited and chants for an encore started. Of course they complied with three more songs, including one from their first album Terra Incognita, titled “Clone,” which was delightfully brutal. It was great seeing these guys live again, though I think I liked their set at Heavy Mtl better – seeing them in broad daylight without the distraction of projections, fancy lights, and a shit ton of fog just seemed to showcase their talent more. They were still amazing, and no doubt I’ll be trying to catch them whenever I can – and they’ll be back according to Joe Duplantier, who after tossing guitar aside said, “Merci tabarnak, colis en putain! On reviens Montréal!” A photo was snapped of the crowd, and with that, they exited the stage. Au revoir, à la prochaine!
Written by Angie Radczenko
Photography by Thomas Gentil
*edited by Kate Erickson