My dearest friend has told me, time and time again, that she’d be utterly happy with her place in the world and would never want for anything else if she could only see Gojira once a week on a regular basis. The amount of power and energy they bring to the table on record is undisputed, but I had longed to see them live for quite a while. As they began to grow in fame and recognition far beyond the world of heavy metal, however, I began to despair – there was no way I’d ever be able to see one of my favorite acts in an intimate setting, where they would no doubt devastate. My spirits were further crushed when I discovered they had booked a show at Santos Party House last week that sold out the very day tickets went on sale. Geniuses that they are, however, Gojira added a new show date for the Studio at Webster Hall, one of my absolute favorite cramped basement venues. While Webster Hall proper often curates large scale dance events and modern hipster hits, the Studio pays host to bands with far smaller, but far more fanatical fanbases. This was an environment in which Gojira would thrive.
The first act of the night was an outfit named Car Bomb, perhaps most famous for having Gojira’s Joe Duplantier guest-spot on a song of theirs. A band who not only tours with, but collaborates with members of the illustrious Gojira shot my expectations through the roof almost immediately – however, Car Bomb just didn’t click. While Gojira is able to balance technical virtuosity with excellent songwriting and melodic hooks, Car Bomb falls far more on the Meshuggah end of the spectrum, where songs are neglected in favor of polyrhythmic over-technical wankfests. I skipped out on the middle of their set to acquire some cheap alcohol in hopes that they’d become more entertaining – three shots and a pint later, I can confirm that this was sadly not the case.
Gojira, though? They’re an entirely different story. A Gojira performance isn’t something you really see or hear. It’s something you feel deep in your gut, and that’s not just because their amps were cranked up to rib-cracking levels. Gojira’s songs are written straight from the heart, and every riff hits you like a sledgehammer to the solar plexus. Their musical virtuosity doesn’t intrude at all on the emotional impact of their songs – every crazed polyrhythm only augments the song’s power. Almost every single person in the cramped and overpacked venue was moving to the music in some way, whether headbanging along to the band’s complex jackhammer rhythms, flailing about in the mosh pit, or even crowdsurfing up to the stage, throwing the horns alongside the band, and diving off of it. The die-hard fanatics were in full force, screaming along to each and every syllable roared out of Joe Duplantier’s throat and engaging in rapturous celebration. The fans were so enamored with the group that when Joe jokingly mentioned that their next show would be at Yankee Stadium, they believed him. But make no mistake, I’d love to see Gojira at Yankee Stadium! That’d be a wicked performance. They definitely have enough sonic power to fill a stadium – it’s a wonder that such a small venue as The Studio was able to contain them.
Not everyone reading this will probably have the opportunity to see Gojira in such a small and intimate setting, since their popularity has skyrocketed ever since the release of L’Enfant Sauvage. But if you have the opportunity to see them at all, you should not pass it up. And I’m not just saying that because they had a Sea Shepherd flag over their merch table – these guys deserve to be seen by everyone once a week.