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Live Review: Gojira at St. Vitus

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I spent Bastille Day, July 14th at Saint Vitus with France’s biggest metal export, Gojira. My commute from Harlem to Greenpoint afforded me time to catch up with the day’s headlines and I learned of the news unfolding out of Nice. At approximately 10:30pm an alleged Islamic extremist drove a truck into a crowd of celebrants on the Promenade des Anglais, killing 85 and injuring more than 300. It was a horrific turn of events and tremendous tragedy on any day, let alone on a national holiday. I wondered about the band members: What had they heard? What would be their reactions? Did any of them have personal proximity to the attack?

I approached the bar, checked Saint Vitus’s Facebook page and saw the last-minute reminder that there would be no opener. I sprinted to make it by the skin of my teeth, convinced I would not be able to get a decent vantage point. But it was no matter. The crowd was still spread out around the venue, drinking and comparing notes excitedly.

Gojira’s NYC following is diverse, happy-go-lucky and enamoured. Nearly everyone I spoke to recalled their every experience seeing the band with fervor. Tickets had been impossible to come by for as long as I’d known about the show, with some fans asserting that they’d sold out completely in under thirty minutes. I found the enclave of photographers and hunkered down.

As soon as the lights dimmed everyone lost their minds, whooping, hollering, hugging each other and chanting “Gojira!”. The band opened with “Toxic Garbage Island” and barrelled straight into “L’Enfant Sauvage”.

“Is it loud enough? It’s not loud enough for me, my friends. You guys are too quiet. What the fuck!” Frontman Joe Duplantier cajoled the crowd good-naturedly and expressed his pleasure at being in NYC. “We are so excited to be at Saint Vitus! …New York is the fucking best.”

When “Stranded”, my favorite song from Magma, kicked up I decided I’d gotten when I needed for photos and succumbed to the swell around me. It was a rough, fun pit where every errant placement of foot or elbow was followed by bouts of laughter or slaps of camaraderie.

Mid-set, Duplantier took the opportunity to acknowledge the Nice attack, saying “Well, it was going to be a big fat party for us today. Unfortunately, before the show people were dying in France… Fucking terrible. (Inaudible) But… We have to keep it up.”

It was a somber moment but his resolve quickly redirected the room’s energy to it’s own celebration of Bastille Day, which is also bass player Jean-Michel Labadie’s birthday.

The set clocked in at around 90 minutes and ended with “Explosia” from L’Enfant Sauvage. All-told, Gojira put on one of the best shows I’ve seen this year. Joviality, earnestness, irreverence, poetry and brutality all expressed in their appropriate form and order and while I do not believe it is humanly possible to listen to Gojira loud enough to be truly satisfied, I think we came close.

-Words and photos by Blair Hopkins

Magma, the band’s sixth studio album, was released in June and has been their highest-selling album to-date. At the time of this writing the music video for “Stranded” has over 2.8 million views on YouTube. Gojira will be back in NYC to play Terminal 5 with TesseracT on October 23rd, 2016. Here are the remainder of their dates.

9/21 — Silver Spring, MD | The Fillmore Silver Spring
9/22 — Philadelphia, PA | Electric Factory
9/24 — Asheville, NC | The Orange Peel
9/25 — Atlanta, GA | The Tabernacle
9/26 — Orlando, FL | Plaza Live
9/27 — Tampa, FL | Ritz Ybor
9/29 — Austin, TX | Emo’s
9/30 — Houston, TX | House of Blues
10/1 — Dallas, TX | Gas Monkey Live!
10/3 — Albuquerque, NM | Sunshine Theatre
10/4 —Phoenix, AZ | Marquee Theatre
10/6 — Los Angeles, CA | The Wiltern
10/7 — San Francisco, CA | The Warfield
10/9 — Vancouver, BC | Vogue Theatre
10/10 — Portland, OR | Roseland Theater
10/11 — Seattle, WA | Showbox SoDo
10/13 — Salt Lake City, UT | The Complex
10/14 — Denver, CO | Gothic Theatre
10/16 — Minneapolis, MN | Myth Live
10/17 — Milwaukee, WI | Turner Ballroom
10/19 — Detroit, MI | The Fillmore Detroit
10/20 — Toronto, ON | Sound Academy
10/21— Montreal, QC | Metropolis
10/22 — Worcester, MA | The Palladium
10/23 — New York, NY | Terminal 5

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