Gojira, if you’ve never heard of the band (not to be confused with the Japanese version of Godzilla) has become something of a gigantic band, and seem to be leading the next wave of heavy metal titans along with Mastodon, so when the aptly named “Mega Monsters” tour was going to hit Northern California’s Concord Pavilion with opening act Lorna Shore on 4/20, it was a no brainer.
Lorna Shore, who I knew absolutely nothing about before this show other than they are part of a long list of death core bands growing majorly in popularity opened, and to my surprise the young band (I say young because they are relatively newer comparatively, especially with this lineup of the band) seemed to be large stage ready, with each member completely owning their respective areas. But what was most impressive about them was the voice of Will Ramos, who somehow was able to pivot from high screechy screams (Ala Black Metal) to insanely precise guttural growls in sustained form for the entire set.
And then there is Gojira, who came on just as the sun was arching down the mountains that surround the pavilion. The crowd waited, with Gojira chants pulsating throughout for several minutes as the banner was revealed covering the stage during their setup. Then as per usual (and if you’ve never attended a Gojira show, this will be news to you), the opening to “Born for One Thing” off of 2021’s “Fortitude” starts with the band entering the stage, lights and fog take over and as the song hits heavy, the banner drops, and the crowd goes wild, breaking out into a giant circle pit, singing every verse almost as loud as singer Joe Duplantier is singing it.
Now to give some context, I’ve seen Gojira many times, and they are always, always extremely precise and bludgeoning live. They bring an intensity unlike any band you’ve ever seen that completely decimates any other bands they play with. That’s not to say that the other bands on this particular tour were worst than them, quite the contrary actually, but the other bands were certainly different (in a good way), but could not match Gojira’s level of neck breaking brutality. Matched with their presence was a pretty stripped down set design that included a ton of dense fog, beautiful lighting, and fire hitting every now and then, with a confetti canon at one point, so I hope you picked up on my sarcasm. They ripped through what seemed like mostly a greatest hits setlist that barely had any down time in between tracks, and my thought during the show was that they just had no letup at all, they wanted a full on assault on your ears, and that’s what they gave us.
Of course, then there is the “headliner” Mastodon, which brought out some of the classic big gun heavy hitters for this tour, not straying too much into the jam band side of things and stayed heavy for what seemed like their entire set. I thought it was a great move opening with “The Wolf is Loose,” keeping the intensity from Gojira high, not allowing the amp’d crowd to settle down at all, followed by “Crystal Skull” and “Megalodon”, to just keep it rolling. And if you’ve never seen a Mastodon set, you need to understand that this is not a band that talks often throughout their sets and in the past has bludgeoned audiences with their aggressive nature, ripping through song after song, not allowing the audience to relax one bit. Now while I’ve seen them many times, I can say that as they’ve aged, that a few of the sets I’ve seen more recently have been a bit more subdued, so that’s what I was expecting, but got something much different from them, a set that was filled with classic Mastodon heaviness, matched with a beautiful psychedelic assault on your eyes on the giant screen behind them, designed by Bay Area native Skinner.
This show, in an outside venue, a little early in the “summer concert series” reminded me how much the metal world is missing a touring festival like Ozzfest and Mayhem, but as we headed out the gates, I couldn’t stop being impressed by Mastodon potentially pulling out the heavy’s to match the intensity of Gojira. This show was non-stop from start to finish with barely any room to get a beer or get merch in between each band or songs. A must-not-miss show as it makes its way across the country!