On Sunday night, January 20, the current tour headlined by Gojira and also featuring The Devin Townsend Project and The Atlas Moth rolled into Seattle, and a good-sized group of friends and I showed up at Studio Seven to bear witness. We had bought tickets in advance, which was fortunate, because although we arrived about 45 minutes before doors, the show was already sold out.
I was still trying to process the fact that we were getting to see Gojira and DT together on the same tour, and in a venue the cozy size of Studio Seven. I’m a huge fan of both, and I also really enjoyed the last album by The Atlas Moth (An Ache For the Distance), so this had the makings of a stupendous experience. And so it proved to be.
A couple of us grabbed perches up against the rail in the balcony bar overlooking the stage and never left those spots. I wanted a place where I could take some photos of the show, and I didn’t really feel like being smashed inside a high-pressure, breathless, sweaty mass of humanity on the floor for this show anyway.
After the jump, some impressions of what I saw and heard, plus a fuckload of amateurish pics.
THE ATLAS MOTH
Chicago’s Atlas Moth sort of got treated like a red-headed stepchild this night. As you can see, they were relegated to a postage-stamp-sized portion of the stage for their set, hemmed in by Gojira’s drum riser and amps behind them (hidden by Devin Townsend’s video screen) and by DTP’s drumkit at stage left. Not a lot of room to maneuver.
They also had a variety of sound difficulties, including a malfunctioning stage monitor that was removed and replaced in mid-song, one vocal mic that periodically decided to just stop working, and a sound mix that from my perspective never seemed to achieve the right balance.
Nevertheless, I got caught up in their music and the dense floor crowd seemed into it, too. It was the soundtrack to urban desolation and decay — sludgy, dark, bleak music with lots of chunk in the chords, explosive drum smashes, and a duet of scalding harsh vocals and melancholy clean ones. But there was sorrowful beauty in the melodies and some protracted psychedelic instrumental jams that I quite enjoyed, too.
Again, not a lot of room for stage showmanship — but I suspect you might not have seen much from this band even if they’d had the whole stage to themselves. Serious dudes playing serious music.
DEVIN TOWNSEND PROJECT
I saw Devin Townsend at this same venue along with Katatonia and Paradise Lost last September (reviewed here), and on multiple other occasions before that. I would see him once a month if I could. He is, in my most humble opinion, the greatest showman in metal today.
He has such an extensive repertoire of excellent music from which to draw, he’s backed by some really excellent supporting musicians, and he’s such a magnetic (and ridiculously funny) stage presence that the entertainment value is always quite high. And of course the video shenanigans behind him are always a bonus.
This set was a galvanizing headbanger’s delight, still heavy on Epicloud material but including other selections from past albums, including Deconstruction. He closed with “Grace”, and man, what an explosive finish. The floor crowd looked like it was about to come apart at the seams. I do love that song.
The first and last time I saw this band was in November 2008 at Seattle’s Showbox SoDo, when they were the opening act on a tour headlined by In Flames. They were relative unknowns back then, but they stole that show. Everyone I talked to that night said little about the other bands and a shitload about Gojira’s powerhouse set.
In the intervening years, of course, they’ve come quite a distance, to the point where they’re almost a household word in metal — and deservedly so. “Awesome” is an over-used word, but their set on Sunday night was . . . awesome . . . one I will remember for a very long time.
Their set list was a great mix of older songs such as “Flying Whales”, “The Art of Dying”, “Ouroboros”, and “Backbone” and new material from L’Enfant Sauvage. The performance was amazingly tight and all of the members have great stage presence.
It has been said before, but Mario Duplantier is one of modern metal’s most superb drummers, and I had trouble watching anything else happening on stage but what he was doing behind the kit. The evening included a drum solo that progressed in stages, and I would have been quite happy if it had continued on for another half hour.
We were also treated to a role-reversal in one song, with Mario taking guitar in hand and delivering decent death metal gutturals while Joe Duplantier handled the drumming. Still, though it was a fun novelty, it proved that the two should stick with their usual roles. :)
Bottom line: if you have a chance to see this tour before it ends, do NOT miss it.
And now here are a collection of photos I took from my balcony perch. When employed by me, my Samsung camera is like a dangerous weapon in untrained hands, so be forewarned that the following montage is less than perfect, but I think it does give a sense of the visual feast on this marvelous evening. I especially went overboard with the volume of Gojira pics, but I want to remember every moment of that set.
THE ATLAS MOTH
THE DEVIN TOWNSEND PROJECT