Live Report - Gojira, Devin Townsend Project, Atlas Moth – Feb. 7, 2013
Live Gig

Release year: 2012
Reviewed by Koeppe

Six months after moving to the East coast, I haven’t capitalized on any of the shows nearer to me in DC, but Baltimore has drawn me up twice with its apparently larger clout in justifying great bands to perform there, particularly bands that never would have come to Cincinnati or Ohio or Indianapolis or Louisville or anywhere I would have been able to drive to. This show was at Rams Head Live!, which was in an oddly cleaned out town centre area, the like of which seem to be popping up across America, in the Inner Harbor, which I had previously avoided up until this point in my ventures to Baltimore, due to it being somewhat of a tourist trap or simply too commercial. However, the venue itself was an immaculate three story club that was simply packed for our prog metal escapades of the night.

Atlas Moth was performing first. I was immediately impressed by the bands setting up all of the drumkits prior to the performance. As having been around the block a few times, I can’t tell you how much I hate waiting while the drumkits are disassembled and assembled in between sets. What this preparation provided an insight into was simply how large relatively speaking the later two acts kits were to the Moth’s Mainiero’s. With so much distortion in their guitars, the man had no need for precise hats, instead the man just beat the skins like they owed him money. His drumming stood out against an exceptional performance by these guys. As the band started, the smell of incense was in the air and they began with harmonic bends before entering into what I think was Your Calm Water. The band sounded to the tee like their sound on the album: no drop in quality or alterations to fit the live setting. They simply performed at their own pace and relied on the strength of their riffs to draw the crowd in. Stavros’ growls and screams were easily some of the most impressive I have seen in a live setting and the band was simply so tight. Tracks like Perpetual Generations and Coffin Varnish simply sounded awesome; I wish had been holding. They finished their set with the epic title track, An Ache for the Distance, and that closing percussion took on a whole new level of intensity as the rest of the instruments dropped out and Stavros and Kush continued screaming.

Enter the Ringleader. As Devin Townsend stepped out on stage, the crowd simply erupted, which he only encouraged as he took his place in front of the mic. This characteristically rockstar entrance immediately transitioned into the humble artist once the first song, Truth off of the classic solo album Infinity, started as Devin graciously praised the crowd for giving him and his boys a chance to play. And damn did Devy track down some badass musicians. Poederooyen is simply a beast on the kit, as demonstrated by him blasting away to Deconstruction tracks like Planet of the Apes and Juular. Devin introduced Planet by letting the crowd know how Gojira was going to crush our testicles into manly goo and smear the wall with the uteruses in the room, but he was going to give it an attempt first. I don’t like Deconstruction’s brand of djent, but the songs were great live. They had lost that complicated layering that was supposedly “heavy”, but that doesn’t mean that they were made simple. For Juular, the music video was aired on the whiteboard above the stage that had been showcasing graphics ever since Atlas Moth finished their set. However, what made this moment so amazing was just how in sync with said video the band was, moments only captured by how Devin was always perfectly on time with the chained old man of the video screaming “EYE FOR AN EYE, I SURVIVED AND GOD DAMNED YOU!”. Gone was all of the carnivalesque sound effects replaced with pure aggression and heaviness. My romantic jam of the last three years (wow, it’s been that long) off of Addicted, was performed impeccably. Off of Epicloud, More! was a fun track as the second played. Lucky Animals led Devin to demand from the audience that at after the two chants of “Animals” in the chorus, that at the third line “and they’re lucky”, everyone throw up their arms and do jazz hands. It was precious. Devin was getting a kick out of bringing to the fore that ever disawowed “gayness” of metal. We’re all nerds to participate in the most homoerotic homosocial bonding outside of sports, which Devy was seeming to enjoy antagonizing the fans of the recent Super Bowl champs. Closing with Grace off of Epicloud, Devin ended his stage banter with a rant on love before beginning the song. Prior to the spectacle that was Lucky Animals and the jazz hands, Devin confessed to the audience, “I'm forty years old, been married for half that time, I just don't give a shit anymore” and isn’t that what the Devin Townsend Project has really demonstrated to us? That the man has grown out of playing games and simply releases the music that he wants to?

I mean this with no disrespect, but since when did Gojira become big enough to headline a tour across America? Or when did American metalheads become so savvy on French technical groove metal? I remember seeing Gojira open for Metallica and Lamb of God a few years back and so maybe that, plus a heavy touring schedule made all this possible, but damn did they step up to the plate. Any space in the club prior to their set was filled as the crowd came out of the woodworks to pack it in for the headliner. The band opened up with Backbone, at which point, I instantly began jamming; those diving riffs are just nasty. The guys could not have played enough bangers from From Mars to Sirius for my taste, but alas I only got Flying Whales and The Heaviest Matter in the Universe in addition to the aforementioned, and if you have not heard those gallops live then you have not lived, my friend. The standout track of the night was Wisdom Comes in this kind of ‘I don’t remember these guys ever being this technical and this brutal and this thrash-y and this song is amazing so fucking mosh’ kind of way. And boy did I mosh last night. Toxic Garbage Island, Orobours, The Art of Dying, all had me getting rowdy, which honestly that album, The Way of All flesh has never impressed me, but live, I dug ‘em. I only recognized the title track off of the new album, L’Enfant Sauvage. What was really cool about these guys headlining was how comfortable they fell into the role. They were working the crowd while obviously enjoying themselves. They’re really just an intimate outfit. The moment in which Mario and Joe switch instruments and perform a song is cool, but they are brothers and surely practiced on each other’s instruments growing up, but the moment in which Mario flung a drumstick at Jean-Michel and he just snagged it in mid-air, mid-song and throws it right back at him as if it was rehearsed was too cool. It stuck out in my mind that these guys are truly doing what they love and here they are succeeding at it, playing to a crowd larger than at some festivals that I have been to touring the states after having perfected the sound that they began with. After recollecting their tale of growing up on the countryside in south France, I looked to my buddy and jokingly said “they pulled themselves up by their bootstraps”, but seriously, this show was amazing and this tour is one of those prime examples of artists living their dreams.

Suck it.

Killing Songs :
Koeppe quoted no quote
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