Northeastern Indiana may not be the first area that would come to mind when considering a hotspot for art and culture. Yet Fort Wayne’s Clyde Theatre is a state-of-the-art facility that presents and celebrates some of the world’s greatest artists. Originally a movie house from the fifties, this recently renovated theatre carries a vibrant vintage vibe making it a local gem to the surrounding area. The place was lit with life last Sunday evening when hundreds of metal lovers swarmed through the venue’s historic doors. The French Extreme Metal act, Gojira was in town. These modern metallers have been on US soil for the last couple of months promoting their new album, Fortitude (Roadrunner Records, read our review here), which came out this past Spring. Fort Wayne was their third to last stop on this run, yet they made it clear they would be back state-side very soon. Over the last few years, Gojira is a group that has heated things up for the scene. They brought two new budding bands on tour to complement their fire. Alien Weaponry and Knocked Loose have their own high temperatures to give off, which ignited an evening of feverish and fantastic excitement.
The large room began to fill with people bundled in black knit hats and hoodies. It was a considerably warm November night and when the steam began to drip down the walls, I’m sure many regretted wearing so many layers. As Pantera blasted through the speakers, the room began to buzz and bubble up with anticipation for the show to start. Soon the fog became thick, and the lights went dim when New Zealand’s own Alien Weaponry took the stage. This trio of bright-eyed youths made the room tremor with their unapologetic ferocity. Each member has Māori ancestry and many of their songs are sung in this indigenous language of New Zealand. Their uniqueness set them apart as they thrummed with thunder and stomped out their riffs. Their adolescent edge gave them an adrenaline-charged ability to perform with sincere rage. The homage they paid to their heritage was remarkably heartfelt. They cranked out fast, hard-hitting numbers touching on topics about culture, the environment, and even the dangers of drugs in the song ‘Buried Alive’. Their pubescent and primitive sound sunk into the eager listeners. When frontman Lewis de Jong told the crowd to move, they did so without hesitation. The numbers of their new album, Tangaroa (Napalm Records) went over well, but the biggest hit of the evening was their single, ‘Kai Tangata’ off their debut record Tū (Napalm Records). Each member gave it their all, even when de Jong addressed the fans in a slightly erupt way. His thick New Zealand accent was charged with appreciation as he thanked the crew, bands, and the audience. There was something heartening in his graceless and green address. Like a puppy with a new toy, unsure how to proceed and curious of what to do with such a new special treat. Alien Weaponry was driven, direct, and decisively profound in their presentation of bringing their country’s heritage to life which is something to take note of.
The mood of the room slightly shifted when Metalcore’s rising stars, Knocked Loose took the stage next. This Kentuckian quintet broke into an undeterred frenzy that carried them to the very end of their set. These boys with breakdowns bring the worlds of Metalcore and Hardcore together by churning out substainical pieces of pure anarchy. The pandemonium they unleashed resonated with the crowd and the whole room moved as they relished in the band’s brutality. Vocalist Bryan Garris revved up the audience by asking them to make noise for Gojira. Of course, the theatre erupted as the band thudded into their next number. They threw their whole selves into playing pieces off their new EP, A Tear in the Fabric of Life (Pure Noise). The high pitch screech produced by Garris uniquely meshed with the gutturals from backing vocalist and guitarist Isaac Hale. Their coordination in movement, speech, and sound was well rehearsed. There was no hindrance as they jammed ‘Oblivion’s Peak’, a song off their first record, Laugh Tracks (Pure Noise). They were physical in expressing their anger which revealed that organization was needed to make space for each of them on the stage. The structure amongst the chaos proved that there can be thought and purpose behind such a belligerent sound. Their skill and presentation of earnest intensity engaged the whole venue and got everyone warmed up for the headliners.
A restlessness rippled through the expectant crowd as they waited impatiently for Gojira to take the stage. Soon a minute and a half countdown began, and the curtain fell as the metal titans blasted into a number off the new record, ‘Born For One Thing’. Every witness succumbed to the impactful brilliance and weighted presence that each member of the band gave. The immediate power trickled down into everyone’s soul and was swept away on an experience of intricate heaviness. The sweat began to drip by the second song. Flailing about the stage, bassist Jean-Michel Labadie and guitarist Christian Andreu used their given space to convey their severity of sound. They seamlessly shifted from their atmospheric tones to progressively crunchy riffs. The devotees were bursting as they continuously chanted the band’s name and flung themselves to crowd surf. Frontman Joe Duplantier bared his fangs as he ripped riffs and wailed words. His lips curled into a snarl like an animal out on an enjoyable hunt ready to catch some prey. The man’s scream carried an earnestness as he beseeched the audience with questions about life and humanity. Gojira’s strive for perfection and precision in their craft is obviously sought as each member exemplified an undeterred passion of playing. Andreu and Duplantier shared an intimate dialogue with their dueling guitars. They had seamless communication in musicianship and their close-knit vibe spread to everyone in the room.
Reaching deep into the pockets of their discography, they produced a wonderfully diverse setlist for the evening. They played ‘Love’ off their first album Terra Incognita (Gabrial). Along with classics like ‘Backbone’ and ‘Flying Whales’ and newer numbers like ‘Stranded’ and ‘Amazonia’. Duplantier asked the crowd if they were ready to sing when they kicked into the song, ‘The Chant’. The room lit up with voices as they bellowed out the chorus on the track from the new record Fortitude. Drummer Mario Duplantier’s marvelously meticulous playing meshed perfectly with the staunch, raw grit projected by each player. This group was unhinged with heart and heat as they made their way through their fifteen song setlist. They stoked their coals of skill, so the gleam produced intriguing smoke that poured into the senses with ease and power. Everyone present was tinged with tingling from the band’s excellence that overcame them because of their complexities and technical abilities. Near the end of the night, Joe warmly addressed the crowd by declaring, “That was fun, thanks so much for having us”. Picks and sticks flew in the air as the crowd roared with approval as the show came to a close. The four guys bowed with genuine gratitude and after they left the audience slowly emerged from a dazed-like state. This act put everyone into a stupor of elation and thrill, so it took a few moments to realize the show was over. Gojira is a band that creates compelling music that translates to being played live perfectly. Which made their set a splendidly sublime show.
WORDS AND PHOTOS BY RAGIN ROSIE