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GOJIRA, TESSERACT In Silver Spring, MD

By Peter Atkinson, Contributor
Wednesday, September 28, 2016 @ 1:37 PM


Tour Opening Night At The Fillmore

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All Photos By Peter Atkinson

The final day of summer served as opening night of the North American headlining tour by France's GOJIRA – or “the almighty GOJIRA”, as frontman Daniel Tompkins of opening act TESSERACT rightfully described the band. Indeed, the Bayonne-born quartet arrived at The Fillmore in Silver Spring already looking to be in midseason form – thanks, in part, to recent festival appearances – as it came out swinging for the fences from the opening salvo of “Only Pain” and rarely took a pitch.

The performance was a marked contrast to the last time the band played The Fillmore – opening for SLAYER in late 2013. Back then, GOJIRA already had been on tour for the better part of 18 months supporting 2012's L'enfant Sauvage and seemed unusually sluggish and weary at that show on what was perhaps “one of those nights”. That wasn't an issue this time as the band was fresh, jovial, bristling with energy and enthusiasm and boasting plenty of muscle.

GOJIRA frontloaded its 90-minute set with the most rousing, heaviest tunes from the recently released Magma going toe to toe with classics from its 2005 breakthrough album From Mars To Sirius. The band followed “Only Pain” by barreling through “The Heaviest Matter Of The Universe” and hopscotching back and forth in quick succession from “Silvera”, the enormously catchy “Stranded” and “The Cell” to “Flying Whales” and culminating with the crushing “Backbone”. It was as impressive and imposing an opening statement as I’d seen from a band in a long time.

And while GOJIRA has taken some slack for the comparatively more relaxed and listener friendly material on Magma, the songs, including “Shooting Star” which aired later in the set, breathed plenty of fire in a live setting. The band played them with equal gusto as its earlier material, especially “Pray”, which literally shook the building when it closed the main set thanks to the shuddering riffs of Christian Andreu and frontman Joe Duplantier and Jean-Michel Labadie’s near-brown sound bass lines.

The band eased up for just a bit at the midway point, offering the somewhat more deliberate, or at least more dense and heady “Explosia”, “Toxic Garage Island” and “Terra Inc.” – what Duplantier jokingly referred to as “hippie shit” later on - and giving Duplantier’s brother Marco time for a brief yet demonstrative drum solo. It also let everyone else get a chance to catch their respective breath, as well as appreciate the crafty visuals being projected behind the band along with the bold, expressive lighting.

GOJIRA finished with a flourish, though, with the “old school death metal shit” of “Clone” from the 2001 debut Terra Incognita, the stutter-step frenetics of “Oroborus” and the martial stomp of “Vacuity” which recalled the band’s namesake trampling a hapless Japanese hamlet. It was a fitting end to a confident and concussive set that proved just what an aberration the misfire was when the band played here last. Miss these guys at your peril.

As openers, Britain’s TESSERACT were pretty much a perfect match, even if a lot of people in the States still are not that familiar with the band. The quintet’s bottom-heavy prog/djent metal thrummed and danced over drummer Jay Postones’ skittish tempos as it wisely stuck to the heavier aspects of its repertoire. Tompkins, who returned to TESSERACT for the 2015 album Polaris after leaving in 2011 – still was able to showcase the sterling clean side of his rangy voice through the bluster, even if the mix was a bit dodgy.

A tour like this, with a band of the stature of GOJIRA, offered a perfect opportunity for an act like TESSERACT to win some new fans, and it certainly seemed to make the most of it. The band went on and rocked out, simple as that. And its 45-minute set was not only quite satisfying, but well received by a growing crowd whose appetite was suitably whet for “almightiness” to come from GOJIRA.


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