For those who went to the sold out Metallica show back on August 6, you saw Gojira as the opener of that night and you welcomed them ridiculously well. The Klown and the rest of Ugh Metal didn’t go and thought that that would be the end of the French titans’ time in America’s Finest City. However, Pennywise and the metal gods smiled upon this fat Pagliachi’s misery and turned his frown upside down!
When Gojira announced their second leg, San Diego was named as one of their final stops of their tour. The Klown rejoiced some more when it was announced that the North Park Observatory would be the venue of choice and it would take place on October 19. Naturally, Ugh Metal was ecstatic for two reasons. Number one, it was in our neck of the woods and two, they brought Code Orange with them.
Unless you have been living under a rock, Code Orange changed to code white-hot ever since they released their breakthrough Forever this year which you can check out the review here. The Klown was surely excited when he found out that he was going to get a second chance on catching this group live since he couldn’t make the trip to Santa Ana earlier in the year. The band opened strongly and kept it “Real.”
The minute Joe Goldman’s strong bass strums combined with Jami Morgan’s double kicks and drumming, Eric Balderose and Reba Meyer’s powerful guitar twangs, had the trickling crowd moving faster towards the stage. The Klown had never seen Code Orange and was amazed to see that Morgan was the frontman.
Of course not all credit can go to the drumming frontman, the Klown would be doing a disservice to the sole power femme of the group. Meyer’s voice was infectious and had a lot of feeling to fit the theme of the song, which complimented Goldman’s erratic motions. Goldman bounced around the stage, interacted with his bandmates, and fueled the performance with more energy because who else will show you how to throw down!? Meyers shined even more when she took over for one of the most recognizable hits of the album “Bleeding in the Blur.”
The collective slightly toned it down with the performance of “Spy,” which had Morgan demanding a circle pit and also had Meyer and Goldman show off their physical performances making them a spectacle throughout their entire set. This band was a treat to see and totally showed everyone why they are the hottest commodity and closed their show-stealing set with the soothing “dream2.” The Klown can say this confidently, if you have the opportunity to see these guys do so they are worth your time and ears.
As the Code broke away from the stage, the proverbial torch would be passed on to the Floridian stoner/sludge quartet Torche. The band kicked off their set with the one of their mellowed out anthem “Minions.” They continued their melodious set by playing a slow version of their hit song “Loose Men.” The band went more on the stoner hard rock when they performed “Reverse Inverted” and had Jonathan Nuñez busting out some solos of his own.
Not far behind from the spotlight, bassist Eric Hernandez showcased some skills of his own and even interacted with the fans by the rails and the rest of the members of the band. The quartet played other calming but hard songs such as “Charge of the Brown Recluse” and their bonus song from the deluxe edition of their 2015 release Restarter, “Harmonslaught.” The band ended their set with “Tarpit Carnivore” from their 2007 EP In Return.
Although Torche played a solid performance the Klown feels like they should have opened and use the fire in their name to spark the night. Don’t take the Klown’s words the wrong way! He enjoyed the set very much and saw why Torche has a strong following. However, by comparison to Code Orange’s adrenaline soaked opening, it left the Klown feeling a bit languid and not just because of all the crap he consumed earlier in the day.
After we brushed off the good stuff that Torche lit for us, the night reignited for one of the best things to ever come out of France aside from great champagne, baguettes and bitchin’ cheese. The name Gojira should immediately ring a bell to any and all metalheads. Once Mario Duplantier climbed into his kit and began to perform, the rest of the French quartet dove right in and began with “Only Pain.”
The Observatory’s crowd erupted a lot faster than this review’s publication. The crowd roared, they headbanged with their horns held up high, and had a pit going before the Klown even knew it. It is worth noting that that same day was frontman/rhythm guitarist Joe Duplantier’s birthday. Talk about better to give than to receive, is the Klown right or what?
The collective revisited the famous album with the whales which you could say that Shamu wasn’t the only to be called “The Heaviest Matter of the Universe” especially once he jumped into the pit like a Sea World performing orca. *wink* Of course, before the Klown knew it, lead guitarist Christian Andreu alongside the birthday man started the infamous opening riffs to the band’s recent mega-hit “Stranded” and “The Cell.”
One word of warning though for the Klown’s peeps that are prone to seizures and similar disorders, a handful of their performances had a lot of strobe light action. The Klown felt like the paparazzi had finally caught the Klown doing something appropriate. The Klown cares enough to say that, if the opportunity presents itself enjoy at your own risk.
The Klown felt like it was his birthday the moment Gojira played some of the Klown’s all-time favorite songs such as “Backbone” and “L’Enfant Sauvage.” Aside from a killer performance by the Duplantiers and Andreu, the bassist Jean-Michel Labadie made sure that he would stand out just as much by trading places with Andreu. The bassist interacted with both Duplantiers and the crowd near the guardrail.
The band also applied air cannons for some added effects to their performance of the songs. The Klown was also surprised but ridiculously pleased to hear “Terra Inc.” and “Remembrance” which come from their 2003 The Link album. During the brief break that the stringed performers had, Mario went full force by doing a drum solo and showed us why he was deserving of multiple best drummer awards this year.
After Mario showed off his drumming prowess, the rest of the collective rejoined him on the stage, and continued with the soothing prog song “The Shooting Star,” and “The Gift of Guilt.” Before the mighty Gojira cleared the stage they treated us to an encore in the form of “Toxic Garbage Island” and another of the Klown’s favorite’s, “Vacuity” from their 2008 release The Way of All Flesh. Now if Randy Blythe would have been there outta nowhere to do “Adoration For None,” it would have been the ultimate send off. The Klown is sure that he’s not alone in that sentiment.
For those who didn’t get the chance to catch these gents the first time with Metallica, it was truly a redemption. The Klown has been a huge Gojira fan ever since he listened to their 2001 debut Terra Incognita and hoped to see them at least once in his hometown. For the locals who are like the Klown probably hoped for the same and got their wish that October night.
For those who have heard a couple of their hits, received a bit more exposure to some of their musical arsenal and in a grandiose fashion. The Klown still can’t help but still take his nose off and raise his glass to Code Orange for a stellar opening. With all that said, the Klown can only say merci beaucoup et jusqu’à la prochaine fois messieurs!