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GOJIRA, PALLBEARER, ONI In Anaheim, CA

By Junkman, On-Air Personality
Monday, August 14, 2017 @ 8:02 AM


At The House Of Blues August 4th

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A great night for metal in Orange County happened recently at the all new House of Blues in Anaheim, and I was lucky enough to attend. French metal band GOJIRA, currently opening for METALLICA on their U.S. tour, have been playing a few headlining shows of their own on off-nights. Luckily for me, one of them was near me. As a fan of the band I was thrilled and was pleasantly surprised by the other two bands that opened the show.

Opening act ONI, from Canada, was a real treat in a lot of ways during their brief 25-minute set. They were led by the growly vocals of singer Jake Oni, who prowled the stage clearly enjoying himself throughout the set, a huge smile on his face when he wasn’t grimacing and kneeling forward, delivering a great mix of down-tuned metal and progressive rock. Dueling guitarists continuously playing hammer-ons and arpeggios harmoniously gave them a very progressive sound. Most interesting to me was the use of a “xylosynth,” basically an electric xylophone, something I had never before witnessed at a metal show. The crowd seemed as intrigued as I was and they got a well-deserved applause when their set was finished.

Hailing from Arkansas, PALLBEARER differed completely in style from the previous act. Known as a “doom metal” band, although I didn’t understand that connection, I watched a very precise band with soaring vocals from Brett Campbell and a very tight rhythm section. They reminded me of the band OPETH in many ways, as their song lengths constricted their set to 4 tunes in 35 minutes of stage time. “Dancing In Madness” from their latest release Heartless, was a prime example. At least 15 minutes long, I applauded what I thought was the end of this epic only to have it come back and continue at least twice. The still arriving crowd didn’t mind as they seemed to be enjoying the band’s instrumental prowess and became exceedingly enraptured in the band’s performance. But this crowd was here for the headliner, and that was evident.

And was GOJIRA ever ready for this crowd. At 10:00 PM, they came out, cranking! Opening with “Only Pain” from their latest release, 2016’s Magma, GOJIRA laid no doubt that they have been the talk of the pure rock world lately, many of them seeing the band for the first time on the afore-mentioned METALLICA tour. Their sound is enormous, and the huge House of Blues in Anaheim is a great venue to capitalize on it. The crowd was with them from the very first note, moshing and throwing their arms in the air, sometimes at the same time, almost like a French heavy metal lovefest.

The band reached their musical peak about a third of the way through the set with the terrific “Flying Whales” from 2005, and it set their fans into oblivion. GOJIRA has been around a long time, and have a very dedicated “old-school” fan base. Singer/guitarist Joe Duplantier even told the “newbies” and people seeing them for the first time “we are not a baby band, we have been around for a while” and proved it by dipping quite a bit into their past including an excellent version of the title track from 2012’s L’Enfant Sauvage.

But a touring band needs to promote its latest release, and Magma was represented by six tracks in all. I especially enjoyed the extra heavy "Silvera", as well as the record’s opening track “Shooting Star” that brought into focus their extraordinary lighting as well as a thunderous sound level. Even with ear protection, my ears were ringing the next day.

The band was clearly enjoying themselves on this night, and Duplantier, on numerous occasions, thanked the crowd for being so respondent. A fun jam, in which he switched instruments with his drummer brother, Mario lightened up the intensity, as did a few teases of METALLICA songs during the encore, which finished with a killer cover of SEPULTURA’s “Territory”, a nod to Duplantier’s association and guest appearance with that legendary band. Naturally, the arena exploded, bodies flying everywhere, keeping security very busy and bringing sheer joy to the band members and crowds faces alike.

As the crowd roared its approval, GOJIRA stood center stage, bowing and clapping as well, clearly elated in the response that they had received as headliners from a faithful group of fans. It had to make a huge difference from the stadiums of people who many times may have missed most of their 6:00 PM stage time as an opening act on the biggest tour of the summer. This clearly was THEIR night. And I am glad to have witnessed it. My thanks to the good people at House of Blues Anaheim for their hospitality, as well as those that made it possible for me to attend, and to all three bands for such a kick ass show!

SETLIST

  • "Only Pain"
  • "The Heaviest Matter Of The Universe"
  • "Silvera"
  • "Stranded"
  • "Flying Whales"
  • "The Cell"
  • "Backbone"
  • "L’Event Sauvage"
  • Drum solo
  • "The Shooting Star"
  • "Toxic Garbage Island"
  • Jam ( Joe and Mario switch instruments)
  • "Oroborus"
ENCORE
  • "Vacuity"
  • METALLICA covers medley
  • "Territory" (SEPULTURA cover)


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