Slim's, San Francisco
May 21, 2009
This was Gojira's 3rd visit to San Franfuckincisco, but their first headlining show... Previously the Frenchmen had flattened this city while supporting Behemoth in 2007 and In Flames last November. Their S.F. debut in 2007 at Slim's was nothing short of crushing and is remembered as one of the best performances I saw that year... but I was wondering what kind of draw the French would be as headliners.
Timo and I arrived at Slim's exactly at 9:00PM and timed it perfectly so we bypassed the 2 openers and Gojira was only about 15 minutes from hitting the stage; surgically precise, mofo! Any doubts about Gojira being a headline draw were laid to rest by the crowd's size and enthusiasm; it was nice to see Slim's nicely packed on a Thursday night... Plus, Machine Fucking Head were in The House which gave me the chance to have a nice chat with their manager, who I've known for awhile (Hey Joe).
Gojira brings a decidedly European vibe to Metal.. Most of their songs deal with the environment and spirituality, and this high-brow vibe carried over to their merch table and the watercolor paintings created by band members:
How charmingly French is that!? Joe (vocals / guitar) and his brother Mario (drums) painted the abstract art on scrap pieces of cardboard earlier in the day and they were sold alongside the usual band t-shirts.. While some bands spend their down time backstage doing lines and snorting strippers, Gojira paints. Oh Zee French (cue accordion and the sound of an espresso machine)!
As they had on their previous two visits to S.F., Gojira flattened Slim's with their wall of volume that is a love child of Metal, Prog, and Jazz elements. Witnessing the Frenchmen perform live is like staring at the inner workings of a clock; solid metal craftsmanship and precision musicianship at its finest.. The band knows how to work a stage and Mario is without a doubt one of THE best drummers going right now; his double bass work is beyond compare... and it was great how the intense crowd action down front was hot and heavy from the first song of the set. C'est manifique!
My favorite song of the set was 'Vacuity' off the new album... and I couldn't stop watching the band's monitor / sound guy at stage right as he rocked out to his band's performance; you don't see that kind of enthusiasm from an employee very often. I also thought it was charming that Joe wore a Beatles shirt onstage; NOT Metal, but Zee French march to their owner drummer, don't they? Charming.. simply charming.
I must admit that Umlaut has been thinking alot about the Old Metal Dayz again due to the publication of *that book* and sometimes I don't have a perspective on how influential the old Bay Area Metal scene has been to bands over the years.. I was reminded of this when Joe said what an honor it was for Gojira to have come all the way from France and headline in San Francisco, because without the bands from The Bay Area (he name checked Metallica and Machine Head) Gojira would not exist. That's some heavy shit, man. Oh Zee French have such a way with words, don't they?
As I said back in 2007 after seeing Gojira: They say "Merci Beaucoup!" the way other bands says "Motherfucker!" Charming.. simply charming... However, I didn't do a proper merch audit. On the way back to the car, some pimply-faced teenagers called us fags. Paris is one of Umlaut's favorite cities and don't be a jingoistic American: Zee French know Zee Metal.. For Zee Newbies:
Click HERE for Photo Ray's shots from the show!