Devin Townsend Project, Gojira: Winnipeg, Canada – live review

Devin Townsend Project
Garrick Center, Winnipeg, Canada
January 15th, 2013

Sometimes, the opening band really should be the headliner. This seems to be the case in Chris Hearn’s mind after seeing Devin Townsend Project and Gojira live in Winnipeg, Canada.

You know who I really like? Devin Townsend. He’s just such a weird, but very cool and intelligent, dude. He comes across as the quirky guy next door who you don’t ask too many questions to about the weird noises and people in costumes that show up at his house. He’s a character, with a unique look at the world, and an extremely creative streak who just happens to play really loud music. And, I love his voice, both singing and speaking. He could easily be a top radio DJ if he really wanted to sell his soul. Fortunately, he went into the music making side of the industry as opposed to the music exploiting side.

I’m not going to pretend to be an expert on Devin Townsend because I haven’t been a diehard follower. I’ve always liked the guy though, and Strapping Young Lad was a deadly band. He’s someone I always wanted to see live just to see what he would be like. So, I got myself a ticket to the night’s festivities, featuring the Atlas Month, Devin Townsend and Gojira.

Unfortunately, The Atlas Moth was held up at the Canada / US border and couldn’t get to the show. Sadly, this seems to be happening more and more, with several bands last year not being able to make it through. It’s unfortunate that our world’s longest unprotected border is so hard to get past for so many bands.

So, we jump right into Vancouver’s Devin Townsend Project who hit the Garrick Center stage at 8pm sharp. This works for me. I like early shows now that I’m old. With Gojira’s equipment already set up (and covered up), the stage was rather crowded. But Devin and his motley, heavily bearded fellow Projecters were still able to take a good command of the remaining space. Devin’s guitar had some interesting blue neon lights on them. A minor point, I know, but for some reason these little shiny things fascinated me. And, they got right to work, making good, heavy, metallic entertainment.

The bulk of the songs of the night seemed to be from his newest disc, Epicloud. I’ve been listening to the album since the show and am really liking it a ton. It has Devin’s metallic industrial sounds, but also all of these mainstream 70’s and 80’s stadium rock sounds that make it probably a lot more accessible than some of his past work. This YouTube video (well, sort of) of him doing commentary over the album is both hilarious and interesting and worth taking a listen to if you want to (well, sort of) get into Townsend’s mind:


And, it all translated well to the stage. One part of the show which I can’t get out of my head is that on a screen (well, sort of – It was a long white sheet) on the back wall, the video for ‘Juular’ was playing, and somehow the band hit all the notes perfectly to match the video, right down to the singing. How?? Amazing. At least it was amazing to me. There is probably a simple explanation. Obviously, with a bank (well, sort of: two) laptops doing their thing in the corner near the drummer, running sounds underneath each song, the entire show was carefully orchestrated. To me, that was impressive, partly because it didn’t seem orchestrated. It came across as free and fun over well-choreographed. I wish I could find a video from the night, but no one (including me) put one up on YouTube, despite the fact that seemingly everyone (except me) was recording the show on their smart phone.

It’s rather an odd little novelty song, but I couldn’t help but enjoy the pounding ‘Lucky Animals’ and the fact that Mr. Townsend got a crowd of black and flannel clad metalheads to do jazz hands throughout the song. And, the show ended off on a rather grand, high, loving note with ‘Grace’. As Townsend said, the cool thing about metal is that you can say you love someone REALLY LOUD (or something like that). “Laugh. Love. Live. Learn.” Indeed. It was so damn positive and beautiful.

Then, it’s over and the roadies get on stage and start doing their stuff, taking things down, putting things up, and such.

Then French mega-metallers Gojira comes on to a deafening roar. And they were….okay. And by okay I mean, ya, they were good, but I wasn’t blown away like I was sort of thinking I might be. To be perfectly honest, I had never heard of these guys until they started showing up on seemingly everyone’s “Best of 2012” list. I checked out some of their stuff, and it was decent enough, so I thought they would be worth checking out.


And, they were worth checking out, but they didn’t exactly win me over. Are they a good band? Yes. They are pummeling good. But, there was nothing about them that made me think, “These guys are incredible, I have to run out and buy all their albums!” They were good to see, but it’s not a show that will go down as one of my all-time favourites when I look back on my concert going years on my death bed. But, man did the crowd love them. And I have to say that the drum solo in the middle of the show was pretty impressive. The light show aspect was well done. The giant brain tree backdrop was nice. And it was heavy as hell. But, it didn’t blow me away, know what I mean?

Yes, to me, the night was all about Devin Townsend. I’m pleased to have been able to see the guy, and it has turned me from a casual listener to a fan, dare I say. Should I be joining some kind of a club or something now? Do I get an official card? Is there a Devin Townsend Project Army? If so, sign me up!

Check out Devin Townsend Project on the official website, and of course Facebook, and twitter. For Gojira, you can go to their official site, as well as Facebook and twitter.

Words and live pic by Chris Hearn. More writing by Chris on Louder Than War can be found here.


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