Originally booked at Echo Beach for Thursday, August 17th, this show wound up getting an upgrade to Budweiser Stage, but on the night before (Wednesday, August 16th) shortly after it was announced. Billed as a coheadlining tour between Mastodon and Gojira, where both bands play the same set lengths and rotate who closes, fans were treated to a metal double-header this evening. Add on opening act Lorna Shore, a band more appealing to the younger patrons than either headliner, and you’ve got a recipe for an evening of musical mayhem.

Lorna Shore took the Budweiser Stage at 7:00 pm, performing a relentless thirty minutes of material as the band was washed in the Toronto sunset. Vocalist Will Ramos marvelled at how many people had arrived early this evening and thanked the audience for checking them out. Ramos and his band-mates (lead guitarist Adam De Micco, drummer Austin Archey, rhythm guitarist Andrew O’Connor, and bassist Michael Yager) pummeled the audience with high-decibel black metal. It was almost like they knew they had to squeeze every minute of their shorter set time to wow the audience – fans were coming over the security rail within minutes of their performance starting. Lorna Shore crushed through all three movements of “Pain Remains” to wrap up their set (doing what all savvy entertainers do best) and left the crowd wanting more.

A large black curtain adorned with the Gojira logo was pulled from the stage to the roof. After a quick stage turnover, it was flooded with smoke as Mario Duplantier, Joe Duplantier, Christian Andreu, and Jean-Michel Labadie strode onstage backlit by bright lighting as they launched into “Ocean Planet.” As the curtain dropped and the crowd embraced the band with hails of cheering, the venue felt excited. Gojira mixed their bright backlighting with a combination of flames, confetti, and fireworks while shooting pillars of dry ice 50 feet over the audience from the front of the stage.

Nothing short of a force to be reckoned with, the band launched into “Stranded” three songs into their set, and for most of the audience, the evening had already paid for itself. Labadie spun himself around so many times throughout the Gojira setlist it was hard to tell if he was playing his guitar or attempting to toss it into orbit. Everything about the Gojira set was impeccable. I was saddened that “The Heaviest Matter of the Universe” wasn’t played this evening. Given that that track lives on their 2005 album From Mars to Sirius, amongst so many other incredible songs (many that they played this evening), I can only hope it will make its way back onto their setlist down the road.

What Gojira delivered in bright lighting and intense pyro, Mastodon delivered the goods in a different direction with laser lighting and mind-boggling floor-to-ceiling graphics projected behind the band. Brann Dailor, Brent Hinds, Bill Kelliher, and Troy Sanders (along with touring keyboardist João Nogueira) launched into Blood Mountain’s “The Wolf Is Loose” as a similar curtain with the Mastodon logo dropped to the base of the stage, revealing a sinister animated interpretation of their 2006 album cover throughout the song. There was some pyro during Mastodon’s set, but less so than Gojira. A twenty-foot-tall fuzzy monster walked about on stage behind the band during Circle of Cysquatch,” its single iridescent eye gazing out into the crowd as the song culminated. Many animations projected behind Mastodon were quite sinister, lifting from album cover themes and some song titles—lots of tentacles, HP Lovecraft-style lurker from beyond eyeballs, and unearthly terrains and territories.

Brent Hinds, Bill Kelliher, and Troy Sanders were all very animated this evening, delivering lots of high kicking and guitar posturing throughout their performance. This evening felt like a treat for older fans; a lot of deep cuts got played, older material that has fallen off their setlists of late as they have been out promoting their latest double album, Hushed and Grim. As the band wrapped up their set with the mighty “Blood and Thunder,” it struck me that my first time seeing Mastodon was 18 years ago, playing at the same venue in the summer when they opened for Iron Maiden. “Blood and Thunder” blew me away at that show, and it did the same again tonight.

While opinions on Mastodon and Gojira can vary amongst fans, there are similarities between the two bands. Aside from their behind-the-scenes friendship (they have toured together numerous times as of this writing), both bands have been around for about 25 years, and both have maintained a continuing line-up of the same people for that same time. Gojira replaced a bassist in ’98, and Mastodon replaced a short-lived vocalist in 2000. In an era when band members can fall in and out every few years, there is something to applaud for Mastodon and Gojira; both acts are pushing a quarter of a century, and both bands boast a very passionate fan base. With the lawns closed off, the estimate this evening was 8,000 people in attendance!

Metal audiences are the best; the enthusiasm in audiences at metal shows is different than in other musical genres. The camaraderie amongst the patrons of metal is unlike any other genre of music, and it was undoubtedly in the air this evening.

Gojira Setlist Toronto:

Ocean Planet
Flying Whales
The Cell
The Art of Dying
Drum Solo
Another World
The Chant
The Gift of Guilt

Mastodon setlist Toronto:

The Wolf Is Loose
Crystal Skull
Sultan’s Curse
Fallen Torches
Pushing the Tides
More Than I Could Chew
Aqua Dementia
Iron Tusk
March of the Fire Ants
Mother Puncher
Circle of Cysquatch
Crusher Destroyer
Blood and Thunder


I like mojitos, loud music, and David Lynch.