Hard Rock Live Orlando welcomed a night of crowd surfing and mosh pits as the French metal band Gojira brought their Fortitude Tour to Central Florida. Supported by New Zealand’s Alien Weaponry and Kentucky’s own Knocked Loose, the metal fans were out in high numbers to experience this show. The lower section of Hard Rock Live was to capacity as the chairs were removed to accommodate the crowds numbers. The upper balcony was at about twenty-five percent of capacity filled with fans not willing to mix it up by getting to close to the stage. What I mean is, crowd surfing and mosh pits aren’t for the faint of heart. I was in the photo pit which was located between the audience and the stage. The photographers were tucked on the other side of the barriers but were still prone to keeping their heads on a swivel as crowd surfers used the photo pit as their final destination. Security guards scrambled to catch the crowd surfers to soften their fall into the photo pit, and the photographers yielded to the security guards not to impede the safety of the fans. The overall atmosphere was flashing lights, screaming vocals, raging guitars, fans slamming and flying, while the energy meter was on 11! What’s not to love!
The evening started at 7:00pm with Alien Weaponry. I have seen Alien Weaponry in the past, and really liked their show. The brothers de Jong, Henry on drums and Lewis on guitar rocked the stage with Tūranga Morgan-Edmonds playing the bass guitar. Alien Weaponry is high energy and extremely entertaining. The majority of their song lyrics are in their native New Zealand language and hard to understand and it has the feel of some type of tribal music but, played as heavy metal. Non the less, they are touring the world with Gojira and these young men put on a great show here in Orlando.
Henry de Jong – Drums/Vocals
Lewis de Jong – Guitar/Vocals
Tūranga Morgan-Edmonds – Bass/Vocals
The second of the opening bands Knocked Loose, hit the stage at full throttle. Bryan Garris, the lead vocalist screamed inaudibly at full volume and prowled the stage from left to right. The reaction of the majority of those in attendance, made me question who exactly was the headliner here at Universal Studios at Hard Rock Live? From the beginning, the crowd absolutely erupted as the moshing started in the middle of the crowd. At one point, rhythm guitarist Nicko Calderon told the audience to give their neighbors standing on either side of them a hard push to insight more moshing. During their entire set, the crowd surfers were falling into the arms of security waiting to break their falls and send them back into the crowd. The danger to the photographers when crowd surfing is occurring is being kicked in the back of the head. My hats off the security, and to my knowledge, not one photographer received any blind spot hits to the head. Knocked Loose has a huge following which the overzealous crowd proved. I kept thinking in the back of my head, I’m too old for this shit. But, the paying fans disagreed with my sediment and enjoyed themselves.
Bryan Garris – Vocals
Isaac Hale – Lead Guitar/Vocals
Kevin Otten – Bass
Kevin ‘Pacsun’ Kaine – Drums
Nicko Calderon – Rhythm Guitar
Note: Incomplete & Out of Order
Gojira was next up with a large curtain obscuring the view of the stage. At around 9:04pm the projection on the curtain was displaying a count down that started at 200. As the clocked ticket down to 10 the audience picked up the countdown vocally. The chant of Go-Jira, Go-Jira could also be heard. At zero the curtain dropped and the band exploded into their opening song “Born for One Thing” off their latest release Fortitude. Fortitude was released at the end of April 2021 on Roadrunner Records. Their set was less chaotic which settled the crowd down, the moshing and crowd surfing was still occurring but not as frequently.
The show’s lighting was awesome, and along with the smoke cannons, made the fan experience as good as it gets. Gojira covers many genres and heavy metal being just one of them. They really didn’t embrace the side of punk rock the previous band Knocked Loose performed. Gojira has been nominated for two Grammy’s, “Best Metal Performance” and “Best Rock Album” for Magma, released in 2016. Also drummer, Mario Duplantier received “Best Metal Drummer” honors from Rhythm MusicRadar Awards in 2016. Gojira is a very influential band that has inspired many musicians. Myles Kennedy has said, “They’re very important to the evolution of where things are going with hard rock and metal.”
Gojira is a show you need to experience if hard metal rock and roll is your passion. Personally, in the future I would like see them on a bill with Dream Theater, that would be an epic performance!
Joe Duplantier – Guitar/Vocals
Mario Duplantier – Drums
Christian Andreu – Guitar
Jean-Michel Labadie – Bass