Gojira and Mastodon’s co-headlining “Mega-Monsters Tour” landed at Brooklyn’s Coney Island Amphitheater Saturday night for a sold out show. The two bands, who are joined on the tour by openers Lorna Shore, have been alternating who closes out the evening from one stop to the next. Tonight was to be Gojira’s turn. Lorna Shore, then Mastodon, then Gojira. Mega-monsters indeed.
It had been over a month since I’d shot a show and this was one hell of a lineup for me to dive back into. This was also my first time doing photo coverage at Coney Island Amphitheater and with that came a wave of anxiety mixed with excitement to shoot in a new environment. My sincere fanship of these bands increased the intensity of these emotions tenfold. I’d need to shake off the cobwebs a bit and put my best foot forward so I could get some shots that I was proud of. More on that later – for now, let’s dive into the show.
Lorna Shore commenced the evening with a lightning-fast set featuring songs from their critically acclaimed new album, Pain Remains. Released at the tail end of last year, Pain Remains is the first full-length effort from the band to feature new vocalist Will Ramos, rhythm guitarist Andrew O’Connor, and bassist Michael Yager. Though the lineup has changed, Lorna Shore’s signature blackened deathcore sound remains, and it’s heavier than ever.
The second half of Lorna Shore’s set comprised of Pain Remains’ three-part title track, an epic sonic trilogy filled with chest-rattling breakdowns and symphonic darkness. It was a brutally heavy end to their set and a perfect start to the night.
After taking a trip to Citi Field earlier in the day to watch the Braves beat the Mets 21-3 (that’s not a typo), there was no better way to spend the evening than with another group of Atlanta-based legends: Mastodon. The band kicked off their set with “The Wolf is Loose,” the opening track from their iconic 2006 album, Blood Mountain. A giant LED screen behind them provided vibrant psychedelic visuals to complement Mastodon’s mind-bending melodies.
Fans were treated to a 17-song setlist that spanned the entirety of the band’s two decades-plus career. Midway through the set, bassist and vocalist Troy Sanders took a moment to acknowledge and admire the crowd, noting the band’s trajectory in New York City over the years – from playing house parties and clubs like CBGB to selling out the Coney Island Amphitheater on Saturday. It has been quite the epic journey for Mastodon and the band shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon.
I have been fortunate enough to see Gojira live on a few occasions but this was my first time seeing them with their full stage production. I was excited to finally have the opportunity to experience the band’s live performance in all its pyro-filled glory.
The beginning of Gojira’s set leaned heavily into their 2005 release, From Mars to Sirius, kicking off with “Ocean Planet” and “Backbone” then following with “Flying Whales” after a quick detour into Magma with “Stranded.” The setlist overall was an eclectic mix of songs old and new, including tracks from their fantastic 2021 release, Fortitude.
The peak of the night for me came when I finally got to see them play “The Art of Dying.” The song is one of my all-time favorites from Gojira, and hearing it live was every bit as incredible as I’d hoped it would be. A close second came at the end of the show, as I tried to leave early to beat the traffic only to sit on the Coney Island boardwalk and listen to Gojira end the evening with “The Gift of Guilt.” There was a calm sea to one side of me, and a raging storm of metal to the other. I loved every minute of it.
I’ve gotta say that I’m a big fan of the co-headliner approach. It allows you to get the full experience of seeing both bands as they were meant to be seen; no stripped down production or truncated set lists. Throw an epic opener like Lorna Shore into the mix and you’ve got yourself the perfect evening, which is exactly what this show turned out to be.
Lorna Shore took the stage when there was still a fair amount of sunlight, and although the amphitheater blocked most of it from shining onto the stage, I was thankful for an extra light source no matter how small. The band’s logo, which was displayed on a white background on the LED screen behind them, created a fair amount of backlighting that at times overpowered the stage lights. My camera struggled with the resulting contrast and many of the shots required me to boost the shadows a great deal while editing. That said, the energy Lorna Shore brought to their performance was palpable and it was fun to try and capture that energy in my shots.
While the LED screen was a hurdle during Lorna Shore’s set, it was a gift during Mastodon’s. The balance of the stage lighting with the screens was just right and allowed for me to get properly exposed photos of the band members without having to blow out the background in the process. The designs playing on the screens created great textures that made my shots more interesting. They also created enough continuous light for me to get some great shots without having to work too hard.
When you shoot a band that you love, it’s inevitable that you’ll be harder on yourself when reviewing your shots than you would be for a band that you aren’t as in to. So I’m aware of that. But with that said, I’ve got to say that while I’m happy with the shots I got of Gojira, I can’t help but feel that I could have done better. I didn’t get any shots that stand out above the rest as the shot.
I was fixated on getting a good shot with pyro and I think that cost me in the end. I was distracted by positioning myself for the next blast of fire as opposed to watching the band members and waiting for a good moment to capture.
It’s easy to become fixated to a fault on getting a specific shot but it is important to remember how quickly your time in the pit goes; every second is valuable. That is not to say that there is no shot worth a sacrifice of your time, but it is to say that you have to know when to move on and try a new idea.
All in all it was great to be back shooting again. I’ll be going in a much different direction musically next week with a trip to Kings Theatre to cover Sigur Rós performing with a 41-piece orchestra. See you there!