Anthrax, Testament, and Death Angel live, First Avenue, Mpls, MN, 10/16/11
You know sometimes rock stars can really be little bitches. Such was the case this past Sunday evening when Anthrax drummer Charlie Benante threw a sound check hissy fit that resulted in a forty minute start delay. All because his kit was off by a matter of what could only be the smallest unit of measurement ever invented. Listen up band dudes; the audience doesn't give a flying fuck if shit doesn't sound/feel/look good to you up there on that big, big stage. It's all about us, the $30+ ticket price-paying audience down here. And what we want is for it to be loud, fast, and in our face. Now you might like to tell yourself that the reason you're a stickler for perfection is because you want us to be receiving the best possible product as a customer, but we all know that's total bullshit. You're being an asshole because you're a "musician" now or whatever and you care about "subtle nuances" and shit. Well we don't. We didn't come to see Dream Theater, we came to see some fucking thrash. But I digress...
Aside from the lead singer Rob Osegueda's lengthy dreads, they were pretty unimpressive. In fact they kind of sucked. Which hurts to admit, seeing as how I rocked Frolic Through the Park
on the regular back in like, '88. But then again, not totally surprising, considering the only remaining guys from that lineup are Osegueda and guitarist Rob Cavestany. The latter of which, I hadn't seen in roughly eighteen years--back when he and Frolic
-era bandmates (sans Osegueda) were in a band called The Organization. Their tour with Muzza Chunka made a stop at the Mirage Nightclub in south Mpls. So in retrospect, I guess that's kinda cool.
Not only does Chuck Billy have one of the goofiest names in heavy metal, he has a redonkulous habit of playing air guitar on his microphone stand. And it's not just any old microphone stand. It's a customized half mic stand that lights up in different colors throughout the set. I normally get really annoyed by lead singers who play air guitar but that fact that Testament rips so damn hard, kind of cancels out the ridiculousness. These guys played a long time and it was loud and just perfect. They did a career-spanning set that included some of their fan favorite stuff from The Ritual
and "Do or Die" from their excellent first album The Legacy,
as well as some songs from the upcoming record The Dark Roots of Earth.
Which I am now looking forward to with great anticipation. They almost stole the show. Almost.
After seeing Anthrax a few years ago on the Spreading the Disease
reunion tour, I knew there was no way--should I be in the vicinity--that I was ever going to miss a Joey Belladonna-fronted version of Anthrax again. So I was psyched, to say the least, to hear the news that Belladonna had once again rejoined with his old bandmates to not only tour, but record an album. And that album--Worship Music
--turned out to be one of the year's best records in any genre, let alone heavy metal. The same can be said for this tour. As a live act, Anthrax is one of the year's best to come through. Aside from Benante's apparent crabbiness, the crew looked to be enjoying themselves just as much as us thrashers in the audience. Lead axe Rob Caggiano--who produced Worship Music--
isn't much for showmanship but he really rips. He mostly just stands there, wide-legged, with a smug look on his face like, "Yeah, I'm really fucking good, and I'm in Anthrax. You should probably suck my dick now." Bassist Frank Bello is quite possibly the most excited man to ever play in a thrash band. He moves about the stage with ferocity of a guy half his age, all while grinning ear-to-ear. Belladonna makes full use of the entire stage as well. He looks to be fully rejuvenated in his return to the band. On more than one occasion he mentioned being a diehard Vinkings fan. In typical Minnesota fashion, this news was met a less than desirable reaction. I mean, we did just lose to the Bears a mear hour before so I'm not sure what he was expecting. Of course, Scott Ian did his signature bald-guy headbang throughout the entirety of the show. All the guys wore matching shirts, which was kind of laughable, but whatevs. They're Anthrax; they can do whatever they want. And what they wanted to do was thrash our faces off. A task in which they succeeded. The ratio of old songs to new was about 60% old, 40% new. Despite several pleading cries from the audience they did not play "I'm the Man." Clearly, that shit is too goofy for the Anthrax that exists today.