Anthrax, Exodus, High On Fire, Municipal Waste, Holy Grail
Thursday, March 28, 2013
The Regency Ballroom
Better than: Actually getting Anthrax (the bacterial disease).
You could smell the heshers all the way down to Van Ness and Geary. The air reeked of sweat and Pantene Pro-V. There be a metal show a-goin on at The Regency Ballroom, y'all. This was the 2013 edition of the Metal Alliance Tour. Seminal NYC thrash outfit Anthrax headlined to a completely sold-out crowd, but not before four other insanely great bands would play. We got ourselves a "fest" here, people, and that can only mean one thing: it's time to drink BEER!
The night began with the young Pasadena outfit Holy Grail. It's always unfair for the opening act of these big five-band bills. The group always gets stuck with playing while people are filing in, getting beer, or checking out the merch table. The members of the critically acclaimed band handled it like pros though, playing through their set of classic-sounding thrash and traditional metal with plenty of shredding, two-hand tapping, and arpeggiated sweeps worthy of a Guitar Player magazine cover. These dudes keep it super old and new at the same time, in line with their contemporaries the Sword and Dragonforce, and delivered thusly. BEER COUNT: 1 1/2
Kings of the thrash revival, Municipal Waste was up next and brought its standard party metal back to S.F. in full force. With a setlist focused on lastest release, The Fatal Feast, it was a bit too early for the group to "fuck us up," but the kids seemed to like it. In fact, they were flipping out. We literally saw people flipping in the pit, like a crazy fight scene from Power Rangers. Also the members of Municipal Waste are really funny. In fact we think they are the funniest band in metal, and that's a good -- nay -- great thing. There's something about the band's clean and simple brand of thrash that makes people go absolutely bonkers and throw all their beer in the air through a sea of raised fists. Not bad for 8 p.m. on a Thursday! BEER COUNT: 3
Lead singer/guitarist Matt Pike's legendary beer belly was in fine form by the time High on Fire hit the stage. Pummeling the audience with enough sludgy force to destroy at least four bridge trolls and three forrest hags, the power-trio opened with "Rumours of War" from their 2007 release before delving directly into "Frost Hammer" from 2010's Snakes for the Divine. They played two more songs, which was a perfect set list because their songs are like a million years long. But the Bay Area band's licks are interesting enough to hook you in until your weed runs out. BEER COUNT: 5ish?
Exodus. Okay, Exodus. This is where things start to become kind of a blur. These guys are from the Bay Area, and people seemed to like them enough. We recognized some songs from their classic Bonded By Blood album, but nothing really struck us as amazing or special. It was all pretty standard thrash fair. They sounded good, fast, and loud but not magic. Truth be told, we got bored and stumbled into the lobby to bullshit with pals and prepare to bum-rush the front of the stage for Anthrax. BEER COUNT: 7
Anthrax is old and weird. Out of The Big Four of Thrash (the others being Metallica, Megadeth, and Slayer), this New York City outfit is definitely the most unique. The sound, a little more angular and rough around the edges. The look, a little less traditional and more "street" than the other bands. The band's groundbreaking 1987 album Among The Living slammed the doors open for thrash, and changed metal forever back when it was released. That was more apparent than ever as Anthrax packed Regency Ballroom shoulder-to-shoulder with sweaty hessians to perform the album in its entirety 26 years later.
With the classic line-up in tow, famously bald rhythm guitarist Scott Ian was running around the stage with a huge smile on his face like it was '88 again. As the band members powered through their classic tracks like "Caught in a Mosh," "I Am The Law," and "Indians," we caught Ian giving the metal horns to HIMSELF at one point. Vocalist Joey Belladonna is the quintessential East Coast metal banshee and sounds as sweet as ever even in his older age. The crowd welcomed him back to S.F. with open arms. Drummer Charlie Benante's lightning-fast double kick drums echoing through the hall were as powerful as we've ever heard at a metal show. The set was split up, as Anthrax opened with the A-side of Among the Living, played a second set that included an S.O.D. cover, and then did side B, ending with a well-deserved encore of "I'm The Man" and "Antisocial." Anthrax is old and weird, yes. Old and tired? Hell no.
FINAL BEER COUNT: 10 +1 Fernet and a corned beef sando from Tommy's Joynt.
The sound at The Regency Ballroom is utter shit. Especially when the bands are really loud.
The sold-out crowd was super interesting. The standard mix of teenage metalheads and old S.F. stoners and drunks were there, but we also saw a good amount of frat jocks and WE SWEAR we saw at least four racist skinheads.
When Anthrax played their classic "Caught in a Mosh," we felt, well, caught. We definitely became concerned for our teeth and eye-glasses, as the crowd completely lost its mind and the Regency Ballroom floor became one giant circle-pit.