Slayer, Savagery, and…seizures?
Background: I attended my first metal concert in ‘85. I’d love to tell you I remember hearing ‘Fade To Black’ played live for the first time, but the concert was a blur. One in which I was wedged sideways between people for most of the show. The crowd was intense, but it was more about movement and mosh pits than inflicting pain. A crazy induction into the metal scene, but I walked away unscathed. A year later I saw Slayer for the first time. At one point during the show, I thought the world was going to end, or at the very least MY world. Unlike the frantic energy at the Metallica show, this was violent. Inebriated guys come with the territory at concerts, but the guys here were scary, and the drunks and stoners were replaced with amped up guys on amphetamines. That show, mentioned on the Get Thrashed documentary, has always been my high (low?) water mark for a crowd more intent on hurting everyone in its path than enjoying the moment.
Fast forward to 2010. I saw the Slayer/Megadeth/Testament tour in late August and besides the nostalgic factor of seeing two of the bands play albums in their entirety, the (surprisingly) really young crowd was reminiscent of an 80s thrash show. Tons of energy, interaction, moshing, and a sense of community. It made for one of the best shows I’ve seen in ‘10.
When Anthrax replaced Testament, and a show was planned in Milwaukee - we decided a road trip was in order. Nothing against Testament, but I always thought their album covers were better than their albums.
We arrived in Milwaukee and what we saw at our first stop was a harbinger of things to come…
The venue this evening was The Rave. For Chicagoans, imagine if the Aragon had a smaller brother. What The Rave lacks in (comparative) size, it makes up for in enthusiasm. Every fan gets a poster for the gig; this happens for every show. If there is commisoned “gig art” you get a copy of that, otherwise you get the generic poster (seen above). Either way it’s a nice touch. There are no ticket scanners at The Rave, they tear your ticket like the old days. While that seemed cool, the ticket stub fucks up my collection. Anyway…enough of the nuances, onto the show.
Jim Florentine warmed up the crowd between bands. I saw him in 2002 (here he is with my psychotic ex) and he was hysterical. Tonight was no different. As mentioned in the tweet below, he did talk shit about Favre, but also ripped on Milwaukee and the shit hole that it is. I enjoyed that. Random Photo: Stuttering John with me, while he nearly gropes my aforementioned psychotic ex)
I’ve seen Anthrax eight times and this was, without any doubt in my mind, the best I’ve seen them. Anthrax has always been the “happy” thrash band, but they played with a renewed enthusiasm tonight and seemed genuinely appreciative of the crowd. Their performance was blistering, and the aforementioned crowd overpowered the P.A. at times. There was tons of interaction, Scott Ian and Joey Belladonna both came right to us, slapped our hands, and it was turning out to be a great show.
This will matter to nobody except me but I thought it was incredibly cool that Charlie ended two songs with classic Kiss drum fills (the intro to Strutter, and Love Gun).
I caught Scott’s guitar pick, and by “caught” I mean it stuck to my sweaty neck.
At this point, the crowd was like any other enthusiastic metal crowd. It was your standard crush of people, mosh pits, etc. Ian commented about the insanity of the pits and how it was the best crowd of the tour. But rock stars always say that.
Although he did say it again later on Twitter.
Crazy motherfuckers, indeed. Immediately after Anthrax stepped off stage, a surge of people swarmed forward. Again, nothing new but a little unusual between sets.
Before Megadeth took the stage, the crowd loudly chanted MEGA-DETH over and over again. I respect Megadeth more than I’m a fan of Megadeth. Dave Mustaine has a certain presence, although not much of a stage presence… weird. Anyway, their intro began and the floor erupted. By the time ‘Holy Wars….The Punishment Due’ kicked in, the entire floor went up for grabs. I figured it would be the same as in Chicago: Massive circle pits, tons of action, followed by a lull during that fucking boring part of the set (discuss amongst yourselves just how much of the set comprises the “boring” part) Hint: 80%.
Boring songs are no fun when the floor resembles Braveheart. That’s not accurate; it’s no fun when the brutality on the floor is a result of people genuinely trying to hurt each other. Call me old, but I don’t have the tolerance for asshats anymore.
Girls who dared to body surf rarely made it to the front. Instead, they’d get held up 20 feet from the rail and the rabid asshat “fans” would claw at their clothes and do everything imaginable to them. Security would jump in, she’d be taken away and this scene repeated itself a few times. Although in the interest of full disclosure, this was 2nd hand info as this all occurred behind us.
Megadeth finally ended and the balcony was suddenly half empty. The floor was now bulging at the seams and despite no band being on stage, mosh pits and all out war was still going on. After an extended amount of time, the scene over the rail was 4 paramedics working on bloodied and bruised guys and girls. An announcement was made that the show would be postponed until more medical staff could arrive at the venue. There was no request to chill, no mention of people being hurt. As a result, this got a huge cheer from the crowd.
Shortly after this happened, a girl who had managed to stick it out near the rail was raising her hand and motioning that she wanted out. She was lifted up and while being passed forward, some guy reached up and jacked her in the mouth. It wasn’t an accident, she didn’t provoke it. It was a deliberate punch that hit her square in the mouth. She slumped down, went over the rail and looked back at us with a mouth full of blood and no front teeth.
To make matters worse, there was none of the usual reaction to that at a concert. We looked over to where it happened, and it was business as usual. Ordinarily, any guy who’d hit a girl would have his ass handed to him. Not here.
Stay classy, Milwaukee.
Any hope of the crowd being tired or letting up was thrown out the window when the intro music began. Interestingly, The Rave’s ceiling is too short to hang the curtain Slayer uses before coming on stage…so they just kinda walked out and started playing.
The craptacular security guards behind the rail were joined by Wisconsin state troopers, but since neither had even the slightest conception how to control the crowd, they did little more than stand there with a deer-in-the-headlights look. ‘War Ensemble’ kicked in and in almost perfect unison with the chorus, a squadron of body surfers streamed forward. At least 15 in a row, who got off no easier than the girls before them. When approaching the rail, they’d get pulled down into the crowd and, I’m not exaggerating, stomped the fuck out of…
The crazed meth eyes were all around us and I gotta say, you know it’s bad when Kerry Fucking King looks down from the stage and motions for people to “calm down.” Nobody calmed down; a sea of middle fingers shot back at him and he just kinda shrugged and walked back to change guitars.
The next event is what ended the night for us. The opening riff of ‘South Of Heaven’ came over the PA and I felt….something. Mind you, every article of clothing I had on was soaking wet. It was like an inferno in there and I had no more than half an inch of room around me.
I’m not sure who noticed it first, I believe it was Mike, but I think we turned around at the same time to see this mongoloid looking down, with his dick out, pissing on the back of our legs.
I’ve prided myself at avoiding fights over these past couple of years, and under different circumstances, I may have gone down a different path for resolution. Likewise, even mentioning a fight always leaves a bad taste in my mouth. That said, my immediate reaction was to hit this “guy” as hard as possible.
If there is a good thing, it’s that I’m pretty sure I hit him as hard as imaginably possible. The bad thing is that I really fucked up my knuckle in the process of potty training this douche. I wandered over to the big red MEDICAL sign, which looked like a MASH unit attempting to triage the situation as best as possible. My swollen knuckle took a back seat to girls with blackeyes, bloody noses and missing teeth.
It was a long and miserable 90 miles back to Chicago, accented with our urine doused clothing. Metal.
In the midst of the madness, I did get a few cool photos… They’re over here.
BUT WAIT! WHAT ABOUT THE SEIZURES?
During the Megadeth set, I had the scariest experience of my life. The crush of the crowd surged forward and I usually handle it pretty well. This time it caught me off guard and while maneuvering around, I looked toward the stage and it happened. I wasn’t sure what it was, but it was strange. It felt like I was about to black out and seemed like I kinda shook…violently. Being in the midst of the insanity, my little problem wasn’t noticeable to those around me. I changed positions and raised up to get some fresh air. All was well. I chalked it up to being overheated, a rough crowd, stress at work, and very little sleep. The chorus hit, and as the strobes behind the band kicked in —- it happened again. WHAT IN THE FUCK?
If we weren’t packed in like sardines, I definitely would have dropped. Once again, the shaking. Each time it lasted 3-5 seconds. As quickly as it hit, it was gone. The next two songs used strobes, but they were on the sides of the stage and despite my efforts to stare directly at them to make it happen again…I was fine.
Three songs later. The same strobes from the back of the stage fired and so did I. The feeling is similar to when you’re about to fall asleep and you jerk yourself (ha) back awake. Only with this, it feels like you’re losing consciousnesses. The violent shaking erupts, and then it’s over.
Fuck if I know, but I spent the rest of the set looking anywhere but at the stage. A brighter individual would have called it a night at the point (and avoided the golden shower) but I stuck it out and it didn’t happen again. Needless to say, I have a doctor appointment scheduled. Metal?