I had the good fortune to check out the Metal Alliance tour featuring Anthrax (with Exodus, High On Fire, Municipal Waste, and Holy Grail) at the Fillmore in Detroit last Saturday (April 6, 2013). It was a non-stop headbanging extravaganza! The bonus was that I got to meet some of the guys in the bands and get an old ticket stub signed. Before I get into the show, I want to share some history to set the stage.
Music in my soul
I love music! Yeah, I know thats a pretty profound statement aye? I was born listening to music and its always been an integral part of my life. I will listen to just about anything. From old school country, to 70’s funk, to 90’s grunge, to classical, and all things in between. However, my core resonates with metal! In high school, I was a huge Rush, Iron Maiden, Black Sabbath, and Ozzy fan. I was that guy in the black concert t-shirt at the back of the class room.
Part of the fun of music, is the exploration. Finding new things to listen to or re-discovering music from the past. When I got to college, I started to seek out little known (to me) metal bands. In those days (early 80’s), it was all about finding some great vinyl and sharing with your friends. I found this band called Anthrax when I was reading an article about East Coast thrash/speed metal in Kerrang!(remember those metal zines!? 🙂 I went out to Rock of Ages (one of the best stores for metal back in the day) and picked up “FistFul of Metal”. I was blown away! “Metal Thrashing Mad” was my new anthem. When I saw that Anthrax was coming to Harpo’s in Detroit with Raven, I was there!
I remember thinking how fast the music was and how awesome the Jackson V’s were that Scott Ian and Dan Spitz played. We waited outside the show and I got to say “Hey! Great Show!” to Scott and Dan. I actually think that was all I could think to say.
Meeting Anthrax Once Again
I’d missed the last time Anthrax was in town with Testament (another favorite band of mine!), so when I heard about the Metal Alliance tour, I was on it. They offered a V.I.P. package which included a meet and greet with the bands and I thought “Hell, why not?!”.
The email notification said to be at the show by 5pm, so my buddy Jeff and I were there at 5. We strolled down to the will call booth and picked up our tickets and laminates. The actual meet and greet wouldn’t start until 5:30, so instead of hanging around outside, we headed over to the State Bar for a beer. We rolled out of the bar at 5:25 and a small line had formed. As we got into line, we saw the guys from Anthrax on the other side of Woodward, heading over. Guess they were taking in the sights 🙂
Once inside they had us line up to circle past the bands where we could get things signed. I’d brought my ticket stub from the Harpo’s show to get it signed. I figured they might get a kick out of it and they did 🙂 Charlie Benante (drums) remembered thinking that they had hit the big leagues when they were outside Harpo’s. Then realized it was a shit hole once inside 🙂 Frank Bello (bass) was impressed with how well preserved my ticket was. He asked if I had kept all my tickets stashed away, which I do. Scott Ian thought the ticket stub was awesome and took a picture of it on his phone, which I thought was really cool. Also at the table was Tom Hunting and Gary Holt from Exodus. They signed my poster from the show. I’d never seen Exodus, so I was looking forward to their set. Tony Foresta from Municipal Waste shook my hand and was impressed with my grip 🙂 “You sir have a STRONG grip! Damn!”
After signing items, we each got in line again to get a picture with the guys from Anthrax. It was really cool to meet those guys!
First up, Holy Grail
It wasn’t much past 6pm, just after Jeff and I had found some spots near the back of the main floor, that Holy Grail started. I’d never heard of this band until the tour. They came out like a blast from the past. Old school metal complete with leather and spiked arm bands. The singer had good range and reminded me at times of Warrel Dane back when he was in Sanctuary. The guitars were shredders with sweep picking galore! They were energetic and entertaining. Unfortunately, every picture I took of them was out of focus.
Thrashing with Municipal Waste
Entering the stage with a cartwheel, Municipal Waste wasted (yes a pun!) no time tearing it up. I’d seen these guys open up for Lamb of God a few years back. They are super high energy thrash with that Suicidal Tendencies and D.R.I. vibe.
I was smiling pretty much the whole set as these guys are just a lot of fun. Nothing real serious about their music. Its all about getting crazy and having fun! With songs like “The Thrashing of Christ” and “Beer Pressure”, you know you are in for something special. The pit was completely non-stop with these guys.
Thunder Roars with High On Fire
I had absolutely no clue what to expect from High On Fire. I did check out a few tunes before the show to get some flavor. Yet, when they started to sound check the bass guitar with this crazy super distorted wah that caused the hairs on your ass to quiver, I knew this was going to be a reckoning. There is heavy and then there is High On Fire. Good lord! I’m not really sure this is my cup of tea, but the crowd enjoyed their set. Guitarist and vocalist, Matt Pike, was quite a presence on the stage.
Waltz it up with Exodus
I really can’t believe that I’d never seen Exodus until this show. I got into them back in the late 80’s when Toxic Waltz showed up on MTV’s Headbangers Ball. Having them on this tour was a great bonus. Another bonus was that Lee Altus was also in Exodus. I’m a huge Heathen fan, so I was looking forward to Lee and Gary Holt tearing it up. They did not disappoint!
“War is My Shepherd” and “Piranha” kicked ass. The topper was “Toxic Waltz” and the great mosh pit action that ensued 🙂
Caught in a MOSH!
After a short break (the pace of the show was great…band after band with little in between), Anthrax hit the stage. Playing one of my favorite albums, “Among The Living”, in its entirety. The sound and energy of the show was great. You could tell that the fans really enjoyed every tune and I think the guys in the band enjoyed the show too. There was lots of great pit action, especially with “Caught In A Mosh”
Between side 1 and side 2 (remember that old vinyl? :), Anthrax played “In The End” off “Worship Music” which they dedicated to Dio and Dime. They also rocked out their cover of “T.N.T.” off the new “Anthems” release which was a lot of fun.
They finished up with the second side of “Among The Living” which includes one of my all time favorite Anthrax tunes, “Indians”. It brought back memories of dancing around a bonfire during the “WAR DANCE!!!!” section.
They finished up the show with “Got The Time” (a great Joe Jackson cover) and then came back for a encore that included, “I’m the Man”, and “Antisocial” which was a great way to end the evening! With our ears ringing and neck a bit sore from headbanging (which I have to admit, isn’t quite the same without hair :), we headed home. As we made our way back to Ann Arbor, I was thinking of how great it is to have music in my life and the fantastic diversity of it all. Be sure to crank up your favorite tune today and celebrate the gift of music!