It was a strange night in many ways.
It started well before the show. When the tour was announced, I see the Prong was going to be the main support act. Cool! But… not on the San Antonio date (and a couple others). Not sure why. But what was even stranger was then that Prong was booked at the same venue on the prior night! So these two bands are touring together, but then for a couple dates they break apart and still play the same city but just on different nights. Uh… why? That was strange. I was always a casual Prong fan, so trucking to San Antonio just to see them wasn’t in the cards for me, but it would have been cool to see both on the bill.
So who was on the bill? Honestly I don’t recall who the other two opening bands were — some local San Antonio bands. But then there was Evil United, which is Jason McMaster‘s new band. I was stoked to see them, and considered it a reasonable trade-off for no Prong.
Then…. the night arrived.
I was going with my buddy W. Alas, his flight into Austin ran very late so by the time we got to San Antonio the 2nd band was finishing up. They sounded good, but I can’t comment much.
The crowd was a very thrash metal crowd. I mean, so many denim vests with backpatches and buttons. It was like the 80’s thrash scene was still thriving in this little pocket of San Antonio. Not a single white t-shirt for miles. :-) This is a very different sort of crowd that you’d get if the same show was held in Austin.
The venue was ok. Never been there before. Parking was easy (lot right across the street, $10 geez). Didn’t like how there were pillars/posts everywhere and bar rails, which was nice for drinks but kinda makes it hard or precarious to move about. I also thought it was odd they served beer in glass bottles — yes, at one point the mosh pit stopped because a bottle broke and people were getting on the floor during Overkill’s set to pick up broken glass! Yeah, it’s a mosh pit, yeah it’s rough and “violent”, but no one wants to get hurt — it’s supposed to be a fun time! Still, some might call this strange.
Evil United hits the stage… for 3 songs. Song ends… McMaster has a little stage banter then… “OK, we’re done”. And they start breaking down their gear. Wha?? Spoke with some guy who said there’s been some drama for a few days… they were playing, then announced they weren’t playing, then suddenly they were at the gig. Guy said there was some b.s.’ing by the venue (who I’m told tends to not treat the artists well — I don’t know, just what the dude said to me), something about trying to force them to pay-to-play now. I don’t know. I saw Jason was standing by his merch table, so I went over to talk with him. What Jason said to me was they gave them 20 minutes to play and 4 of them were wasted because the monitors weren’t working. I find it really odd that they’d only get 20 minutes to play. Plus, the way Jason talked to me, I am pretty sure there’s a LOT more to the story. But it’s not my drama and Jason handled things like a pro. I was bummed to not hear a full set, but what I did hear I enjoyed. Still, what a strange set.
In between the sets, I went to the bathroom. I went to go wash my hands and as I went for a sink a guy pointed me to another sink with running water. My thought? “Oh, I guess that’s the only working sink”. No…. then the guy hands me a paper towel.
WTF? A bathroom valet in a club at a thrash metal show?
Yeah, I still tipped the guy, tho I felt suckered into it. But geez, what a strange thing to have at a show.
Finally Overkill hit the stage.
There is no compromise.
Overkill is thrash to the end. You buy an Overkill album, it’s going to sound like Overkill. They haven’t experimented or changed their sound (I’m sure Blitz won’t be dueting with Lou Reed). And yes, they are there to wreck your neck.
Despite the dude that was front-row-center with an iPad videoing half the show… despite the “over-excited jumping bean” that was banging into W and me and stepping on our feet all through the set… despite the bitchy cat-fight that almost broke out on the other side of us (what’s that Wrathchild America line about “clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right”?)… despite the strangeness of the crowd, most people were there for a good time and a good time was had. The pit was energetic and dedicated, the music was loud, and the show unrelenting.
Scored one of DD’s picks.
Really enjoyed how while they emphasized newer material, they pulled out a lot of old stuff. That was pretty cool.
What really blew away W and I? Blitz. He’s not lost a thing. I mean, he’s got such power and range in is voice, and despite the “thrashing” and demands of such music, every yell, every scream, he was all over it. So many singers as they age just can’t do it any more: the bands tune down the guitars so they can still hit the higher notes of a song, or certain songs are no longer sung, or the way they sing changes. It’s no one’s fault, it’s just what happens as you get older. But Blitz sounded awesome. Powerful as hell up there, just commanding the stage with his voice and presence.
I also enjoy how Derek (rhythm guitarist) is so interactive with the audience throughout the show. It’s fun being on his side of the stage and just watching him.
This isn’t to take away from DD or Dave. I mean, DD is the band’s foundation (not just as the bass player), but when he plays he’s just in his groove. And Dave… I swear, if there’s any sort of undiscovered guitar shred god, Dave should be in contention; he’s really a great guitar player. Thing about Ron (drummer)? He was up on this riser and because of the lighting, I couldn’t really see him and say much, but the drums did sound good.
Oh as an aside. I had no idea foam ear plugs had fidelity differences. I had some orange foams (don’t recall the brand, but bought at Academy sporting goods in the guns section). I had them in at first and everything sounded muddy: couldn’t hear vocals or guitars, but the drums came through like a muddy sledgehammer. It was horrible. I happened to also have a set of Hearos on me and switched to them. Oh wow! It was an amazing difference and suddenly everything sounded good. Both were the foam “bullet shape” style plugs, both with that 30-something NRR rating. Could it be that the orange were more attuned for shooting sports than musical fidelity? Maybe, but I just had no idea foam ear plugs cared about fidelity — never experienced any differences in the past, this was new to me. But hey, it’s Hearos from here (hear?) on out.
Anyways, despite all the strangeness of the night, it was a great show and I’m happy I went. It was a birthday present from W, so I thank him for it. :-)
- Electric Rattlesnake
- Wrecking Crew
- Black Daze
- Rotten to the Core
- Bring Me the Night
- End of the Line
- Long Time Typin’
- Under One
- Hello From the Gutter
- Bitter Pill (encore)
- Elimination (encore)
- Fuck You (encore)