So, everyone I knew was really excited about this concert. I was not, because going to this meant missing the Overkill/ Kreator/ A Sound of Thunder show on Friday, which had been on my calendar for months, and for which I had already promised to start a pit for ASOT's "Blood Vomit." So ever since realizing this conflict, I had been cursing "F**king Slayer" all over the place. Because I had never seen Slayer, and figured I needed to before my chance is gone.
Add to that the scheduling nightmare that is my three-job-single-parent life, and I was not a happy camper long before the day of the show.
Day of I actually started to feel better - the sheer excitement of just getting to leave normal life behind for a few hours and go to a show got me feeling a bit amped as I was driving from my second work shift of the day to the venue. But I had hardly gotten inside before my mood turned down again. The place was already packed and it was only the middle of 4Arm's set. With all my energy having been channeled into the two demanding intellectual projects that loom over the rest of my workload, I had nothing to offer anyone around me - I didn't want to see, hear or talk to anyone, not even people I knew. I just wanted to get my food from the bar, see Gojira's set and go take a nap.
I glanced at 4Arm as I waited to place an order for chicken in waffles (yes, that's what it was actually called, and yes, the chicken was literally in the waffle dough itself). 4Arm was fast, thundering thrash that made the bar shake, a pretty good distraction from hunger and from the annoyance of being surrounded by people.
After they stopped shaking the walls, I was able to place my order and then some obligatory hellos were said. S talked to people and I watched the sign that displays the numbers for food orders. I finally got my food...right as Gojira took the stage, of course. They were louder and heavier than I expected - perhaps a side effect of the place being tuned for thundering thrash metal that night - and also had a much stronger groove than you get from listening to their recordings. Their performance of "Flying Whales" turned out to be possibly the heaviest thing I've ever heard (and I'm comparing this to bands like Suicide Silence). To my disappointment, the weird guitaring at the beginning that sounds like whalesong wasn't audible, but in the bridge near the end, I could just pick them out, like a whale struggling in a net of riffs, and then something that I can only refer to as a bass drop flattened the place. It was the heaviest matter in the universe, for sure. Next or shortly thereafter they played "L'Enfant Sauvage," a song from their new album that gets a lot of radio play, but that I never really got into. Live it sounded pretty cool, though - the whimsical little melodies and the tribal rhythm of the drums definitely gave it the feeling of a "wild child" running free. Later on I heard someone talking about them and saying they had sounded better somewhere else, and that's probably true - at this venue, the subtleties of their music were drowned out in the loudness and heaviness. Still, having never seen them before, I enjoyed this taste of their live sound.
After their set, people started surging off the floor toward the bars and bathrooms, and my frayed nerves found the constant contact incredibly irritating, so I tried to stake out a spot by a pillar at the back where no would need to brush past me, but as the floor filled up again it started to be so crowded that even there people were pushing past me. By the time Slayer started, I was so fed up with I thought I might punch anyone (besides S) who spoke to or touched me. Perhaps I should have gone in the pit to vent my frustration - but I probably wouldn't have emerged in one piece, considering the number of football-player types at the show and the intensity of the music. Besides, as I've said before, it's not right to be angry in the pit.
Slayer finally started, and they were, from an objective standpoint, amazing. I don't listen to Slayer enough to really judge, but as far as I could tell they were spot on musically; they were loud and intense, and augmented the effect with blistering strobe light effects that might as well have been machine gun fire. I swear they played even faster than their recordings - amazing that after over 30 years they can still produce that kind of ferocity. The effect of the upside down crosses hanging at angle, which made it look as though they were diving toward the ground, was pretty cool, too. In a better mood, I might have had a great time. As it was, I bobbed my head to some particularly catchy moments, but mostly stood there waiting for it to be over. With the crowd and the lights and the moshing, it was like standing in a sauna. Finally I excused myself to the bathroom, and sat downstairs for most of the second half of the set. Then, I heard the opening chords of "Raining Blood," and S texted me about the same, and I knew I couldn't miss this - so I went upstairs and stood just back from the door - away from the crowd - and caught the last part of the song. I joined S on the floor for the encore - "South of Heaven" and "Angel of Death." I don't get "South of Heaven"; it sounds like the wimpy cousin of "Raining Blood." But "Angel of Death" was intense.
Even though I hated being there, I'm glad I went, and not just because now I can check seeing Slayer off my bucket list. They were phenomenal; of the three of the Big Four that I've seen (Megadeth and Anthrax being the others) they by far put on the most vicious and merciless show. I'm a little disappointed actually that my bad mood prevented me from enjoying them. But at least I enjoyed Gojira, so the evening wasn't a total downer.
Next show: Rob Zombie and Scar the Martyr on 11/27, I hope!