Gig review: ANTHRAX, Tremont Music Hall, Charlotte, NC, April 13 2013

I’m back! Well maybe…sort of…I don’t know. Those two or three keeping track will realize that I’ve not been to a show since Raven in November. At that point it was looking bleak that I’d make it to another show ever again.

Still touch and go with shows these days, but I managed to make it to one that I’d really wanted to see, but wasn’t looking so good as it fell on my weekend to work. Much to my surprise, circumstances worked out to allow meto see it. Of course, I didn’t find this out until the day before, but apparently fate wanted me to see the Metal Alliance tour, and who am I to argue with fate.

Granted when I heard that Anthrax would be playing at Tremont, I knew I needed to be there. Not to disparage the club (seen some incredible shows there over the years,) but we’re talking about one of the Big Four bands playing in a rundown old factory with the capacity to handle around 900 people.

I was still out of work with my knee issues and wasn’t entirely certain I’d be back to work by the time the show was announced. Needless to say when I returned to work before the day of the show I assumed I wasn’t going to be there. Then I heard they were playing their classic album Among the Living in its entirety.

We’re talking what is in my estimation the best thrash metal album of all time, and one of my all-time favorite albums personally. You may as well have stabbed me in the testicles I was so sad I was missing it. Sure, I have seen Anthrax 4 or 5 times now, and they never fail to entertain, but several of the tracks on this album had never been played before live (at least the times I’ve seen them,) yet were songs I’d always wanted to hear. Now was the chance and I was going to miss it.

Once I realized I was going to make it, I was beyond ecstatic. I was giddy as a kid on Christmas walking into the living room and seeing “the gift” they wanted more than anything in the world.

With the last minute plans made I wasn’t able to round up the usual crew. I wasn’t even certain if my girlfriend was going to be up to joining me for it as she has been under the weather for a bit now.

Ever the trooper though (and actually having a pretty good day) she decided she would attend. Good thing too since I bought the tickets the night before to prevent the chance of it selling out and being out of luck. We opted not to eat prior to the show to prevent her from possibly getting sick.

The show was starting earlier than usual and all the bands performing were ones I wanted to see, some got there early, before the doors opened. There was already a large crowd formed outside Tremont, so we sat in the car until the doors opened. Luckily,once they opened, the line moved fairly quickly.

Apparently there was still some sound check stuff going on so they had the main stage area blocked off. We perused the shirts and stuff waiting to be let inside. I snagged an Exodus shirt, opting not to get an Anthrax shirt this time. The one I really wanted wasn’t in my size anyway. The curtain opened and we filed into the main area feeling like cattle being led to slaughter

The first band up was Holy Grail. I was slightly familiar with their music having had their first CD which I obtained when I was to see them at another show (Blind Guardian I believe,) but ended up missing out on due to financial problems. Holy crap were they incredible!

Musically they’re akin to a combination of old school thrash meets old school metal. Think Maiden/Priest fronted by Blitz from Overkill with heavy thrash tendencies. The guys are very young, but commanded the stage like seasoned pros. What made it even better was the crowd was fairly substantial for an opening band at such an early time and clearly loved their performance. I highly recommend checking these guys out. I will certainly keep my eyes on them

Next on the lineup was Shadows Fall. This is another band that I’ve missed seeing a few times over the years due to lack of funds. They pay great homage to the old school sound, but are firmly planted in the realm of modern metal.

I really enjoyed their set. Again, great connection with th eaudience, and the songs were fantastic. This was also the time that Mike from Final Curse showed up along with his friend (whose name escapes me right now.)

Plus I got to meet the new Final Curse bassist Fernie. I’d actual met him onetime before when he was playing bass for another band the same night Final Curse played, but it had been a while.

Since the bands weren’t taking a lot of time between sets we decided to get something to drink during Shadows Fall,plus AJ was starting to feel a little off. It was terribly hot in there and she needed some air.

Ironically enough on our way out we ran into a friend of mine I’ve known since the fourth grade and haven’t seen in many years. Jim and I used to play guitar a lot and wrote some pretty cool songs. He still insists that I play again, but I keep telling him no thanks. It was still great catching up with him

After getting caught up and something to drink we made our way back to our spot to prepare for Municipal Waste. Again I’ve missed a few chances to see them, so I was curious to check them out. They’re a throwback to the old school thrash similar to Nuclear Assault.

Simple three chord thrash played fast and aggressive and typically odes to partying. Nothing overly mind-blowing,but still a lot of fun and energy, as well as an excellent connection with the crowd. AJ was still not feeling great and opted to sit down for their performance.

I ended up hanging with a total stranger, which was OK as he seemed like a pretty nice guy. Just before they were done with their set I went back and checked on her and we decided to get some more air. During this time we ran into John and his brother that we run into at most shows. Found out he’s moving to Florida soon, so this may be the last time we run into him. He also mentioned that my old bassist Kevin was at the show. I haven’t seen him since the demise of the band so I was hoping to run into him, which we did on our way back in for Exodus. It was great catching up with him as well

Exodus is a band I have seen a couple times before, but this was AJ’s first time seeing them so she was pretty stoked. Ironically enough the first time I met Mike and the guys from Final Curse was when they opened for Exodus a few years back so it was pretty cool seeing them again with Mike.

Much like Anthrax I’ve been a fan of theirs a long time now. Though their classic stuff holds a special place in my heart and is what I turn to more than the new albums, I feel like their new music is pretty awesome too. They still put on an excellent show, again really keeping the crowd going from our perspective.

The setlist leaned a little more towards the new than I would’ve cared for, but I’m not going to complain too much about that. When a band has new material, they probably should play that, though a better balance of the classics would be nice as well. I will say this, it was the largest pit I’ve ever witnessed at Tremont, and we almost got caught up in it. Once their part was done we made our way outside, going all the way to the car this time. On the way back AJ indicated that maybe she should wait in the car, but I convinced her she could do it.

Rumors abounded earlier that Scott Ian had gotten food poisoning and was unable to perform at the show the night before. When Joey,Frank, and Charlie came out before their show started I knew he wasn’t going to be there either.

They informed us Scott had just been discharged from the hospital that morning, but wasn’t able to play still, but they were going to play and give us a great show no matter what. Scott is really the heart of the band. He’s the most identifiable member for sure and his high energy stage presence is something that really gets me fired up.

I was curious to see how he would be able to handle the smaller stage, but sadly that was not to be. I had faith in the abilities of the others, but wasn’t sure if the show would be up to their usual standard.

Without a doubt Anthrax are one of my most favorite bands to see live. The songs, energy, and performance they put into it are just incredible every time I see them. When the opening strains of “Among the Living” started I thought that the guitar was going to be canned. It was a few minutes into their set that I realized they did have another guitarist there. I’m glad it wasn’t canned.

The band was bound and determined to give their all and the crowd was as receptive to that as the band was. Often a band short an integral member such as Scott will not be able to recover. However, when the music being performed is as timeless and amazing that they were playing and the calibre of musicianship contained on the stage more than compensated.

Was it the greatest Anthrax show I’ve ever been to? No, but it was still incredible. Instead of opting to play the entire album they would play 3-4 tracks, and then play some others, breaking up the album, which I appreciated far more than previous times I have seen bands playing full albums in their entirety.

Sadly, by the time they got to “Skeletons in the Closet” (actually problems ensued earlier) AJ started getting terribly woozy and almost passed out. I helped her out to the car where she said she would be fine and to go on back in and see the rest of the show. Though I hated leaving her like that, I’m glad I did because the show was just so good. They even played “I’m the Man” which I hadn’t heard them play in a while. I was disappointed they didn’t play “March of the SOD” as they had previous shows, but the additional songs were good enough for me.

By the time the show was done and as I was making my way out of Tremont, I was able to say goodbye to pretty much everyone I had ran into earlier. Once I finally got back to the car, AJ was feeling some better. We were both starving so we decided to stop at Denny’s. If you know me, you know my love of all things bacon knows no bounds. Denny’s has a bacon menu, which makes me so happy. I got the Spicy Pepper Jack Bacon Burger with extra bacon, aside of red potatoes with cheese and bacon, and as an appetizer fried mac and cheese bacon balls with this cheese dip. Let me just say that the mac and cheese bacon things are very dangerous. They’re so good I’m pretty sure I could eat my weight in them. After a wonderful meal we made our way back to the house to digest.

Though the circumstances that enabled me to see this show weren’t optimal to say the least, I’m glad I was able to be there. I wish AJ had been able to manage the whole thing, but she saw all the bands she hadn’t seen before and was OK with that. If this tour is coming your way check it out.Hopefully Scott will be back to full health and not miss any more shows. I was glad that the band played on and thankful they put on such an amazing show under the circumstances.

Proof yet again that Anthrax are one of the best bands out there deserving so much more respect than they often get. Well my peep’s,hopefully this will quench your need for my drivel for the time being. Not sure when the next show is coming. Right now I have no plans on the horizon for any shows much like the Raven write up, this could be the end of the road. We shall see. Until next time my peep’s remember: He’s seeing, he’s calling. His legacy,he’s spawning. He’s coming, corrupting. Among the living!

By Chris Martin


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