This year is the third round for Metal Alliance Tour. Every year they collect an awesome lineup of bands to tour around US and Canada. This year’s tour features Anthrax, Exodus, High of Fire, Municipal Waste and Holy Grail making this the year of thrash after last years more death metal heavy lineup.
The show at the Regency Ballroom in San Francisco was sold out in advance. This was so surprise because of long history of thrash in the Bay Area and Exodus and High on Fire, the local guys being on the bill. The audience was very mixed with plenty of old thrashers, some with their kids, and younger thrashers who may have found the style through newer bands like Municipal Waste.
When Holy Grail took the stage the audience was just starting to trickle into the venue. Their short set was mostly played to empty hall as there were more people at the merchandise stand than in front of the stage. Still the guys put up a spirited show and thanked people for coming in early to support them. It’s always hard to be the first act, but even more so in a concert that has so many great bands following you and the audience paces themselves so that they’ll have energy for the bigger acts.
Municipal Waste took the stage as more and more people walked in. The audience was eager enough for the set that they managed to stage synchronized “Municipal Waste” shoutout. And they were not let down. The energetic performance by the band really got the audience going. By the time they played Beer Pressure and Thrashing’s My Business… And Business Is Good, a circle pit opened up and the hall echoed during the audiences turn in The Art of Partying. Municipal Waste closed the circle for thrash fans. As a relatively new band they really brought even the older fans back to the roots of the genre and focused on having fun and partying.
You can’t really say that High on Fire’s more sludgy set slowed down the show even though the pace of the music might have been a tad slower. The local guys from Oakland had tons of fans in the audience and Matt Pike’s raw delivery shook the audience to the core. If there was anyone in the audience that hadn’t heard of them before they definitely would be finding more about High on Fire.
For many in the audience, Exodus was the reason to come to see this tour. The local thrash legends are appreciated in the Bay Area like no other old school thrash band. If you look at who’s who in thrash metal there are not many bands that didn’t have members that at one stage or another, played in Exodus. Obviously they have had an enormous effect on the genre and the signature two guitar riffing with alternating solos was pretty much invented and perfected in the early days of Exodus. The audience went wild when the guitar riffs of The Ballad of Leonard and Charles broke out. And there was no stopping until the set was over. The atmosphere at Regency was something that you rarely find. The audience was fully engaged with the music and followed Rob Dukes’ request to open up the whole floor for a circle pit during Toxic Waltz. The set also contained other classics like Bonded by Blood and the fitting last song, Good Riddance. As an extra surprise for the fans, Rick Hunolt joined the band for Strike of the Beast.
Having to follow Exodus in the Bay Area is a tall order for anyone. Anthrax showed why they are considered one of the “Big Four”. Maybe the audience was still recovering from Exodus when Anthrax took the stage, but it felt like it took a couple of songs until they really got into the music. But when they did there was electricity in the air and when the audience got to sing back, I Am the Law they were fully into Anthrax. Jon Donais of Shadows Fall was filling in for lead guitar and it did feel like he was playing with Anthrax instead of in the band. Only on few occasions did he take the stage and really play for the audience. There has also been a lot of changes with the drummers with Jon Dette filling in for Jason Bittner who was filling in for Charlie Benante who’s still supposedly the actual drummer for Anthrax. Luckily for Anthrax Scott Ian, Joey Belladonna and Frank Bello have such a strong presence on stage that they could easily hold the audience on the palm of their hand. As if they needed any more help, Kirk Hammett of Metallica sprang onto the stage to play AC/DC’s T.N.T with the guys. The audience went nuts when Scott introduced him and said, “He plays in a local band. I see good things in the future for them.” Anthrax played Among the Living in it’s entirety and finished the set with I’m the Man and the cover of Trust’s Antisocial as encores.