Universal City, CA – There were already sparks flying. Palpable electricity filled the balmy air on this unusually warm February evening. The doors opened early which was a good thing, because the more Pantera fans drink, the more unruly they become. This crowd needed no artificial assistance. These motherfuckers were ready to kick ass!
While waiting for the first band to complete their set up, the first fight broke out in the seats several tiers above us. As onlookers gathered around and people cheered them on, a parade of security thugs bolted up the stairs to make an attempt at breaking it up. They had their work cut out for them. There was even a girl involved in this fray, and she wasn’t backing off. Jerry Springer, eat your heart out. This was a Pantera show!!!!!!
Nothingface took the stage with a lukewarm response. They had more of a Deftones feel and stage presence to them, but with a louder, more exposed sound. It’s no small task for a relatively new band to warm up a crowd of hardcore Pantera fans. They did their damndest though, and they sounded pretty damn good while they did so. The efforts from Nothingface were obviously appreciated by the audience.
The theater began to fill and get louder, with Morbid Angel next on the bill. I was amused by the thought of seeing my first “true” Death Metal band, especially when I was never a hardcore fan of that genre myself. I thought I would be laughing through the whole set. Instead I was getting into it, and thoroughly entertained. I could sense the amount of respect in the air for this band. They had, after all, been around for a number of years, and have established quite a name for themselves.
The respect Morbid Angel were being given was earned and upped a few notches by this performance. After the set, I heard several audience members around me saying that standard, “FUCK YEAH!” and “Fuck, dude. Morbid Angel fucking kicked ass tonight!”
They were indeed the surprise of the evening, at least for me. And one of the coolest moments was that they had Phil from Pantera take the stage with them to help out on ‘Day of Suffering‘. It was one of the finer points in the show indeed.
Soulfly appropriately blew people’s minds as usual. The same respect that has been given to other metal Gods has been extended to Max Cavalera for a long time. He gives his all when he performs as do the rest of the band members. There’s nothing quite like that tribal sound mixed with the metal edginess that we’ve all come to know and love. It’s an eerie twist that just plain rocks. They gave us a knock-down, drag out performance and didn’t forget to bang the crap out of those amazing drums for us. If you haven’t seen Soulfly… well… DON’T MAKE ME HURT YOU! Had you been there last night you would have seen Corey from Slipknot singing lead vocals on “JumpDaFuckUp”. Hah. Loser. Where were you?
It seemed like forever and a day, but Pantera finally appeared and held us a willing and captive audience for about 2 hours. Philip Anselmo is, without a doubt, one of the most charismatic, hypnotic vocalists I’ve had the pleasure of admiring for over 10 years. He was sure to remind us that Cowboys from Hell came out about 11 years ago. (Has it really been that long? Damn!) And of course, that Pantera are the “Kings Of Heavy Metal, God dammit.” Now, who would be stupid enough to disagree? You wanna go up against Phil Anselmo or the legions of fans that support this band to dispute that fact? Go ahead. I’ll stand back and laugh while you get stomped.
I’ve never seen mosh pits like those at a Pantera show. There is nothing like them anywhere. This night was no exception. Plenty of skinheads and big, shirtless guys with tattoos were messing up that floor in a tornado of “amiable violence”. Sheer beauty. Get those metal horns UP! m/ m/ !!!
Pantera played their asses off. One of my favorite moments was an almost-ethereal performance of “Floods” from the Great Southern Trendkill. It was a pleasant surprise to hear that they chose this as part of the set list, and it just so happened to be one of my favorites on my list of Pantera songs. It was a nice gift, and so beautifully done. Dimebag‘s guitar expertise is showcased so well on this song, and it’s chilling to watch while turquoise and purple lights and laser beams wash over a screaming ocean of flesh.
I can only imagine the blisters on Vinnie‘s fingers after last night’s show. He and Rex held ground just as solidly as ever, and with that seemingly effortless Pantera perfection. The band always make such a party out of playing, and everyone cannot help but yell as loudly as possible when Vinnie emerges from behind that monstrosity of a drum kit. Rex and Dimebag even shared a comical, product placement moment when a couple of crewmembers brought out a vinyl couch with giant Coors Light logos displayed on the cushions. They were having a good time while lounging on it and playing their guitars for a bit. And of course, there was the beer-slinging.
The show came to a close all too soon of course, but not before Philip sent us on our way, making sure to remind everyone to “Get some pussy, and some good booze,…… and Hail Satan, god dammit!!!”
This show, after all is said and done, can be easily summed up in one word that can describe no other band on Earth.