DOWN With Black Label Society, Butcher Babies, and Devil You Know Verizon Theatre, Grand Prairie Friday, May 23, 2014
Ten-year-old Jacob Trueblood had been waiting to meet Phil Anselmo all night. He'd been telling his mom that he wanted to give him a hug. He's been listening to Pantera and DOWN for several years now. He has their t-shirts and dozens of their photos saved on the computer. He even dressed up as Dimebag Darrell on Halloween. Tonight, he took a pen and wrote "UNSCARRED" on his stomach just like Anselmo's tattoo. But standing on stage with his hero was something he never expected.
The Verizon Wireless Center in Grand Prairie was packed this evening, Friday night, and a sea of moving bodies surged in the pit as DOWN stirred the crowd into the frenzy as "special guests" of the Revolver Golden Gods Tour. The headliner was Black Label Society, joined by opening acts the Butcher Babies, a band fronted by two she-devils, and Devil You Know, a new act featuring lead singer Howard Jones formerly of Killswitch Engage. But the true stars of the night were DOWN and their young fan.
Unafraid, Trueblood stood before the crowd, holding the microphone. And when the band started playing "Walk" by Pantera, he did what he normally does when he hears the song: he sang his heart out.
"Re-spect/ Walk!/What do you say?" he sang, looking down at the crowd and up at his hero. It was hard for him not to look at him. He'd been listening to Pantera in his mom's car since he was two years old. And now he was living the dream and earning the respect of Anselmo and guitarist Pepper Keenan.
"He might be the coolest kid in the world," said Kennan.
Anselmo noticed Trueblood sitting on his uncle's shoulder near the corner of the pit and motioned for him to come onstage. He was banging his head like a true metalhead, displaying a Pantera T-shit with the words "20 Years Beyond Driven" written on the front. The crowd parted for him as he walked confidently toward the stage.
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"Everybody was being really respectful," said his mother afterwards. "It was a dream come true."
Anselmo, too, looked like a mentor teaching his student as he motioned for Trueblood to roar with all that his small body could muster. Trueblood leaned his head back, held up the microphone and roared. "Walk!" The crowd echoed his call. He looked like a kid who'd fit right in with Dime's Little Kids Who Rock foundation. It's not hard to imagine that In a few more years, he'll be rocking the stage like Wylde and Anselmo who bumped fists with him after he finished his roar.
Later in the night, the crowd would raise their fists and yell when Anselmo returned to the stage at the end of Black Label Society's set with Rex Brown while Zakk Wylde played the opening licks to "I'm Broken." From my vantage point, one could almost imagine Vinnie Paul on drums as Wylde paid homage to his fallen brother. Dime would have been proud.
But the best part of the night was when he gave a hug to his hero. Anselmo smiled, returned the hug and then raised Trueblood's arms up like the champion he was. It was a feeling of respect, of friendship, of brotherhood that permeated throughout the evening as DOWN dominated the stage. It was their last night of the tour, and it felt like Dime was with us the entire evening, especially when Zakk Wylde and Black Label Society invaded the stage with a wall of guitar amps behind them. The metal roaring that night was far beyond driven.