With Anthrax and Death Angel
Gas Monkey Live!, Dallas
Friday, Oct. 7, 2016
There is no group of fans more dedicated than thrash metal fans. The genre clichés of pseudo-satanism and glorified violence may seem a little tired, but for those who have been listening to Slayer and Anthrax for over 30 years, none of that matters in the slightest. On Friday night, droves of people at Gas Monkey Live! capitalized on the opportunity to behave in a way that otherwise functioning adults could not. They came to raise hell.
They needed little encouragement. It wasn’t long after Anthrax took the stage that drunken, middle-aged white men were being forcefully removed from the venue. Songs like “Caught in a Mosh” and “Fight 'Em 'Til You Can’t” raged behind the chaos, as if to underscore exactly why everyone was there. Throughout their set, Anthrax did little to interact with their constituency, opting instead to power through their songs. Like a well-oiled machine, they raged on, playing their songs with urgency.
However, with what may have started to feel like a mechanical performance, the band decided to indulge the audience with two covers: “March of the S.O.D” by Stormtroopers of Death, and “Antisocial” by Trust. Of course, the crowd chanted along to the chorus, pleasantly surprised by the familiar tune. The band closed with “Breathing Lightning” and a song titled “Indians,” a piece that resonates just a little bit more following the events at Standing Rock and the fight against the Dakota Access Pipeline. With that sentiment lingering in the air, Anthrax thanked Dallas, and departed from the stage.
There was an anxious half hour before Slayer showed up, and by that point many of the people in attendance were very drunk on over-priced beer. On the far wall, a frustratingly long line had formed in front of the merch table, with eager fans desperate to purchase apparel. Perhaps the alcohol made them more willing to part with their money, but even if that was the case, it is doubtful that they would regret their purchase the following day. It was Slayer, after all.
Finally, Slayer appeared on stage, instruments in tow. Gary Holt sported a shirt that said “Kill the Kardashians,” something that was perhaps in poor taste given Kim Kardashian's recent mugging in Paris, which prompted Kanye West to abruptly end one of his concerts out of concern for her safety. Kerry King, meanwhile, was adorned with a Slayer t-shirt, because you’re never too big for shameless self-promotion. Contrasted with Tom Araya’s simple black T-shirt, the band's trusty satanic imagery seemed that much starker, as pentagrams and upside down crosses dart around a bunch of dudes who look like they are dressed for a family cook-out.
The members of Slayer proceeded to tear their instruments to shreds. They opened with the title track of their latest album, Repentless, a fitting title for a group so closely associated with violence and evil. They powered through equally angry and ominous songs such as “The Antichrist,” “Hate Worldwide” and “Mandatory Suicide.” That's when Araya spoke to the crowd, challenge them by shouting, “Do you think you can handle us?” — which, again, seems far less menacing when you aren’t covered in spikes or human blood. The crowd, of course, ate it up, only catalyzing further insanity in the mosh pit.
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With that, Slayer doubled down, hastily ripping apart every song on their setlist. “Fight Till Death” seemed to be taken a bit too literally by some, as it led to yet more removals from the building. This did nothing to quell the momentum, as “Dead Skin Mask” and “Born Of Fire” were blaring through the speakers, drawing closer to the end of the night. Without much finality, Slayer “closed” with “Hell Awaits,” hardly entertaining the idea of not receiving an encore request. The band left the stage for what was maybe 60 seconds, before returning to add four more songs to an already lengthy 16-song set, finally actually closing with “Angel of Death.”
Even after the show had resolved itself, fans were still charged up and belligerent, with a few getting physical amongst themselves and with the staff. All things considered, people probably experienced an incomparable high through this type of benign aggression, a fitting way to celebrate the 30th anniversary of Reign in Blood.