Show In Review: AZ Kick-Off to Slayer’s “FINAL” World Tour
The day started in Las Vegas. I filled up my truck and picked out my playlists for the 4 1/2 hour drive to Phoenix. I took off around 10 am and got to my hotel around 230. I’d say I didn’t make bad time despite the traffic. Parking wasn’t going to open up at the venue until 430 so I just killed time watching nonsense on the TV before heading out.
Ak-Chin Pavilion is kind of in an out of the way area in Phoenix. It’s not directly downtown in the middle of a bunch of large buildings. Parking wasn’t a complete nightmare which was nice as some venues have poor parking management.
The VIP merch that I had purchased with my pre-sale ticket was at a booth outside of the venue. There was debate if you could then bring some of the items in the venue after the fact. I guess since it was no re-entry it gave people the opportunity to put it back in their parked vehicles so they didn’t have to hold it the whole show. It was nice to have a cinch sack to hold my random treasure trove of items throughout the show though.
Security included metal detectors, emptying your pockets in trays and the front and back wanding that is standard for large venues. The line for beer and food was almost non existent but the merch line was a completely different story. it was stacked to high heaven with people trying to get their tour T’s before they all sold out.
I was able to snag a tour T with all 4 bands on it and some Slayer patches for my battle vest before making my way down to the GA Pit in front of the stage. They made me pour my bottle of water into a large plastic cup (but why?) before allowing me down there to get my wrist band that had the disclaimer that entering the pit area was at your own risk.
Overall this venue was very segregated. It made it hard to socialize with friend who didn’t have tickets for the same section and made for a much smaller pit area than the one at SAP Center in San Jose, CA.
Cannibal Corpse started it off . After taking a bit of a break playing live it was nice to see them come back in spite of the controversy that had transpired with Pat O’Brien’s arrest earlier in the year. Long time Death Metal artist and producer Erik Rutan did a great job of filling what could have been a big void on stage. His years of experience have prepared him well and set expectations for a great future for the bands tour.
Normally a headlining band , their set was a mere 30 minutes this time around. Playing to a half empty venue with a lack luster crowd amid the stands. Have no fear though, George “Corpsegrinder” Fisher’s signature windmill head banging was in abundance throughout the entirety of their performance. Their opening number was Evisceration Plague (2009). Followed by classics like I Cum Blood (1992) and Hammer Smashed Face (1992). Unlike those in the stands, the crowd in the pit at this point in the show was clearly full of fans who knew their discography to include the memorizing of lyrics to the songs played.
Amon Amarth came out with stage fog and lighting that gives the feel of a Viking raid. A long ship adorned the stage with drummer Jocke Wallgren stationed at where a mast would be. Johan Hegg has that magnetic front man aura emboldened by his deep voice and Swedish accent. Not to mention the pure shredding talents of Ted Lundström , Johan Söderberg and Olavi Mikkonen .
Having seen them before in Boulder, CO a couple years back I had my expectations set high. They did not disappoint. Just non stop riffs, chest piercing drums and headbanging. Opening up with The Pursuit of Vikings (2004) their set list always tells a well put together tale. They went on to give a live debut of songs from their long awaited album Berserker, Playing Raven’s Flight very evidently inspired by the Norse God Odin who, in Norse Mythology, is referred to as the “raven-god” and Crack the Sky . They also included Twilight of the Thunder God (2008) with Hegg swinging around a giant hammer prop. Followed by toasting to beloved Slayer for including them on the tour and their 30+ defaultyears of contribution to the metal community to Raise your Horns (2016). Closing out to make us all feel empowered with Guardians of Asgaard (2008).
Their energy is always unreal as the sing praises to the Norse Gods. Tales of battle and feasts a like. Although they do not like to be referred to as “viking metal” or really put in any category, if you like Folk music with a metal twist you more than likely will enjoy the fuck out of what these guys blast on stage. They tore my ears asunder with yet another epic and memorable performance. I am looking forward to seeing them yet again back in Vegas in October this year.
Given the fact that 2 Lamb Of God ‘s prized guitars were stolen right before they went on (the culprits have been caught) . I was amazed with their poker face capability on stage. it was great to see them make it about the fans rather than about getting fucked over by some degenerates that had nothing better to do than steal from people who have earned their place and were there to make the hearts of so many fans flutter and rage.
They opened up with Omerta (2004) with that ever philosophical monologue as they emerge from the dark abyss of the sides of the stage. Randy Blythe jumped around the stage like a mad man for the additional classics Walk With Me In Hell (2006), 512 , Laid to Rest (2004) , REDNECK (2004) and more.
Mmmmm SLAYER!!!!!! When people ask me who my favorite band I wont chose but when they ask me who my favorite band is to see LIVE …Hands down, I will drop everything , take time off my day job and travel across the country to see Slayer.
Slayer put on a grand performance as always. Leading in with Repentless (2016) , Evil Has No Boundaries (1983) live for the first time since 2000, Mandatory Suicide (1988), Chemical Warfare (1984) and more. Switching up their set list from the last time I saw them. They saved fan favorites like Angel of Death (1986) , Dead Skin Mask (1990), Black Magic (1983) and Raining Blood (1986) for the end of their fire infused multi-back-dropped set. Kerry King looked like he was dry-humping his guitar for most of their performance which had me laughing hysterically. While Gary Holt, guitarist for both Slayer and Exodus, wore his signature “Kill the Kardashians” T-Shirt.
While the thrash legends played their were a couple of fires among the lawn area mosh pits as the thrash metal legends hit our ears with their euphoric war-cries The view of the stage where the pyrotechnics occasionally made the face of two fire demons was fantastic. I had migrated from the pit to one of the party boxes higher up in the venue with my buddy wheels. Some dude stood directly in front of him. So he asked him to move, after which the guy responded that wheels should just stand up. It was unclear if he saw the wheel chair and was being a dick of if he was ignorant of the fact as their was a wall like barrier between the two parties. It did not keep me from snapping a picture of him for your delight and after staring him down for a good five minutes him and his lady left the premises for good.
The show overall was a bit lack of luster for me having been spoiled by my previous Slayer show. The pit was not as large and the crowd not as brutal or friendly. Most of the people in attendance in the pit and seating areas seemed to be on a date night and more concerned with their personal space than enjoying themselves. It’s fucking SLAYER, I expected more. The lack of crowd brutality lead to a very somber and docile experience. Although the crowd energy was still magnetic at certain points I yearned for another show like the one at the SAP Center.
The Head-bang Over
After running into Chris and Roman, the drummer and vocalist from local band Malnourished , and braving the exit of the parking lot. I made my way to Jack In The Box as the after show meet up spot. The lobby was closed and so I ventured over to the Waffle House where a slew of others were waiting for booths to open up.
Some of the people in Waffle House were very inebriated. One was so drunk and in my face I decided to leave prior to causing him physical harm. The dude was wearing an Empyrean Throne t-shirt. I made a comment that I had seen them here in Vegas not too long ago. The dude said he didn’t know who they were and just thought the design was cool. I’m not a snob per say but I became one in this instance and told him he was breaking commandment number one (don’t wear band t shirts of bands you don’t know or listen to). He then asked me if i wanted to arm wrestle, I told him it was his funeral…it just escalated from there. He put his arm around me and I asked him to remove it. I ended up getting in his face and then leaving before my temper really got the best of me.
I sat in my truck waiting for wheels to show up so we could head back to the hotel. On the way we made a stop at Taco Bell because we were both starving. The Taco Bell we pulled up to was out of beef, beans and shredded chicken….we had to ask the lady what was left on their menu that we could possibly order. We ended up with some power menu steak and grilled chicken burritos and a couple ice waters for some post show grub finally.
Everything hurt so we spent the next day doing nothing. I napped pretty much all day that Friday. Skipping a local show to sleep more of my exhaustion off.