Show In Review: Slayer of Dreams
I spent my morning grabbing some turkey day needs from Great Buns Bakery before heading home to munch on some fresh pastries and write to kill time before getting ready. Picking where to park was a debate. Taking a Lyft or Uber would cost just as much if not more than the $20+ the self parking in the parking garage or valet would charge. I remembered there were still a few spots within walking distance that did not yet charge for parking. Just before I picked my pair of chucks to adorn my feet for the night the doorbell rang with a package.
It was my Gorgatron merch I had ordered earlier in the month. (I swear I don’t have a problem, my hangers just keep disappearing and that’s why I don’t have enough for all my band t-shirts.) Anywho…After opening my box of treasure, I made my way toward the venue in my beautiful boy Ernest. I parked at the Tropicana because it’s free (for guests but I’m a rebel) and braved the cold unrelenting wind to reach the main entrance of the MGM Grand, venturing through the casino following the signs towards the venue box office.
When I got to the venue box office I was directed to head outside back into the cold at an outside box office. I was told to get there by 3 pm via the meet and greet e-mail. and arrived at 230 to be extra punctual. There were plenty of familiar faces to chat up while I waited.
No signs pointed to an area for VIP or Meet & Greet. No staff outside seemed prepared to inform any of us where the hell we needed to go. So essentially all of us fellow show go-ers relied on each other for information. Getting bits and pieces from various staff members but never the full story and then piecing it together like a metal family jigsaw puzzle.
I got my tickets from the box office and then they called for Slayer VIP and Meet & Greet to come check-in inside the venue. We went through metal detectors before having our IDs checked to cross off our names from their list and collect our merch packages and lanyards. The VIP merch consisted of a laminate ticket, a pick set that I initially though was mints, a patch and a pin. While they were nice the last VIP merch package I received when I went to see them in Phoenix was more bang for my buck in my opinion. We were then hustled back outside to wait for them to call us at 340 for our Meet & Greet or 430 if you just had VIP early entry.
They called us in again this time not checking any ID’s if you had a lanyard you were good. We were huddled into the lobby and told as a group not to ask the band too many questions or give them anything to sign and to use the rest room to rid ourselves of sweaty hands prior to meeting them. The meet and greets didn’t actually start until around 420. We slowly started to move towards the room the camera and backdrop had been set up in. When it was almost my turn, a slew of emotions hit me. I was excited, nervous, anxious, scared…hoping it would be a positive experience that I could cherish as a timeless fond memory.
Unfortunately it was not to be. The experience left me disappointed, jaded and slightly bitter. Having had the veil of ignorance ripped from my eyes. This is not my first meet and greet experience but the first one I had with Behemoth spoiled me and set a bar that has yet to be met again. We were herded in like cash cows for the slaughter. Now with Amon Amarth I at least got a signed personal item on top of a killer VIP merch package complete with metal pins in a nice wooden box, a signed poster, a wall banner and a SIGNED poster.
When it was my turn I saw them and got super excited just stopped and gasped in disbelief that I was meeting my favorite band in the flesh. I asked if I could hug them and was told “no sweetie” by the man waving people in an out of the room. With a strike like lightning of disappointment I moved forward to shake their hands. At this point I could barely make eye contact with the band feeling struck down as unworthy.
I wasn’t able to tell them about how their music impacted me, show them the tattoo on my forearm, give on of them a hug, or tell them about the 4 guinea pigs I had named after their albums back at home. I got to say “hi” get some half ass handshakes and awkwardly pose while respecting the bands space for the most expensive photo I’ve ever taken. It was maybe a 30 second to maybe a 1 minute experience. I was motioned to leave having paid $350 bucks for disappointment and shattered dreams (this excludes the price of my 2 VIP GA tickets which made my grand total upwards of $700.00 give or take) They easily made 20k to 35k on meet and greets alone. And then the merch was marked up 200% what their online store prices were for various items.
I used to think Slayer were not sellouts like Metallica. My mind had almost changed and I was pretty crushed at this point. I felt their love for money more than the love for their fans. They haven’t gone on stagy yet and I’m already dirtied and violated by the experience.
The saving grace was getting to be on the barricade right in front of the stage. People were literally let in and running to spots. After that some already very drunk shorter gent tried to out scream me and whipped his frizzy locks in my face like they were impressive and would make me feel inferior using the fact that my hair was straight as some sort of delusional rebuttal (my hair is naturally dead ass straight …whatever). On the plus side I could still smell the shampoo so at least I now he washed it before putting it on my face.
Phil Anselmo and the Illegals took the stage in style coming up one by one to Down on Phillip’s Escalator by The Amboy Dukes. Phil greeted the Vegas crowd that had come early enough to see them play and noted the seperation of the GA areas by metal barricades of the floor that would continue to block a huge circle pit from forming for any band throughout the night.
Phil and his Illegals played all Pantera covers. Bringing Shawn Knight of Child Bite on stage to perform I’m Broken with them. Followed by an appearance of Charlie Benante , Drummer from Anthrax . The crowd joined Phil in singing happy birthday to Charlie before diving into Strength Beyond Strength . Other songs played included Mouth for War , This Love and their closing number Walk.
As guitar pics and set lists were thrown into the crowd security was told due to safety issues that they were not permitted to pick up anything and then their dick of a supervisor who gave them this directive picked up a set list in front of our area of the barricade (stage right center-ish) and handed it to people over on stage left. Then he handed picks to people in our area. I of course called him an asshole and made sure to make it known how unfair it was.
Ministry was an odd choice to have on the bill as Industrial metal is a very different sound and vibe than Thrash. That being said, their set almost immediately blinded me when they took to the stage. If you want to see what the ministry set looked like from where I was standing here you go. It was a struggle to even look up at the stage as they were playing since the lights kept flashing extra bright in my eyes and this photo is identical to pretty much all the photos save one . I feel like they were trying to blind the crowd so we couldn’t see that they have aged.
Front man Al Jourgensen, came out singing viva Las Vegas playing into the stigma that our city is nothing more than a center for cheesy entertainment. While I have an appreciation for Ministry via their recorded albums I cant say that I enjoyed their set live they did bring some level of energy to the stage that I will commend them for. Their set list included The Missing, Deity, Stigmata, a cover of Black Sabbath’s Supernaut, Just One Fix, N. W.O. , Thieves and Jesus Built My Hotrod.
Primus, now let me start off by saying I think these dudes are massively talented. However, I don’t think this was the right bill for them. Now the prog fans out there that are super fan boys will go into how Primus is amazing and that’s fine. Like your prog metal, it just isn’t my cup of tea live. As much as I tried to get into their set I just couldn’t. It was like watching two dudes who had almost no crowd interaction having a jam session on stage. Yes they used to play with Slayer back in the day as both bands came up in the same area but still…it lacked a wow factor for me and left me bored and fidgety . While I didn’t enjoy it there were those in the crowd that were all about these progressive musicians playing classics like My Name Is Mud , Wynona’s Big Brown Beaver , Jerry Was A Race Car Driver , Too Many Puppies and more.
During their set my plus one went to get us water while another dude tried to push in on his spot in the railing that my friends and I had defended. This gentleman proceeded to tell me I’m at the wrong concert among other things. I have never had to tell someone to fuck off that many times in my life. It got to the point where security got involved after a while. This gentleman then proceeded to talk shit behind me loud enough for me to hear it in full. I was all for swinging back if he tried to get physical.
My buddy came out from backstage to give me a hug at my spot on the barricade railing before Slayer’s douche canoe of a stage guy (who also was the one who told me I couldn’t hug any of the band members during my meet and greet) proceeded to try and scold him. Is this guy the fucking hug police? Security didn’t seem to have an issue with my friend giving me a hug so he can fuck right off. It was also passed along to me by parties backstage that this ass hat was trying to confiscate phones from anyone taking any kind of photos backstage.
Now despite my utter disappointment with the way my meet and greet was ran Slayer’s performance for the night did not disappoint. I was practically center stage watching them play as close as I’ve ever been to them while they had instruments in hand. The black curtain with the word slayer projected before the music started and the lights went up and there stood Gary, Kerry and Tom along with Paul sitting behind the drums.
The fire from the pyrotechnics was intense and gave me some welcomed warmth in the otherwise oddly cold venue. It made me happy and almost erased everything that had happened hours before. Tom’s wife, Sandra, was right in front of him for almost the whole 20 song set. She was signing along and he would look at her and smile during some of the breaks between songs. It was an absolutely adorable exchange to witness.
From Repentless and Mandatory Suicide to Stain of Mind, to the exclamation “God Hates Us All!” over and over again during Disciple , Payback (because its a bitch), Seasons in the Abyss , Chemical Warfare, South of Heaven, Raining Blood, Dead Skin Mask (my favorite song to sing along to 🙂 ) and wrapping up with Angel of Death. It was one big smokey, well lit, engaging performance complete with FIRE. And who the fuck doesn’t like fire? I love pyrotechnics. they had my undivided attention in all their thrashing glory.
Graze the skin with my finger tips
The brush of dead cold flesh pacifies the means
Provocative images delicate features so smooth
A pleasant fragrance in the light of the moonDance with the dead in my dreams
Listen to their hallowed screams
The dead have taken my soul
Temptation’s lost all control~Dead Skin Mask by Slayer
After the end of their set they threw drum sticks and guitar pics into the crowd. And Tom stood in various spots on stage looking out at the crowd, waving his goodbyes to everyone. Of course I teared up a little bit. I’m not crying. YOU’RE FUCKING CRYING!!!
The night had not ended up being a re-creation of the show I experienced in San Jose, CA last year. Not even close. No show has topped that show. This line up did not work for me. Or for the venue that was giving away seats to player card members and had $20 seats on group-on, many of which still remained empty throughout the show.
After the show was over we shuffled through with the rest of the crowd either exclaiming their pleasure for how the show went or voicing their disgruntled disappointment with the lineup and the limit to how far to the front you could get in standard GA. Once we got through the exit it was a slow sore paced hike to the Tropicana parking lot. On the way through the MGM Grand we stopped at Subway to pick up some much needed sustenance before making it to our vehicles and back home to pass out.
The day after was of course Thanksgiving. I woke up to go about preparing for the day and found myself crying in the bathroom. It hit me that would potentially be the last time I see them live. Tears and emotional heart string pulling aside, this was probably the least sore I have ever been from a Slayer show. The only thing that hurt was my feet from standing for so long after so many shows over the last couple weeks.
I don’t know if this is really the end but I do know that if they can’t top San Jose 2018 I will probably be skipping the next round of “farewell” tour dates.