Gigantour 2006 was my first ever metal festival experience, and it was one that I just might remember more for the “extra curricular” aspects rather than the bands themselves.
Originally my friend Sam and I were planning on going with this lady who is a friend of the family’s, and she was going to be our ‘adult supervision’, if you will. My parents were cool with her taking us, and she’s into metal, so it was gonna work out great......until she flaked out at the last minute. Apparently she didn’t know the show was starting so early, and she couldn’t get there ‘till 7 at the earliest. Not a good start, and really put the whole evening in jeopardy because my parents don’t let me go to shows (big shows that is, not like local things) without an adult there. But for this they made an exception, making it the first show I would go to with just a friend and pretty much complete freedom
That would be vital at several parts during the day.....
Though we planned on arriving a lot earlier, we decided fuck it and took the 4 PM train across the Bay. On the train we met this weirdass motherfucker in a Pantera shirt who would not stop talking to me, and apparently also just got out of jail, which made me just a tad uneasy
He practically stalked me and my friend until we got to the venue, and we luckily made it out of his grasp (for a time) when he stopped for a bathroom break at the Oakland station and we sprinted ahead to the venue. The guy caught up to us inside, and we saw him again several other times throughout the course of the evening, which was really strange considering it was a crowd of 2000-3000 people. Luckily though he left us alone after that and we got to enjoy the show in relative peace.
We got inside around 5:30 and to our surprise heard Arch Enemy playing Reading reviews of the Idaho show, The Smashup came on at 4 and the lineup continued in order from there. They must have definitely started earlier today because AE were already into their second song by the time we arrived. I was looking forward to seeing Into Eternity and was slightly disappointed to miss them, but oh well. We scampered down and found a nice spot to watch them from. We would navigate freely throughout the venue for the duration of the evening, due to the fact that it was not even close to being filled to capacity, unlike last Sunday for Tool where it was nearly overflowing with people.
The 2 stages were set up at opposite ends of the main floor, which is a basketball court so just imagine stages where the hoops would be. Arch Enemy was on the bigger stage at the further end of the venue, and actually we got to see behind the scenes the crew setting up for Overkill on the small stage. Arch Enemy played a nice 40 minute set, pretty much exactly as I expected they would be; unspectacular, but decent. They had the Doomsday Machine cover up as a banner behind them. Angela is a great frontwoman I think, and they all give a lot of energy out there on stage. The sound was a lot clearer this time then when I saw them opening for Maiden in 2004, and I really liked the songs they chose to play. Here’s the setlist:
2.) Dead Eyes See No Future
3.) My Apocalypse
4.) The First Deadly Sin
5.) I Am Legend/Out For Blood
7.) We Will Rise/Bridge Of Destiny
NOTE: we got there in the middle of Dead Eyes See No Future, so I’m just assuming they opened with Nemesis judging from the Idaho set.
After that we made our way to the other end of the venue to have a good view of Overkill. I wish that they had been on the floor when it was all said and done though, cuz they are really a band that you need to experience from right up in front of the stage. Absolutely 100% metal as fuck; this is what it’s all about. The pit denizens and old school thrashers were out in full force crowding the stage for them, giving a clear distinction between the hardcore fans and the ‘spectators’. Bobby Blitz is a fantastic lead singer, and had some awesomely hilarious comments. “Nice to see all you ugly black-hearted motherfuckers again”; “Lots of old friends here tonight, and nice to see some kids in the audience, ya wanna see what’s it all about huh?”. This one now before Old School..... “So ya think you’re 18 again uh? Well lemme tell ya you’re not, we’re not. Death is the great equalizer for us all, but hey, we can have some good times along the way! This for you motherfuckers who were there from the start. Back in New York when we were growing up........ we just drank some beers, and we broke some heads, and we never gave a shit!” Then during Fuck You, when the crowd wasn’t exactly as loud as they could have been....”See guys, I told ya we were in Sacramento”
As they wrapped up the song and their set though Bobby stage dived into the crowd and surfed his way around the pit, so fucking cool. This band epitomizes what heavy metal is all about. They played loud, fast, hard, energetic, right in your face, with musicianship and some serious chops to boot. I cannot wait ‘till I get the chance to see them in a small venue. Here’s what they played:
2.) Wrecking Crew
4.) Long Time Dying
5.) Nice Day...For A Funeral
7.) Old School
8.) Fuck You
Finally, it was time for the band I was actually most looking forward to seeing......OPETH! Playing with the Ghost Reveries backdrop and some spooky lighting, they proceeded to play a solid set that lasted about an hour. I wasn’t dazzled, as had hoped to be, but they were really good. Lots of crowd support too, which was nice to see, even though the pit was getting going even for a portion of Windowpane
We were back to the left of the soundboard next to it, and the sound was certainly not as crisp as I would have hoped for. Lindgren’s guitar was nearly silent the entire night, and Mikael actually had to play his guitar parts and sing at the same time when there was only one guitar going and nothing else, which is when the second guitar should actually be taking over. Other than these minor quips, plus the fact that I don’t think Ghost Of Perdition is a good opening song (way too long), their set was enjoyable. Godhead’s Lament was great to hear since I’d never heard it before, and Deliverance and The Leper Affinity totally brought the house down. I also have to comment on Mikael’s live persona; the guy is fucking great. His witty clever comments and general good humor was a real treat. Before Windowpane he called himself a pussy and said he likes to play pussy songs, then encouraged the fans not to be a pussy like him. No ego whatsoever
1.) Ghost Of Perdition
2.) Godhead's Lament
4.) The Leper Affinity
After they finished the lights came on and me and Sam went to grab a little snack. Looking around, I noticed that this was easily the most metal crowd I’d ever been a part of it. Besides all the LOG heads, there were some serious metallers there, and I actually got 2 nice comments on my Anthrax backpatch (“Now It’s Dark”). But pretty much everything you would think of was represented, from Zeppelin to Burzum and all in between. Lots of underground black metal tee’s, you know like the ones where you can’t even read the name of the band
Of course tons of real thrashers as well, Laaz Rockit, Testament, Kreator, Sodom, and others. Saw a few Tool shirts too, and actually talked to a guy who was there a week ago as well. Overall I was quite pleased with the metalness of the crowd. I think the highlight though was seeing a little kid who could not have possibly been older than 10 in an Arch Enemy shirt with “Pure Fucking Metal” written in huge letters on the back, and he was with his dad too who totally looked like he did not want to be there
So, Lamb Of God.....I realize that there are a lot worse bands out there, but what they stand for is what really makes me hate them, not just the dull uninspired garbage they call music. Their fans are total sheep, and everyone there was just having a love affair with them. “Stereotype fools, playing the game, nothing unique, they all look the same”.....I found it ironic that this song pretty much accurately defines a crowd like this. Of course my friend and I were like the only people in the building who loathed them, and we tried our best to get a reaction, shouting shit between songs and being as obnoxious as possible, but everyone was in their own little world too much to care. Damn. Anyhow, I have to say that aside from the music, it was a pretty damn good show. The lights were, frankly, incredibly well done, and they had the huge stacks of amps on their side of the drum riser which made the stage look pretty awesome. Lots of smoke and shit too really set the mood for them; basically, if you’re a LOG fan you will not be disappointed. They fucked up Laid To Rest though, I think it was tuned wrong or something cuz it sounded much different than the studio version. I hate how a band like this can get to #8 on the Billboard by essentially butchering Pantera & Death riffs and melodies and adding some lame hardcore imitation vocals. Randy Blythe (lead singer) tried to gain some street cred by reminiscing about their days playing the Pound and opening for Cannibal Corpse, at which point I yelled out “Is that when you used to be good or something?” and of course he had to give the usual ‘stick it to the man’ bullshit about shoving the record companies pop out the door and thanking everyone profusely for supporting ‘real’ metal. Who the fuck are you, you stupid hick bastard. Oh well, if it brings so many people joy then who am I to condemn it, but it still makes me sick to see these guys get rich as fuck when there are zillions of imitators who sound exactly like them. Hell, I’ll go to one of the local gigs and hear the same shit. The crowd was easily the most receptive of the night for them, and I must admit that watching the pit just go insane for 90 minutes was pretty tight. But, yeah, fuck Lamb Of God. As for a setlist, the Idaho one looks pretty correct, in terms of order all I know is that they opened with Walk With Me In Hell and the last 2 songs were Redneck and Black Label.
During the break for Megadeth they played some old school metal over the PA, and me and this dude from across the venue exchanged air drumming during Wrathchild, Riding On The Wind, A Dangerous Meeting, and The Boys Are Back In Town, was pretty fun
My buddy and I were hellbent on being on the floor for ‘Deth, so we scouted out a spot to jump down onto the floor from. Security was super tight though, and we finally settled back dead center about 5-10 rows up, with the side rail overlooking the lower floor entrance right next to us. There was a staff guy patrolling the area directly around us, but this was still pretty much the only way to make it. The lights went out, and they had some artwork and backdrop on stage with stuff from what I assume will be used when United Abominations comes out next year. They blasted straight into Blackmail The Universe, with the news voices over the PA and then Dave’s trademark snarl. However, for the first 3 songs we were mainly concerned with trying to get on the floor, so I can’t tell you a whole lot since my mind was focusing more on the crowd and security activity. I got a huge adrenaline rush when they cranked the main riff to Set The World Afire, a great surprise for sure and one of the tightest performances of the night. The song went by like a blur, as did Skin ‘O My Teeth. Finally, during The Scorpion, me and my buddy had a brief window of a opportunity and took full advantage of it. We climbed over the rail and dropped a good 10 feet to the floor below, then sprinted past the big security guys and into the crowd where they couldn’t pursue us further. All I have to say is....METOL!1 Was definitely worth the risk, as we got right up close smack dab in the middle right next to the circle pit that had developed since Opeth. Dave & Co. played a blazing set from then on, and he gave a couple nice talks, including before Sweating Bullets where he miny ranted on journalists calling him up asking him about Gigantour, and he narrated it perfectly as he segued into the “Hello me, meet the real me” part
Then after Reckoning Day came the great surprise of the set. He introduced the next song by saying “We weren’t planning on doing this one live tonight, and it’s a song we don’t usually play, but you guys have been so great and so loud tonight that we thought we’d give ya a little treat”. Immediately a familiar riff comes in, and I’m thinking to myself shit, this is something off Rust In Peace I know but I can’t seem to recall it! Then shortly it hits me.....TAKE NO PRISONERS!!!!!! The band jams out the song all the way through without vocals until the end with the “Take no prisoners, take no shit” part, probably because the crowd was already belting the other lyrics the whole time. Dave was in a great mood the whole night, and was just smiling and truly looking thrilled while they were kicking this one out. Love the spontaneity here, was really a treat. The rest of the set went down amazingly well, lots of pyro and some massive heart-stopping explosions as well. They debuted Washington’s Next with full arrangement and lyrics (contrary to the tease they did in Idaho), and it sounds really promising. Lyrically I could make out that it was, obviously, very political, and it featured what is sure to be a sing-a-long chorus at future shows. It was nice and thrashy too, really reminded me of Kick The Chair in fact; I think it’s gonna turn out to be a great song. The rest of the set rocked hard too, with another highlight being Holy Wars and Dave absolutely demolishing his guitar at the end of the show. I’ve never actually witnessed firsthand a guitarist do that, only seen it in videos, but it was really a cool way to go out with pieces of guitar flying through the air
1.) Blackmail The Universe
2.) Set The World Afire
3.) Skin 'O My Teeth
4.) The Scorpion
5.) Wake Up Dead
6.) In My Darkest Hour
7.) Die Dead Enough
8.) She Wolf
9.) Sweating Bullets
10.) Reckoning Day
11.) Take No Prisoners
13.) Hangar 18
14.) Tornado Of Souls
15.) Kick The Chair
16.) Washington's Next
17.) Symphony Of Destruction
18.) Peace Sells
19.) Holy Wars...The Punishment Due
Overall, a really fun and memorable show, and I’m sure all of you going to Gigantour will feel like you got more than your money’s worth. Good work Dave.