This was one of the flat out most joyous and happy concerts I have attended. Sure it doesn't top Judas Priest in Bakersfield last year, but for thirty dollars, I got roughly 5 hours of top flight Bay Area-style thrash. All in all, kickass show!
The most noteworthy openers were Hysteria and Hell-Fire, two local power/thrash bands. Check out their Facebook pages, both are among the best young retro-minded bands the Bay has to offer!
By the way, all these sets are 100% accurate.
1. Dying Season
2. Control By Chaos
3. Arrows of Agony
5. Opiate of the Masses
6. Goblin's Blade (with Eric Wong)
7. Open the Grave (with Eric Wong)
8. Death by Hanging (with Rob Dukes)
Heathen were fantastic as expected. The band has become noticeably tighter since seeing them with Exodus a year and a half ago. Darren's drumming was dead tight, and David White sounded even better than last time. Lee's solos also seemed more composed rather than improvised - Kragen's solos were spotless as usual. For Goblin's Blade and Open the Grave, the band was joined by their original bassist Eric Wong, which was definitely a neat surprise. Rob Dukes also came out to do some backing vocals on Death by Hanging, which was fun, even if he didn't really do much. I also got signatures from Lee, David, Kragen and Darren on my Evolution of Chaos LP cover!
2. March Into Fire
3. Step By Step
4. Omega Wave
5. Forsaken at the Gates
6. Through Eyes of Glass
7. Chalice of Blood
Forbidden were great as well, Russ sounded perfect! He hit every scream perfectly, and Craig and Steve were headbanging like there was no tomorrow. Just like pretty much every other Forbidden show, the main complaint is no Forbidden Evil, but whatever. Interestingly, Paul Bostaph was hanging around during the concert and went to chill with Forbidden after their set was done. It's too bad he didn't play a song with them, it could have been a killer guest appearance.
1. The Exorcist
2. The Eyes of Horror
3. Holy Hell
5. Evil Warriors
7. Swing of the Axe
9. My Belief
10. Fallen Angel
11. Burning in Hell
12. Beyond the Gates
Encore Kinda Sorta
15. Death Metal
Possessed were the surprise of the night for me. Say what you will about the present lineup, but they just DESTROYED Oakland a few hours ago. Every single song had an active pit going for it, and all the instruments sounded heavy as hell. Jeff was rocking out in his wheelchair, and his vocals sounded even more evil live than on the original albums. They tried to do an encore, buf Jeff was taking so long to wheel off the stage after the lights went down that they just wheeled him back to center stage right away! If you get the opportunity, the present version of Possessed is not to be missed.
After Possessed I caught the last couple songs from Attitude Adjustment, an old crossover thrash group from the '80s. Chris Kontos, who drummed on Burn My Eyes by Machine Head is probably their most well known member. I was lucky enough to see them open for Anvil with a 45 minute set two years ago, but I managed to catch only Johnny and Grey World this time around. The band sounded as good as I remembered, but Chris sounded a lot more in control this time. When I saw them two years back, Chris could barely keep up and his drumming straight up sucked at the time.
1. Bonded By Blood
3. Pleasures of the Flesh
5. Brain Dead (with Harald Oimoen)
6. Deliver Us to Evil
7. Hells Breath
8. Metal Command
9. No Love
10. And Then There Were None (With Rick Hunolt)
11. A Lesson in Violence (With Rick Hunolt)
12. Strike of the Beast (With Rick Hunolt)
13. Whipping Queen (With Kirk Hammett and Jeff Andrews)
14. Impaler (With Rick, Jeff and Kirk)
I shit you not, this setlist just happened. During Brain Dead, Harald from D.R.I. came out and did that Russian kick dance thing across the stage. It was random, yet awesome. And yes, we went apeshit went Rick came out to play. Dude seems to have kicked heroin finally- he looked so happy onstage and was running all over the place. He was hi-fiving Lee, and doing plenty of classic guitar poses with Gary. I don't think he'll be back in the band anytime soon, (Lee is the better guitarist anyway IMO) but if he keeps making guest appearances I'll be happy. And of course, when Gary introduced Kirk (the guy who told him to pick up a guitar apparently), the place went ballistic and we were all freaking the fuck out. After every other song or so, Gary would give an anecdote about Paul Baloff, which was a nice touch for the evening. Whipping Queen sounded beyond awesome to hear in good quality - hopefully the band records it at some point. When Kirk came in, they were also joined by Jeff Andrews, their original bass player. Pleasures of the Flesh and all the extra BBB tracks were a ton of fun to hear as well in addition to the usual classic. Impaler was just flat out badass, Rick, Lee, Kirk and Gary all soloed, making the song quite a bit longer than it normally is. Sticking with songs that Baloff was associated with was a cool idea, but Exodus not playing Toxic Waltz should be illegal, even if they play all of Bonded By Blood in exchange. Rob did a fine job with the songs, and even ordered security to let people stagedive, which I thought was super chill on his part.
Last thing- the crowd was among the best I've ever been in. The kids moshed their hearts out while the adults kicked back with their beers and reminisced about tours past. There was almost always pit action going on, and a "Baloff! Baloff!" chant would start many times during Exodus' set. Pretty much every Bay Area regular was here for this show, from Metal Bob, the awesome retired old metalhead who somehow affords to go to every show, to the metal-blogging MILFs and the denim-clad thrasher kiddies. Simply put, this was one of the most fun gatherings of Bay Area metalheads I've been to since Tidal Wave- tons of familiar faces, and everyone was there to celebrate Paul Baloff's memory, Bay Area-thrash style. If there were any posers at this show, Baloff's soul eradicated them before they could enter.
I said this on my Facebook, but I'll repeat it here. I have never felt so proud and honored to be a member of the greatest thrash metal community in America- Long live Bay Area Thrash and long live the legacy of Paul Baloff!