Death -- San Antonio, TX -- October 12th, 1990
I was a sophomore at the University of Texas and the host of the metal show on the campus radio station at the time. I had set up an interview with Martin van Drunen of Pestilence, so a (non-metalhead) friend and I headed down to San Antonio early to check out the show and hang with the bands.
The Showcase Theatre (or Event Center, or something like that) is no longer with us, but it was a pretty cool place to see a show. It was sort of typical of a Texas venue at the time – a non-descript hall in a strip center on the outskirts of the city. I had seen Death and Devastation there about 6 months before, and both bands had been on-point, so I was psyched to see Chuck and co. again, but not nearly as pumped as I was to see the Euro Death gods Pestilence.
So we got there, chatted with Pestilence's tour manager, who I think was Graham van ter Heege (still remember that...), and were introduced to van Drunen, who is just pretty much the coolest dude ever. We headed back to the tour bus (Surprisingly nice. Roadracer must have thrown some $$ at them.) where there were death metal groupies everywhere (not really) to do the interview on one of those old tape recorders (1990, baby). I remember talking about emerging death and grindcore bands like Napalm Death and Morbid Angel, his opinion on the “scene” and all sorts of crap like that. Anyway, out of the other dudes, Uterwijk and Foddis were quiet, and Mameli seemed like a douche. I guess that's not shocking.
After waiting around a bit, we had to wait in line to get in, even though we were on the guest list, and I remember there were a bunch of dudes of Mexico there. Not guys from the Valley, but from Mexico. My buddy was fluent in Spanish, so we were chatting with these guys, who had open containers of beer, when the cops show up and start being dicks not to us, but just to the Mexicans. Apparently that was, and probably still is, typical.
So, on to the show. Carcass opened, and to be honest, at that time, they were a novelty act for me. I had heard “Exhume to Consume” on the Grindcrusher compilation and thought it was hysterical. I wasn't quite ready for grindcore in 1990. Call me a poser. From what I remember, the crowd liked them. I would only get into them beginning with Necroticism.
To say Pestilence kicked ass would be a huge understatement. To this day I've never heard such a powerful guitar sound. At one point, Uterwijk's guitar cut out, and it was a little jarring, but once he got cranked up again, it was as if the walls were going to come down. I don't think at that point in time, besides maybe James Murphy, that any death metal guitarist had the chops of those guys.
22 years later I don't remember all the details, but according to setlist.fm, here's the set from a week earlier in California:
2. Echoes of Death*
3. Chronic Infection*
4. The Trauma*
5. The Process of Suffocation*
7. Reduced to Ashes*
8. Suspended Animation*
9. Out of the Body*
I don't remember hearing a new song (“Testimony”), but that doesn't mean it didn't happen. They definitely closed with “Out of the Body,” which is my fave death metal tune. Van Drunen's vocals horrified everyone in a good way, but I don't think he really tried to play the bass. Perhaps we wasn't plugged in. Never really his forte.
Oh, yeah, this was a Death show. They sucked. Chuck had sacked James Murphy after the North American jaunt in the spring, replacing him with Albert Gonzalez from the Evil Dead, but he didn't make it to this show for some reason, so they played as a 3-piece. Chuck seemed uninterested in being there, and I think they played 7 or 8 songs and called it a night – very disappointing, especially after the greatness of the set earlier in the year with Devastation.
Then I got a speeding ticket on the way back to Austin, but that couldn't ruin the awesomeness that was Pestilence.