Gig scored a bunch of free tickets and wristbands. I was a little under the weather. My yearly encounter with the flu had hit a few days prior. Nonetheless, we all met up at 7pm. A long line of metalheads orderly wrapped around the venue. The streetlights beamed down on the Zilch brothers' hairy arms. Scattered grunts and growls permeated the North shore. It was cold and windy, but hardly unbearable.
I was curious to see what the crowd would actually look like. Lots of balding, middle-aged men. I'd estimate the median age around 42. I wondered how aggressive the pit would get, considering the crowd wasn't a bunch of invincible spring-chickens. We gulped down our wine and I slammed the remainder of a vodka/grapefruit concoction. We also had orange wristbands which gave us access to the upper floor. This turned out to be a good thing. I had no desire to get pushed around and sweated upon. I don't like it when some sweaty, shirtless fat-ass from Zelienople comes a rubbin' up on me. For that matter, Dormont too.
We took some seats in the balcony. I'll make this statement now. Someone is going to fall and/or get pushed off the balcony at Stage AE. The entire length of the metal barrier that serves to prevent such a tragedy is only waist high. This needs to be addressed by Stage AE ownership asap. Totally a lawsuit waiting to happen. I'm thinking the indomitable Cindy Berger of Berger and Green could take the lead. I can't believe it hasn't already happened. Especially when the upstairs is packed. It's just a matter of time.
Anyway, Death Angel came on and ripped through 5 or 6 songs. These guys are relentless. The lead singer still has that voice along with some of the longest dreadlocks I've ever seen. Kind of like a trash metal entangled Crystal Gayle. I was briefly transported back to 1989 when I saw Death Angel open for King Diamond at Bogart's in Cincy on their Frolic Through the Park tour. I'll never forget hanging with the drummer after the show. He was sneaking us Corona's, while a little concerned about getting busted for underage consumption. At the time, we were 18-19, and the drummer told us he was only 16. Just an amusing side note I think about from time to time. They had a different drummer for this recent tour. Their set was over way too fast. I think they played for maybe 35 minutes.
Next up was Testament. Chuck Billy must be the most the most terrifying San Fransiscan American Indian on the planet earth. I've had a number of encounters with these guys - all from the New Order and Practice What You Preach era (1988-1990) in Pennsylvania (City Limits) and Ohio (Bogart's, Newport's). Gig managed to snag a copy of their set list from the sound guy. Very cool. The first half of their set, I knew all the songs. The second half, I had no idea what the hell was going on. I made a sign that read...
(your children well)
...and hung it from the balcony. Other than our group, I don't think anyone saw it.
We stuck around for the first 3 songs of Anthrax and then bolted the hell out of there. I've always been a little annoyed by Anthrax. Twenty years later, I can't forgive them for that "I Am The Man" rap song. Back then, they embarrassed the trash movement with that nonsense. I recall some of my lamer Def Leppardesque classmates yapping about how cool Anthrax was. My responses were typical of my mindset at the time, "You idiots don't know shit about heavy metal."
As for the nature of the pit and crowd surfing, it was more rambunctious than I expected. One guy in particular, he wore a red and blue jersey with the #7 on it. This guy was taking on anyone he could with a tenacious Pixburgh sumo-yinzer dispostion. Another guy in a leather jacket was purposely doing Anderson Silva UFC-inspired high knee kicks. Totally out of line. All in all, I'd say the pit exceeded my expectations. And I liked our vantage point from the relative safety above (until someone falls over the ledge of course).
We made it back to Gig's in time to see Tim Tebow lead the Broncos to a Thursday night victory over the NY Jets. 6 1/2 points my ass. I had a hunch about that game. Praise his light. I actually think Tebow has struck gold as the new evangelist leader of the NFL. Tebow's basically saying to Kurt Warner, "Take your midwest St. Louis legacy and stick it up your wife's ass." At least that's my interpretation. Kudos. Honestly, Tebow deserves some degree of credit. Not praise, just credit. He's going to have one of the top selling NFL jerseys in no time. Win or lose. That's the beauty of acknowledging the lord. Everyone's a winner. Even if you lose, you win. And that's the greatest winning streak of them all.