Friday, September 16, 2011

The Big 4 at Yankee Stadium

After jumping through many hoops, I scored tickets to the Big 4 at Yankee Stadium. Hassles abounded—absurdly expensive parking, rowdy fans spilling beer on my wife and me, interminable bathroom lines—but this was still a magical show. Here's my review (with slideshow) on the TONY blog.


1) Before the whole Big 4 hype cycle began, I knew next to nothing about Anthrax (just a few vids from late-’80s/early-’90s MTV). Now I'm fascinated by them. Their new album, Worship Music, is addictive—it satisfies my appetites for both chewy thrash and super-melodic Dio-esque wailing. Their back catalog is great too; I love the weird mix of technicality and cartoonishness. As I suggested in the review, it was easy to be psyched for them at Yankee Stadium.

2) Slayer, man. I'm not sure I've ever seen a band perform with such sustained intensity and sheer obnoxiousness. Of course the records are great—at least the old ones; was checking out World Painted Blood yesterday, and the thin-sounding production was bumming me out a little—but I had always taken these guys for granted a bit. Never again. Serious dedication to craft plus blitzkrieg energy.

3) Just about any Metallica set list would feel like a greatest-hits compilation. They can pull out a relative obscurity like the Master of Puppets instrumental "Orion" late in a stadium set and not risk losing anyone's attention. Question: Is Metallica the greatest large-scale rock band currently performing? I can't think of another with a deeper or more varied catalog. I think I'd even put them ahead of Rush, given how well they balance chops and muscle with sheer sing-along-ability. If you have a chance to see them, go—they are currently on devastating form.

4) To me, Megadeth's set was the least engaging of the day, but as with Anthrax, I'm very happy to have reawakened to Mustaine & Co. recently. I was a big fan of Countdown to Extinction growing up, and I saw the band twice in the ’90s (once with—are you ready for this?—Stone Temple Pilots opening!). For whatever reason, though, I never delved into the back catalog. That was lunacy, because Rust in Peace is a total monster. The ruthless tightness and giddy progginess of this record add up to pure smiles for me. It's unsettling, demented, uncompromising music—like a more grotesque, off-the-wall …And Justice for All.

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