Anthrax Show Report From Jaxx in Springfield, VA
Band Photo: Forwardhead (?)
Thursday, October 6, I made it out to Springfield, VA to see Anthrax play at Jaxx. I’d been looking to catch them live since before they started touring with their reunited “classic” lineup including singer Joey Belladonna, but I thought the classic lineup would great to see as well. I was actually quite pleased that they had a headlining gig in my area since I’m not a big Priest fan and would rather Anthrax had a headliner’s time to play.
I’d read on the Internet that day before getting in my car for the hour and fifteen minute drive - due to traffic and rain – that the show was nearly sold out. It didn’t surprise me, as Jaxx is a pretty small club, holding maybe a few hundred people at most. What did surprise me was that Anthrax was playing there in the first place, but apparently they have some history with the club and/or owner.
I barely got there in time to make my interview with Joey (which will be online shortly). Just as I wrapped that up and made my way back into the club, the first local opener was just about set up and ready to play.
They were MOAB, from Rockville, Maryland. Their name is presumably taken from the latest weapon of mass destruction by our very own government named the “Mother of all Bombs.” Those things make Daisy Cutters look like firecrackers. That’s a big moniker to live up to. MOAB was one of the best local openers I’ve heard yet and played a good half hour set. They have some excellent riffing and pack a combo punch of fast riffs with double bass rolls for some good tempo changes in their songs. The vocals were shouted not quite hardcore style, but a little too loud and in the forefront of the guitar work. They were handing out 3-song demos after their performance and after listening to that, the vocals are about the same on the demo as well. Don’t let that stop you from checking out this excellent band though. Their music had just the right amount of aggression, heaviness, speed and excellent riffing for my tastes. They even pulled off a decent rendition of Pantera’s “Mouth for War,” which was quite impressive, and had a better stage presence than most bands of their experience I’ve seen.
Next up were Forwardhead, a local Baltimore-based band. Forwardhead are a three-piece with the guitarist doing most of the singing with a little help from the bassist. They weren’t as heavy as MOAB, but had a very professional sound and intensity reminiscent of Tool or A Perfect Circle. In fact, the singing style as well as the heavy bass reminded me a lot of those bands. Forwardhead played a very tight set and sounded great throughout, despite not being as heavy or straight metal as MOAB or Anthrax. They played about a 40 minute set and in the last two songs, they proved that they can do the extended jams like Tool does as well. Personally, I was bored by the last two songs, as with Tool’s long jams, but the rest of the set was excellent and intense in a different way from the other bands that night.
After a full half hour of tear down and set up, Anthrax was ready to go by 10:00. After some weird intro recording and music, they took the stage to a frenzied reception. Upon taking the stage, they immediately went into “Among The Living” and a good classic mosh pit ensued. You know, the kind where people are packed tight and bouncing off of each other, as opposed to a big open pit with a few big guys pushing each other into the people into the outskirts of the “pit”. I had not seen such a good pit since Slayer’s show several years ago and it was refreshing to see. After “Among the Living” Anthrax played “Got The Time” and “Caught In a Mosh.”
In the first three songs, one thing was readily apparent – these guys were having a blast playing on stage. They weren’t just feeding off of the crowd’s reaction - the crowd was amazing and knew all of the words, or at least the choruses - but the band members seemed to be truly enjoying what they were doing as well. This harkened me back to that Slayer concert a few years ago once again, where I was surprised to see such a grin on Tom’s face in between delivering lyrics of hate and aggression. It is somewhat ironic for guys playing such music to be up there smiling and loving it like they were, but it only served to intensify the experience even more. The guys in Anthrax love what they’re doing, I loved what they were doing – it sounds like a fuckin love-fest, right?
Wrong. The next thing that soon became apparent was that almost every one of Anthrax’s songs they played – shall I say every one of their “best songs” that are all on their best-of collections and are staples of tour sets – almost every one of them has great riffs as well and a speed metal part later in the song followed by a return of that heavy riffing. Even the songs that had more of Joey’s high pitched screaming, which I don’t particularly like, sounded awesome. The mosh pit did not last all night as it did for the first three songs, but the songs lent themselves very well to keeping some sort of pit going.
Joey Belladonna sounded good, at times showing his range, but the volume was up a little too loud and his vocals were often distorted or nearly lost under the driving guitars, heavy bass and pounding drums. The guitars at times were a little too distorted - you know that reverberating sound speakers give off when there’s too much bass or low-end guitars and they start blending into a distorted mess. That wasn’t a frequent problem though, as the sounds was just on the brink of being too loud overall. Luckily the sound guy didn’t turn up the volume as their set went on, as he often does.
Anthrax only played their older classics as the night went on and nothing from the John Bush era. Their set was actually much like their Gigantour set, with a few more songs thrown in I think. They played most of their “hits” such as “N.F.L. (nicefuckinlife)”, “Antisocial,” “Indians,” “Madhouse,” and even threw in “Medusa,” which I had not heard to that point but liked just the same for its heaviness.
Anthrax stopped playing after about an hour, which was too soon to fool anyone that they were done. They came back on to play a few more songs. At some point in the encore, they played a portion of Pantera’s “A New Level,” which sounded great as well. I was surprised that they played “I am the Man” because it seems more like a joke song in which they rap to a simple but heavy riff sounding something like the Beastie Boys. It was good though and the crowd seemed to like it as much as the rest of their songs. They ended with “I Am The Law,” which I was never fond of due to the high pitched vocal parts and almost 80s hair metal sound in parts, but it was twice as heavy live and those heavy riffs really made it a much more likeable song.
The crowd clearly was into Anthrax’s performance and songs all night. There were fists and horns in the air nearly the entire time. In fact, after twenty something attempted photos – all of them with arms blocking the band members or through the middle of the photo – I gave up on taking pictures. That and the fact that the floor was shaking and bouncing much of the time and a mosh pit started up on the left side of the floor where I was a couple times as well made photography an exercise in futility.
In the end, Anthrax played just over an hour and a half. It was the second show I’ve been to recently in which the crowd was so appreciative of the band that they remained in place cheering and shouting even after it was obvious the band was done playing for the night. (Apocalyptica was the other one.) Anthrax came out to thank the audience and take a bow. The energy of the band and the crowd made this one of the most enjoyable shows I’ve seen. Even if you’re not the biggest Anthrax fan, they deserve some respect for sticking with their music for so long and they have plenty of kick-ass classics that are awesome to hear live.
You can check out my few decent pics I took in the photo gallery.
Anthrax are still on tour with Judas Priest through October and have some scattered headlining dates along the way and to the end of the year as well. Check them out when you get the chance. They haven’t released any new material in a while, so who knows how long they will be on the road before taking time off to write a new album.
Remaining Anthrax tour dates are as follows:
Anthrax w/ Judas Priest
10/09 - Atlantic City, NJ - The Borgata Casino
10/11 - Poughkeepsie, NY - Mid Hudson Civic Center
10/12 - Montreal, QU - The Bell Center
10/14 - Ottawa, ON - Corell Center
10/15 - London, ON - John Labatt Center
10/18 - Winnepeg, MB - Mann Mts Center
10/20 - Edmonton, AB - Rexall Place
10/21 - Calgary, AB - Pengrowth Saddledome
10/23 - Vancouver, BC - Pacific Coliseum
10/24 - Vernon, BC - Vernon Multiplex
10/26 - Salt Lake City, UT - The E Center of West Valley
10/28 - Kelseyville, CA - Konocti Harbor Resort & Spa
10/29 - San Diego, CA - San Diego Sports Arena
10/30 - Long Beach, CA - Long Beach Arena (w/ Rob Zombie)
Anthrax Headlining dates
10/16 - Flint, MI - Machine Shop
10/22 - Spokane, WA - The Big Easy
10/27 - Boise, ID - The Big Easy
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