On October 8, 2018, Lee and I got to check off a couple of things on our bucket list: I got to meet the mighty Kerry King of Slayer and Lee got to attend his first Thrash Metal show. Looking back, it was an epic night for us both and it wouldn’t surprise me if Lee showed up for work this summer in an Anthrax t-shirt.
The workings of that night involved some tricky timing and the delivery of several boxes of musical gear to Kerry. It just so happened that Lee and I were tasked with taking this gear to Lakewood Amphitheater and being in the perfect spot at just the right time. We worked it and finagled our arrival until we hit the entrance to the backstage where two all-access passes and tickets were given to us. Now we were inside the “forbidden zone” and headed for the backstage area. I had to tell myself be cool…
Simply put, the backstage of a Slayer tour is a very interesting place to be, especially if you’re not used to being there. It reminded me of a traveling circus- an assortment of characters that are actually a big family. I easily imagined being a part of a tour like that and I had to hold down my excitement whenever a member of Testament, Slayer, Anthrax, Lamb of God or Napalm Death walked by. Lee was just chillin’- he’s more of a Classic Rock guy, so when Tom Araya walked from the dinner tent to his dressing room, he hardly noticed and I had to tell him who he was. Now, if that had been Gary Moore or Phil Lynott, I believe the story would have been a tad different. That’s the cool thing about music- there’s always a little something for everybody.
When we delivered the boxes to Kerry, I pulled out a setlist I had taken from the lighting desk on the Divine Intervention tour back in ’94. He seemed genuinely surprised that someone would pull out a setlist he had not seen in 24 years. We chatted about the songs ( a couple were being played that night) and he signed it for me. Then he and Lee started talking about the tubes they used in their perspective Marshall amps. The conversation quickly turned into what I call “guitar speak.” It’s not a language we bass players quite understand.
After meeting Kerry, who was one of the coolest guys I’d ever met, we went out front to take in the show. Although we had already purchased tickets up on the lawn (I’m cheap when it comes to concert tickets these days,) the ones that were provided to us with the passes were 15th row, center. Nothing but awesomeness right there. We hit our seats right as Anthrax hit the stage and for me, it was as if I were watching them back in ’87. They were not playing around and sounded fantastic, Being a bass player, I just watched Frank Bello run around the stage as if he were 20 years old when actually, he’s only two years younger than me. Good for him that he still gets to be in Antrax, doing what he loves.
We finished up the night with a blistering set from Slayer and Gary Holt did a fine job on guitar as the replacement for a lost brother, Jeff Hanneman. The band was tight and again, it was easy to imagine that I was back in the 80’s at about 175 lbs and with hair down to my back. On the way home, I babbled about each band to Lee, explaining who was who, which band members were original, who put out which albums and on and on. He graciously listened, realizing that it was a special night for me as I’d been following these bands for decades. It was my favorite music and made for one hell of a night.
I have my backstage pass and signed setlist all framed up- the wife just rolls her eyes when I fawn over it, but that night did exactly what it was supposed to do- take me back in time. Anyone who’s been going to concerts for over 40 years will understand what I’m talking about and if that’s the magic to be taken with one night with my favorite bands, then it’s alright with me.
Gene Hoglan and Steve Di Giorgio of Testament