October 8th, 2010 – Nassau Coliseum, Long Island, NY
As I drove through the parking lot of Nassau Coliseum, the bass riff of “Dawn Patrol” thundering at top volume, I kept thinking about what a great deal my ticket for this show was: $40 for three of the most legendary and successful metal bands of all time (Megadeth, Slayer, and Anthrax, and if Metallica been added to the bill to complete the Big Four, that price would have easily climbed to $150). Not that the Big Four would ever get together to play an epic 5-hour show together or anything.
It was the 20th anniversary of the 1990 thrash masterworks Rust In Peace and Seasons In The Abyss, so both records would be performed straight through. I’ve always enjoyed that, as it’s like a giant listening party for the benefit of the especially eager fans. When you’ve taken the time to appreciate every song on the record, it’s rewarding for you and the band, since you both get to hear and perform songs you usually don’t get to hear live.
The home of Islanders hockey was alive with metalheads, the parking lot full of tailgating, drinking, and chatter. I made my way through the awkward circular concourse, past the busy merch booths and concessions stands. I chose one with a relatively short line, and as I’m patiently waiting for my beer, an exultant Slayer fan (who had likely made a few visits to the stands himself) stumbled up to me and slurred the words to “Dead Skin Mask”:
“Dddddaaaaance widddadead-e-my dreeeeeaaams!!!”
I wonder how to respond. Should I be embarrassed or just go with it?
Just go with it. You’re at a Slayer show. I respond in my best Tom Araya impression the next line of the song: “Listen to the hallowed screams!”
“WOOOOO!!! FFFFUUUCKIIINNN SLAYYYERRR!!!!” Overjoyed, the guy high-fived me and went on his way. “Stella, please,” I tell the cashier.
I find my seat and eject the drunken fellow occupying it with some help from a big guy sitting nearby with his girlfriend. Over the next ten minutes, I learned that this was his 20th Slayer show, and that he had gotten the shirt he was wearing from their 1991 world tour. Impressive.
Caught in a Mosh
Fight ‘Em ‘Til You Can’t
Metal Thrashing Mad
I Am the Law
Anthrax exceeding my expectations, although they were limited to a 30-minute set. They had recently reunited with original singer Joey Belladonna, who sprinted around the stage wearing a headdress for “Indians.”
They also debuted a song from Worship Music, their latest album at the time, for the hometown New York crowd: “Fight Em Till You Can’t.” I also loved hearing my old favorites–”Madhouse” and “Antisocial” particular highlights that took me back to when I first fell in love with metal in high school. They even went all the way back to the first Anthrax record with “Metal Thrashing Mad” (sorry, “MAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAD!!!!”).
It would have been nice if they had more time, or attempted a John Bush song with Joey on vocals, but Anthrax was a wonderful starter act.
Holy Wars… The Punishment Due
Take No Prisoners
Poison Was the Cure
Tornado of Souls
Rust in Peace… Polaris
A Tout Le Monde
Symphony of Destruction
“Rust In Peace” is one of the most thrilling album experiences of all time for me, and witnessing it live was terrific. Not only were Megadeth fans treated to concert staples like “Holy Wars” and “Hangar 18,” but we also got to hear gems like “Lucretia” and “Dawn Patrol,” which was accompanied by a life-size Vic Rattlehead meandering about the stage. Dave Mustaine and company were perfectly on point. Each break between songs was was punctuated by yells of “DAVE! DAVE! DAVE!”
“Tornado of Souls” elicited the elicited the loudest yell of all from the audience, the fleet-fingered soloing always a hit with us thrash fans. The celebration of one of metal’s crowning achievements ended with a brief reprise of “Holy Wars.”
Mustaine kept his audience interaction minimal, which was a mild surprise because he was starting to acquire a reputation for onstage political comments. Tonight he limited himself to an obligatory, “Fuck Obama.” Even though most of us shared his distaste for the country’s so-called leadership generally speaking, at least he kept it short.
It didn’t spoil the evening though, because when “Peace Sells” comes on, you drop what you’re doing and you headbang.
1. World Painted Blood
2. Hate Worldwide
3. War Ensemble
4. Blood Red
5. Spirit in Black
6. Expendable Youth
7. Dead Skin Mask
8. Hallowed Point
9. Skeletons of Society
11. Born of Fire
12. Seasons in the Abyss
13. South of Heaven
14. Raining Blood
15. Aggressive Perfector
16. Angel of Death
If Megadeth makes an audience want to headbang and play air guitar for a “metal party” kind of atmosphere, Slayer makes an audience absolutely lose it and go crazy. Slayer fans are nuts. From my seat about 20 rows up from stage right, I could see the effect this band had: the whole place was a mosh pit for the next hour and a half. I estimated a crowd of six or seven thousand.
Two new songs from World Painted Blood (their latest at the time) set the table for Seasons In the Abyss, one of Slayer’s best and most consistent albums. The band’s big live sound brought their work to the audience with full force in spite of Nassau Coliseum’s reputation for poor acoustics.
“I’LL KEEP YOU FOREVER!!!!!” Tom Araya wailed like the madman he’s describing in “Dead Skin Mask.” Drummer Dave Lombardo was also fun to watch, his practiced fills never missing. And the duo of Kerry King and Jeff Hanneman (who had yet to be diagnosed with the spider-bite disease that would eventually claim his life), did their part to create the hellish atmosphere Slayer is so good at.
The audience became awash in red light for the final handful of songs. When it was time for “Raining Blood,” there was such a cacophonous cluster of red and white strobe lights going off at once, flashing and whirling with blinding speed. Combined with the head rush I got from headbanging for the song, I actually thought I was going crazy (some of you committed headbangers know exactly what I mean. It’s amazing).
I was still reeling from it as we all headed for the exits, but the Slayer fans had not had enough. They weren’t ready to go home. They started up a sports chant.
[clap, clap, clap-clap-clap] “LET’S GO SLAYER!”
[clap, clap, clap-clap-clap] “LET’S GO SLAYER!”
I departed the Coliseum with a classic eagle-logo Slayer shirt, the pentagram waving proudly as I hoisted it above my head in triumph.
Looking back on this show (five years ago now!), Jeff Hanneman is not the only one to whom I must bid “RIP.” The building itself is closing down too.
One of the reasons Nassau Coliseum meant a lot to me is because of memories like these, of some of my first metal shows (though it also means a lot to me as an Islanderes hockey fan). It was the only place of its kind in suburban Long Island where I grew up–a landing pad for the heavy metal saviors that came to rouse my island from its slumber in the shadow of New York. We suburbanites too, were worthy of a visit from the metal gods.
It’s not like that won’t continue now that the Coliseum is closing. There are a couple of smaller venues left (like The Paramount in Huntington and Nikon Jones Beach), but it’s a tough business to be in regardless, and now bands have one less possible location to crank up their noise.
The politician-whores swear up and down it isn’t their fault that they couldn’t agree on a new arena, resulting in the loss of this concert venue and an NHL hockey franchise. I’ll still have my metal memories from this place–but God damn these people for ensuring I won’t make any more of them.
May they spend many seasons in the abyss.
Written by Matt P