Friday the 30th of April 2010 I found myself at Jaxx again, this time to see Overkill headline the Killfest Tour. Well, not so much Overkill as the openers Vader, God Dethroned and Warbringer, so maybe this review’s title is a bit misleading. Unlike the previous Friday’s Cannibal Corpse concert, or Monday’s Amon Amarth gig (which I missed because they started so early), this concert’s headliner wasn’t scheduled to hit the stage until 11pm. That’s great for me as I work later than most on weekdays and I really wanted to see some of the opener bands too. I got to the venue but couldn’t find any parking, so I had to cross the street and park by the Shell station in the Giant’s parking lot. Of course as I was walking to the venue I saw a car pull out of a spot that was actually, you know, in the correct lot. Always frustrating when that happens. Anyways, I proceeded to walk to the venue.
Warbringer was on stage when I got there, so I went straight to the main room and got up front. I thought they’d be done playing by the time I got there, but apparently things were running a bit late so I got to catch a decent amount of their set. These guys were really a lot of fun to watch live. I’ve enjoyed their studio material but this was the first time I’ve been able to catch them play. In the past week I’ve seen a lot of these modern thrash bands (Skeletonwitch, Toxic Holocaust and Municipal Waste) and Warbringer might have had the best stage presence of all of them. Their lead singer, John Kevill, really got the crowd into it, but on top of that the other guys in the band did a good job of getting the audience excited. This isn’t a band where the singer gets everyone into the show and everyone else just sits there playing their instruments. There was a lot to watch no matter where you were looking on the stage.
Next up was God Dethroned. I saw them headline a show at Jaxx back in October 2009 and they really impressed me with their live show so I certainly wanted to see them again. The last time I had seen them they had a woman on guitar, Susan Gerl, but this time they had a new guy, Ian Jeckelis, who is apparently also a member of Abigail Williams. This show performance wasn’t as good as their headlining gig in October. They were plagued with technical problems, and actually played almost an entire song without vocals nor one of the guitars as Henri Sattler tried to find a solution to the problem. There was a pause for a few minutes after that song while the equipment was set back up, I figured they probably had to cut a song out of their set because of the time it took. The final song also seemed to have a problem as about 90 seconds into it the other guitar seemed to go out and Ian stormed off the stage and didn’t return. A shame the show didn’t go better for them, as they’re a good band and people should pay more attention to them. I did talk to the bassist for a couple minutes after they had played, and he said that after the tour they’d be working on a new album and would probably come back to the US after that was out, though he said he didn’t know if it would be as headliners or as support. He said it would be another album about a battle in World War I, but he didn’t say which it would be this time.
The next band to play was an old favorite of mine, Vader. They’re an old school death metal band I’ve been a fan of since I first heard their album The Ultimate Incantation. They are from Poland and are actually one of the first bands of any genre, not just metal, that broke through the iron curtain to the west, due to their early demo material being highly praised on the old underground tape trading scene (for the young people reading this, that’s what people used to find out about new metal bands before the internet had things like Napster or bit torrent, where people would actually trade copies of demo cassette tapes through the regular mail). Unfortunately Vader wasn’t headlining this concert so they didn’t play all the songs I wanted to hear, though they did play some older material like Sothis and Carnal as well as a good amount of newer songs too. They didn’t play my favorite Vader song Silent Empire, which sucks because that song is so damn brutal. The line up has completely changed, except for main man Peter Wiwczarek, since the last time I saw Vader live (in December 2007). They still played very tight and really got the mosh pit going. I’m glad I got to see them again as they always seem to impress with their high speed death metal assault. And I don’t say that lightly, Vader is one of those bands that’s fast even by death metal standards. I had an entertaining time talking to some of the younger guys in the audience while they set up too. One of them told me how he wished he had gotten to see Damageplan with Dimebag Darrell before he died as Pantera was his favorite band. I really felt old when he stared at me wide eyed when I told him I’d actually seen Pantera play several times!
The next band set to play was going to be the headliners Overkill. I’ve never really been a fan of theirs, they’re a bit too “Waaaaah!!!!” for me, if that makes sense, haha. Since the guys who were in front of me on the railing left after Vader played, I got to stand in the front row and figured I’d give em a shot live since I was there anyways. They took longer to set up than any of the other bands, and before they played Jaxx owner, Jay Nedry, came out onto the stage to talk to the audience for a while. He thanked the all bands playing, the roadies, sound and light techs, bartenders and staff and the people in attendance for coming to shows for all these years. He promoted a few of the concerts coming to Jaxx soon (which you can always find out more about on the Upcoming Shows page here on this site) and gave a toast to the war veterans in the audience. After a few more minutes Overkill hit the stage. Their lighting set up was rather impressive I must say, one of the better ones I’ve seen at Jaxx. I took a few pics and figured I’d shoot a video of one of their first songs before I got out of the front and let someone else up there who really wanted to be there. While I was shooting footage on my regular camera something strange happened that I’ve never had happen at Jaxx before (and I’ve seen over 60 concerts there). Security asked me to put my camera away. What the fuck? I wasn’t shooting with a camcorder (though most clubs don’t mind that these days anyways, but I know that’s a no-no at Jaxx). It really took the fun out of the show for me. If I couldn’t use my camera (which I wanted to use to post material here for my review) then I surely wasn’t going to stay to watch a band I didn’t care about otherwise. I gave the guy behind me a chance to take my spot in the front and then headed to the back of the venue. I bought some merch and a ticket to the upcoming Dark Tranquillity gig and left the venue with a really bad taste in my mouth. Maybe Overkill played a great set but from the 2 or 3 songs I saw them play I wasn’t really impressed with much besides the lighting. I’m hoping Jaxx doesn’t turn into another camera-nazi venue like the 9:30 Club and hopefully this was just a 1 time thing, maybe brought on by the band or something. Anyways, the footage I did get of Warbringer, God Dethroned and Vader is all viewable below.