On Sunday, September 30th of 2012 the New Orleans based southern/stoner metal band Down played the Fillmore Silver Spring. Also on the bill was the doom metal band Pentagram, the Texas based thrash metal band Warbeast and a blues rock band from Ohio called Mount Carmel. I had just seen a great doom and stoner concert with Saint Vitus and Weedeater at the Black Cat three nights before (read that concert’s review here), so would this show live up to it?
The first band to play was Mount Carmel, however I only caught about one of their songs. They did make an appearance on stage later in the night but I’ll get to that later. They’re really more of a throwback bluesy rock band and since this is a metal site I’m not too upset I didn’t catch enough to review them. The second band of the night was the heavy thrash band Warbeast. They’re from Texas and feature members of the old school Texas thrash bands Gammacide and Rigor Mortis. Warbeast seemed to get a good response from the crowd with their catchy riffs and flashy showmanship but they didn’t really do anything I hadn’t heard from a thrash band a dozen times before. The highlight of their set was when Down’s vocalist Phil Anselmo came out to do guest vocals on a song with them (my video of that is posted below). You could tell Phil was really trying to get the audience into Warbeast which makes sense because they’re on his record label, Housecore Records. Warbeast played a lot of material off of a yet to be released full length which was cool for their fans. Overall I thought they were a decent opener but as far as thrash goes they were pretty typical and generic. They just didn’t stack up to the Vektor show I had seen two weeks earlier (my review of that concert is here) and while their energy got the crowd pumped up they just didn’t seem to fit in with the other slower paced bands on the bill that night. The next band to play was the legendary doom metal band Pentagram who were originally based in Washington DC. It was announced (here) the day of the show that this would be guitarist Victor Griffin’s final US concert with the band as he will be leaving them, again, after their upcoming European tour to work on his other projects. While offstage the band’s vocalist and founder Bobby Liebling comes across as a man whose years of hard drug use have left him rather frail and weathered he showed that when he gets on stage he’s still got it. Like most of the older legends of the doom metal scene he knows heavy, depressed and weary, but he also has a quirky side that isn’t afraid to laugh at himself. If you had any doubts about this going in they were instantly dashed when Bobby dropped trou on stage to reveal some skin tight pants covered in eyeballs of various sizes. While I had a photo pass for the band’s first three songs he did this afterwards so I have no photos of said pants, although I have posted video footage you’ve got to see to believe of him wearing them below. The band really was in great form and played a lot of their older classics as well as a few from their latest album, 2011’s Last Rites. The biggest problem was due to no fault of their own as the microphone had technical issues throughout their set. It got so bad that Phil Anselmo walked out on stage and started yelling at the sound guy to get things fixed! Regardless Pentagram played their asses off and really showed that after all these years their material still holds up, their sound is still heavy and they’ve still got it live! Bobby walked around on stage like he owned the damn place and Victor, cool as ever, cranked out those classic riffs and even did some back up vocals on some songs. Had the show ended after Pentagram played it would still have been a great concert but next up was the headlining act, Down.
Down is a stoner band with a strong southern metal bent from New Orleans. They are often referred to as a “super group” since the band’s line up includes such notable musicians as Pepper Keenan of Corrosion Of Conformity, Kirk Windstein of Crowbar, Jimmy Bower of Eyehategod (on drums no less!) and Phil Anselmo of Pantera. Since the members have so many other band commitments Down doesn’t tour very regularly so when you hear they’re coming to town you should probably get off your ass and go because who knows when they’ll be back. That said, if you missed the show the band just released Down IV Part I: The Purple EP so perhaps a part two will be coming soon and Down be touring again in no time. Down started their set off with their song Eyes Of The South and followed it up with their latest single, Witchtripper. The song was just released twelve days prior to the show but already most of the audience seemed to know the words! Down’s frontman Phil Anselmo really had the crowd in his palm throughout the show and while the stage at the Fillmore isn’t small he had a presence that still seemed confined by it. His voice was cracking and going hoarse throughout the night plus he had more of the same microphone problems that plagued Pentagram’s set as well, but none of it seemed to matter much to the enthralled audience. At one point Phil pulled a teenager out of the audience and brought him on stage to headbang with him for half a song. Not because the guy paid extra for a special VIP ticket or was somehow friends with a band member, but just because Phil thought he was so damn metal looking! I actually have some video footage of that so if anyone knows the guy tell him to get in contact with me. Let’s not forget the dual guitarists of Down, Kirk Windstein and Pepper Keenan. The guys have a great chemistry on stage and even though Phil commands a lot of stage presence, and thus attention, Kirk and Pepper reminded everyone that this wasn’t just Phil’s band. Their solos were on point, their timing and exchanges precise and more than anything, you could just tell they were having fun performing for everyone. Down’s sound owes a lot to those dirty southern riffs they cook up and while there were vocal issues throughout their set the guitars were excellent all night. The band walked off stage for the pre-planned encore and came back to play three more songs. Hail The Leaf saw people openly smoking joints in the mosh pit but when Stone The Crow’s instantly recognizable opening riff started people really went wild with the moshing and crowd surfing. Finally Down played the song people had been requesting all night, Bury Me In Smoke, to close the night. They didn’t just play it though, they actually played a 10 minute plus version with members of Mount Carmel and Pentagram coming out to the point that I’m not even sure if any members of Down were playing any instruments by the end of the song! Of course there’s video footage of that below as well. Overall the show was a great performance by a great band that had the crowd moshing, singing along and just rocking out to some great music. Thanks for reading my review and be sure to check out all the photos and videos I’ve posted below. There are more great metal shows coming to the area (calendar here) so get out to some of them and support the scene you’re a part of!
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