On Tuesday, November 19th of 2013 I went to the Fillmore Silver Spring to see Slayer and Gojira. Although I arrived over 15 minutes before Gojira started, the will call line was so slow I didn’t get into the venue in time to photograph them from the photo pit (at most big shows photographers only get to shoot during the first three songs each band plays). I finally made it in and the venue was already uncomfortably packed. I’m not sure if the show was sold out but I’ve never seen the venue this packed before. There wasn’t really anywhere to stand without being shoulder to shoulder with people on the main floor so I headed upstairs to try my luck. Unfortunately if you’re not on the rail on the Fillmore’s second floor the sight lines are, well, pretty much nonexistent. The French band played a pretty similar set to the one they played at Rams Head Live in Baltimore back in February so I didn’t feel like I missed too much. Backbone is always heavy as hell but as much as I enjoy Gojira’s music, I was really here for Slayer.
The curtain came down in front of the main stage while Slayer set up and this is when things started getting better. I worked my way to the front of the stage. I noticed there were some very large boxes for shipping gear in the photo pit area which made it so the guard railing was pushed farther away from the stage than usual. This certainly made things on the ground level more crowded but at least for three songs I got to have some space up front and shoot the band. They actually ended up giving us an extra song to shoot (I think the stage hands just miscounted) and I’ve gotta say being between the wild crowd and intense band performing at a show like this is a bit surreal, like being in the eye of a hurricane. After my songs were up I assimilated back into the audience and got to enjoy the show as a regular fan.
Exodus guitarist Gary Holt has been playing with Slayer since the late Jeff Hanneman left the band in early 2011 due to an infection from a spider bite. Original drummer Dave Lombardo was recently booted from the band as well, to be replaced by Paul Bostaph who had previously replaced Lombardo in Slayer from 1992 to 2001. Of course I was worried going in how these line up changes would affect Slayer’s live sound. Luckily I needn’t worry at all, the band was as tight as ever! In fact, the last time I saw all four original members of Slayer play together, in 2010 at 1st Mariner Arena, Jeff Hanneman was obviously drunk and his playing was pretty sloppy. The version of Slayer we got at the Fillmore was really tight once again. Everyone in the band was in sync, there was very little stage banter between songs as they only paused between songs four times. That all combined with the intensity of their “old school” set list (see it here), which featured no songs written after 1990, showed everyone that Slayer wasn’t slowing down at all. The set list was pretty similar to the one on the excellent live double album Decade Of Aggression though it did feature some different songs, such as an old favorite of mine, “At Dawn They Sleep.” As a nod to Gary Holt being in the band they played a Slayer-ized version of the Exodus classic “Strike Of The Beast” too! Any problems I had with the venue prior to their set were far from my mind as I thrashed in the pit during Raining Blood. This show was overcrowded, sweaty, intense and had almost non-stop shredding from these gods of heavy metal, just how a Slayer show is supposed to be. I really can’t wait until they come around again. If there was any doubt in anyone’s mind before, this night proved to all in attendance that in a live setting Slayer still fucking rules!
I only shot photos of Slayer at the show but I think some of them turned out pretty good. See the full set, including some images that I didn’t post below, by clicking here.