OVERKILL / DEATH ANGEL / MOTHERSHIP
Date: 04th May, 2019
Venue: The Rave (basement)
That awful clash between DORO and OVERKILL performing in Chicago on the same day meant that we had to plan accordingly, because missing one of the two shows did not seem like a viable option. Thankfully, OVERKILL had another show close to Chicago, so appropriate arrangements were made and some hours of rest were sacrificed for the sake of some good ol’ Thrash. After all, OVERKILL were not alone; they had the almighty DEATH ANGEL and the non-Thrash underdogs of MOTHERSHIP.
The show was hosted in the basement of The Rave and since this would be our first time there, we had low expectations; I mean, how good can a show be in a basement? Well, we were about to found out... There was a healthy stream of people entering The Rave that was hosting two more live shows that day, with one of the two being sold-out. Yeah, that required some really smooth planning, so I have to tip my hat to whomever was responsible for making this happen. The basement was nicely filled with metalheads and even though the stage was not perfectly visible from the back, there were quite a few spots to safely watch the onstage happenings. What made me happy was that the venue had incandescent stage lights and that meant better conditions to take photos. Yeah, things seemed far better than they did upon arriving.
I characterize MOTHERSHIP as underdogs simply because I had never had the pleasure to see them onstage and therefore, matching what the other two bands deliver in concert, had to be a challenge. And man, they did work hard from the get-go! It seemed that guitarist Kells Juett had gone through the warp-up session before hitting the stage because his blood had already reached a boiling point. “Hey Milwaukee, Saturday night special tonight, are you ready to party?”, he asked and then let the Orange PAs to do the rest. MOTHERSHIP started the show with the up-tempo “Lunar Master” with a nice galloping tempo that seemed to have an immediate effect to the gathered audience. For me, Stoner Metal / Rock or whatever you’d like to call it, does not always work when listening to the record at the comfort of your house, but in concert, it is a totally different ball game. And this is only valid if the band’s performance matches the music’s energy, and in this, MOTHERSHIP get an A+. Kells seemed to be the tip of the spear because he started taunting the audience to get as many as possible involved in the show. Just by looking at the faces of the people in the front rows and their wide smiles, I believe he was getting through them.
Without stopping, the band went straight into the next one but Kyle’s bass amplifier had a mind of its own and decided to take a long break... Kells was already doing his part with his guitar but as soon as he realized that something was missing, he stopped. “We have to start this shit again because it does not sound cool without bass”, he joked and approached his brother to see what was going on. Fortunately, a replacement was quickly found and MOTHERSHIP went back to playing music with “Hot Smoke And Heavy Blues”. The “hey, hey” chanting proved that the band’s hard work was paying off with “Cosmic Rain” and “Crown Of Lies” pushing the energy level to the red zone. “It is a fucking honor to be on this tour, we have one more left for you, we appreciate you”, said Kells who was doing all these funny-looking faces being absolutely in the zone. “Angel Of Death” was the last song for MOTHERSHIP and the one that made me reconsider using the term “underdog” in the beginning, because they did great!
01. “Lunar Master”
02. “Hot Smoke And Heavy Blues”
03. “Cosmic Rain”
04. “Crown Of Lies”
05. “Angel Of Death”
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I knew exactly how the next set would be like and if I were to use one word that would be "Thrash". That’s right; DEATH ANGEL have the know-how to deliver an intense show that checks all the boxes for good ol’ violent fun. I believe that night at The Rave I was not the only one knowing what DEATH ANGEL can do from the stage. The short intro welcomed the five-piece lineup and without further ado the Cavestany - Aguilar guitar duo stepped hard on the gas pedal and didn’t let it go for the next 40 minutes. Mark started delivering his trademark vocals as “Thrown To The Wolves” turned to be the perfect “excuse” to start a nice mosh-pit. Yeah, the Milwaukee crowd knows its Metal and put its best behavior that night and I will mention this a couple of times in this report. Oh my goodness, I think the “Claws In So Deep” / “Seemingly Endless Time” duo was responsible for raising the inside temperature a couple of degrees and it was not too long before crowd-surfing got in the menu. The venue security did its duty to the T by making sure everyone was safe and at the same time everyone had an awesome time. Constantly smiling bassist Damien Sisson with one foot on the stage monitor assumed the role of high-fiving every metalhead who made it all the way to the photo-pit. Still, no one got hurt and watching this, combined with the Bay Area riffs and the snare-drum driven rhythm, was the perfect Thrash storm.
It was not just me noticing this powerful combo of the band and the audience because Mark acknowledged this by saying: “thank you so very much, for this incredible fucking energy. Good evening, Milwaukee, thank you for celebrating fucking Metal with us”. That’s right; this was celebrating Metal alright and with “The Dream Calls For Blood”, the band made sure that metalheads had a solid reason to keep the mosh-pit going with some singing-along also going equally strong. “The Moth” was a “painful” reminder that I had let “The Evil Divide” slip through the cracks because it was another Thrash galore, while the next on the set was a real treat. October 31 will be the date that DEATH ANGEL will drop another Thrash monolith on the scene titled “Humanicide”. So, we got the title track for that album with its opening riff being an irresistible invitation to throw oneself onto the mosh-pit and deplete all the fuel in the tank. Damn, I guess there were lots of metalheads who did exactly that to the point that made me wonder if there will be anything else to give once NJ finest hit the stage. “Milwaukee, you are fucking amazing”, said Rob before the “Kill As One” assault. Seeing the “mayhem” that this setlist closer caused, I could not but to agree with Mark’s closing statement about the music genre we had enjoyed: “We are DEATH ANGEL from San Francisco Bay Area and we play Thrash fucking Metal”. Oh yeah, I will not let the new DEATH ANGEL go unnoticed and that’s a promise.
DEATH ANGEL setlist:
01. “Thrown To The Wolves”
02. “Claws In So Deep”
03. “Seemingly Endless Time”
04. “The Dream Calls For Blood”
05. “The Moth”
07. “The Ultra-Violence” / “Kill As One”
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Once again, I found myself wondering if the headliners would be able to keep the audience going because there were already lots of sweaty faces from all this moshing around. And once again, I ate my words, but really, I should have known better because every time I have seen OVERKILL live, it has been a constant pounding from start to finish.
The moment I had dropped the needle on “The Wings Of War”, I knew that “Last Man Standing” would be the song to start the set, and listening to the electronic intro, I said to myself “Told you so”... Bobby had already assumed his “runner’s stance” and rushed towards the mic on cue. This will never get old and it will always make my blood boil. DD with his wide-stance pose had already sounded the charge and the Milwaukee audience picked up things exactly where DEATH ANGEL had left them. The riffs on this one along with the double-bass galore were impossible to resist so we were all onboard the headbanging / moshing train.
The day before this show was Bobby’s 60 birthday and some metalheads in the first row made everyone aware of it. They had made a huge banner to commemorate the occasion, and Bobby noticed it and asked to hold for everyone to see. Yeah, entering the 60s was a recurring theme that night, and it was fun to listen to what uncle Blitz had to say about it. “Electric Rattlesnake” and “Hello From The Gutter” restored the Thrash action and released me from the photo-shooting duties to enjoy the rest of the set without stressing over “getting some good ones”. “Somebody get me a Miller”, requested Bobby obviously in a great mood (how could he not be with such audience?) and added: “Let me tell you something; I may be old, but I can still kick some motherfucking ass” in his perfect boxing guard with “Elimination” being the prefect follow-up to his sayings. After “Deny The Cross”, Bobby expressed his happiness about “seeing our ugly faces” and then introduced another amazing song from the latest album. In fact, “Distortion” has managed to become my favorite from “The Wings Of War” and I think it sounded 666 better live than in the studio. Yeah, getting to see the guitar action along with DD delivering his trademark bass sound are two things that the vinyl spinning on the turntable cannot offer you.
On purpose, I had not checked the band’s setlist wanting to be surprised and remind myself a bit of those days when internet was an unknown word. In fact, back then, I don’t remember talking about setlists or even trying to take a peak on the sheet paper taped on the stage monitor. Watching the band on the stage was the only chance to see these guys in such proximity (“YouTube” had not been even conceived as an idea...) The reason for this old-timer’s talk was to underline my excitement when the lights went out, the band left the stage and the familiar intro with the trademark electronic loop marked the time for frickin’ “Necroshine”... I had been wishing for this one to re-enter the setlist for quite some time and I was on the highest cloud once that happened. Seeing everyone headbanging during the pounding part was a-m-a-z-i-n-g. I was super happy for this addition but there was not room from thinking because the bass lines of “Under One” made sure no momentum was lost.
“Are you still there? I can smell you but I cannot see you”, was one of Bobby’s favorite sayings from the stage and he went on: “I was cleared from the hospital to play ten songs but I am doing twenty, so fuck ‘em”, he concluded before “Mean, Green, Killing Machine” and I am sure everyone got the connection between him receiving a clean bill of health and the song’s title. “Milwaukee, can you feel it? Can you feel the fire?”, were the only words the still active audience needed to keep the Thrash festivities going like it was the beginning of the set, so I just have to tip my hat to them. Oh yeah, there was some crowd-surfing during the sing-along “Rotten To The Core” that was also the first break of this long thrashin’ night. Upon the band’s return, Bobby had some words of wisdom to share with us (I guess this was the only point in time when he acted like his age...); “when I was a little boy, my momma said to me: find something that you love to do and do it with people who love it too, and you’ll be a happy man” and I am sure going to a Metal show was part of this and I love that this statement led to “Ironbound” because that’s exactly what we were that night.
“It’s good to be here with you motherfuckers. After all these years I still don’t speak Wisconsin but my sign language is perfect”, said Bobby and everyone got the clue about the “sign language” part. This a universal sign and also the title of THE SUBHUMANS cover. That’s right; in unison and with the middle finger in the air, everyone screamed “Fuck You” to whom it may concerned... This one was merged with the full of attitude “Welcome To The Garden State” and it was kind of funny hearing people singing about the “best State” in a different State... At any rate, OVERKILL delivered the final blow in an amazing billing with an amazing audience that did not pay attention on the smartphones at all but on the onstage happenings. Thank you, Milwaukee metalheads! You rock!
01. “Last Man Standing”
02. “Electric Rattlesnake”
03. “Hello From The Gutter”
05. “Deny The Cross”
08. “Under One”
09. “Bastard Nation”
10. “Mean, Green, Killing Machine”
11. “Feel The Fire”
12. “Rotten To The Core”
14. “Fuck You”
15. “Welcome To The Garden State”
16. “Fuck You” (reprise)
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