Story and Photos: Spencer Fleming
The Admiral was a metalhead's paradise Monday night (2/13) as three legendary bands made their way to the metro. Anthrax is celebrating 40 years as a band and they brought along Black Label Society and Exodus for this sold out banger!
As I waited in traffic hoping to find the rarest of concert bingo items, an open parking spot, I could already see the congregation of black shirts anxiously waiting to enter the church of metal. With the line stretched down the block my parking prospects were looking pretty grim. My Admiral good parking spot streak was broken and I was relegated to the South Omaha far away secret spot. Like an old friend, the spot is always there for you, but boy is it a hike.
After arriving slightly winded from my walk through Middle Earth, I was ready to get to work capturing all the hair, guitars, and battle vests this show could throw at me. Old school thrashers Exodus were up first and they got the Admiral raging! I was so stoked to see the legendary Gary Holt on guitar! From my understanding there's been times when he's played with Exodus and other times he hasn't, so when he was up there ripping it was a special treat. I've never claimed to be the biggest old school metal aficionado, but I got the opportunity to shoot Slayer's final tour and after that I became a Gary Holt fan.
Exodus thrashed their way through over 30 minutes of old school, in your face riffs before pulling out their version of "Raining Blood" sending the place into a frenzy! I had an awesome time watching Exodus get the party started.
Of course it wouldn't be a metal show without local metalhead Tony Riddle rocking the rail!
Next up was the beast man himself, Father Zakk Wylde. All who entered the building bowed down and did a forehead cross as a sign of respect for the guitar god. Just kidding, but that would've been awesome to capture. As I waited in anticipation a giant banner with the Black Label Society logo swayed across the stage. The house music was playing a mash-up of Led Zeppelin and "War Pigs". "Generals gathered in their masses, just like witches at black masses" Oh lord, yeah! The congregation growled with excitement knowing that in just a few moments they would be blessed by the axe of Father Zakk.
The curtain fell to reveal the Barbarian and his instrument of doom. Not only did Zakk have a cool spiked guitar strap, kilt, and massive beard, his stage was outfitted with a mic stand made of skulls! This guy knows how to rock a show. For almost an hour Zakk and his crew melted the faces of all in attendance. I had the honor and privilege of feeling the face melting riffs hit me first being so close the stage. As the shredding washed over myself and the crowd I felt extremely blessed to be in this position. You would think after hundreds of shows it would start to get old, but I still feel anxious and excited every time I'm standing in the photo pit waiting for that curtain to fall.
If you've never worshipped at the alter of Father Zakk do yourself a favor and get to a show! You won't be disappointed.
Last up were the legendary thrashers Anthrax! Once again I felt so honored to be seeing one of the big four! Luckily I was able to catch Slayer before their retirement, now I just need to see Megadeth and Metallica. I would've seen Megadeth at Knotfest Iowa last year but don't get me started on that whole debacle.
As I waited in the photo pit, a projector started playing a video featuring Keanu Reeves talking about Anthrax and the influence they've had on the metal scene over the last 40 years. The short film featured tons of artists and celebrities from all walks, like sports and movies talking about Anthrax and how awesome they are. The volume of the crowd increased dramatically during a few select presenters including the nearby Iowan Corey Taylor, Tom Morello, and John 5, but surprisingly the biggest pop of crowd noise was for the polarizing Phil Anselmo from Pantera.
Shortly after the film the shadows of Anthrax appeared with the guys making shadow puppets and Scott Ian throwing the horns. The screen displayed "Scream for us" and the crowd went nuts. With a loud bang the curtain dropped to reveal an elaborate stage with a set of stairs and a giant backdrop. This was going to be one wild show!
Anthrax may be pushing 40 years as a band, but their energy is still top-notch. I moved from left to right trying to capture lead singer Joey, guitarists Scott and Jonathan, and bass player Frank as they thrashed around the stage. These guys came to throw down! From start to finish Anthrax proved that they can still get the people going. For the first time in a while the photo pit was a warzone. Bodies were flying everywhere as the thrash riffs rained down on the crowd.
With massive hits like "Caught In A Mosh", "Madhouse", and "Among The Living" the band gave the fans exactly what they wanted and more. Anthrax proved that they have staying power in the metal scene. These guys have defined a genre and continue to influence the next generation of metal bands. With the show they put on Monday I don't doubt they could push it to 50 years of metal!
Thanks so much to Anthrax and their team for having me out. It was an awesome time!
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Black Label Society