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Pantera Powers Up At The Pinnacle Bank Arena!

Story and Photos: Spencer Fleming

Love was in the air Wednesday (2.14.24) when the legendary metal band Pantera hit the Pinnacle Bank Arena bringing along Richmond rockers Lamb of God for a very special Valentine's Day massacre!

I count myself blessed to have seen Pantera with their original line-up nearly 25 years ago. I was just a kid, not even old enough to drive, when I witnessed the raw power of Darrell "Dimebag" Abbott shred the stage with his signature pink goatee and flying V guitar. Their set was absolutely nuts. Within 30 seconds I saw a grown man get punched out cold and I wasn't even in the middle of the pit! The carnal energy from the Pantera crowd is something that's burned in my brain and I can easily recall with just a few crunchy power chords.

Through the years Pantera tragically lost Dimebag Darrell when he was murdered on stage in 2004 and drummer Vinnie Paul when he suffered heart issues in 2018. In July 2022 the band announced that they would carry on the brothers legacy with guitar god Zakk Wylde (Ozzy Osbourne, Black Label Society) and drummer Charlie Benante (Anthrax).

When it was announced that Pantera would be coming to Lincoln I was stoked! What made this show even cooler is I had the pleasure of shooting photos along side my good friend Joe Desanti from the Review Junkie. We got to catch up on the ride to Lincoln and grab some pizza at the Mellow Mushroom just a couple streets over from Pinnacle Bank Arena.

We met up with Megan from Pinnacle Bank Arena shortly after the first band ChildBite from Detroit. We weren't allowed to shoot the band so we missed the set, but I was told the singer sounded like Jello Biafra from the Dead Kennedys! I'll have to give them a spin soon. Megan brought us to the stage and got us ready to shoot the direct support for the night Lamb of God.

I had seen Lamb of God several times before but this was my first opportunity to shoot photos of them. I had been told by friends who've shot them before that Randy is super photogenic and moves around a lot. They weren't wrong! Right out of the gate Randy was throwing the mic around and head-banging across the stage.

Guitarists Willie Adler and Mark Mortan traded face-melting riffs and got the crowd on their feet! The rhythm section of John Campbell and Art Cruz had the bass booming and the double-bass drums blasting! I love it when the beats are so loud they hit you right in the chest. I did my best to capture all the crazy energy through bursts of strobe-lights and flashing blue and red highlights. It was definitely a bit of a challenge but I think I pulled off some good ones! (gallery at the end).

After the first three songs Joe and I walked around the concourse and ran into several music scene buddies like DJ Surreal and Louie from Scabby Ghouls and The Weird. If you're into proggy, thrashy goodness you gotta check out The Weird! They have a show coming up on April 4 at The Reverb. Joe and I watched from above as Lamb of God whipped the circle pit into a frenzy. I told Joe "We gotta go down there and come out of mosh retirement!" He waved me off like "you nutball" ha! We did make our way to the floor but as I casually cut through the edge of the circle pit I was thrashed pretty good. I decided the middle of the pit was probably not for me and receded back into mosh retirement.

For a good hour Lamb of God had the arena rocking. Randy said they always get a good crowd in Nebraska and called for the crowd to sing most of the words on the last song and arguably their biggest hit "Redneck". I snagged some video for my son Aeros who now recognizes Lamb of God because they get a lot of radio play from "Redneck". It was a great time catching Lamb of God for the fifth? sixth? time, I don't know I lost count. But getting to shoot photos brought them to a whole new level for me. I'm excited to catch them with Mastodon when they hit The Astro this summer!

Around 9:30 we made our way back to the stage for the mighty Pantera! While we were waiting for the set to start lead singer Phil Anselmo peaked out from behind the massive Pantera banner and waved at the fans who were already fired up from Lamb of God. The sneak peek from Phil got them even more amped. Soon the lights went out and the video screens that flanked the stage played old footage of Pantera on tour and all their crazy backstage antics. The videos heavily featured Dimebag and Vinnie in tribute. I turned to Joe and excitedly told him how special this show was. Just thinking back to seeing Pantera as a kid and now being able to shoot photos of them is such a trip. I'm so humbled and grateful for every photo opportunity I'm given, especially for these full circle moments.

Pantera kicked off the set with "A New Level" from Vulgar Display Of Power, one of the biggest metal albums of the 90s. The crowd lit up in excitement as these legends of power metal shredded the arena. From behind me I could hear people stomping against the rail as they pushed forward trying to get a better glimpse. Soon the crowd surfers started sailing over the barricade as the security guards tried to control the chaos. I tried to stay focused and zeroed in on capturing Phil's trademark snarl.

To my left, original Pantera bassist Rex Brown thrashed his hair and pummeled the crowd with his thumping notes. To my right, the norseman himself, Father Zakk Wylde shot bolts of electricity into the air as he honored Dimebag's classic riffs. From the back of the stage Charlie Benante crashed the symbols and blasted the double bass setting the room on fire. His drums displayed pictures of Vinnie Paul raising a shot glass, a fitting tribute to one of the best metal drummers of all time!

Pantera gave the fans a nice palette of their discography pulling out some deep cuts like "Suicide Note Pt. II" and "Floods", but making sure to hit all the classics like "Walk", "Five Minutes Alone", and "Cowboys From Hell". The personal standout for me was "This Love". I heard a lot of folks saying they wished they would've played "Cemetery Gates", but as they say "You get what you get!" I personally had a killer time and did not walk away disappointed. I mean yea, "Cemetery Gates" would've been cool, but they hit all the right notes.

When asked if Pantera would make new music drummer Charlie said "Who knows what might happen, we're just focused on bringing great shows and honoring the brothers legacy". That I can tell you Pantera absolutely did. Vinnie and Dime would be proud of this tour and I hope they can continue for many years to come. If they come back to Nebraska, you can bet I'll be there!

A huge thanks to 104.1 The Blaze for supporting rock and metal in Nebraska and to Pinnacle Bank Arena for their excellent hospitality. Thank you to Pantera management for photo access. Thank you all for reading!

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Pantera Gallery

Lamb of God Gallery


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