Headbangers’ Brawl is a weekly column where Metal Insider’s Bram and Zach take a moment to debate and analyze two opposing sides of a topical issue occurring in the world of metal and/or the music industry.
Usually we use this column to have a debate of sorts about an issue or conflict. This week, however, there’s no argument – the Big Four show came to Yankee Stadium on Wednesday, and we both agree that it was pretty awesome. Since we didn’t’ get a chance to liveblog it like our friends at Metalsucks and Metal Injection, we’re going to talk about our experience of being there. We’re assuming that everyone looking at this either attended or read recaps, so we’ll focus on our experience at the show.
Bram: Living in New York can definitely make you jaded when it comes to live music, but it was nothing short of transcendent getting on a 4 train packed full of metalheads, then getting off at 161st Street to see a sea of black T-shirts headed to Yankee Stadium to see Anthrax, Megadeth, Slayer and Metallica. 41,000 people united in a common goal – to see a historic show at the (second) house that Babe built. I’m not a Yankee fan, so I welcomed the chance to actually cheer at Yankee Stadium for a change.
Though here’s a random thought: It was a hometown show for Anthrax. The day was named Anthrax Day by the Bronx Borough president, their album had come out the previous day, and Megadeth almost didn’t play the show because of Dave Mustaine’s upcoming neck surgery. Why couldn’t the two bands have switched and given Anthrax the credit they’d earned?
Zach: Normally, the last place you’d want to see a metal concert is in a stadium. Not only can you barely see the band but the sound is usually crappy (compared to a club or theater at least). But after seeing the Big 4 show this past Wednesday night, I couldn’t think of a better place for the event to take place. Seeing the metal community unite with so much excitement and joy while singing along to every song from each band was an unbelievable experience. And the fact that it was in such a historic and large place made it even more meaningful.
That’s why though I always feel that Anthrax deserves more praise, it didn’t really matter to me who went or first or before who. Each band brought their A game and the fans’ enthusiam for each set was truly a sight to see. That being said, who out of the 4 did you enjoy seeing at the show, Bram?
B: It seems like everyone’s consensus is that Slayer stole the show from everyone. Don’t get me wrong, they were fine, but how can you miss something if it doesn’t go away? Slayer, like Megadeth, have consistently been on the road, be it Mayhem or the tour thethose two bands did together last year. Metallica tours a little more sporadically, and Anthrax haven’t had a reason to tour in years. Having seen Anthrax play at Best Buy theater earlier in the week, I think I’d have to go with Metallica, even though their set list was relatively weak. They had the biggest production, and the whole crowd eating out of their hands. You?
Z: I agree with you about everything…except when you said Metallica’s setlist was weak. If anything, I’d argue that Metallica’s setlist was the best out of the four. While there were standards like “Fuel,” “Enter Sandman,” and “One,” they also threw out surprises like “Ride The Lightning” and “Orion”. In my humble opinion, it was an amazing Metallica set list.
With that said, there’s a different reason as to why Metallica was my favorite from the night. See, Metallica were one of the very first bands I idolized as a kid. Their music was there for me during a lot of hard times. And though I’ve seen them live many times before (and even met them once), something really hit me when they kicked into “Creeping Death” at Yankee Stadium. Singing along to each song with everyone in that arena brought back so many emotions and memories. I was getting teary eyed by “Fade To Black.”
That night reminded me how much Metallica meant not only to me personally, but to the entire metal community. Watching them onstage in front of everyone in Yankee Stadium felt like I was apart of a celebration amongst fans who grew up with Metallica and the genre of metal.
B: See, that’s where you and I differ. “Fuel” is hardly a standard. “Orion” was a nice touch, but I didn’t’ need to hear “Nothing Else Matters” or really anything much from the Black Album onwards. I know they had to do “Enter Sandman,” playing Yankee Stadium, but they have to have known that most people were there to hear the stuff that made them metalheads around the same time the other three metal bands were making quality music.
Here are a few random observances that struck me throughout the course of the day:
Tom Araya played Slayer’s set in a Cristal soccer jersey. What’s metal? Not a $400 bottle of champagne. Was his Hennessy jersey at the cleaners? Champaigning blood!
The most awesome thing I saw that I wish I took a picture of: During Megadeth’s set, I noticed a man with a large tattoo between his shoulder blades that said “Miranda” in the Megadeth logo font. Hours later in a different section, I noticed another shirtless man with a large tattoo between his shoulder blades that said “Mowder” in the Metallica logo font.
Also, how amazing were the teleprompters that tried sporadically to scroll the lyrics of songs? They gave up during Slayer. I think if I’d been deaf and trying to watching the show, I’d have had an aneurysm.
Z: I have absolutely no problems hearing anything off of the Black Album, especially “Nothing Else Matters,” a song that I love despite being a stretch for Metallica at the time. Sure, a majority of the fans that were in that stadium swear by the first four albums and bash anything after the Black Album. But I’ll bet you that there were a lot of fans in attendance who got their start with the Black Album and then went back to the first four albums. Let’s face it, without the Black Album, Metallica would never have become the juggernaut they are today. And without them becoming the enormous band we know them as today, we and the Big 4 would not be in Yankee Stadium. As James Hetfield once said, “sad but true.”
One thing I’d say was a bit of a let down, though, was the Big 4 jam. Sure, it’s always awesome to see them on stage together, and it was also a nice change up to see them playing “Overkill.” It was also cool that they finally gave each drummer a moment to shine (always did find it sad that they only gave each drummer a pathetic kit or cymbol during the jams). But all in all it really wasn’t anything different than what we’ve seen before. Considering how big of a deal it was to play that stadium, and that as of right now this may possibly be the last Big 4 show for a while (if not ever), I was really hoping for something big, like an additional special guest. When James joked onstage after the jam “Maybe we should’ve gotten Lemmy,” it highlighted a lost opportunity to really blow everyones minds.
B: As far as the jam went, I think it beat doing “Am I Evil” again. “Overkill” gave every drummer a chance to shine, and while Mustaine couldn’t make it, even Kerry King came out. Sure, Randy Blythe, Robb Flynn, and countless others were there, but it’s not about them, it’s about the Big Four.
But really, the jam didn’t matter to me. What mattered to me was an entire stadium yelling “Slayyerrr” (see above) or chanting “die” during “Creeping Death.” I mean, I’ll bet there wasn’t one person that wasn’t on their feet then. It’s the shared communion of metal that really stuck with me throughout the show, possibly even more than the performances. The metal community ultimately isn’t as large as we think, and for so many people to come together, much like they did a few months ago back in California, speaks to how special of a day it was.