I don’t even know where to begin with such an epic evening of events. It’s insane how things unfold especially when you’re passionate about music as I am. As a kid I grew up in the 80’s and 90’s. Metal, punk, and rock and roll quickly became a fascination for me. I still have my metal mags from the 90’s with full page spreads of these bands. Before internet, metal magazines were all we had. That and MTV when it used to be cool. Many years later I found myself diving head first into concert photography. There was always this need to document music, to witness, and feed off that energy. When I landed approvals for this years Pain In The Grass festival, hosted by Seattle’s rock radio KISW 99.9 The Rock, I was beyond floored.
Napalm Death, Testament, Anthrax, Lamb Of God, and last but certainly not fucking least…. SLAYER. I’ve been a huge Testament fan for years and this was my first time to get to see them live as well as Napalm Death. Every band brought such a pure raucous energy that continuously unraveled as the night went on. Even though they have been on the road, exhausted, city after city, night after night, load ins and load outs…. you couldn’t tell. This is professionalism at its finest. I had the immense pleasure to hangout all evening backstage and watch up close and personal all the work involved in setting up this production as well as taking it down. Crews, techs, management, tour assistants, merch crew and all the people that come together to bring music to its place is not an easy feat. But the end result, done proper, is marvelous.
One minute I’m discussing camera stuff with Randy Blythe of Lamb Of God, and just like that he’s like “I have to go to work now.” Immediately within one minute jumps into action and begins performing when just moments ago he was so calm and centered walking around backstage chatting with everyone. Lamb Of God shows are just action packed intensity. It feeds a crowd for sure. What more needs to be said about a LOG show? The guys are awesome. Randy is high impact ball of energy and for us photographers, you didn’t shoot a LOG without a jump shot. (see my full gallery 🙂 )
Joey Belladonna of Anthrax just delivered such a rocking performance, with Frank Bello being his usual energetic self; stage performance was insane. Anyone that knows Frank knows his stage faces are literally everything. He’s a true bass slaying character once he hits the stage. It makes it so fun and engaging. You can’t help but to rage with him. Scott Ian took the stage first to open with some shredtastic intro riffs, provided by his great collection of Jackson V-neck Guitars. Hanging with these guys is hilarious to say the least. They also make excellent beer.
Testament is just a brutal source of crushing riffs, heavy drums, and powerful vocals detonated by none other than Chuck Billy. The man is insane. This giant force still powering through after nearly 40 years of thrash. It was definitely a highlight of the evening for me. The lineup has barely changed during all these years and the guys still put on a rager of a show. Brotherhood of the Snake album is the extra icing on an already iced cake. One of my favorite albums they’ve put out in years. Had a chance to catch Alex Skolnick backstage and just talk about photography. He was shooting some of the shows on tour and mentioned how difficult it was to do concert photography. Thanks for the validation Alex. It’s a tough job, but someone has to do it. Another great memory was watching the Slayer show with Chuck Billy standing right there at the stage a few feet from me as they performed. The entire tour camp seemed to be very supportive of each other. The vibe was awesome.
Another highlight of my evening was getting to see Napalm Death. I have been a fan for years. Their album “Scum” is definitely one of my favorites from back in the day. After 30 years of making music, that nasty thrash as I like to call it, they haven’t let up. Barney is still a madman on stage. The man hasn’t aged a bit. Danny Herrera crushes on drums with a side order of Shane Embury slaying on bass. Mitch Harris wasn’t on this run, but in his place was the talented Mr. John. Cooke on guitar. The guys set the tone for the entire evening. It was great to see them and hang out during the festival. As Slayer was playing, Shane was beside the stage the whole time watching with us. Grab their last album “Apex Predator” if you haven’t already. It’s a fucking face crusher.
Last and certainly not least, SLAYER. The brutality of this show is intense in the best way possible. Fans in the crowd are superiorly dedicated. I saw so many Slayer tattoo’s and nearly everyone was wearing Slayer merch. The pit was nuts. It was also epic to see the crowd crowdsurf a guy in a wheelchair. It still shows that there’s some camaraderie in music. Metal family is like none other. Slayer opened with “Repentless” which opened the floodgates of hellfire. Tom Araya hasn’t skipped a note on vocals. Fast as fuck on certain songs, still delivering great energy. There were even moments of him smiling at the crowd on stage. It’s hard to be brutal all the time. 🙂 From Gary Holt’s purposely crazed smiles at the crowd, to Kerry King’s stoic madman bass slaying, to Paul Bostaph’s never failing drum machine arsenal of legs and hands, it was an epic final world tour show. Pyrotechnics were insane. It was like being in a metal show in Hell. The huge SLAYER stage prop was on fire, with a rail of fire in front of it, to fire shooting out from the sides of the stage. If you get a chance to see them before they completely retire, you better fucking go. The best memory for me was watching this side-stage with the rest of the bands I admire so much. Again, music family.
I want to say thank you again to the entire tour camp, bands, labels, crews, fans, event coordinators, and music family for making this an amazing musical experience. Metal is alive and well.
See the full photo spread SLAYER gallery also here:
See the rest of the bands photo galleries here: