The heavy hitters of the Metal community came out to the Fillmore in San Francisco to celebrate the 5 year anniversary of Metal Allegiance, and the premiere of the documentary film, ‘Murder in the Front Row‘, based on the book from Harald Oimoen and Brian Lew that is filled with photos from the San Francisco Thrash Metal scene of the early 80’s.
The day started with an invitation-only (which I did not go to) showing of the movie at the Kabuki Theater across the street from the Fillmore which was well attended by many including many members of Metal Allegiance, Exodus, and Forbidden, to name a few. Growing up in the Bay Area and being able to partake in the SF Trash scene was to become a huge part of who I grew up to be. I remember going to shows at The Stone, Rock on Broadway, The Kabuki, The Omni (in Oakland) to see Vio-lence, Death Angel, Forbidden, Slayer, Blind Illusion, DRI on a regular basis. They were like your home away from home, where you will meet up with the regulars that you would become friends with. I feel very fortunate and honored to be a part of the SF music scene.
As I arrived at the Fillmore, the opening band ‘Weapons of Anew’ had already played and ‘Superfix’ was about to go on to the nearly half full Fillmore. To be honest, I did not know a lot about them coming into tonight, but I was quite impressed with their performance. They are led by Kalen Chase (ex Korn) on vocals and Logan Mader (Machine Head) on guitar.
The core four of Metal Allegiance consists of ‘Mark Menghi (Bass), Alex Skolnick (Guitar), Mike Portnoy (Drums) and Dave Ellefson (Bass)’. Joining them tonight were vocalists John Bush (Armored Saint), Chuck Billy (Testament) and Troy Saunders (Mastodon) each of them alternating lead vocals throughout the night.
Phil Demmel (Vio-lence) shared guitar duties with Mr. Skolnick throughout the evening. Charlie Benante played on a couple of songs with his former Anthrax vocalist John Bush.
Among notables that were AWOL this evening due to tour obligations were, Mark Osegueda (Death Angel), Bobby ‘Blitz (Overkill) and Andreas Kisser (Sepultura).
After a short intermission, Metal Allegiance came on at 10 pm and for the next 3 hours horns were flying, and heads were a banging.
Opening the set with “Pledge of Allegiance” off of their self-titled debut had John Bush handling lead vocals, due to the absence of Mark from Death Angel. Tonight, performance may have very well been the greatest I have ever heard John Bush’s vocals, including his days with Armored Saint and Anthrax. Chuck Billy took control of the stage and crowd with a classic rendition of Metallica’s “Leper Messiah”, which had the crowd in a frenzy in the pit and signing at the top of their lungs while throwing horns.
Some of the highlights of the evening included a godly version of the Megadeth song “Peace Sells” with vocals being done by Troy Saunders channeling his inner Dave Mustaine. I had to take a double look to make sure it was not Mr. Mustaine, he sounded that good on that song. During “Roots Bloody Roots”, Chuck Billy absolutely killed that song and the crushing guitar of Logan Mader.
Then the band took a couple of minutes to sing Happy Birthday to Mike Portnoy, and presented him with a cake, then he proceeded to take some time off from drum duties and was replaced by Charlie Benante, and he proceeded to play 2 John Bush, Anthrax era songs from Sound of White Noise entitled “Room for One More” and “Only” had the crowd singing along with the band.
After that, this is when the fun really started. The band took a break so they could set up another drum kit in front of Mr. Portnoy’s kit. While they were doing that, Adam Dubin (Director) and Harold Oimoen of ‘Murder in the Front Row’ were talking about the movie.
After that, Exodus played a 3-song set with the core members with the exception of Jack Gibson (Bass), the bass duties were being done by Mark Menghi of Metal Allegiance and Lee Altus being replaced by original Exodus guitarist Rick Hunolt. They proceeded by Blaze through the Exodus classics “Bonded by Blood”, “And Then There Was None”, and the mosh pit anthem “Toxic Waltz”. It was great to see Exodus back in fine form, and by the reaction from the crowd, it was something they would remember for years to come.
The final 3 songs were a double drum kit version of “Metal Militia”, “The Trooper”, and a finale that had all the musicians, including Harold O on stage playing “Iron Fist”.
A very memorable night of great musicians, playing great music for a great cause.
- Pledge of Allegiance
- Leper Messiah
- Can’t Kill the Devil
- The Accuser
- Bound by Silence
- Into the Pit
- Gift of Pain
- Let Darkness Fall
- Dying Song
- Voodoo of the Godsend
- Peace Sells
- Roots Bloody Roots with Logan Mader
- Liars & Thieves
- Impulse Control
- Room for One More with Charlie Benante
- Only with Charlie Benante
- Bonded By Blood
- And Then There Were None
- The Toxic Waltz
- Metal Militia
- The Trooper
- Iron Fist – with John Bush, Troy Sanders, Chuck Billy, Phil Demmel, Logan Mader, Exodus & Harold O
All photos by Scott Martin