Anthrax live at the Eagles Ballroom - photo by Emily Sisson: (ESOfficial)
Personally, I grew up attending every concert I could afford to attend. I came from a family with a musical background and I always felt the most memorable moments were ones spent going to concerts with my best friend or father. Sure it was $40-$50 of my money that could have been spent on T-shirts or lunch, but that ticket was a sure sign that I would have a unique memory and story. The Anthrax and Killswitch Engage “Killthrax” show in Milwaukee WI was no different. It was exhilarating witnessing and shooting a show from a band that not only turned me onto metal, but a show my father went and saw at my age.
Right from the start I could tell it was going to be a great show from the opening performance of Havok. I was surprised to find more then one fan who was sporting a “Havok” T-shirt, Patch or some other form of merch. They opened with Unnatural Selection, a title song off their third full-length album Unnatural Selection on June 25, 2013. Heavy and energetic the band immediately set the pace of the night with an obvious way of capturing the audience. Not to mention the pure physical force they all brought while preforming. I find it hard to enjoy a show when artists don’t immerse themselves into their own music, luckily this was not the case. Michael Leon’s Streamer Stage II guitar dubbed “Nessy”, was completely decked out with bright LED lights all up the stock. This sexy beast was custom built by @nickshinz, word has it just a single G cord bring the most humble woman to their knees. Truth be told I saw more men staring at the bass then women. Banging their heads and jumping around the stage not only amplified the movement of the audience but kept the performance visually pleasing as well. Lead singer David Sanchez added some funny banter in between songs such as “ If you haven’t already read the sign were Havok… If you can’t read it, your clearly Illiterate… and thats not cool…can I get a fuck yeah for literacy?!?!” *AUDIANCE* “fuck yeah!” Yes David, I agree literacy is… well.
Once Havok finished their set, the roadies started to set up for Anthrax. Fifteen minutes later I heard the crowd roar as Havok’s black banner fell to the ground to reveal Anthrax’s “For All Kings” skeletal-y plad banner hung for all to see. I had a hard time believing such an Iconic metal band was opening for Killswitch. Don’t get me wrong, Killswitch Engage is an incredibly dynamic band and they played one hell of a show. But they came together 23 years after Anthrax and I would figure there would be some sort of seniority. I noticed that Killswitch did however have a large amount of the audience that seemed to be there more for their show.
The lights dimmed red, The Blues Brothers intro played and a quote from Waynes World reminding us that Mil·wau·kee is of course Algonquin for “the good land.” Have you ever been punched in the face while moshing? Or dropped on the head while crowd surfing? Little known secret, if the music is really good you don’t feel it. Which is why when I was hit in the head by a size 13 shoe in the middle of “Madhouse” I didn’t stop rocking. Undoubtedly if you can’t handle a shoe to the head you might be better off buying balcony seats or watching from the bar because the floor is no place for you. To put it lightly, the velocity at which their music pumped into my veins was enough to put Jessie Pinkman in a coma. Everyone on stage has clearly played countless shows together and when you watch the performance its clear to see. The whole band seems to have some sort of choreography or at least a connection with the rest of the members when moving. This would be my first Anthrax show so I can’t say for sure, but it seems as though the pits were pretty tame. Unfortunately, the generation of technology is upon us. I witnessed many people in the audience too focused on the stabilization for their Facebook video, to even move their head in the slightest. The controversy of cellphones at concerts has become a hot topic within the past few years. Personally, I feel as though it is truly not only a distraction to others but disrespectful to the artists. If you ever feel like snapping a few photos or taking a short video for keep sakes thats fine. But when its in front of your face for most of the concert blocking peoples view thats when you become a dick. Believe me at least 50 people will have the same video, leave the photographing to the photographers and enjoy yourself. None the less if you are looking to truly experience a show Anthrax is one for the books. Their talent is on full display and its clear whether or not your watching, they will blow the roof off.
Before Anthrax relinquished the stage they thanked the audience, then snapped a photo that would be posted to the bands Instagram the next morning. Waiting for Killswitch Engage to kick off their set, I took a moment to take in the venue. Those hallowed walls pay tribute to artists that have performed at the Rave in the past. Or at least the good ones. Next thing I know the crowd starts to chant. The time had come. The musicians entered the stage and took a look at the crowd hungry for metal. They opened with the song “Rose of Sharyn” and immediately every inch of that stage was used to their advantage. I was so captivated by everything that was happening onstage. I couldn’t keep my eyes steady. Adam’s Guitar of choice for this show was his Comparison TAT. Looking back on some of their previous shows it seems to be his go to. But hell, if it aint broke don’t fix it. The crowd was so god damm hyped I was being pelted with human body left and right even from the pit. After I was done photographing my 3 songs, I joined the rest of the audience behind the barricade. The lights and the set up of the stage were beautiful, props to the light techs and roadies. Although It was hard to see I was in the zone and banging my head to the music. Its shows like these that remind me why music and live performances are so important.
The fact of the matter is that after attending the “Killthrax” tour, I am beyond excited to see both of these bands preform again. I am awaiting Anthrax to return with Slayer on their reunion tour. And when Killswitch Engage returns to Milwaukee which I’m sure (due to their nearly sold out show) will happen, I will be there.
Please check out all of the photos from all the bands performances at > esofficial.com/concert-photography
2/20/2018 Correction/Clification: It should be noted that the Anthrax and Killswitch Engage “Killthrax” tour is actually a co-headliner tour. Both bands switch off first and second performance. The show covered should have been noted as such.