Anthrax performing on 08.05.22 at Oshkosh Arena in Oshkosh Wisconsin.
photo by DeWook
The dance to get the photo pass begins months before the show. Contact management. Jumping through hoops. Email managers, tour managers, crew, and marketing. I don’t care how prepared you are before a show. As a rock photographer, it is stressful. Did my contact set everything up? Are my credentials really at will call? How annoying will security be this time? Can I find parking? No matter how prepared you are, something always goes wrong.
Anthrax was the first band to motivate me to go to a show. December 1987. The Among the Living tour. I was 16 in Chicago with my buddy without my parents for the first time ever. Cold and nervous. Lined up in this ally waiting to get into the Argon. I say cold cause we were all in the basic 80 garb. Jean jacket with the black T and jeans. Anthrax and Kiss patches all over me like I was some decorated General going into battle. I was straight pissing my pants. What was I going to witness? What did I get myself into?
The show was loud. Screaming fans. Hot. I was begging for a cool breeze because the cigarette smoke was thick. The opening bands kicked ass, but when Anthrax came on, time stopped for me. It was over in a flash. Hawaiian shorts and metal. Man, this was the shit. If you asked me what the set list was, I couldn’t tell you. I didn’t get fucked up anything, I just can’t recall much. I do know one thing. I loved every moment.
Later In 2018 I was involved with my first publication which led me to 4 magazine covers. I thought with a magazine behind me I was unstoppable. I was hitting up every band that came to Milwaukee. Throwing my weight around as much as possible. Ultimately getting photo passes for the Anthrax show at the Rave. Amazingly, I was able to set up an interview with Anthrax drummer Charlie Benante for my upcoming photo spread for the magazine. This was just over the top for me. Things were shifting fast.
Over the summer of 2021 I was able to contact Anthrax again. This time there were no photo passes. Instead, I took advantage of the column I now write for at Maximum Ink Magazine and broke away from the normal concert scenario. I was given a copy of Anthrax’s bassist Frank Bello’s new book “Fathers, Brothers, and Sons” from his publicist. I was about to go out on a limb to interview Frank Bello. I read the book cover to cover and began my research. This was going to be a make-or-break moment for me. It had to be perfect.
Frank Bello was incredible. He was awesome right off the bat. Our 20-minute conversation is still up on YouTube. I can’t watch myself. It was very difficult to see how much I was freaking out. Regardless of how I felt, Frank held the reins at even and at one point turned the interview on me. A learning experience that will never be forgotten.
After a horrible lockdown due to covid. The bands returned. So did Anthrax. This time opening the Generac stage at Summerfest 2022. I once again was able to get photo passes and I was off to will call. There was nothing. No photo pass, no ticket. I was fucked. Summerfest management did all they could even though I was in touch with Anthrax’s marketing team the whole time. I was flushed. As I walked back to the car this stagehand in a cart pulled up and asked if I was there for Anthrax. I said yes and he told me, get in. Off to the stage I went right into the stage manager’s office. He asked if I was Jake. I said, “I’m Wook”. Confusion went over everyone in the room. I showed him my emails which confirmed my existence. He said fuck it and hooked me up with stage access. I thanked the concert gods for this moment and went to work. I met lead guitarist Jonathan Donais and vocalist Joey Belladonna. Humbling moments to say the least. I became the fly on the wall. Taking it all in for as long as I could. But I had to go to work. The show was about to begin.
Fast forward to August. Anthrax was coming back again to Wisconsin. This time to the Oshkosh Arena. I was stoked. Everything was set up. Confirmation on all my credentials and the cameras were ready to rock. I had never been to this venue before so there were many worries. Parking. Security. Fans. What was I going to expect? The jitters had returned.
The place was amazing. The fans were as expected, just friendly and happy to be at a show. I got backstage and put my gear on. Got out of the way of the stage crew as they prepped for Anthrax’s set. I popped in my earplugs and waited patiently dead center of the stage. Once again, with my favorite band.
They opened up with a montage video of metal big names providing the fans with praise. Shouting out their love of 40 years since Anthrax began their long journey as musicians. After which the spotlights kicked on from behind and silhouettes of bassist Frank Bello and guitarist Scott Ian were splattered on the curtain. The music got loud as did the fans when boom. The curtain fell and we were lunged into “Among the Living”, the title track to their 1987 album. Off to work I went.
I absolutely love working with bands I know the music too. I was a kid and Anthrax was the candy store. They performed a 12-song set which included many fan favorites. “Caught in a Mosh”, “Madhouse’, and “Indians” which of course brought down the house. The energy and strength of this band destroyed Oshkosh. We all loved every minute of it.
Regardless of what anxiety I might possess prior to a show. When a band comes out and performs like Anthrax has done repeatedly throughout the years never holding back. Always delivering 100%. It doesn’t matter how worried, nervous, or whatever I might be feeling prior to the show. I am always left with one thought on my mind. Damn that was fucking awesome.
For now, I am still left in awe. Feeling blessed to be able to be in this position with this band that I have grown up with. No matter how bad security is, how rowdy the fans are, or if I ever find a parking spot. One thing remains permanent. I can’t wait for the next show.
Thank you, Anthrax, for all you have done for this fan.
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