OVERKILL / DEATH ANGEL - Good Friday? This Was A Great Friday!
April 28, 2019, a year ago
A week ago, Christians celebrated the crucifixion (and resulting redemption from sin). In day-long torrential storms, on April 26th, South Jersey/Philadelphia area metalheads congregated at the TLA, on South Street, to revel in loud music bacchanalia. Know to which "church" I belong! Second night of the Wings Of War tour, with a trio of those tracks cracking a line-up that features nearly 35 year old classics. Actually, sort of surprised by the number of "newer" (read, last decade) numbers retained, including "Mean Green Killing Machine", "Electric Rattlesnake"and "Ironbound" (albeit reserved to kick off the encore). The old school metallers opted to go deep into the archives, especially the oft overlooked Nineties, as well as juggle things up: noticeably, ubiquitous "Elimination" up fourth in the set, separated from its longstanding, set-concluding partner (who has found a new love)! These old road dogs still have a trick or two up their sleeves.
I wasn't the last man standing, but as Overkill opened with the track of that name, Blitz acknowledged my presence in the photo pit, kindly flipping me off. Know it's only night #2, but tons of energy exerted, especially from DD Verni (bass) and stage right guitarist Derek Tailer. Stage hued in purple for "Hello From The Gutter", after which the frontman (re)introduced himself to the crowd, saying, "For 35 years, we're like your ugly cousins from New Jersey." A blazing rendition of "Elimination", complete with audience participation, was prefaced with a rhyme: Long ago and far away, an album was called Years Of Decay. For that one, Derek, aka "The Skull", had his head on a swivel, headbanging like a broken bobblehead. Triple stack of amps formed a wall behind Tailer and guitar partner Dave Linsk, opposite side of the stage. Plenty of strobes and fog, center stage is Verni, hunched over his bass. The staccato pulse of "Deny The Cross" is bathed in Overkill green, with yellow strobe accents, Blitz yelping away. Virtually no let-up between songs! Younger bands, floundering for stage patter and interaction, LEARN.
Ellsworth references the Phillies (baseball team) recent $330 million signee Bryce Harper, asking, "Is he here? If he is, gonna have to charge more for merch." Sad to say, but come one of the new songs, me (and quite a few others) headed to the bar or the john (old bladders maxed out). Ends with empty, black stage suddenly lit green, as the electrified rhythm of "Necroshine" kicks in. Blitz is center stage, arms swung overhead in a static jumping jack. A grinding "Under One" sees Tailer on backing vocals, mic above his head, Lemmy style. Prior to reactivated Euro sing-along "Bastard Nation", Blitz again stokes the flames of the good-nature two state rivalry, with "Jersey fuckers, can smell you're here." Funny part, he lives in NJ. Under a steady stream of strobes, he not only gets the crowd to add their voices, but thrust fists overhead. Guess what color the lights were for "Mean, Green, Killing Machine"? The mustachio singer called Verni and drummer Jason Bittner, "The Dynamic Duo (Batman & Robin)", as the two churned out a fat bottom end.
"How are we feeling in the City of Brotherly Love," Blitz asked. "I'm not feeling it... Feel the fucking fire," cue the title track to their 1985 debut. Tonight's rendition saw them exaggerate the part right before the spoken word section, "Higher, higher feel the fire," as Blitz lets the crowd emphasize the shouted, "there's nothing I despise more than a bitch!" As he's done throughout the night, he temporarily leaves the stage, the focus again on the band, as a barrage of green strobes invades. Song over, Blitz says, "Tip of the hat to the old school." The proper set concludes with Blitz' sendoff, "You're my fucking friends from Philly...that's a compliment!" Rolling his Rs and cackling, as he kicks off "Rotten To The Core". Back-to-back dose of oldies sees the crowd (many of them classified as oldies too, my 55 year old self included) handle the titular chorus, punctuated by that familiar Ellsworth laugh. At the end, Verni stands with bass upheld vertically, overhead, as the stage goes black again: "Thank you, good night."
No one leaves, as the boys return for a purple and red colored "Ironbound". A pretty steady stream of crowd surfers breach the barricade as Blitz sings from Derek's mic. Again playing on the hockey rivalry (he's a Devils fan), Blitz jokes, "We don't speak the same language, except for (hatred of) the Penguins." Way to get people riled up and yell, "Fuck You", which was the next song. The finger waggling favorite is now interspersed with "Welcome To The Garden State", an ode that says Jersey is great, you don't understand, so go home & fuck off. Having the two juxtaposed will aid all the national detractors, who can simply offer the rejoinder, "Fuck You", being in-step and in tune, at the same time.
Direct support was provided by Death Angel. Talking with Ted Aguilar, prior to the gig, the band are thrilled to be on tour with Overkill (whom they've never toured with previously, despite both bands longevity), even with the short set length. During the show, singer Mark Osegueda repeatedly voiced his appreciation to the Philly fans. Restricted for stage room, having set up in front of Overkill equipment, the Angels were a little more reserved than usual. Osegueda was like a caged tiger, working side-to-side, and no drum riser to leap off. Still, Rob Cavestany twisted his body in all sorts of obtuse angles, as he tortured his guitar, especially during "The Dream Calls For Blood". The size of the crowd doubles during Death Angel's time onstage "Thrown to the Wolves" opener initiated the barricade crashers, Cavestany a man possessed. A pink/purple "Claws In So Deep" saw the singer remove his black leather vest, reduced to a black tank top. Know it was a big hit, but still surprised to hear more sedate, stop-go "Seemingly Endless Time". The stage was a deep blue (with occasional hint of pink), the hue nearly obliterating the band members into featureless shadows. Title track of the forthcoming Humanicide was aired, the singer offering, "Philadelphia, this is for you beautifully ugly motherfuckers," as the lights dim a deep purple. After the drum fill, Teddy and Rob get together, stage right, for the first time all night. Stage goes black, then, under white spotlight, Cavestany cranks out the telltale notes of "The Ultra-Violence", but its too long to play in its entirety, so tonight it merely serves as the intro to a ferocious "Kill As One". The lights stay a deep, impenetrable blue throughout Cavestany's magic. The histrionic finale is lit in white, as the two guitarists exchange sides, Rob offering backing vocals and Aguilar madly headbanging. The now densely packed crowd sings the titular chorus, fists aloft. A fitting send-off, although several of the guys could be found hob-knobbing in the crowd, during the Overkill show.
Check out these two legends when they come to town. There's no school like old school!