Auburn's White River Amphitheatre may not be the most convenient place for a Seattle rocker to get his or her groove on, but last Tuesday, the Mayhem Festival's bill was just too good to pass up.
Duff McKagan is the founding bassist of Guns N' Roses and the leader of Seattle's Loaded. His column runs every Thursday on Reverb.
Instead of actually reviewing the music (you know that I won't and don't do that here. I leave that to the guys who don't actually play in a band . . . er . . . I mean, I leave that to the esteemed "rock journalists"), I'm just gonna take you along for my ride the other night.
The last time Slayer was in town, I had to bail about two songs into their set (sacrilege, I know). I wasn't going to let that happen again.
Plus, it was the day before the Fourth, and I knew I could score some good (read: illegal) fireworks next to the Muckleshoot Casino (I of course lit and dispensed with the fireworks right there on the 'Rez . . . if you are the SPD reading right now).
But seriously, with Anthrax, Motorhead, Asking Alexandria, Slayer, and the mighty Slipknot in town, there was no way I could NOT go to this thing (if you rock and Motorhead is playing anywhere within a 100-mile radius, it is your duty to go . . . or you are not so "rock" after all . . . unless your daughter has a ballet recital, of course . . . or your wife reminds you that it's date night. In that case, you CAN plead the Motorhead Clause in the rock/marriage agreement, but tread carefully. Actually, my wife Sue LOVES the 'Head . . . so disregard).Back to White River: I took two of my nephews, and we got followed for about five miles by the State 5-0. One of my nephews plays football for the UW, and I started to really sweat the fact that he was going to get in trouble. I did realize that I had done nothing illegal (yet), and that my car's tabs were up to date, and etc., but the cops still get me all flustered and imagining the worst. It got me in the mood for some anti-establishment rock and roll.
I really like the idea and feel of how Anthrax has re-emerged. They were a thing of the past due to internal fighting and tension--a familiar story that could have just been a footnote in the history of rock and roll. Instead, they got back together for last year's BIG 4 (the massive tour featureing Metallica, Slayer, Megadeth, and Anthrax) and have reignited themselves as a touring force, and have also seemingly put all of the old resentment crap to bed. They kick ASS live.
Motorhead? Well, what is there left to say that I haven't said here before? The best. The gnarliest. The funniest. The loudest. Etc, etc, etc. They have been constantly on the road for something like 33 years. Ridiculous. I'm beyond fond of this lot . . . if my opinion means squat. They are Motorhead, and they play rock and roll.
And back at White River, Slayer came on. They don't mince words and they don't mince the rock. The music itself was epic as always, but the new stage show--with flaming Marshall stacks in the shape of a cross--was really something to behold. I have always kind of looked up to the fact that this band has never changed with the latest style or whatever. They are mean as hell live.
The Mayhem Festival has really perfected the traveling all-day rock experience. These things can be awful if there is overpriced water and/or not enough porta-potties, etc. But with a hint from European festivals and their corporate energy-drink sponsorships and the like, Mayhem has become a force because it is, for the most part, a fan-friendly atmosphere.
Slipknot have been through the ringer over the past few years--the biggest blow by far being the much-too-soon death of bassist and songwriter Paul Gray. The band will never fully "recover" from this . . . how does anyone, really?
But Slipknot are back in a big way. They have a huge worldwide audience that will seemingly forever support this endeavor. Corey is one of the best singers in our current stable of dudes who sing, and he leads this band with an intensity that can not ever be a learned thing.
Clown is a bad ass. Period.
The Northwest audience showed UP on Tuesday, and we all reeled as the loudest concussion bombs EVER did battle with the 50 surrounding firework stands. Great band. Great!
BTW, Slipknot's Corey Taylor did a book-signing at University Bookstore on Monday, for his ingenious Seven Deadly Sins book. If you haven't read it yet, do yourself that favor. Corey is one of the more enlightened guys roaming the planet at this moment.
Me and my nephews bailed before the end, so as to beat the traffic on that single-lane road on the way out of there. I hate that feeling when you start to think about traffic instead of just being in the moment of a show. I guess if I was a real rock dude, I'd just not be such a wuss about traffic.
Whatever. We got ice-cream cones at the Dairy Queen in Puyallup. Now THAT is rock!