Middle-aged, Harley-driving, chain smoker dudes; corporate fathers with their tolerant tween daughters; and roadies walking around and brushing their teeth. These were just some of the characters you would’ve found at Megadeth’s headbanging Wellmont extravaganza this past Friday.
Seeing Megadeth was reminiscent for me. Back in 7th grade, I was obsessed with popular metal bands like Iron Maiden, Mastodon, and especially Megadeth. When I found out that I had the opportunity to see them at the Wellmont, I heard a middle schooler Eli screaming with joy inside of me.
The audience was very diverse: ages ranged from middle schoolers to grandfathers, the racial mix was eclectic, and there were just as many Megadeth-loving women as there were men - proving that there’s no typical metalhead. However, black clothing seemed almost mandatory for the concertgoers. My multi-colored winter coat and my friend David’s maroon jacket illuminated us in a sea of dark attire.
Ft. Lauderdale’s Nonpoint opened the show. Their conventional sound was like a cross between the safe modern rock of Shinedown and the flavorless nu metal of Limp Bizkit. “The Truth”, their moist groove metal song that talks about fighting for what you truly believe in (how original), made me cringe. Although lead singer Elias Soriano worked the crowd very well with interaction and stage movement, Nonpoint was way too generic for me.
Fear Factory went next and killed Soriano’s active vibe. Frontman Burton Bell’s idea of crowd communication was to drop a “Fuck yeah!” at the end of each song, thinking he was energizing his audience. Dino Cazares (guitar) and Matt DeVries (bass) awkwardly strutted across the stage from time to time, while they gouged on deeply tuned strings to notes that my perfect pitch couldn’t even determine. It was a grueling half hour of what sounded like “chugga chugga chugga, fucka fucka fucka”.
Megadeth threw the two blasphemous openers into the trash. For a band of former alcoholics and heroin addicts now in their fifties, they played with surprising agility and tightness. They opened with their Rust In Peace classic “Hangar 18” and kept on thrashing for another twelve righteous songs, including an encore. Everyone, including me, joined together to belt out the lyrics to hits like “Symphony Of Destruction” and “Peace Sells”.
There was a giant screen above the stage displaying band members, mostly lead man Dave Mustaine (vocals/rhythm guitar), as they played. While Mustaine was taking a solo or singing, a cycle of cheesy, unrelated imagery accompanied him, including animated spinning chairs, moving clouds, and a barren playground swing. Megadeth can totally rock, but their confusing graphic motifs were stupid.
For thirty years, Megadeth has been one of the biggest successes of metal music. Alongside Slayer, Anthrax, and Metallica (collectively nicknamed “The Big Four”), they’ve innovated the style of thrash metal, a subgenre that combines lightning punk tempo with intricate guitar melodies. After all this time, Megadeth still has as much power as younger thrash metal bands, like contemporary speed rockers Speedwolf and Midnight.
They will always rule the metal kingdom.