The courtyard of Jannus Live in St. Petersburg, FL was the latest stop on the ‘The Bay Strikes Back’ tour on Sunday, September 18th, 2022. The crushingly heavy lineup for this twice delayed tour consisted of some of the true old school legends of thrash metal. Testament was the headliner with Exodus and Death Angel in support. This tour commemorates the roots of these thrash metal titans, each with decades of glorious metal to celebrate. What started off as a nice quiet gathering of local metalheads instantly exploded into a wall of molten metal assaulting every one of my senses the moment the show started.
Originally when this tour was announced (thankfully what turned out to be the first leg) the closest venue was in Orlando and I immediately bought tickets but as the date drew near, sadly I was unable to attend. Thinking I had missed what I considered a tour of absolute BIBLICAL PROPORTIONS, I was beyond elated to read there was a second leg of the tour announced with a date at my favorite local venue.
My anticipation grew as the countdown to the day of the show neared. The day of arrives and please lord let all this darn rain we have been having cease for one night. Thankfully, I can say after the fact that this was the first night in at least the past two weeks where we did not have a deluge of rain. I arrive at the venue with plenty of time to pick up my credentials and get through security, there is already a solid crowd on hand and any one of the three bands playing tonight could be the headliner so there is no question how strong of a lineup this show has based on the early crowd size.
Death Angel opened the show to a raucous crowd who were more than ready to start their head banging neck exercises for the evening. Touring to support their last release, Humanicide (2019) I can only hope for new music from these guys before too long. This was my second time seeing Death Angel and their set list touched upon six of their nine studio releases. Their energy was endless on stage and the crowd was beyond fired up for the rest of the evening. One funny thing to note, before their next to last song, as I am standing one row outside of the mosh pit, along comes (local concert staple) Medicine Man. I have been seeing this dude at shows in and around the area for over twenty years. Before their last song lead singer Mark Osegueda asked the crowd who had been at the show back in the day when Death Angel played Jannus in the early 1990s and of course Medicine Man’s hand goes up. Even the venue security was in on the mosh pit fun as Death Angel was absolutely shredding on stage. From my vantage point I could see the security guys laughing and helping people back into the pit as they were flung around the edges. It was a very friendly pit from what I could see, metal brethren together in arms, making sure no one went down. It was a great start to the show.
Exodus was up next and this band is arguably the fan community favorite to expand the Big 4 of thrash metal (Metallica, Megadeth, Anthrax, and Slayer) to the Big 5. Their set list had songs from six of their twelve studio releases and they played the one song I wanted to hear the most from any of the three bands on the bill for the evening. Their song “Blacklist” is in my opinion a modern metal masterpiece and I savored every crushing note while trying to maintain a safe distance from what was the biggest mosh pit I have ever seen in all of my concert going days at Jannus. By the time I had to leave the photo pit and made my way back into the crowd, that friendly mosh pit from early turned just a bit more violent for these titans of thrash.
Supporting their latest studio release Persona Non Grata (2021), they opened their set with the aptly titled “The Beatings Will Continue (Until Morale Improves)” and that set the tone for the blistering twin guitar assault that is Gary Holt and Lee Altus. Lead singer Steve “Zetro” Souza is a commanding presence on stage and while he’s belting out the anger and aggression in the lyrics of Exodus, he is doing so with a smile on his face. This was my fourth time seeing Exodus and I would have to say that for me, they stole the show. I am certain this gets said at every stop along the tour, but when Zetro said that St. Petersburg and Exodus were “Bonded by Blood,” the crowd roared louder than they had all night and as the band tore into that song, the pit grew to an even larger size.
Testament and I go way back, my first concert of theirs was back in 1990, this would be my sixth time seeing them literally shred my hearing senses into oblivion. Jokingly over the years I have used a Testament question to help ‘weed out the metal posers’ I have come across in my time as Chief Metal Officer. Asking “Which is better? Old Testament or new Testament?”, with the only correct answer being “They both kick ass!”. (After thinking about it as I write this, that same question could be asked of Exodus and the answer would be the same!)
The moment was upon us as the venue goes dark and Testament opens with their own blistering twin guitar attack and wastes no time in getting the mosh pit going again. Their set list included songs from nine of their thirteen studio releases and they are touring in support of Titans of Creation (2020), their last studio album. As with the first two bands of the night, my three songs in the photo pit are over in the blink of an eye. I make my way out to the crowd and eventually upstairs to the suite level area where I finally have an unobstructed view of the drum kit (which at my height is really hard to see from the photo pit) and the giant lettering on the stage floor itself, spelling out Testament. I thought it was sort of odd to have that graphic onstage as literally no one can see it unless you are up above. Still I tried to get a shot of it when there were no feet covering it up.
I have to give props to the sound team as all three of the bands sounded magnificent. What a night and show this was. When there is over a century’s worth of the collective bands’ catalogs to choose their set lists from, one can be assured that fan classics will be on the list but to get my personal favorite song from each of these bands live just took the show to a whole different level for me. While the show was not quite sold out, very close, it was a great turn out given there was another high profile metal concert this same night in Tampa. Truly this show lived up to my BIBLICAL PROPORTIONS expectations and will yours if you are able to attend one of the shows on this leg of the tour that runs through October 15th. \m/
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