Lazarus AD, Unearth & Testament 06/11/09
House Of Blues – West Hollywood, CA
Words/Photos By Reverend Justito/concertconfessions.com
(NOTE: All photos taken with an iphone as House Of Blues does not allow cameras)
Standing up against the bar alongside stage left inside Hollywood’s House Of Blues Thursday night, I was distracted from the on stage action by a young man who fit the exact description of a heavy metal stereotype: A young Latino with long fluffy hair, black denim jeans, a faded leather jacket and 1980’s white high-top sneakers. Exhausted from hours in the circle pit, the thrash enthusiast leaned up against a trashcan, trying to catch his breath. In that moment, it became clear to me that he needed relief. With no Gatorade in site, I gave the pit warrior the last 6 ounces of my Coors Light. A large smile spread across his face as he pounded what was left of my Rocky Mountain Freshness. Much like Popeye when he eats his spinach, the metal head was instantly rejuvenated. He quickly thanked me once again and sprinted into the pit to catch the remainder of East Bay Thrash legends Testament’s headlining set.
It was Thursday afternoon when I was offered a free ticket/all access pass to the triple bill of Lazarus AD, Unearth and Testament at House of Blues. Despite the fact I despise House of Blues (that’s another blog for another day) I wanted to hang with my pals so I decided to put aside my grudge and check the show out. Besides, despite often feeling out of place and in the way, getting to hang back stage with bands always brings a smile to my face. I am very blessed to have some generous friends within the music industry, and I am always grateful when they let me tag along, especially on a weeknight.
I had never been in the balcony at House of Blues Sunset, but we headed up there to check out the evening’s first band: Lazarus AD. Holy hell fire – this Kenosha, Wisconsin four-piece not only won the jaded Hollywood crowd over with great ease, but had some huge circle pits going inside the large club as well. With blistering solos and great, heavy grooves, the upstart band absolutely destroyed everything in their path during their brief 30-minute opening set. I wish I knew more about these guys so I could share more. Instead, I will just say this: with an extensive summer tour still planned, these future thrash legends are not to be missed. You will not be disappointed.
After wandering around back stage for a bit, my friends and I returned to the balcony to check out Winthrop, Massachusetts’ metallers, Unearth. Supporting lasts years “The March” (which came out on my wedding day for those keeping score at home), the five piece band sounded tight during their main support act. It didn’t matter if the band was playing a new song like “We Are Not Anonymous” or an older number like “Endless” (which the band dedicated to headliners Testament); the crowd was eating it up. Axe slingers Ken Susi and Buz McGrath (who was wearing a Dr. Dre T-shirt) criss-crossed the stage while vocalist Trevor Phipps encouraged the capacity crowd to increase the size of the circle pit. The band wrapped up their 45 minute set with arguably their biggest hit – “Black Hearts Now Reign”. As venue security executed brutal chokeholds on excited kids who crowd surfed over the rail, McGrath tore up the fret board on his 7-string guitar. Not even the pain of losing oxygen by paid staff could wipe the smiles Unearth brought to the excited few who made it over.
I have to confess; I only caught about a third of Testament’s headline set (my pals decided they would rather drink with the opening bands, and I was fine with that). Despite growing up across the bay from their stomping grounds, my knowledge of Testament is limited to what I heard blasting through the speakers of my best friends Mustang back in High School. The bit that I did see was very impressive and makes me realize I have missed out on some rather awesome songs. As we watched from the side bar, the band sounded great after approximately a year on the road. For as crazy as the crowd was for the opening bands, Testament had the audience eating out of the palm of their hands.
For me, the highlight was a song called “Practice What You Preach”. I believe that life should be about making a positive impact whenever you can. I know I often fail but sometimes, in life, even I surprise myself. When that kid stumbled out of the pit exhausted from running around like a maniac, I knew he needed that beer more than me. Besides, I had been blessed enough that evening with a free ticket, backstage pass and a great group of friends who not only hooked me up because I am a live music junkie, but also have my back when it really matters.