“Hey, I hear you don’t like beatdowns?!” Shadows Fall live at L’Amour: August 10th, 2003

I first read up on Shadows Fall in a brief one page Guitar World article in 2000, discussing the release of their newest album, Of One Blood, which featured the debut of vocalist Brian Fair.  I’m pretty sure I still have that magazine in my attic somewhere in a big ass bin of old GW back issues….along with a shit load of Muscle And Fitness mags that I stole from my ex-job…several times.  Those security guards were and probably STILL are dumb as SHIT.    All these years later I can’t remember why it didn’t get my attention much in a time when Pantera was just a month away from releasing Reinventing The Steel, and shit rap-metal and pussy pop punk was king; but it was most likely because I read that they mixed thrash and death metal with rhythm guitar Matt Bachand’s love of new-age music.  At that time I most likely too young or ignorant to understand the idea or even give it a listen to see how the band melded such styles together.

That changed two and a half years later, by which point I was a few weeks into my college career.  They once again were featured in Guitar World, this time discussing their newest album, The Art Of Balance.  This time around, the article focused on the fact that lead guitar Jon Donais actually shreds his ass off on the record.  Both he and Matt discuss their love of all kinds of metal, as well as the fact that at that point in time the ONLY other guitarists known for TRULY shredding it up were Dimebag Darrell and Zakk Wylde.  True story.  So I was interested.  Then, I started seeing ads for the album in magazines featuring quotes from these rave…and I mean RAVE…reviews, calling Shadows Fall “The Next Metallica”, on the heels of the fact that this CD was supposed to have such a purist, old school thrash feel.  Ok…I was sold.  So I went to Sam Goody, maybe around Christmas time, bought the CD, and my ass was instantly KICKED so hard.  The riffage was very thrash.  Jason Bittner’s drums were so precise and so freaking fast on his debut recording with the band, Brian Fair really did sound like Ride The Lightning – era James Hetfield.  Then, there was those guitar solos.  Jon Donais is an AMAZING lead guitar player.  There are guys who shred to blow their load by showing off their knowledge of every scale known to man and there are guys like Jon who shred with aggression, technique…and feel.  GASP!!!  Not too long after this I finally heard Of One Blood and realized what I was missing out on because that record is even MORE brutal than The Art Of Balance!

Sometime in the summer of 2003 I was in a Hot Topic – the second to last time I ever went into one – and I found myself talking to the guy behind the counter, whose name I no longer remember.  The discussion turned to musical styles.  Around this time, the nu-metal/rap metal train was close to FINALLY crashing, but so-called hardcore with breakdowns that the kiddies would breakdance too was starting to become the new trend.  This guy played in a band called Resin and they liked to do those breakdowns.  Too bad.  But he told me that his band would be opening for Chimaira and Shadows Fall within a month and he had to sell tickets (gee, I wonder where I heard that shit before) and of course I told him I’d go.  They were practically THE only modern metal band I was giving the time of day.

So a month later my mom insisted on driving me to L’Amour on 63rd St, most likely because she was a sissy who couldn’t bare the thought of my taking car service there even though I had done it just three months earlier, when I was last there to see Superjoint Ritual.  No sooner did I close the door to her car did I hear a voice yell out to me “Hey!  I hear you don’t like beatdowns??”.  I turned around there was all of Resin.  In the middle was their gruff looking singer, who yelled out to me.  To the left was the guy from Hot Topic…who clearly had a great memory!  So we spoke for a few minutes and they gave me my ticket.

Going into the show, which was an Ozzfest ’03 off-date, the bill was once again HEAVILY booked by the idiot guineas that ran the place.  I think the first band I remember seeing was this band of kids who did a cover of Sepultura’s “Roots Bloody Roots” that was played waaaaaayyy too fast.  Even when I was that age I never understood why younger bands just need to speed up even those songs that need to be played a little slower.  Is it nervousness?  Is it lack of understanding of dynamics?  The original tempo for the song was just right because it allowed Igor to put the right kind of groove in there and, more importantly, it allowed the heavy ass riffs to breathe.  Most times, fast never equates to heavy.  Heavy is not about tempo, or even volume for that matter.  It’s about attitude.  If you’re a young musician and you’re reading this, don’t ever forget this.  Dynamics, more important than ANYTHING else in terms of songwriting.

While seeing this one band one the main stage, whose guitarist was clearly trying so hard to be Dimebag Darrell, I recognized Jon Donais standing literally feet away from me.  I went over to him to discuss the band on stage because the guitar player was in fact really good and he put on the biggest smile and even gave me his full attention.  That solidified to me once for all the humility of the underground guys.  They were playing their first huge festival tour as The Art Of Balance was selling 100,000 copies, the first album in Century Media Record’s history to do so and they were still down to earth guys.  I went up to Brian Fair after seeing Jon and he too was a cool guy.  I saw a few more local bands including Full Blown Chaos yet again (and they sounded like shit yet again!) and Chimaira came out.  Long story short: they sucked.

Shadows Fall went on around 10pm and, long story short: they blew Chimaira out of the fucking water within the first minute of being up there.  Although that part wasn’t hard.  They were so good, playing songs from the two most recent CDs.

The Setlist:

Idle Hands

Crushing Belial

The Idiot Box

A Fire In Babylon

Stepping Outside The Circle

Thoughts Without Words

Of One Blood

Destroyer Of Senses

Serenity

The show was fucking incredible…and I totally forgive Brian Fair for wearing a Clash t-shirt that night!  Someone in the middle of the set he asked us if we BOUGHT the new album and I’m pretty sure most of the crowd responded pretty positively…by which I mean horns in the air and loud chanting.  You could tell it meant a lot; let’s face it, bands in his position NEVER sell 100,000 copies of a record or even make that in combined album sales.  And that was a minor miracle compared to the success the band would see a year later!  What I did NOT know about that night was that it would be my last time going to L’Amour for anything.  They’d close down just over five months later in early February 2004.

Final Thoughts

Here’ a brief video of me squatting 235lbs for 6 reps without a belt last Thursday night.

I managed to pull this off without a belt and it was surprisingly easy.  Starting this week I began final preparations for my first meet happening on May 21st in Newark, NJ.  As of this past Sunday I’m focusing only on the big three lifts and light cardio, making my training sessions considerably shorter.

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My First Metal Concert

This just popped in my head a little bit ago…maybe because Phil’s bringing this band back out on the road again, but only as Superjoint for “legal reasons”, whatever the fuck that means.  In early 2003 I was finishing up my first year of college and was anxiously waiting for Phil Anselmo to stop with the multiple side projects and get with Pantera again.  So one day before I finished for the semester I met this guy Hussein, who I’m still buddies with.  I don’t remember how it came about but we got to talking about Pantera and he mentioned that Superjoint Ritual, Phil’s Black Flag-meets-Black Sabbath hardcore side project, was going to be playing L’Amour in Brooklyn in a week and opening up for them would be Sepultura. Whoa wait a sec.  Superjoint Ritual?  Phil Anselmo?  Sepultura?  Playing…in Brooklyn??  Playing …in THIS place??? imgres I figured for sure Phil Anselmo was too big of a name for a place like L’Amour, I don’t give a fuck how many bands played there.  Hell my first two gigs ever were at L’Amour and I vowed to never played there again because the faggot ass guineas running the place didn’t know how to talk to people.  But I realized I had to go.  It was Superjoint – it was fucking Phil Anselmo, who at that time still had it as a vocalist, and sadly it was as close to seeing Pantera as I’d ever get, partially because Phil wouldn’t shut the fuck up but that’s another story…kind of. May 20th, 2003.  It was perfect, I wasn’t scheduled for work that day and all I had to do was hand a final paper to my English professor and I was a free man.  While on campus I couldn’t help but go on a computer and check out Pantera’s website.  It read “May 20th 2003: Phil says Pantera is over.”  I click on it and there was a link to an audio clip were Phil explained his logic that he wanted to do another Down record, his label wanted another Pantera record and therefore his “obvious choice”, as he put it, was to stick with Superjoint Ritual.  Don’t get me wrong, Use Once And Destroy was a fucking AMAZING CD, but that’s his ‘obvious choice”??  Why didn’t I realize he was far from sober the whole time? So I took car service all the way to 63rd St in Brooklyn, which I swear is like this magical hidden block that you can’t know about unless you know what to look for because I never knew of or saw the place until two years earlier.  I got there real early anticipating a line but thee wasn’t.  But I did see a Ryder moving truck with Sepultura’s gear in it and realized Igor Cavalera was hanging out in front of the building while the crew was unloading the band’s gear. These days I have no problem going up to musicians but this was the first time I ever saw someone like Igor in the flesh and I just fucking froze.  I didn’t know what to say, do, nothing.  It got worse when Andreas Kisser came out.  I did try to talk to the road crew, offering to help them unload.  They were cool but they nicely declined.  Fuck! I was there for a few hours before I decided maybe I should get on line.  Problem?  I didn’t have tickets; but that all changed when I ran into an old friend whose band, Dieverse, was one of the local bands opening up the show.  So one of his fat goth chick friends sold me a ticket while (I think) subtly offering to blow me – not happening sweetheart!  I was one of the first on line when Superjoint’s bus came around and the band walked out.  Considering all things Phil looked pretty normal as he high fived me. I walked in there and was surprised to see that since I last played there in October 2001 they had built a brand new stage in the back, which meant there now were two stages.  I thought this was pretty genius since L’Amour was notorious for overloading the bills with local bands up the ass.  I would know – my old band suffered for it twice.  So while seeing the first main band, this really shitty hardcore band called Full Blown Chaos – wow they sucked so bad! – I found myself talking to some older woman who was standing next to me.  She was a real cool chick and I found myself asking her were she lived and when she said the village (Greenwich Village for those of you dopes unfamiliar with lower Manhattan) I for whatever reason said “I figured so”.  She asked me nicely how I figured that and I couldn’t think of a good answer even though I totally didn’t mean it as an insult.  I must’ve meant the fact that she came off as such a free spirit but didn’t know how to say it like such at the time, and being just days away from turning 19 what the fuck did I know anyway?  “I’m getting another beer, I’ll be right back”, she said.  Guess if she ever came back.  Oops!  Yeah, I was a dope.  Lesson learned! So Sepultura came out next and they fucking SLAYED.  Igor’s drum kit is something else but whatever.  The man is one of the greatest metal drummers of all time, a pure machine.  Andreas Kisser’s tone was heavy as fuck as they played stuff off classics like Roots and Chaos A.D.  During “Roots Bloody Roots” the place came apart for a bit.  There was no way they’d be able to steal Superjoint’s thunder – even with Paolo Pinto’s bass sounding like a 747 taking off. So Eddie Trunk came out to introduce Superjoint and I had just discovered him not too long before this night but he was every bit as fat as I imagined he would be just from listening to him as he showed off his vast, useless musical knowledge.  The only thing he was missing as far as I was concerned as was a pair of nerdy Steve Urkel glasses and suspenders!  The band came out and the place came apart for real this time.  I wish I could find footage of the show but I can’t.  There was this one guy with these nasty looking dreads standing in front of us who just had to keep his middle finger out in the air while yelling out “FUCK YOU ALL!!!” over and over again.  The guy standing next to me was jokingly putting his lighter to the guy’s head – I wish he lit that asshole up! Some memorable parts of the show include a girl jumping on stage to grab Phil’s nuts and hand him a joint, in which Phil responded in kind: “Thanks for the joint – thanks for grabbin’ my balls!”, as security took the girl away.  There was the part were some dude jumped of the stage head first and no one caught him.  Yeah, cringe moment for me and the dudes I now was hanging with.  Then Phil said the one thing some of us predicted he’d say. In a pure drama queen moment he put his left palm out to the crowd, closed his eyes and proclaimed “It feels…SO GOOD…to be only two inches in front of you.  I’ve been on all the world’s biggest stages – I’VE BEEN ON ‘EM ALL!  But this is where I belong…and this is where I’m stayin’.”, he said as he backed up toward Joe Fazzio’s drums for the next song.  “Who called it?”, someone yelled out. Aside from that the band destroyed the place for real.  Just one issue…how the fuck do I get car service to take me home??  I found a number for car service then I heard someone say “I know you from Psychology class”.  Anna Lopez??  Thank Satan you’re here!  And there was my ride home.  The next concert I went to two months later was far bigger but this was Phil Anselmo and this was also to be the second to last time I’d ever go to the original L’Amour; the place closed down eight months later.  If any of you reading this were at the show at all drop me a line and tell me about your view of the show.  Let me know if I forgot to mention anything.