It was a night where a lot of things went wrong, but a few surprises made things right. There was the extra ticket that four different people claimed as their own and then passed on. There was the pre-show fried chicken dinner that arrived as a fried chicken sandwich and the ensuing tension with the, at fault but refusing to accept it, waitstaff. There was the fact that our seats were way in the back, and there was the fact that the band we thought was going on 2nd (Lacuna Coil) went on 1st and we missed most of their set waiting in line for ten dollar beers and looking at forty dollar t-shirts.
After hearing Lacuna Coil play two songs, which were decent enough but not enough to really judge by, they split and the house lights came up. I looked at Facebook on my phone and found out the guy I was supposed to be at the show with had just gotten engaged (a decent excuse I suppose) and another guy who had been offered the ticket was having a baby...I texted my wife and told her to buy us a house so we could keep up with the life changing news. Needless to say, was in good spirits when Volbeat took the stage.
The band, who I know nothing about....sure I could go to Wikipedia and pretend to know all about them...but then, so can you...took the stage by storm and played a great bunch of songs by Dusty Springfield, Johnny Cash and presumably (again, I'm ignorant) by Volbeat. My partner in crime for the evening declared that they sounded like Metallica. I said I thought they sounded more like The Misfits but with a heavy metal slant...then I realized that more or less, that's what Metallica sound like. The crowd loved them, as did I, and (this is important) they sounded fantastic.
Up next came the legendary Motörhead and they did what they do. They played about 15 songs that all sounded exactly the same and were all awesome. True to their mantra..."Everything louder than everything else"...they played really loud and (this is important) they sounded fantastic! Lemmy, the true Godfather of Heavy Metal (sorry Ozzy) said some stuff between songs which no one could understand yet everyone cheered for, and then the band was gone leaving only the feedback ringing over the p.a. as evidence that they were ever there at all.
So far it had been a great night and now that all the lights, and fog machines, and giant monster bearing banners had been set up, it was time for the main event....Megadeth...and oddly enough, everything went to hell.
The way I really want to recount the events of the evening is to say that when the black curtain that had been hiding the stage dropped, the band roared to life....unfortunately, what actually happened was more a whimper than it was a roar. No seriously, we couldn't hear the band.
We could hear the drums, but not the bass. We could tell that someone was playing guitar, but couldn't really figure out what they were playing. Worse still, with two guitar players on stage (one a legend, and the other the latest in a loooooong line of guys filling in as "the other guitar player") we couldn't tell which one we could actually hear. Finally, adding insult to injury, when Dave Mustaine stepped to the mic we couldn't make out a damn word he said!
The last thing I ever expected to hear at the Megadeth headlined "Gigantour" was half the crowd chanting "We can't hear you!" over and over again at the top of their lungs...but after the first song that's exactly what happened. It happened after the second song too, and then after the third.
At that point it became clear that this was not going to be fixed, and I decided to try to do something about it. Long story short, after speaking to three or four different staff members, I was directed to the "event manager's" office. The event manager was a woman who wouldn't give me her name, and insisted she did not have a business card. I know, I know...I didn't believe her either....this is a venue that makes the popcorn guy wear a suit jacket, but the event manager doesn't have a business card?
Anyway, the mystery manager couldn't or wouldn't help me, and refused to even acknowledge that there was an issue with the sound even as ten other people came in to complain about the exact same thing! Finally, after giving me a phone number to call once the weekend was over (come Monday, the people on the phone were equally unhelpful) she shooed me out of her office and slammed the door. Needless to say, I was annoyed....but not so annoyed that I didn't notice that upon leaving the manager's office I found myself unsupervised.....and back stage.
So I did the only logical thing....stayed put, watched the show from behind the band's road cases and waited for someone to catch on and throw me out...which never happened. From that much better vantage point, I saw the band play Peace Sells, Holy Wars, A Tout Le Monde (with the chick from Lacuna Coil) and a very fast version of Happy Birthday which was dedicated to Dave's daughter. The sound was louder though still poorly mixed, and while I did enjoy my illicit viewpoint, I couldn't help but feel disappointed that I was watching a band that should have been so loud I needed ear protection, and at times the only way to hear the vocals was to listen to the crowd singing them themselves.
Photos Courtesy of Tom Collings
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