First off we arrived about an hour after the doors opened due to a conflict between Steve's work schedule and Danzig's desire to start a show at 6pm. That said I missed all of Withered's set except 2 songs, one of which was heard while standing outside in the ticket line. I can't give them a fair judgment but I can say that the one song I heard was tight and sounded pretty good.
After exploring the oddity that is Expo Five (dirt mall, ex-strip club, arcade....and more?) we made our way back to the stage area as Toxic Holocaust came on stage. I'll be honest, my excitement to see Danzig was equaled by my excitement to see Toxic Holocaust. Their blend of 80's thrash and punk is right up my alley and they have some of the best album art/merch you'll see anywhere. The crowd lost it's mind during War Is Hell and rightfully so, if you weren't able to feel the intensity in the room you were a corpse. After their set, while Marduk were setting up, we went over and talked to Joel Grind for a few minutes, he was laid back and pretty gracious when we thanked him for their set. Good news is their album will be out next year and they'll be touring through here to support it.
Marduk was up next and I really don't have much to say about them. Black metal is something I can enjoy through headphones now and then, but a live show is another story, you can't headbang to it, you can't sing along, you can't really get anything but assaulted by blast beats. A lot of the crowd was having the time of their life while Marduk was on, so there's something there, I just wasn't tuned into it.
Next up was Possessed. In the name of transparency I'll admit I thought these guys were going to be these guys, never mind the fact that they broke up in the 1980's and Wino was in a band or two since then (St Vitus, The Hidden Hand, Shrinebuilder & Probot to name a few), it was an honest mistake but I was thrilled at the idea of seeing them play their cover of On The Hunt. So I'm twice the asshole when I see Jeff Becerra come on stage in a wheel chair and wonder what the fuck dimension I was in. Once I settled into not hearing southern sludge metal Possessed blew my face right the fuck off. Becerra's stage presence was obviously different than any front man I've seen before but it was pretty amazing, his interaction with the crowd was like micro conversations that took place in the span of a second or two. He would look at someone who was singing their ass of in the crowd and be so into it and then turn and be just as into the next person who was throwing the horns and pointing at him. One of the driving forces in Possessed's winning me over was Emilio Marquez, he took metal drumming to the next level. His set up was way more intense than any of the other 4 acts and it showed in his playing, when they were sitting his gear up I asked aloud if we'd come to see Rush by mistake, and after seeing them I would wager he could probably have pulled off 2112 start to finish if asked to.
And finally we come to the man himself; Glenn Fucking Danzig. Every other band was set up in 10-15 minutes, Danzig took 45. That fact aside once they made it on stage I noticed something, a sense of entitlement took over the guitarist and bass player. The show was riddled with sound problems, feedback (unintentional), and at one point the guitarist wireless set up stopped working for 10 seconds mid-solo. Danzig was giving his assistant all kinds of hell through the issues...and after them....and right before the encore. Lots of hell to that guy in the Fear shirt.
The crowd was singing along to every song and of course the place erupted during Twist of Cain and Mother. Danzig's stage presence was exactly what I expected, well...minus the crotch grabbing during Ju-Ju Bone. As Danzig stood on his 7" pedestal at the front of the stage he basically threw the horns, thrust his crotch and gave alternating chest bumps and thumbs downs (to implicate Satan, not disapprove the crowd) through the whole show. I'm glad I saw Danzig before he swore off touring, his various incarnations have been in steady musical rotation since I was 10 years old so it was definitely worth the issues.