By Gabby Canella
WSOU Music Director
WSOU Music Director
It was a night of metal to forever go down in history. The four biggest pioneers of thrash metal, each with bragging rights of a 30 or more year career, together on one legendary stage in front of a crowd of thousands and thousands. Yankee Stadium would never be looked at the same way again.
As I made the hike from New Jersey up to the Bronx, I had to note the extensive number of metal heads I saw everywhere I went. Once I stepped into Penn Station, I couldn’t help smiling at all the people, young and old, men and women, wearing shirts that ranged from Metallica to Death to Rammstein to Pantera. On a normal day, it’s unusual to come across a fellow lover of heavy music, but on Wednesday, it was unusual to see someone not wearing one of the above shirts. It was even more amusing for me to ride inside the packed subway cars with all of these fans. A distant observer who was unaware of the historical impact of that day was probably very curious and very confused about where we all surfaced from.
Once I arrived at Yankee Stadium, I was impressed by the way the field was arranged for the show. The sacred infield was covered and cut off from the general admission crowd with rows of protective barricades. The entire outfield was reserved for the hundreds of fans that almost seemingly covered any trace of there being a field at all. Parallel to the score board and advertisements on the back wall of the stadium stood the huge, specially designed stage for the event. I could only imagine the exhausting amount of hours it must have taken to set everything up for this show, and equally how many hours it would take to tear it all down again.
Finally, 4:00 PM hit. Anthrax was the first of the Big 4 to take the stage. They erupted with high energy onto the stage, wearing specially designed pinstriped Anthrax baseball jerseys with the number 30 on the back to commemorate their lifespan as a band. As they played their classics mixed in with a few new tunes off their latest album Worship Music, they were all smiles— and they had every right to be. After all, it was their day (Bronx Borough President declared September 14th to be Anthrax Day). Out of all the bands, they were the most amped and grateful to be performing on their native turf. Scott Ian, a very proud and lifelong Yankees fan, was especially appreciative of the opportunity. After a solid power hour of jamming out, Anthrax left the audience fired up and hungry for more metal.
Megadeth hit the stage next. While their sound was great and they played classic favorites like Symphony of Destruction and Hanger 18, their energy was noticeably different from Anthrax’s. A few songs in, Dave Mustaine greeted the crowd and explained that he shouldn’t even be playing because he was supposed to have neck surgery, but was blessed to be on the stage anyway. Even before Wednesday, several rumors leaked that Megadeth was going to sit the Big 4 show out, but it was finally confirmed on Tuesday that the band would indeed play. Mustaine braced himself through the rest of their set and got the crowd moving, but I felt that Megadeth’s performance was a bit lackluster.
At this point the crowd was getting anxious in preparation for the ones who would steal the show away. Slayer’s opening notes sent everyone into a frenzy of the kind I’ve never seen. Moshing and crowd surfing exploded like it was going out of style, accompanied by plenty of furious head banging and fist pumping that would put the Jersey Shore to shame. Everyone released their troubles of the day while Slayer stomped and pounded out heavier and angrier riffs. Their sound was tight and flawless, much to the crowd’s satisfaction. Any simple observer could understand how much the crowd ate up Slayer from the high fives and smiles exchanged between the fans. Everyone seemed to be a whole lot more tired and sweatier after Slayer left the stage.
Last up were the biggest of the Big 4, Metallica. They greeted the crowd with appreciation for their attendance and high energy. Most of their set consisted of their early work and even a track rarely played live, Orion. Metallica brought out the big guns for their performance, including pyro, fireworks, and even lasers. The entire spectacle really enhanced the already awesome sound performance they delivered. By far the best and most anticipated song of the evening was Enter Sandman. Once the opening notes to that tune were delivered, the fans cheered as loud as if Mariano Rivera was jogging to the field to clinch the winning game. The night felt complete and made all the New York and New Jersey fans feel truly at home. James Hetfield was playful with the crowd, joking and teasing the operator who put up the lyrics on the board. Overall, the entire band seemed to be mesmerized at Yankee Stadium.
The sure highlight of the evening was the Big 4 jam at the end before Metallica closed up. James joked that the fans were following up on the jam song the bands played elsewhere, so he decided to change it up. All the members of the Big 4 came out and simultaneously played Motorhead’s Overkill, which was dedicated to the godfather of metal, Lemmy. I have to admit it was pretty neat to see so many guitar players on stage all synchronizing perfectly. As I checked out all the different musicians, I did notice Mustaine’s absence, probably because of his neck pain. During those five or so minutes, it seemed like the perfect, harmonious moment of metal coming together. It was truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience seeing this happen live before me.
Hetfield seemed very proud of the Big 4’s big moment together. He and the rest of Metallica wrapped up the show by following up with Battery and then closing with the fan favorite Seek and Destroy. As they began the last song, I decided to head out to beat the crowd and catch an already packed subway car back to Penn Station.
All in all, this show was truly one to remember. It was a special event that brought the metal community together and redefined how legendary Yankee Stadium truly is.