Raining Blood in Charlotte: Slayer’s in Town
Back in December of 2015 I ran across a bit of news on Facebook one afternoon: Slayer was going out on the road in support of their new record, Repentless. Needless to say, I was excited. I clicked on the link, and started searching for my city – Charlotte, NC. It was one of their first stops. I looked at the date next so I could get an idea of how long it would be until I could see one of my favorite bands since I was around 14 years old. February 29? A slight feeling of panic set in as I read the date, before I realized it was a Leap year. I went to work the next day and requested the 29 of February off. Nothing was going to stop me from seeing one of the greatest bands in history.
Offering support on this tour is melodic death metal band, Carcass from Liverpool, England; as well as thrash icons, Testament from Berkeley, California.
Some concert goers were there for Carcass, and some for Testament; but it seemed all were excited for Slayer. From the time I parked my Jeep and opened the door, I could hear what I refer to as “metal calls…” random fans screaming “Slayer!” followed by another group responding in kind.
The venue was packed. I never saw anything that said it officially sold out, but I sure felt that way inside. Trying to navigate the crowds from one side of the venue to the other was tricky, because everywhere I turned I was met by screaming fans.
Carcass took the stage first, with an auditory assault of melodic death metal that the crowd went wild for. I don’t think I saw anyone standing still the entire time they were on stage. Fans were screaming along with vocalist/bass play, Jeffery Walker, from the first note, until they left the stage. Carcass did a perfect job getting everyone warmed up for the night.
Testament kept things going after a brief intermission. They picked up perfectly where Carcass left off and made sure the crowd didn’t lose even an ounce of interest. //embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js
Again, fans were screaming along with every word as the band changed the pace from death metal to the faster pace of thrash. Testament has been around since 1983, and they’re still ripping just as hard in 2016 as they did at the beginning. These guys were relentless in the way they amped the crowd up.
It was only a few minutes before the crowd surfers started coming over the barricade. They kept the energy and fury up for the duration of their set and it was truly awesome to experience a band that started playing music before I was even born.
Finally, the moment everyone had been waiting for was upon us. I large white curtain was raised, blocking the entire stage from the crowd. As the minutes stretch, and the lights dimmed, the anticipation grew with every person in the audience. Before too long, the lights dimmed completely and music began playing over the house speakers.
//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.jsTwo crosses were projected onto the curtain as the Metallica intro started playing. The crosses slowly rotated until they were fully inverted and pentagrams were projected onto the curtain around them. You could almost feel the tension and excitement building to a climax when they finally dropped the curtain revealing Slayer. The band played aggressively and relentlessly all night. They opened the show with the title track from their new record, Repentless. The band played a solid mix of new material, as well as the classics that made them legends in the world of music. I turned to check the crowd behind me at one point and it was pure chaos; exactly what I would expect at a Slayer show.
Now, the big question on my mind, as well as several other attendees that I spoke with was, how would the band play since the passing of long time guitarist, Jeff Hanneman. I read countless comments online after Hanneman’s passing saying that Slayer would be done. Slayer fans around the world were no doubt saddened by the loss, but it seemed the die hard fans knew they could carry on. Thrash metal veteran, Gary Holt of Exodus, had some big shoes to fill and I can assure you without a doubt, he did an incredible job.
While I was worried after Hanneman’s passing, Holt put all worries to rest with this performance. It was incredibly comforting to see one of my favorite bands carry on after such an enormous loss. I had a smile on my face for the duration of their time on stage. The show was incredible, and met every expectation I had set.
//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.jsIt’s worth noting that, while I photographed each band, I made some sort of connection via eye-contact with at least one member from each; but I had a small internal explosion at the end of the night. While Slayer was playing one of my favorite songs, “South of Heaven,” I was taking photos from the area to the side of the stage. Tom Araya turned towards me and looked directly at me, and a short staring contest ensued. He stared somewhat intensely directly at me as I continued to take photos… and then smiled at me. I would like to say I got multiple photos of one of my musical heroes smiling at me, but I immediately began smiling and laughing too much to hold the lens steady. Tom sort of chuckled and nodded his head at me before turning towards the crowd again and stepping back up to the microphone. They closed the show with my favorite song, “Angel of Death,” and it was the perfect way to end the night. The one song I had been waiting on all night was the one they left the crowd with. If you missed this show, I apologize for your misfortune. They were incredible. Decades of writing and playing some of the most aggressively thrash metal possible seem to have not slowed them down. They played fast and loud, and left fans screaming for more. One couple in particular stayed behind pleading for just one more song. Long after the band had left the stage and the lights were turned on, these two continued screaming “ONE MORE! SLAYER!” I briefly spoke with them, only to find out that they were from either Georgia or South Carolina; because they told me several times that they were from both. I just hope they had someone driving them back to wherever it is that they call home. I asked to get a quick photo of them and I couldn’t have had two more enthusiastic people in front of my lens. All in all, the night was perfect. I saw old friends and made a few new ones, all while listening to one of my favorite bands in history. Slayer is currently on a world tour to support Repentless, and the dates are all listed below. Find one close to you, take the day off work, and go.
See full gallery here.
Venue: The Fillmore Charlotte (www.fillmorecharlottenc.com) Charlotte, NC
Photographer: Bobby Whitmire (facebook.com/whitmirephotography)