Hard Rock Live, Orlando, Fl • Nov. 11, 2007
You may not know the name Down, you may not even recognize lead singer Phillip Anselmo’s name, but you should know the name of the old band he and Down bassist Rex Brown were in: Pantera. What started out as a side project back in 1991 has since become a sort of supergroup within the metal world, featuring not only these two Pantera alumni, but members of Corrosion of Conformity, Crowbar, and Superjoint Ritual.
Their current tour, behind their first release in five years, Over the Under, finds them on the road alone–sans opening act. In front of a crowd that was already pretty toasted, the lights dimmed and, rather than the curtain parting, two screens lit up. Instead of a live band, we were served an hourlong film.
No, not just a film–a slapped together collage of horrifically boring footage of old “classic” metal acts (AC/DC, Deep Purple, Black Sabbath) that was slipped in between backstage home movie footage of Down on the road. The problem with the first half was that old metal bands may have been fantastic musically, but–with few exceptions–they were duller than a rubbed out pencil, and watching them was somewhat torturous to fans who were ready to rock! As for the second half, behind the scenes footage would be great if the sound quality had been at all decipherable. To be fair, my bias could be shining through, because when an old clip of Black Flag found its way in between bits of Ted Nugent and KISS, I was suddenly enjoying the film. You can put a punk rocker in a metal show, but you can’t take the punk rocker out of her!
With their members coming from such harsh ends of the metal and hardcore spectrums, Down sound surprisingly unlike what I would have expected. I was expecting some serious thrash, heavy vocals, and guitars that shred themselves into the floorboards. What I was confronted with sounded remarkably similar to Alice In Chains…and I liked it!
This band comes out of the historic muck of New Orleans, and with it they bring the Southern mud and grit to the mix a la Lynyrd Skynyrd–but an alternate universe Skynyrd that spent less time on the farm and more time under bridges and curled up in alleyways. Down has got layer upon layer of edge, and combined with Anselmo’s trademark pout and Henry Rollins stage persona, they can be a bit intimidating from so close up.
As it turns out, the only fan inside of Orlando’s Hard Rock Live who should have felt a little nervous around the imposing frontman was the moron who head butted a girl in the front row during the opening song.
“Stop, stop, stop…this guy just head butted this girl in the face,” Anselmo said to the crowd, and the house security. “Get this guy out of here! You’re a pussy!…I can’t believe I just saw that, and it’s only the first song, man.”
After the guy was forcefully removed, Anselmo asked the girl if she was ok before weaving his way back into the song. Even if I hadn’t enjoyed the music, which I did, this simple act alone would have won me over.
The band went on to play for almost two and a half hours, and the adoring audience slowly shrunk as one mosher after another got ejected for taking things a little too far. It got pretty vicious, but I would expect nothing less from the man who once led Pantera.