After having skirted the San Francisco Bay Area in 2022, Anthrax brought their 40th Anniversary Tour to an absolutely packed Fox Theater in Oakland. With local thrash legends Exodus kicking things off at 6:30 p.m., it was no surprise that the sold out crowd arrived early and primed for “A Lesson in Violence.”
Sure enough, the pit was roiling, and the crowd surfers kept security on their toes throughout the crushing, 45-minute set that ended with a pummeling as “Bonded By Blood” rolled into the “Toxic Waltz” before ending with “Strike of the Beast.” And somehow the venue didn’t think it worthwhile to include Exodus’ name on the marquee?!?!
There was a notable shift in the audience as the crew went about the set change behind a BLS scrim draped across the stage with the Exodus fans no doubt looking for some hydration while the Black Label Society fans (visible in their BLS rockers) made their way to the front. Those paying attention would have noticed frontman Zakk Wylde filming some video of the pumped crowd from side stage as a mashup of Led Zeppelin’s “Whole Lotta Love” and Black Sabbath’s “War Pigs” blasted through the house PA.
The curtain finally dropped revealing Zakk poised atop a center stage riser rocking out to “Funeral Bell” as cryo blasted into the air. While the crowd was noticeably tamer than during Exodus, they were no lass passionate for their guitar hero and were more than play along when the crew launched dozens of beach balls off the stage.
Of course the evening was about Anthrax’s musical legacy, so their set was preceded by a video montage of various metal heroes praising their longevity along with a few unexpected faces including Keanu Reeves, Norman Reedus, and Lady Gaga! When the curtain dropped, Anthrax launched straight into “Among the Living,” and the general admission floor went sideways. After watching Exodus’ set, it was hard to imagine the fans have much gas left in the tank, but holy shit they were more than ready to leave it all on the floor, predictably fired up by “Caught in a Mosh” followed by “Madhouse!”
The band were visibly pumped by the crowd reaction, and Scott Ian (who did most of the talking for the band) took time to recount their first Bay Area show at Ruthie’s Inn before bringing out Robb Flynn of Machine Head for a little extra (actually, a lot extra) rhythm guitar punch on “I Am The Law.” And Robb wasn’t the only Bay Area metalhead in attendance; in fact, those paying attention would have recognized representatives from pretty much every band from the area’s thrash legacy amongst the attendees.
The setlist was not surprisingly punctuated by a healthy dose of material from Among the Living which didn’t leave much time to dive deeply into the remainder of their catalog during a performance that could easily have been twice as long! Thankfully there was time for two tunes off of their 2011 masterpiece Worship Music amidst the other fan favorites from the band’s catalog. Simply a great night of metal that was not quite over when the exhausted crowd exited the Fox only to find local metalers Hemorage firing it up from their converted mini bus on a packed Telegraph Ave.
Black Label Society