In spite of the postponement of the “Bay Strikes Back Tour” to 2022, thrash legends Testament, Exodus, and Death Angel chose to carry on with their hometown date at Oakland’s historic Fox Theater located a mere 3.9 miles down San Pablo Blvd. from Ruthie’s Inn which is considered by many to be the epicenter of the Bay Area Thrash scene.
To say the Fox was sold out would be a bit of an understatement, with lobby, balcony, and general admission floor packed (and folks still coming through the doors) by the time Death Angel took the stage for their 6:50 p.m. set, setting the appropriate tone for the evening with a ripping, old-school set in front of a particularly rowdy crowd.
But, as much as this would prove to be an epic evening of metal, it was a reunion of sorts … with pretty much everyone involved in the scene, from bands to fans, in attendance. A quick stroll to the back bar or merch table would prove to take far longer than anticipated, as folks caught up with friends they may not have seen in years.
With a new album fresh out of the hopper, Exodus picked things right back up where Death Angel left off with the live premiere of a couple of new tunes from Persona Non Grata (“Clickbait” and “The Beatings Will Continue (Until Morale Improves”) before pummeling the audience with hit after hit before wrapping things up with “Strike of the Beast” and a tremendous wall of death but not before paying a special tribute to Tom Hunting who returned to the kit apparently none the worse for wear after a nasty cancer battle which left him without his stomach (Tom lifted his shirt to show the scar to prove it).
Holding the headlining spot, Testament was met with a sweaty yet still energetic (and likely mostly inebriated) crowd. Taking a similar approach to Exodus, they kicked things off with a new tune (“Children of the Next Level”) off their new(ish) release Titans of Creation (2020).
Clearly, the crowd had spent some time with the record, and things once again went sideways in the pit. Aside from the obvious fact that these guys are finally getting back to business, you could tell that they were incredibly stoked to be onstage in front of a friendly crowd once again. Of particular note were Hoglan’s flawless drum work and Eric Peterson, whose playing was at another level, as he appeared totally consumed by the music.
Anyone outside the venue when the crowd finally spilled (stumbled) onto Telegraph Avenue could clearly tell it was a good show; lots of sweat and smiles clearly the result of a great thrashtacular reunion and demonstrating that the “Bay Strikes Back Tour” will be well worth the wait.