OVERKILL, GOD FORBID AND SUIDAKRA @ EMPIRE 5/11/2012
Well I must say, it is about time. I have been a big fan of Overkill since the release of their 1987 “Taking Over” album and through all these years I have never managed to catch them live. Now I can finally scratch them off my concert bucket list.
Buke and I were scheduled to do an interview with God Forbid before the show, but I was unable to reach God Forbid guitarist Doc Coyle to confirm a time. Knowing that it could take a little while to get to Springfield, Virginia in Friday-afternoon beltway traffic, we left a little early and just drove down to the show thinking we would figure it out when we got there. Upon arriving I was able to poke my head in the front door as some people were exiting and ask about the interview. In very short order we were being introduced to Byron Davis, the singer for God Forbid.
You have got to love Byron. The man was so friendly and easy-going that a lot of the stress (all mine) that comes along with doing interviews just melted away in moments. We decided to put Buke out front (literally) asking the questions so I could focus (literally) on getting the video rolling properly. I think the video side came out pretty well (see the interview post to follow), but I once again had some audio issues. I used a mic mounted on top of the camera rather than a more complicated hand-held two microphone setup, and so a lot of the noise going on around us was picked up. What I would give for a nice, quiet room to do an interview, but that is apparently rarely an option. So I will keep learning and one of these days you will get a perfect interview video. I try to keep the setup simple because so far for every interview we have had to set up the gear with the interviewee standing there waiting on us. The less time I need to take setting up, the less of their time I am wasting, but if I cannot get a decent audio track, I suppose I will just have to take that extra time.
Anyway, Byron was awesome; it was a real pleasure getting to hang out and talk with him. I also spoke to Doc briefly (he apologized for not getting back to me) and then we ran into him again outside after the show. These are some good guys; I wish them all the best and thank them for taking the time to speak with us.
After the interview we ran out to get some food and beer before the show started. We knew there were a couple local openers that we have seen many times before, so we opted to stick around the bar longer before heading back. This led to us missing Diamond Plate. We saw Diamond Plate recently with Warbringer, so we were not too upset. Plus they were playing without their singer, Jon Macak, who had to leave the tour to support his mother, who is apparently seriously ill. Diamond Plate is a talented band, so it is certainly a shame to miss them, even without Jon. Family of course comes first, and we would like to send our best to John, his mother and their family.
We walked into Empire (formerly Jaxx) right as the last few notes of Diamond Plate were echoing in the speakers. I was glad we had not missed Suidakra, as I had not seen them before and wanted to hear them live. After a brief changeover Suidakra came on and played what I thought was a pretty decent set. Buke complained that the sound was terrible, but that was Empire’s fault not the band. Some things never change; you can change the name from Jaxx to Empire, but the sound still sucks.
Next up was the mighty God Forbid. I saw them a few years ago at Mayhemfest and they were great, but in this small venue they tore the roof off. Despite the handicap of everything at Empire sounding horrible, they managed to sound amazing. Of the three bands we heard that night their sound was by far the cleanest and easiest to enjoy. Byron is a presence to behold on stage and I loved every minute of their set. You know how you go to a show, and after seeing a band, you want to go back and listen to their whole catalog? Yeah, God Forbid had one of those kinds of sets for me. Needless to say, my iPhone was stuffed with God Forbid this morning.
Finally, at long last, I was going to see Overkill play live. This was, of course, not the Overkill lineup of my youth; only Blitz and D.D. were original members, but it was enough. I am not sure how God Forbid overcame the terrible sound at Empire, but when Overkill went on the sound was utterly horrible. Again, I do not put the blame for this on the band; the place is small enough that you could tell the band were playing their hearts out, but something about the gear or the sound crew at Empire is just downright awful. The energy was undeniably there, but the ability to translate it into crisp, clean audio was out of reach.
I was awestruck to finally be face to face with the thrash legend Bobby “Blitz” Ellsworth. I have listened to his music for so many years now that to see him up close was a little surreal. For a man who has been doing this over 30 years, he still looks and sounds phenomenal. They did not end up playing a lot of the songs I wanted to hear, but tracks like “Wrecking Crew” and “Deny the Cross” transported me back to the good old days. Regardless of the venue shortcomings, it was a terrific set. Of all the old thrash bands that are still kicking around, Overkill has got to be one of the most consistently heavy. They probably remain one of the heavier bands from the old school; Slayer is probably the only one to come close to sounding this heavy.
All in all it was a pretty enjoyable evening. We heard some good music and saw some good performances; we met some good people. Thanks to everyone that made it a pleasurable outing. For the rest of you, here are a couple YouTube tracks: