Category Archives: Live Performances

Concert Report: August Burns Red – Murray, Utah 02/10/2015 (The Frozen Flame Tour)

[Author’s note: The first movie I ever saw in the theater was Top Gun–and I did so at the Murray Theater (which, at the time, was a dollar movie theater) in 1986.  Over the years, the Murray Theater was renovated to accommodate a variety of events, including plays, private parties, and, of course, concerts.  When I learned that August Burns Red–who, in early 2015, I was listening to as much as many band–would be coming to Murray (the town in which I grew up), I knew I couldn’t miss it.  And despite the fact that I’m authoring this concert report a full 18 months following the show, I still remember the excitement of the crowd, the energy of the musicians on stage, and the superb playlist rendered by August Burns Red.]

February 10, 2015 set list:

“White Walls”
“Beauty in Tragedy”
“Thirty and Seven”
“Spirit Breaker”
“The Eleventh Hour”
“Up Against the Ropes”
“Marianas Trench”
“Back Burner”
“Fault Line”
“The Seventh Trumpet”
(Drum solo)
“Carpe Diem”


During this particular time in my life, I looked to August Burns Red for motivational guidance and inspiration as I faced a number of seemingly overwhelming challenges.  (In fact, I listened exclusively to ABR every day in the gym.)  The band’s motivational messages and testimony of the power of positive thinking resonated heavily with me–and, of course, I absolutely loved their music, too.

A friend of mine was kind enough to purchase tickets for both of us; furthermore, the concert represented the first time I’d been in my hometown theater in more than 20 years.  Predictably–and thankfully–the renovated theater made for an exceptionally intimate venue, creating an absolutely electric atmosphere within the facility.  The crowd took full advantage of the close quarters and remained at fever pitch throughout the 15-song set.

In fact, approximately three-quarters of the way through the show, the band informed us that we’d by far been the loudest, most enthusiastic crowd August Burns Red had encountered on their present tour.  While there is no question the band’s fans were fired up simply to see their heroes take the stage, a massive amount of credit for the energy in that theater belongs to the band itself.

In particular, vocalist Matthew Greiner’s stage presence was flawless, and the jubilant crowd reacted to his every word and movement with feverish screams and roars of applause.  The dual guitarists and bass player were equally energetic, seldom holding still and alternating between leaps off of front-stage amplifiers and slinging their guitars around their necks and back again in time to flawlessly nail the next note of the song being played.

In a refreshing change of pace, the band refrained from profanity and was otherwise extremely respectful.  Needless to say, I’ve been to my share of shows–think GWAR, Cannibal Corpse, et al–where profanity was more often utilized than the standard words of the King’s English.  To be sure, there’s a time and place for vulgarity, profanity, and even ruthless insults, but enjoying August Burns Red’s set without what is now seemingly ubiquitous profanity was a delightfully refreshing change of pace.  (The lack of vulgarity also helped put my date at ease–it was only her second metal concert in 46 years.)

Over the years, I’ve seen Slayer perform live nine times.  I’ve also seen In Flames four times, Trivium three times, and a number of other acts more than once.  After the superb performance delivered by August Burns Red during the cold Utah February night, I will undoubtedly do whatever it takes to see ABR rule the stage again.

— Jason


Concert Report: Slayer, live in Noblesville, IN – 07/10/2015 (Mayhem Festival 2015)

[Author’s note: The following review of this live performance–the ninth time I’ve seen Slayer perform in concert–will serve as a template of sorts for all subsequent concert reports published on  Future installments, of course, will review concerts that have just concluded; for now, however, this memorable show in the sticky heat of central Indiana will serve as the debut live performance review posted by]

The first time I ever attended a Slayer concert–incidentally, side-by-side with Ben, my partner in developing this website–was in December 2001, shortly after the release of God Hates Us All.  While a handful of thrash classics I’d grow accustomed to seeing every time I saw Slayer perform were played, the bulk of the playlist included less-than-memorable selections from Diabolus en Musica and the band’s 2001 God Hates Us All.  Also, though I was unaware of it at the time, I later learned that Paul Bostaph had filled in on an emergency basis for drummer Dave Lombardo, who was beginning his second protracted dispute with the band.  The show was nevertheless amazing, as was the after-party at the Mandalay Bay, yet I did not realize that this, my first experience seeing Slayer live, would be improved upon by the band each subsequent time I saw them perform on stage.

Three years later, my fiancée at the time and I were fortunate enough to see Slayer play a full, 90-minute set checkered with ancient classics such as “At Dawn They Sleep,” “Necrophiliac,” and “Captor of Sin.”  This standard set was following by the band playing its seminal slayer-mayhem-festival-repentlesswork, Reign in Blood, in its complete entirety, with no pauses for breaks or audience interaction from the start of “Angel of Death” all the way through to the final, chaotic strains of “Raining Blood.”  That, needless to say, was an evening to remember.

Over the years, my now-wife and I–along with dear friends Benjamin Romero and Rebecca Campo–were fortunate to see the mighty thrash foursome play in concert several more times, including in Las Vegas in July 2006, during which I was treated to hearing “Hell Awaits” and “The Anti-Christ” live in person for the first time.  Several years later, Ben and I saw Slayer perform Seasons in the Abyss in its entirety in October 2010 outside of Salt Lake City.  I also saw the band perform in 2014 at Salt-Air outside the Salt Lake metropolitan area.

Following a number of life-changing events and decisions, I was thrust into an opportunity to see my beloved Slayer once more in person, this time at the Mayhem Festival 2015, which was held at an outdoor amphitheatre in Noblesville, Indiana on July 10, 2015.  With Bostaph once again manning drumming responsibilities and with Gary Holt now a permanent replacement for Jeff Hanneman, my enthusiasm remained strong; after all, I’d seen Bostaph perform, and I’ve always been a huge fan of Holt and of his band, Exodus, in general.  More significantly, thanks to the magic of websites such as, I was readying myself for the show with knowledge of the songs that’d be played later that evening.

The Mayhem Festival 2015 was plagued by rumors of lackluster ticket sales–and, to be fair, the July 10 date was at less than maximum capacity (though not by much).  Organizers had done well to enlist a relatively impressive supporting musical cast, including Hell Yeah, The slayer1Devil Wears Prada, and King Diamond all performing nightly prior to Slayer’s headlining set.  Most impressively, the stage, pyrotechnics, and supporting video screens were by far the most impressive hardware I’d ever seen at a Slayer show.  (Indeed, the majority of Slayer concerts I have attended took place in small, rectangular rooms, with no choreographed lights or video effects of any kind.)

For all of the high-budget bells and whistles set to accompany my favorite-ever thrash band on stage, what had me most excited was knowledge that Slayer would be performing songs I had not yet seen in person despite having attending the band’s shows eight previous times.  Setting aside “Implode” and “When the Stillness Comes”–which had not yet been released the last time I saw Slayer in concert–the night’s set list included “Ghosts of War,” a criminally underrated track from South of Heaven that the band hadn’t played in concert for at least a decade.  Furthermore, I was eager to see “Chemical Warfare” and “Jihad,” tracks I’d seen performed on stage just one previous time.

The lights and music dimmed to announce Slayer’s imminent arrival onstage just as the sun went completely down.  The band chose to launch into “Repentless,” Slayer’s new single, as the first performance of the concert.  While “Repentless” is an enjoyably throwaway song, I was genuinely surprised at how much better the track sounded booming from the stage out into the amphitheater.  The guitar technicians employed by Slayer did a masterful job tuning Kerry King’s six-string, producing a much richer, more vibrant, and more menacing sound during the verse and bridge segments of the song.  (Indeed, upon hearing “Repentless” via iTunes weeks later, I was stunned at how flat the studio version was in comparison to the performance I’d heard live.)

“Repentless” immediately gave way to “Hate Worldwide,” the only track from World Painted Blood to be performed that evening.  As the Indianapolis-area crowd settled in to hear Tom Araya’s trademark “Are you ready for war?” diatribe, the band delivered a rare and unexpected audible: The third song performed was “Jihad,” followed by turn-of-the-millenium favorites “God Send Death” and “Disciple.”  The frenzied crowd, unsure as to what just happened, had scarcely caught their breath when Araya bellowed his classic, “Are you ready for war?” challenge to the crowd before the opening strains of “War Ensemble” enveloped the amphitheater.

While Slayer fixtures such as “South of Heaven,” “Dead Skin Mask,” “Raining Blood,” and “Angel of Death” were all dutifully performed for the racuous crowd, it was the inclusion of “Mandatory Suicide” and “Ghosts of War” that made this, my ninth Slayer show, so very special.  After hearing “Ghosts of War” performed live, I struggle to think of any additional Slayer tracks I’d like to see in concert that I have not yet seen.  Potential requests would include “Point” and “Screaming from the Sky” from Diabolus en Musica, “SS-3” and “Killing Fields” from Divine Intervention, and perhaps even “Final Six” and “Skeleton Christ” from Christ Illusion.

The pyrotechnic efforts synchronized to Slayer’s set list was indeed decidedly impressive, as were the video boards mounted behind the stage that displayed lyrical content and stock footage pertaining to the song being played by the band.  Most impressive, however, was the sound system and the quality of the mix emanating out of the tower of Marshall amplifiers stacked behind the band.  At previous shows, the lower frequencies, such as the bass drums, were far too prominent in the overall mix, drowning out the guitars and vocals throughout Slayer’s set list.  At Mayhem Festival 2015, a virtually ideal mix gave the crowd a vintage Slayer experience, with wailing lead guitars and angry lead vocals all audible throughout each and every song.

Provided below is the show’s complete set list:

  • “Repentless”
  • “Hate Worldwide”
  • “Jihad”
  • “Disciple”
  • “God Send Death”
  • “War Ensemble”
  • “When the Stillness Comes”
  • “Implode”
  •  “Mandatory Suicide”
  • “Chemical Warfare”
  • “Ghosts of War”
  • “Dead Skin Mask”
  • “Hell Awaits”
  • “South of Heaven”
  • “Raining Blood”
  • “Angel of Death”

As many readers may know, Slayer toured North America again earlier this year and is now headed to Europe for the summer festival circuit.  They will return to America in late 2016; tickets are generally quite reasonable, and seeing Slayer live in concert is one thing every serious fan of extreme metal should experience at least once.  As for me, I’ve basked in the aural assault nine different times, and I’m more excited than ever to see Slayer show #10.