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Down pay tribute to ‘Dimebag’ Darrell at The Fillmore

DownPhotos by Greg RaMar // Written by Scotland Miller //

Down with Orange Goblin, Bl’ast and King Parrot //
The Fillmore – San Francisco
December 8th, 2014 //

Is there any better way to celebrate the life of one of the heaviest and most revered riff-masters in history than slamming around in a Monday night mosh pit at The Fillmore?

We didn’t think so.

The Southern lords of heavy agreed and delivered a near two-hour set on the eve of the 10th anniversary of the day that the late “Dimebag” Darrell Abbott was shot dead during a live performance.

Down was joined by UK stoner/doom metal giants Orange Goblin, Santa Cruz hardcore punk outfit Bl’ast and a recently discovered, sludgy, thrashcore band from Melbourne, Australia, known as King Parrot. As was the theme for the entire show, this Monday night served as one hell of a celebration of heavy. Down is currently wailing around North America on the “Punk Rock But Kinda Not” tour and is sure to deliver many great shows to close out 2014.

The set began with guitarists Pepper Keenan (Corrosion of Conformity) and Bobby Landgraf (Honky) taking the stage, followed by bassist Patrick Bruders (Goatwhore) and drummer Jimmy Bower (Eyehategod, Superjoint Ritual). Vocalist Philip Anselmo (Pantera) crept his way on stage only to find his earpiece not working. After some playful, yet intimidating banter with the sound guys and Anselmo crossing his arms in disbelief to the crowd, the show began. “Eyes of the South”, “We Knew Him Well” and “Witchtripper” started the blood pumping and the heads banging, as the vacant space in the middle of the floor began to fill. The pit was occupied, but only by a dozen or so anxious thrashers. Perhaps the presence of a few members of the Mayhem Motorcycle Club touting their colors had something to do with it?

Down

After Down’s opening three songs, Anselmo began to speak of the greatness of “Dimebag”. The overwhelming feelings of love and admiration for a fallen comrade were stark in contrast to the ferocity and speed of the music being played; that is what made this such a special night and such a tragic blow to the metal community, which lost a beloved family member in 2004. He spoke of the early days of Pantera and how San Francisco was the first city to truly embrace them as new artists. Out of pure savagery and utter fandom, several fans threw bags of weed on stage much to the delight of the band. These weren’t just dimebags either. After showing their appreciation, the ceiling came down and the pit erupted as Down exploded into the burliest and most churning section of Pantera’s legendary song “Walk”.

The energy and adoration between fans and band members continued throughout the night as Down delivered skull-crushing, neck-breaking and concussive performances of their best material to a drooling and worshiping fanbase. With a setlist spanning the entirety of their almost 20-year career, “Lifer”, “Ghosts Along the Mississippi” and “Pillars of Eternity” were all clear standouts. Drinks were spilled, bodies were tossed overhead and faces took bites out of the floor. At one point during “Pillars”, a fan in the front row had their phone in Anselmo’s face filming their next soon-to-be-trending concert video on YouTube. Anselmo snatched the phone away and took a selfie with some of the other band members all while maintaining every growl and shriek of his signature voice. Instead of handing the phone back to the fan, Anselmo decided to feed it to the Raptor massacre that was the front row and continue the song. A second fan tried to recreate this glorious scene for himself, and once again Anselmo obliged. However, this time, a stagehand was the final recipient of the fan’s coveted cell phone video.

Down

After some set-ending shenanigans with Keenan taking the mic and hesitantly singing a few tunes, which he thanked his fellow bandmates for by flipping them off multiple times, the encore began with Bruders laying down a rather funky bass line. “Hey kid, rock and roll/Oooh my soul” snarled its way from Anselmo’s ravaged vocal chords, as Down played the opening measures of David Essex’s classic “Rock On”. “Stone the Crow” and a dirty, drawn-out rendition of the stoner headbanger favorite “Bury Me in Smoke” rounded out the set, as members of the three opening acts all joined on stage to send the night off into a screaming mess of grinding, metal carnage.

All in all, it wasn’t bad for a Monday night.

In Memory of “Dimebag” Darrell Lance Abbott, 8/20/66-12/8/14: A deity to all metal heads.

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