As the lights dimmed in preparation for Down to come on, the atmosphere shifted. Fans the band has garnered over the past 20 years of existence packed into the pit.
For the uninitiated, Down is made up of Phil Anselmo (Pantera) on vocals, Pepper Keenan (Corrosion of Conformity) on guitar, Kirk Windstein (Crowbar) on guitar, Patrick Bruders (Goatwhore) on bass and Jimmy Bower (Eyehategod, Crowbar, Down, and Superjoint Ritual) on drums, making it an official heavy super-group.
Fans tossed plastic cups almost empty of beer, cheering and chanting "Down! Down! Down!" (which happened several times throughout the bands' set). The second the band walked on stage with Anselmo leading the way, the entire venue erupted in applause. While I know Down is a popular band, I can't help but wonder if most people are attracted to the music because of Phil's affiliation with Pantera. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't one of those people.
Upon surveying the crowd and pumping his tatted arms into the air, Phil honored the troops and fallen soldiers and the fact that it was September 11 in gravelly voice, swigging from a beer. Then he shouted "This one goes out to all the smokers in Arizona! And if you don't smoke...well, you should," before launching into the grueling, shredding opening number, "Hail."
On the opening note, the crowd simultaneously began head-banging and moshing in a large oval pit that lasted for the entire show, and was surprisingly friendly. When it comes to metal show moshpits, you never know what type of people may be taking out their aggression, from shank-holding skinheads at Slayer to punks stomping around at Pepper.
At Down, tall dudes with dreads skulked around in between smaller guys doing roundhouse kicks and a handful of older girls trying to prove they were badass by swinging at anything that went by them. However, anytime a person went down, three others were there to boost them back up.
The set lasted almost an hour and a half, and covered a nice range of Down's hits from their three studio albums. Phil liked to converse with the crowd in between the songs, all the while with the CFH tattoo on his skull glistening with thrown water, beer and sweat, explaining if there was a significance ("The song is for Dimebag!" before "Lifer," which was met with a tidal wave of devil horns and screams); or thanking the crowd ("It's awesome you guys came out on a Saturday night! Let's party! Oh...wait it's Sunday").
The difference in the crowd's aura was like night and day compared to the opening bands, where that usual metal show scent of stale beer and sweat was nowhere to be found. Phil shouted "good night" to the crowd the after "Eyes of South," swigging bottled water and spraying it all over the front couple rows. And to the constant chanting of the crowd, the band came back on stage and closed out with "Stone Crow" and "Bury Me In Smoke."
Read the entire article