The Fillmore in Charlotte, N.C has played host for many incredible shows, bringing idols of all musical genres to the Carolinas for years. On Thursday, December 5 The Fillmore boasted a truly bombastic performance with the presentation of heavy metal icons Megadeth and their “Super Collider Tour” featuring Fear Factory and Nonpoint. Long before the doors opened to the swanky musical hall the legions of ‘Deth devotees lined up on the ramp outside in the chilly and damp air. To the right of the main entrance, large black tour buses could be seen wit miscellaneous crew members moving about to finish the last minute preparations before doors opened. The light drizzle wasn’t the only thing in the air as the anticipation and audible buzz filled the night sky outside The Fillmore with more and more fans arriving by the minute. Once the venue opened, security worked to check and clear patrons before entry and entrance was streamlined in such a way that before you knew it, you were inside and staring about the vast cranberry colored room. It didn’t take long for fans to start prepping for the coming attractions, merch was being bought in the hopes it would get signed, drinks purchased for as many hands as could hold them and excited chatter mounted. The lights dimmed and the room grew dark, spotlights illuminated the stage and the hum of active monitors filled the air…
Nonpoint took to the stage with such incredible energy it shot through the crowd like a ricochet. Led by frontman Elias Soriano, this lively quintet is synonymous with unparalleled energy, incredible stage presence and unbridled movement. Soriano’s impressively long dreads whirl around his head like whips as he head-bangs and screams his primal fury. Newest members Rasheed Thomas (guitar), Dave Lizzio (guitar) and Adam Woloszyn (bass) seem to have learned a lot in their short time in the band, as they could be seen working the stage with their own head-banging, hair-slinging and jumping about as they played. Drummer and co-founder Robb Rivera could be seen at the back of the stage slaying the skins, one heavy-fisted pound at a time. One thing fans can always rely on Nonpoint for is a new show each and every time you see them. They not only make an effort to change up their set list from tour, but the staging is always different- from the way they move to the amount of energy and perspiration they pour out onstage, these guys are seasoned professionals at turning it up. Their set consisted of a mix of newer songs from their 2012 self-titled release and some classic pit-stirrers from earlier albums, including: “International Crisis,” “Hive,” “Rabia” and “There’s Gonna Be A War.” Closing with “Bullet With A Name” from their fourth major release To The Pain (2005), Nonpoint incited the crowd and stirred up the pit and prompted a huge crowd sing-a-long. Soriano glared out into the audience with sweat and determination on his face as his raspy vocals pierced the music hall. As they were wrapping up, the band invited the crowd to come meet them at their merch booth to pick up items, take pictures and say “hello.” Another great thing about Nonpoint, they always seem to be accessible to their fans (a.k.a the “Nonpoint Nation”), they acknowledge that they are not on this journey alone and welcome the patrons that make their dreams possible- the fans.
Up next were the industrial metal harbingers of Fear Factory. These guys bring not only a ferocious sound, but incredible technicality in their performance. Led by the vocal destruction of Burton C. Bell and the power-riffing rage Dino Cazares, Fear Factory rips and roars with guttural pulse that is staggering at times. Not ones to settle in one style for long, they covered a plethora of songs from their career, including the injustice observant “Edgecrusher” and the title track from their latest release The Industrialist. The power of the resounding chords and drums paired with Bell’s angst-laden vocals sliced through the room like razors through flesh. The room stirred with the momentum of attendees feeling the native call to arms as a pit began to start in the middle of the room. “I’ve got no more god***n regrets!” Bell bellows in “Demanufacture” as the crowd chants with him in a makeshift battle cry into the night. Bell, Cazares and bassist Matt DeVries led the pack with their head-banging, hair whipping and stage prowling, occasionally climbing to the far edges of the stage to be closer to the crowd. In the background on LCD screens flashed variations of their band name/logo and a variety of swirling lights and animated industrial scenes. The most notable thing about watching these guys live is their conviction in delivery. They believe in what they do and work to bring a no-holds-barred, straight-for-the throat performance that leaves the audience almost as breathless at the end as the performers. Having come to notoriety in a time in which nu-metal and the industrial scene was really starting to turn some heads, Fear Factory seems to have made sure not to let slip the drive that gained them so much praise and fanfare in the beginning. Judging by the grins on their faces, the men of Fear Factory are far from done in their mission to see the survival of the industrial scene and we can only hope they’ll continue to invite the rest of us along for the ride.
Finally, the moment had arrived for Megadeth. The lights dimmed and the room went dark for a moment, then the screens lit up and out walked the men of the hour. Something to know about attending a Megadeth show for the first time, even if you’ve heard the records backwards and forwards and know every word by heart- that is NOT the point. In seeing these guys live, it is less about the lyrics and more about the visual impact paired with the stellar aural ambush that will leave your senses tingling. It is nothing short of amazing to watch them shred live like no other artists out there today. Frontman and guitarist, Dave Mustaine is a beast on the strings, laying waste to his axe with murderous intent. Guitarist Chris Broderick is just as ruthless with a little extra charisma thrown in- a grin, a wink, a smile, a wave. Bassist Dave Ellefson was also making sure to work it on his side of the stage with his hard chord bass line, mingling with drummer Shawn Drover’s rolling drum play to create the heartbeat of each song. At lighter moments throughout the set, the band would take a small break while the screens played clips from movies like “Wayne’s World” wherein they had received a mention or a nod. While all the guys seemed to be in their own world at times, the synchronicity of their playing, paired with the visual of the scenes and lights whirling on screen behind them, made for a sensory overload that seemed to create a vortex in time. The instrumental complexity and the intricacies of their playing styles live is like watching portrait come to life- mesmerizing, mind-boggling and enticing. Close to the end of their set, Mustaine brought out a Charlotte local and metal legend, Ron McGovney, original bassist for Metallica, to perform a cover of Thin Lizzy’s “Cold Sweat” to the uproarious cheers of the crowd. Despite stories in the past of conflict between McGovney and the infamous frontman, both seemed to be having the time of their lives sharing the stage. Over the course of roughly an hour and a half, Megadeth played some of their most legendary songs including: “Wake Up The Dead,” “Set the World Afire,” “Trust,” “Sweating Bullets,” “Peace Sells,” and an encore of “Holy Wars…The Punishment Due.”
Music has been known to evoke emotions and memories of different times in our lives, but it’s a real feat for a performance to spark a visceral reaction in the gut by instruments alone. This is not to say that the lyrics do not speak to some, but personally, it was all about the music (and visuals). Watching Mustaine go down on his fret with such speed and accuracy, seeing Broderick’s dark mane lash about as he also laid into his axe while Ellefson marched to the beat of the his own creation and Drover smashed merciless onto his kit, hair flowing like he cover of a Harlequin novel; it was more rock opera than concert- a lesson in the classics with a group as timeless as they are talented.
There are still some dates left in the US before the Megadeth prepares for some major overseas festivals. You can find the rest of the dates here. If you haven’t had a chance to see Megadeth live, make the time. It will likely be one of the most sonically evocative shows you’ll see this year, possibly ever.