Ultimate Jam Night - tribute to slayer

Whisky A GO-GO Hollywood, Ca

Despite what some of you may have heard and read from the current history of metal, it is a fact that they’re where camps of fans whom sided one way or the other… METALLICA, SLAYER, orMEGADETH… It was like having your favorite sports team, not saying you did not a like a song or two from another, but your loyalty was definitely leaning one way or the other. I can clearly recall, “Haunting the Chapel” T’s and “Metal Up Your Ass” T’s all around high school and the shite talking that ensued… Especially, after Ride the Lightning came out, somehow Fade to Black, loss street cred for METALLICA (cue KNAC’s sign off, here, bitches!). 

Now a days there is nothing but love between faithful fans and the bands themselves. That being said, there is me… There was only Metallica, then later there was only Metallica, of course until the mid 90’s, do not get me started on that subject. Tonight however, belonged to that mighty SoCal based entity known as SLAYER, who just announced their farewell tour, after decades on the road and in the studio. I was there to celebrate their legacy and influence on MILLIONS of wannabe musicians across the globe, aside from me, ha!

I am fan of musicians, the skill set, the hours of practice and, knowing first hand the politics behind the scene, of how a group of like-minded individuals can come together and make magic, even when obviously unrehearsed. The Ultimate Jam Night (UJN) series is something, only really possible in a city like Los Angeles. With so many mainstream and underground professional musicians living in one place it allows for magical nights like A Tribute to Slayer night to be possible.

Tuesday evening was different from the outset, it rained for one thing, the media was controlled (an actual photographers pit was erected); the world famous Whisky A Go Go (Whisky) was setup for the possibility of a, perhaps a bit younger crowd of enthusiastic individuals, and the in house band was even different. 

The evening was hosted this night, not by the versatile Paulie Z, but by another equally amazing vocalist Jesse Snider, who despite being under the weather was up for the challenge. Jesse was the total professional and had the pleasure of welcoming back Portland Oregon’s Agnozia for a nine song metal onslaught. As anyone knows the SLAYER crowd is one of the most dedicated fan bases on the planet and not always the easiest to win over. Fortunately, for everyone in house, Agnozia was up for it and worked the crowd, as the sole openers this night. Hints of progressive metal and Anthrax ran through the band, which brought the crowd up close and personal to the stage.

Just being a fan of metal, I can generally associate the song title to the band. However, making a major mess out of what metal street cred I may have once had left, I could almost not associate a single song title with the SLAYER album it came from. Songs like South of Heaven, Repentless, Seasons of the Abyss, Jesus Saves, Alter of Sacrifice, Raining Blood and of course Hell Awaits, to name but a third of the songs performed, were part of my metal vernacular and I may even have heard them in total over the course of 30 plus years, but never in a single sitting. 

Leaving me out of this the rest of the way, I was surrounded by fans of every age group singing every word, even without the lyrics… that some of the artist had to place just out of sight of the crowd, ha! This night belonged to them and they ate it up like ravenous starved hyena’s circling their prey… Which in this case would have been me, had I not been in the “pit.”

Watching artist the likes of Ira Black (I Am Morbid/Westfield Massacre), Steve Smyth (OneMachine/Nevermore/Forbidden/Testament), Mike Dupke (WASP/Dee Snider), Gabriel Conner (Red Devil Vortex), Jerry Montano (Hellyeah/Danzig/The Damage), Eli Santana (Huntress), Natalie “Nova” Toppo (Beyond the Roots), Carl Bensley (SNOT), Prong’s entire line up Jason Christopher, Tommy Victor, and Art Cruz to name only a quarter of the nights artists who killed it on stage, was in itself a unforgettable evening to be sure. Getting to see the songs played only feet from the artist was another experience all together. The skill set to play these songs was in plain view for all to see. The ability to pull it all together without proper rehearsals was a testament (all hail the might Testament, too!!!) to their musical abilities. One does not “just play” a SLAYER song… One must own the living F#*K out of it, which they all did.

It does not seem right, not to name more of the amazing musicians and the songs they were associated with, so bare with me as I list a few more… 

CRIMINALLY INSANE - Stephen Cummings (Sixes), Steve Haaker (Four Horsemen of the Apocolypse), Shannon Bizzy (Slunt/Young Royals), Johnny Blade (The Young Royals), and Markus Svensson (Nuclear Salvation)

ANGEL OF DEATH - Jason Christopher, Mike Dupke, Jerry Montano, Ira Black, Joe Fraulob (Trauma/Danzig)

HALLOWED POINT - Robert Madrigal (Death by Stereo/Kaustik), Jimmy Littlefield Agnozia), Jessie Sanchez (Warbringer), Dan Palmer (Death by Stereo), Stephen Brewer (Steven Brewer)

Final thoughts, this was a night dedicated to the original line up and of course to the current form of the band (Gary Holt and Paul Bostaph), but it was also a night dedicated to all the musicians who were inspired by the late-great Jeff Hanneman, Kerry King, Tom Araya, and Dave Lombardo. The four original members who took the metal mytho’s to the extreme ends of what was socially unacceptable, to many, and found a way to not only make it in the industry, but to become household names and respected by many as co-founders of the thrash movement. Another 🤘🤘🤘🤘🤘 evening for sure, cannot wait until the next show!!!

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