“At the end of the day, it’s all just a big battle of the bands.” - Dave Ellefson, Big Four Festival Trailer
Ah, we’re hoping that’s how this plays out. We’re psyched this thing is going down in the Southland. We’re psyched it’s interfering with Easter. And we’re psyched that, in true backyard party/battle of the bands style, the metal bands are descending between the (I Can Smella) Coachella and the Staged/Coached festivals to borrow the setup and portable toilets and show ‘em how it’s really done. Sort of like that kegger I remember from high school when a football player’s cover band took a break and four very scary dudes pounded out three tunes from Speak English or Die. I think a couple of cheerleaders went over to the dark side that night.
We’re hoping to see some stretching out by the bands, like maybe ANTHRAX hitting a whole side of Fistful of Metal. Even though it’s rock n roll – and metal – let’s keep the egos to a minimum. Every band on this roster made its best album before 1991 – 20 years ago. Every band was part of a phenomenon bigger than themselves, and that time isn’t coming back. And every member of each band has enough money and age to have acquired some wisdom and realized what is really important about this event.
Which is? Glad you asked. It’s been laid out before in various ways, but it bears repeating:
When it came down from the gods, thrash metal was a new musical form, based on a guitar technique that could be heavy, clean, precise, angry, rhythmic, deafeningly loud and even melodic all at once. And it didn’t come from any school – it sprang from the frustrated bedrooms of the suburbs of this same City of Devils, where teen imaginations weaned on NWOBHM imagined grim satanic basements and meth binges in the jolly old U.K. Fed on American meat and California disillusion and hardcore, these kids took that attitude and turned it into a sound and sold it right back across the water, like the British Invasion in reverse. ANTHRAX represents from New York, but face it, that’s a fluke, as very little great art comes out of that cauldron of human filth, because only investment bankers and Sonic Youth can afford to live there.
So please listen up “Big 4” - you are on American soil now. Not far from the epicenter of the revelation. The gear is set up, and none of us are getting younger. Celebrate where you came from and what is truly original about your sound. Every band should get a full set. The DJ’s should be playing MOTORHEAD, VENOM, the first three RAVEN albums, every original tune from a non-American band on Garage, Inc., and SAVAGE’s Loose and Lethal. Every METALLICA fan who has never bought a SLAYER record should be thrown into a SLAYER pit of whirling Valhalla during the opening of “War Ensemble.” I predict the first ten minutes of SLAYER will be the most memorable thing to happen anywhere on earth on April 23.
Finally, we ourselves have a damn good show going down at the Three Clubs that night, and people are gonna have to choose. If you are sticking around town, get over there. There’s gonna be some young people playing music from the heart.
But the Big 4 show has probably already been scripted out; an event that massive takes some planning. But, whoever is in charge, if there are any decisions left to be made, let me suggest the following method to reach the right answer: Get yourself a Lemmy Kilmister figurine. Rub it while staring at a vinyl copy of Welcome to Hell. And ask yourself: “What would Cliff Burton do?”