Attendance numbers have been dismal, as reported across the web, but Dave Mustaine’s Gigantour rumbled into Pittsburgh, seemingly undaunted by the fact that out of the 4 major summer tours: Ozzfest, Warped Tour, Sounds Of the Underground, and Gigantour, they are easily the least successful. Boasting a lineup full of bands that rely more on musicality than energy, Gigantour is a good idea on paper, but fails to recognize the current demographics of a hard music scene that wants its music simple and stupid.
Having two stages play at alternate times simply doesn’t work, especially in the scathing summer heat. Having to run back and forth from both ends of the amphitheater made for some tiring exercise (yours truly needs it!), and caused many to miss their desired sets. Mustaine should take a cue from both the Ozzfest and Sounds Of the Underground tours, where once all the acts on the second stage have finished, the main stage begins.
Bobaflex kicked things off on the second stage where about 40-50 people were watching, and rightfully so. Apparently no one told these guys nu metal died a couple of years ago. Former nu metal torchbearers Dry Kill Logic were up next and fared slightly better. Relying heavily on songs from their newest offering, The Dead and Dreaming, Dry Kill Logic still has many ‘nu’ overtones that were sterile enough to keep most of the crowd at bay.
Prog metal giants Symphony X played to the biggest crowd on the second stage, showcasing both ‘Wicked’ and ‘Inferno’ from 2002’s Odyssey, which were both greeted with a rapturous response. Russell Allen has developed into a stellar showman, jostling from each side of the stage, not afraid to crack a smile amidst Michael Romeo’s inhuman shredding. ‘Of Sins And Shadows’ from The Divine Wings Of Tragedy was aired last in a set that ended too soon. Perhaps a rumored main stage slot on next year’s tour will allow Symphony X to increase their already hot profile.
Life Of Agony closed out the second stage to a smaller contingent, for most of the crowd was waiting for Dream Theater’s set. ‘Love To Let You Down’ and ‘River Runs Red’ were performed admirably by the New York quintet, who looked a tad disappointed at the dwindling crowd size.
Nevermore kicked things off on the main stage, headbanging in unison to classic numbers such as ‘Narocsynthesis’, ‘The Sound Of Silence’ and set closer ‘Enemies Of Reality.’ Warrel Dane sounded crystal clear, and looked as skinny as Lindsay Lohan, but got the crowd going early on. The guitar tandem of Loomis/Smyth traded off solos effortlessly, while the rhythm section of Shepard/Williams provided a solid backing to the maelstrom of guitars.
By far the most energetic act of the day, The Dillinger Escape Plan threw their bodies around like rags across the spacious main stage. Frontman Greg Puciato always looks like he was just pumping iron before the show and proceeded to wail several water bottles at unsuspecting concert goers. Guitarist Ben Weiman invited a male fan on stage and proceeded to dry-hump him during ‘The Mallet Burden’. It was next to impossible to take one’s eyes off Dillinger, who probably stunned a lot of the Dream Theater/Megadeth contingent with their antics.
Opening with the monstrous ‘Demanufacture,’ Fear Factory garnered a joyous response throughout their set, which saw staples such as ‘Replica’, ‘Martyr’ and ‘Shock’ make for the first real pit of the day. A frequent visitor of Pittsburgh, Burton C. Bell enjoyed a call-response relationship with the crowd throughout the set, even during semi new numbers like ‘Archetype’. Although Fear Factory were the oddball of the main stage, their honest intensity and machine-like sound always hits hard in the ‘Burgh.
Far and away the best sounding band of the day, Dream Theater stole the show. The jaw-dropping musical skill of this quintet is already known, but to see the band in person is always something else. James LaBrie sounded almost flawless throughout the set, engaging the crowd in sing-alongs during ‘Lie’ and ‘Home’. No one can hang with the Myung/Portnoy rhythm section, as Portnoy continued in his role as frontman drummer, tossing sticks from the drum riser to the side of the stage and maintaining eye contact with the crowd. In spite of his spiked haircut, John Petrucci’s playing was dead-on, earning him several loud ovations during his solos.
Seeing Mustaine with 3 semi-nobodies was a bit of anomaly for the crowd. Sure, the band was technically proficient, but gone was the charisma of David ‘Junior’ Ellefson and godly shredding of Marty Friedman. The Drover brothers performed their tasks as directed, yet classics like ‘Wake Up Dead’, ‘Set the World Afire’ and ‘In My Darkest Hour’ lack the feel and charm that the Mustaine/Friedman/Ellefson/Menza lineup had. Still, Megadeth raced through a set that was devoid of Mustaine’s often-humorous stage bantering, instead leaving little time in between songs. New tunes like ‘The Scorpion’ and ‘Die Dead Enough’ did little for the crowd, but the airing of one of the greatest metal songs EVER, ‘Tornado Of Souls’ was enough to justify seeing Megadeth.
The first installment of Gigantour was more enjoyable than the Ozzfest, which has turned into a test of wills and energy. Mustaine needs to iron some matters out in the format department and perhaps bring in more modern, trendy bands if he wants to keep this thing going. That idea alone is a sad one considering the respective talents of most of the acts on this tour, but when metal has gone way of the beatdown and Swedish riff, its hard to keep afloat, as Mustaine is finding out right now. [END]