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Overkill - April 30, 2010 - Jaxx, West Springfied, VA

By: Dan Barkasi

Boasting a great lineup of thrash and death metal, the Killfest tour headlined by Overkill, supported by Vader, God Dethroned, Warbringer, Evile and Woe of Tyrants was a lineup from top to bottom that should certainly not disappoint. And performance-wise, that would definitely prove true. However, there are times when a lousy venue – and a blatantly horrible local band – does their best to ruin a show. This was definitely one such show.

Now, I don’t want to completely make this review a rant about Jaxx. I want the prime focus to be on the bands and their performances. However – and very unfortunate that it comes to this – some things do need to be said about how some people’s evenings were screwed with royally by a place that showed a complete disregard for a good number of their patrons.

As I’m sure most of you know, a lot of bands have been arranging special VIP tickets at their shows where you get meet-and-greets with a band(s), and sometimes get some special goodies included. Iced Earth, for example, had a nice package where people received a meet-and-greet with the whole band, special shirt that could only be had at these VIP events, a laminate, pictures with the band, and early entry into the venue. HammerFall did a similar event to which I attended as well. All of these were run very well and were an absolute blast to attend. This one, however, was almost completely ruined.

The event was supposed to include a meet-and-greet with Overkill, Vader and God Dethroned, as well as early entry into the club. Remember that this is supposed to include all three bands, as it is key to how things went. Now, this was supposed to be done an hour before doors, according to the venue. Apparently, something happened where one of the bands got stuck in some traffic – and traffic in the Washington DC area was indeed a pain. It happens, so what can you do? Well, the venue let everybody stand around for over an hour on what was quite a hot day wondering what in the world was going on.

When they finally let people in, they hoarded all of the people that had VIP tickets into some lounge/bar area. There were some very nice guys in line with us that were getting a bit dehydrated, so they wanted to buy some water once in the venue. Not a difficult request, but of course the staff were incredibly nasty to them, saying that water is only at the bar and they can’t get any since they were under 21. Really nice, huh?

They eventually caved – with rudeness prevailing – and gave them the esteemed privilege of purchasing price-gouged bottles of water from them. Then in their profound wisdom, they begin letting regular ticket holders into the club, while they made VIP people stay in the lounge area! So that makes one of the perks of getting the VIP tickets stolen by stupidity. Then we are told that the entire meet-and-greet would be held after the show, to which I wouldn’t ordinarily have a problem with.

However, after taking forever to poorly organize the meet-and-greet, God Dethroned and Vader did not participate! Thanks, Jaxx, for stealing away one of the reasons a lot of people even got VIP tickets in the first place. Every single person who wanted to meet these two bands should have a good amount of their $30 overage for the VIP package refunded. Or at the least, a formal apology would have been the courteous thing to do in a situation like this. Of course, this will probably never happen. Because, you know, screwing up something like this should never be the responsibility of those that messed it up. Thanks Jaxx, for making an event that should have been nothing but fun for a lot of very good people a big hassle.

Massive credit has to be given to all of the guys in Overkill. The meet-and-greet with them didn’t start until 1:30am, and they couldn’t have been nicer and more personable to every single person there. Instead of setting up tables and herding people through a line like cattle, the band requested to be able to walk around and be able to properly converse and hang out with everybody there. And to their credit, they did just that. Taking pictures, signing every single item everybody had. One guy had all but three of their albums, and if you follow Overkill, they have a hell of an extensive back catalogue. They couldn’t have been more of a class act.

Now, after heaping load of crap number one (yes, there’s another incident) out of the way, lets get to the show review proper. Opening the show were locals Krass Judgment. To be blunt, one of the worst bands I’ve ever had the misfortune of seeing. Sloppy, boring, poorly written music was their calling card. They also have two singers – one singer/guitarist and another standalone singer. The standalone singer didn’t sing all that much, and when he did, it was quite bad. I fail to see the purpose of the guy even being there, as he literally added nothing. Although his purpose was soon to be revealed – acting like an idiot. To start, he was quite a big guy. So when he shoved a little kid at the railing in front of the stage very hard, you can’t help but wonder what is going through this guy’s mind. Then he proceeded to attempt to jump feet-first onto a clump of the crowd, and started grabbing random people and throwing them around the floor. And this is a local opener! As Paul Ablaze – singer of Blackguard – said on his tour blog, there’s a reason why a lot of local bands stay local. Exhibit A: Krass Judgment.

Next up was Woe of Tyrants, who put on a blistering performance. These guys are a nice example of how hard work can pay off. Always a band that has strived to play a lot of shows, their persistence is paying off with landing slots on big tours like this. Displaying a unique songwriting ability that mashes a lot of different sounds – thrash, death, melodic death, among others – Woe of Tyrants brought a ferocity that lit up the room. They won a good portion of the crowd over and got things back on the positive.

Great Britain’s Evile played next, displaying their very fitting retro thrash style for everybody to behold. They got an incredible reaction from the thrash-happy people in attendance, playing some of their better tracks like Infected Nations. They also mentioned the possibility of a future headline tour, to which incited a rapturous cheer. Now, near the end of their set, singer/guitarist Matt Drake told Krass Judgment to “Fuck off,” who according to him, attempted to steal some of their gear. Needless to say, the crowd was stunned by this development. Of course, members of Krass Judgment lost it, flinging obscenities at them for the rest of their set. Then, after their set, somebody from Jaxx gets on the PA system and completely throws Evile under the bus, stating that Krass Judgment would never do something like that and that it was nothing but mistaken identity – that things got mixed up and some of Evile’s equipment accidentally ended up in their hands.

First off, imagine if you’re in a band and you see somebody hauling away with some of your very expensive equipment. What kind of conclusion would you draw? Rightfully so, Evile were quite upset about that development. Secondly, for anybody that’s in a band or plays a musical instrument, your equipment is like an extension of yourself. I know my equipment like the back of my hand. A member of a band should most certainly know their equipment. Now, no direct accusation to any member of Krass Judgment is being made here. This very well could have been a complete mistake and misunderstanding, although one hell of a screw up if that’s the case. Or they may have been trying to pull a fast one. I don’t know for sure. But it certainly is an odd situation nonetheless. This is something that also should have been dealt with behind closed doors – not in a public forum. I can understand Evile venting, as it was apparent that they were in the dark about the situation other than the obvious. For the venue to go off and take sides publicly in about the worst attempt of diffusing a problem that this writer has seen is as unprofessional as possible. No known apology was made to Evile either, to which should have been made in venue’s public statement. Curious as to Krass Judgment receiving one, but Evile did not.

Moving on, God Dethroned was the next band up. Per usual, the Dutch masters put on a show to which most bands couldn’t dream of touching. Unfortunately they only got 30-minutes, but they opened powerfully with “Soul Sweeper,” which was a most welcome inclusion. They also used their brief set to play numerous tracks from their latest release Passiondale, including “Poison Fog” and “Under a Darkening Sky.” A wonderful set from one of the best bands in the world.

Vader would play direct support on this trek, and bring it they did. Being my third time witnessing them live, it would also prove to be the shortest time at around 30 minutes. Nevertheless, the Polish crew put forth a tight set. Their latest release, Necropolis was heavily highlighted, with “Devilizer,” “Rise of the Undead,” and “Impure.” All in all, an incredibly tight set was played with Vader’s usual intensity. They have yet to disappoint.

Before Overkill came on, the club owner decided to give a little intro. It was quite lame, claiming that Jaxx “Ain’t no Discothèque!” That it is not, but evidently it’s also the areas new hot spot for Latino dance! Yes, that is not a joke. Not any better than a haven of Travolta wannabes, but you can be the judge of that. And their big ethnic staple to make the place more suited to these events? Orange walls. Again, you be the judge. Enough of that – on to one of the most underrated thrash outfits in history.

Overkill can’t be described as anything less than incredible. They’ve been bringing it for 25 years and show absolutely no signs of slowing down. Their latest album, Ironbound, is their best since Horrorscope, and the songs from the new opus came off without a hitch. Their set contained numerous highlights, including a scintillating performance of “Wrecking Crew,” “Coma,” “Rotten to the Core,” and “Feel the Fire.” Songs from the new release were the title track, as well as the set opening face-melter “The Green and Black.” The encore was capped off with the always-classic “Fuck You,” along with their cover of Dead Boys “Sonic Reducer.” To be blunt, an amazing set from an amazing band.

Performance-wise, it was a fantastic display of both young and tried-and-true acts. All six of the touring acts played admirably and gave their fans something worthy of crazy, non-stop headbanging. The sound wasn’t always of the highest quality, but the bands were able to make up for that with their on-stage showings. Jaxx, however, was absolutely abominable in every possible way. I’ve seen some awful organization and incessantly rude staff in my long time of attending shows, but this took the top prize. It was so dire that I have no desire to patronize this place again. Quite sad, as there have been some very enjoyable shows that I’ve attended there. However, this was inexcusable, and venues like this need to really evaluate how they treat their patrons. Unless they really do want it to become nothing but a source for Latino dance. Who knows, but if that happened, good riddance.

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