The Never-Ending Rock and Roll Weekend

Guitarists Rob Caggiano, left, and Scott Ian of Anthrax play at Houston's Warehouse Live.

Whenever I’m feeling my age the people around me have to listen to the same old crap: “I’m too old to rock and roll!” And when you hit your mid-50s, you feel your age quite often.

It was big fun to swing over to Austin a few weekends ago for ZZ Top’s “1st Annual La Grange Fest,” featuring the little ol’ band from Texas and Lynyrd Skynyrd. We really went there to visit our kid in college, but the concert was a great capper to a Saturday night.

Then along comes last weekend, and with it the calendar date for Anthrax and Testament, two top metal bands playing at Houston’s Warehouse Live. My son is a big metal fan and because he’s not yet 18 years old, it is my sworn duty to accompany him to selected shows he wants to see. Sure, I haven’t yet flushed the bug for rock adventure fully out of my system but this slammin’ double bill so close on the heels of the Top-Skynyrd weekend was physically challenging to say the least. (I have a real job during the week and let’s face it, I’m an old guy.)

This is what an Anthrax soundcheck looks like (Death Angel was the first band of the night; Scott Ian's spot at right is filled presumably by a guitar tech).

But … Anthrax! We also had the promise of a visit to a soundcheck where we would do some sort of “meet and greet,” courtesy of local Cactus Music, the great Houston independent music store. Naturally the promise fell victim to rock and roll’s standard operating procedure, which is to operate with little or no advance planning, and the only thing we got was a short visit to the Anthrax soundcheck.

We couldn’t go past the soundboard, but when we entered the fearsome five were on stage doing a credible version of Rush’s “Limelight” with the help of the Canadian trio’s recording on the sound system. Guitarist Scott Ian, the bald goat-bearded guitarist from Anthrax, wasn’t on stage because he had different travel arrangements, we were told. Lead singer Joey Belladonna was virtually unrecognizable with his long locks tucked under a baseball cap. About 10 minutes of this tomfoolery, one real Anthrax song at soundcheck (“The Devil You Know,” I think) and we were out the door.

Rob Caggiano

Luckily we had real tickets to the evening’s show. So we’re parking the car and we see this guy walking along the street, talking on the phone. It was Rob Caggiano, one of the Anthrax guitarists! So we accost him and he’s a really nice guy, sticking out his hand almost immediately. We talked about the dumbass security guy in L.A. who tackled a stage-crashing fan so violently he also took down lead singer Joey Belladonna. We discussed Anthrax’s upcoming European tour and continuation back in the States in 2012, we got a photo with Rob and left him to call his girlfriend back. Meet and greet! Yeah!

So a few hours later, Anthrax is on deck after ear-piercing shrieking from Death Angel and a skull-crushing set from Testament. Just before Anthrax took the stage, the recorded music was loud enough to shatter glass – and when the Anthrax boys hit the stage they were properly loud. They did their good stuff – “Caught In A Mosh,” “Antisocial” and “Madhouse.” And they did stuff off their new album, Worship Music: “I’m Alive” and “In the End,” which was dedicated to Ronnie James Dio. They even did a cover – not Rush, but “Got The Time” by Joe Jackson (!).

Joey Belladonna, lead singer of Anthrax.

My son dug the music, he visited the pit and had to bend his glasses back so he could wear them to school the next day. I woke up Monday and I was still an old guy, but Anthrax was pretty good fun. My ears rang until Wednesday afternoon.

This weekend, we have Sunday wristbands for Fun Fun Fun Fest, the big indie-punk-whatever festival at Austin’s Auditorium Shores. On the bill for our day? Cannibal Corpse, the Black Lips, Henry Rollins and Slayer. I’ll be hangin’ in back for that last one.

And just when my eardrums were starting to look forward to a few months away from live, loud rock and roll – I scored a couple free tickets to a concert Friday night in Houston’s Toyota Center. Guns n’ Roses. My son could take a buddy, but I kinda want to see fat Axl Rose and his buddies.

Might as well get used to it. The day I outgrow this stuff is the day they wheel me down to the graveyard. Rock on!

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