One can almost not be able to describe in words how massive Friday night’s show at the Phoenix Theater was for the Sonoma County Metal community. Well, I shall try to fill you all in on the enormous metal party that took place at the historic venue in Petaluma, CA.
To begin, the promotion for this show was excellent, because there happened to be an outstanding turnout at the Phoenix. The place was unbelievably packed! Of course with a band like Soulfly playing, you were definitely going to draw a strong metal crowd. Also, one cannot ignore the four great local acts who played. Trecelence, Thought Vomit, Trial by Combat and Vile Riot Villains definitely kept the crowd energized and rocking out.
Kicking off the show at 7:30pm was Trecelence. Now, before I talk about the band’s set, I want to address the issue of the Phoenix’s house music. For a metal show they really put together a bizarre playlist. They played Bon Jovi and a few other bands who did not compliment the bands actually performing. This is a metal concert for crying out loud! Not an arena rock concert that features old dudes with plastic surgery who charge fans one hundred dollars per ticket! They played one Rush song though, so I am not completely disappointed.
Okay returning from my rant... Trecelence put on yet another behemoth headbanging performance of epic thrash. The songs all sound tight live and need to be recorded so people can hear this solid technical thrash band. Also, Bassist Zane Covington sounded in top form by unleashing some epic screams to go along with the thunderous guitar riffs. Donnie Small and Chris Olney Burnett shredded away and let their guitar work twist the minds of metalheads in the front row. Drummer Ilan Cabrera was working pretty damn hard behind the kit by maintaining a strong musical backbone. Overall, these guys just keep demonstrating how passionate they are about the music. The songs are really starting to take form to where metal fans who enjoy old school technical thrash will instantly be slapping Trecelence patches on their vests.
After Trecelence finished Trial by Combat began setting up. The last time I saw Trial by Combat back in July they unleashed a killer set of brutality. Continuing to fuel metal fans with loud aggressive metal music, they brought that same level of energy to the Phoenix. Singer Dashiel McKenzie is a brutal sounding frontman who has a solid extreme sounding vocal style. The band’s riff assault was in full operation while the drumming inflicted serious devastation. The song, “Theater of War,” was definitely a crowd favorite and happened to be the perfect song to play given the world’s chaotic state.
Third up was Vile Riot Villains who were playing their last show as a band. One could tell they were trying to go out with a major ass kicking set and I am sure the band was glad to be finishing their time together on one epic bill. They brought a more straightforward heavy metal/hard rock sound to the show. I really enjoyed their cover of Kiss’ “War Machine,” however, if Gene finds out don’t be surprised if he wants to collect a fee for playing the song. Once the band ended their set they thanked the audience for the support and received a loud farewell applause.
Now the fourth band of the night was definitely a band I knew had plans to turn the venue upside down and inspire massive mosh pits. Thought Vomit being the areas most electrifying and adrenaline pumping band was the most suitable choice to have on right before Soulfly. One could tell how thrilled Thought Vomit was to open up for Soulfly. I think the band put on one of their best sets yet and sounded good all around. Singer Spencer Clark was of course in the pit most of the time getting fans hyped up. Chris Meyer enthusiastically tore away on his guitar as Jordie Hilley and Clay Prieto held down the rhythm section. Towards the end of their set the band was joined on stage by former guitarist Tyler Cole who played some of the band’s old songs. No matter what song they played new or old, the crowd kept running around and shouting their heads off.
Once Thought Vomit ended their set in brutal fashion with Spencer actually singing in the crowd, everyone took a short breather to prepare for Soulfly. Then as the lights dimmed the crowd roared with tremendous force. Max Cavalera walked out on stage with his guitar in hand and instantly got the crowd shouting for metal madness. The venue was shaking at times from the crowd jumping up and down along with the titanic sized mosh pit. When they played certain songs like, “Prophecy,” or any of the Sepultura material such “Roots Bloody Roots” and “Refuse/Resist,” the people two streets over from the Phoenix could probably hear the noise. Another cool part of the set was when Max used a shaman stick to create some tribal rhythms that the crowd responded too quite positively. Also, I want to mention the other great musicians Max has in the band who really stood out. His son Zyon Cavalera who plays drums sounded like a juggernaut behind the kit and smashed his cymbals with authority. Lead guitarist Mark Rizzo melted peoples faces with wicked solos and hard hitting riffs. The band’s bassist Mike Leon is an extremely talented player and I remember seeing him when he was with Havok. The dude can play some brilliant bass lines and has great stage presence. Throughout the entire set Max and company never slowed down and gave people their heavy metal fix.
When Soulfly walked off the stage and the house music began playing Toto’s, “Africa,” I needed some time to reflect on how awesome this show had been. Some people looked as though they had run two miles because of all the moshing and headbanging. Sonoma County Metal and Hardcore did yet another great job setting up a colossal metal show at the Phoenix Theater. Judging from the turnout, I would hope more metal events like this keep coming around...Lastly, I hope the Phoenix plays more suitable house music...