When Slayer Took Over Huntington
You could feel the pulsating energy coming from the sea of people standing outside the Big Sandy Arena in Huntington, WV on May 13,2019. They were patiently standing and talking to each other about how excited they were for the hours of pure bliss that would soon be theirs and reminiscing of shows before, favorite songs, and even debating which album was best. Some in the crowd were first timers. They were told by all that discovered the fresh blood what their eyes, ears, body, and spirit were in for. They described devilishly majestic performances that you can’t even imagine.
As the doors opened, the crowd somehow maintained calm even though you could see that they were bursting with anticipation. As they each went through security, they each had their own plans of getting to their designated spot, if in general admission that meant as close to the stage as possible, and making sure that they would remain in that spot for the most possible amount of time. Some went directly for band merchandise, hoping to beat what would likely be large crowds later. Some went to get beverages and food. All of course made sure to hit the restroom before heading to the place they would be for the next few hours, with as few interruptions as possible.
As the stage came into view, you could see the name Cannibal Corpse draped across the rear of the stage just behind all their music gear. Showtime would be just around the corner. The crowd was packing in, talking about what part of the night they were most excited for. A wave of cheer passed through the mass of people encouraging Cannibal Corpse to take the stage. You could feel the anticipation not only from the fans, but also from the photographers and security in front of the stage with just a metal barricade keeping them from all of the fans who braved general admission in an attempt to see their band from as close as they could possibly get. Even the crews on stage and the bands were sending out waves of anticipatory energy.
Cannibal Corpse emerged onto the stage and the crowd burst into a roar of applause. The music started and everyone let loose and gave themselves into the music. Mosh pits formed. Hair was flying as heads were banging along with the band. People would fall in the pit, and someone in the pit would give them a hand up, and they’d go right back to slamming into each other and just being free.
Time for the next band. Now there is the front hull of a Viking ship. As the members of Amon Amarth take the stage, everyone is transported to the world of Vikings. What other music do you think Vikings would pillage for? Of course, it’s going to be metal. Those seeing Amon Amarth for the first time have their eyes fixated to the stage, scanning side to side in an attempt to not miss a moment. The show Amon Amarth puts on is absolutely mesmerizing.
Lamb of God is next up. Everyone gives them the attention they rightfully deserve, but on everyone’s mind is what is about to be next. They mosh and head-bang and jump up and down because it’s LAMB OF GOD! They all know that what is next is what some can only dream of witnessing, and what may be their last chance of witnessing. This is HUGE! They finish their set and the crowd goes wild. They wait a respectable amount of time before beginning the chant that can probably be heard down at Marshall University! “Slayer! Slayer! Slayer!….” They continue on and on.
All of a sudden, there is a lot of movement in front of the stage. Something big is about to happen. The crowd’s chant somehow gets even louder. I wonder if they can hear the people chanting “Slayer!” all the way in Charleston. Within seconds, curtains drop, flames fly, and the ALMIGHTY SLAYER takes the stage on what is being called their last tour. The sea of people in general admission now had people being transported closer to their musical heroes. Security in front of the stage working quickly to catch them as they reached the edge of the crowd to make sure that no one gets injured. Photographers periodically hiding between speakers to get out of the way of security and crowd surfers. Everyone still fully immersed in the musical wonder before them. The time was here! The time was now! And it was better than we imagined! There were no incidents that I am aware of at the event. I saw a large diversity of people grouped together enjoying time with each other enjoying music. Music that many consider violent and dangerous. That night, besides seeing four AMAZING bands, I saw the beauty music brings out in humanity. In that massive crowd, there were people of multiple ethnicities, backgrounds, economic levels, genders, and every other thing society uses to separate us. That night, there were just Slayer Fans!
Slayer went on to announce another tour, but what was experienced that night can never be taken away from those that were in attendance.