On Friday, April 9th, Philip H. Anselmo and The Illegals took the stage in front of an in-person audience of 50 people and many more who watched from home. Anselmo himself is known for being the lead vocalist of metal bands, including Pantera, Down, Superjoint Ritual and Scour. The show, dubbed A Vulgar Display Of Pantera, paid tribute to five of Pantera’s classic albums: Cowboys from Hell, Vulgar Display of Power, Far Beyond Driven, The Great Southern Trendkill and Reinventing the Steel.
The Australian thrashcore band King Parrot opened the show. Before King Parrot took the stage, a close-up live-streamed video of pigs and chickens eating outside of a barn greeted viewers and foreshadowed the outlandish bands to come. Mike DeLeon, Illegals’ lead guitarist, formally welcomed the audience to the show and playfully interviewed his former bandmate Walter Howard and Philip Anselmo himself. The interview questions covered everything from pizza toppings to favorite songs. Following the interviews, viewers saw a series of clips of the band touring around the world, visiting the Black Sabbath museum, getting ready to play a sold-out show at the Viper Room and high-fiving fans. The audience also saw clips of the band going on water park rides, kayaking and swimming in a river, all the while heavy metal music played in the background. The contrast between fun, goofy clips of the band with the intense music perfectly set the tone for the chaotic performance by a band that does not take themselves too seriously.
Eventually, the video static cut to King Parrot, who were set in a small studio and warned fans to “strap yourselves the fuck in.” King Parrot’s set featured fist-bumping, screaming, fast-paced guitar parts and headbanging to the point that some band members’ faces were lost in their hair. King Parrot succeeded in hyping up the audience for the show with their high-energy, in-your-face style. King Parrot signed off with a final thank you and a “cheers to zoom…and Office365!”
While live-streamed concerts are a great way for artists to connect with their fan bases during such an isolating time, they are not without their challenges. During Philip H. Anselmo and The Illegals’ first song, “Suicide Note Pt. I,” off of Pantera’s album, The Great Southern Trendkill, the audio malfunctioned. Eventually, the sound returned, and fans were able to enjoy the rest of the song that featured an acoustic guitar and deep, melodic vocals. Anselmo dedicated the second selection of the night to veterans as red, white and blue spotlights saturated the band’s all-black clothes in color and light. The band began playing for approximately 30 seconds before Anselmo stopped and announced, “start it over, bring the guitar and bass down a little.” The band certainly delivered in his request, and “A New Level” returned with a heavy guitar part and scream-singing. The passion in Anselmo’s delivery of the third song, “Mouth For War,” manifested itself through powerful vocals and an extra firm grasp on the mic as he sang with his eyes pressed shut. “Becoming” featured high-pitched accent notes that were disturbing to the ear yet worked well with the deep vocals and overall angry delivery of the song. “We’ll Grind That Axe for a Long Time” included both growl-style and scream-singing. The band strengthened the sound of the music with brief vocal pauses as well as drums that coordinated with the delivery of the lyrics “well grind that axe for a long time.”
Before continuing to the sixth selection, Anselmo checked in with the audience asking “is it fun?” “Yesterday Don’t Mean Shit” started with a fast and strong guitar, a spit-like sound and scream-singing. Two guitarists played back and forth against each other, giving the tune a confrontational feel. Just when the song appeared to have faded out with a muffled guitar, the song picked back up again with a high-pitched, shrieky guitar that brought fans back into the loud, aggressive sound. The song closed out with “fucking bastards” shouted into the mic and one final crash of cymbals. Philip H. Anselmo and The Illegals then opted for a selection they had yet to play live, “War Nerve,” which featured a long musical intro, backup vocals that echoed Anselmo’s singing and long extended screams of “ahhh.”
Before the eighth song of the night, “This Love,” Anselmo delivered a heartfelt message to fans: “We wanna get back out, see some places, see what’s up, that’s our whole lives. It’s our fuckin’ lives, man.” It was clear that the band not only loves to perform in front of fans, but they are also passionate about the music they play and want to share it with the world. Calvin Dover of En Minor joined the band to sing back up for “This Love.” The song began with a dark, dreary guitar intro and was later joined by light cymbals and melodic vocals. The song abruptly changed back and forth between the slower conventions of the intro and the fast, aggressive sound of a classic heavy metal song. The following two songs, “I’m Broken” and “Strength Beyond Strength,” featured fast drums and guitar as well as scream/growl singing.
The band took a short break before returning to the stage to redo the first song, “Suicide Note Pt. I,” which was muted due to technical problems. The penultimate song of the evening was “Hellbound” and featured suspense-inducing drums and chant-like scream-singing. Anselmo allowed a young fan on stage to perform the song along with the band. Philip H. Anselmo and The Illegals closed out the show with a strong delivery of “The Trend Is Dead.” Overall, Philip H. Anselmo and the Illegals delivered an animated performance that kept the audience on their toes and connected like-minded fans across the world.