Trocadero Theatre; Philadelphia, PA; 05/02/02
Reviewed by Alicia Downs
This was the show that metal aficionados in the Philadelphia area had been talking about for
months. It was so intense we actually had a countdown of days going. So, alas,
the Thursday night rolled around and we all knew where we needed to be. At 8:00
p.m., the doors opened for the DOWN concert and we were there.
Sure enough it rained that day and into that night - nothing to damper the spirits like what seemed to be torrential downpours in muggy spring heat. But nature was on the side of stoner rock as the skies cleared about an hour before doors and things started to dry up. I got there around 8:30 and attempted my driving skills in a parking space fit for a compact car. I didnít have the skills necessary so that took a little while to say the least. I got to the front of the Troc around a quarter to nine but the line was still all the way down Arch Street. Much to my surprise, the line moved relatively quickly and I was in the lobby of the Troc before I knew it. When I first got in I noted that the t-shirt stand was swamped and they were playing "Stone the Crow" over the PA system.
Soon realizing that the male to female ratio at this show was at least 100 to 1, I decided that I would be best not attempting to remain on the floor for the show so I headed up to the balcony. I do not think I have ever actually bothered to watch a show from the balcony of the Troc but I might want to consider doing it more often. When I got up there I bumped into some friends who had reserved the entire front center row on the balcony, meaning that I now just scored the best seat in the house.
We waited patiently to learn that, as expected, there was no opening band. In lieu of a band that probably would have gotten hissed at, DOWN opted to show a movie of sorts. The half-hour feature documented home videos of the recording process of "DOWN II" and showed heavy metal videos from classics like Black Sabbath, AC/DC, Led Zeppelin, and Slayer among others. This was a clear nod to the caliber that DOWN puts themselves up to, not that I can blame them.
The band was supposed to go on around 9:00 and be done by around 10:30 but the movie did not
go on until nine-ish and twenty of ten rolled around still without DOWN taking the stage. The people
were starting to get restless but five minutes later we could see the band members descending the
backstage stairs at the Troc and we knew things were about to go ... well, down.
The curtain went up and the band immediately went into "The Seed." The NOLA ambience was reflected through the woodsy purple backdrop and the full moon that read DOWN. When Lynyrd Skynyrd talked about "swamp music" I am not sure this is what they had in mind.
The set list included; "Thereís Something by my Side," "Temptationís Wings," "Lysergik Funeral Procession," and "Rehab." Considering that the theme was as much 420 as metal, the cannabis smoke was quickly rising up to the balcony from below and I felt like I was inside of a giant bong.
The highlight of the evening came next when the boys busted out "Ghosts of Mississippi" and then went directly without space between chords into "Learn from my Mistakes." My immediate thought was that there are so few bands that could have pulled of going from the intensity of "The Seed" to the poignancy of "Learn from My Mistakes" and still keep the audience thirsting. Phil lay down with his back on the monitors and just sang from a place I donít think I have even seen him sing from in all the Pantera shows I have been to.
Next came the albumís first single "Beautifully Depressed" followed by "Lies." And what I have to say about "Lies" is that sitting on the first row in the balcony, the bass lines still managed to rival the cobblestone streets of Philadelphia - those with the mind for it know exactly what I mean.
Next came the ever ironic "New Orleans is a Dying Whore" but, as Phil explained to the crowd, he "still loves the cunt." Afterwards came the expected "Stone the Crow" and the floor erupted. Phil commented, "Now thatís what Iím talking about" but listening to the ferocity of the music and the intensity of the show I wanted to rebut back, "No Phil, this is what weíre talking about."
The night closed out as brutally as it went in with "Eyes of the South" and the encore "Bury Me in Smoke." In all the times I have been to the Troc I have never seen a pit like this. The entire floor was covered with inebriated shirtless men moshing to their hearts' content. There was no sanctity anywhere on the floor, if you were on the floor you were in the pit.
Finishing up the night, we all realized that we had witnessed THE show that you go around talking about twenty years down the road. If you missed it you will forever regret not attending and if you saw it you will forever recant that May night at the Troc. I am almost hesitant to see them on Ozzfest, as it seems impossible they could top themselves. In a modern day state of music where there is little to listen to that you know will live on, DOWN filled the gap for an icon that night. I can wholeheartedly say that the legend has been born.
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Revised: 23 Aug 2016 22:57:15 -0400.