Trocadero, Philadelphia, PA; 04/12/05

Reviewed by Ray Van Horn Jr.

Take it from me: unless you're a local, Philadelphia is an easy city to get into, but a real bitch to get out of. It's no fluke. I've been there four times now and, including this evening, I've gotten out the same way I came in only once and that's on Broad Street near the stadiums and arenas, a no-brainer in the way Talk of the Town cheesesteaks are where it's at. The City of Brotherly Love it may be, but The City of Brotherly Navigating it is not. Nonetheless, an unnecessary toll across the Ben Franklin Bridge (after one previous swing across, thank you) could not dampen the mood left over by a smoldering performance belted out by one of the legends in the business: Overkill.

Standing in line in front of the famous Trocadero Theatre on Arch Street, I had a billion things on my mind. My jumbled thoughts were stymied by chatter in front of me from a group of teenage metal fans, who deserve horns up for their devotion to the old school, but a major thumbs-down for the most absurd question ever uttered: "Was Dio ever in Anthrax?" I know, I know everyone all together like Homer Simpson: "D'oh!" I wanted to tell the poor kid to submit to a walk of shame and pass his Dio shirt to the people behind me who were kvetching about being the oldest ones in line. Little did they know I was but a mere year younger than one of them and two years the senior of the other. Why should I complain, though, right? Never look a gift compliment in the mouth. I was smart enough to keep mine shut.

Having traveled the prerequisite two-and-a-half hours (plus a bonus half hour thanks to some tried-and-true Maryland snags on the infamous 695) to The Trocadero, what I can say is that I literally felt transported in time inside the theater. A mezzanine still exists with seats and there I found half of the crowd for tonight's gig, while the stage itself engulfs you the second you behold it, bringing to mind a woebegone era of class and a highly different sense of entertainment other than thrash metal. Old school the music may be, it certainly was not old school enough to dispel the ghosts that lingered around the chipped architecture, ghosts who were probably audience to musicals, traveling revues or even hurdy-gurdy burlesque. It's a unique experience and if you're in the area, I do recommend you visit The Trocadero (or The Troc as it is lovingly referred to by the locals). Be sure to get your parking ticket validated or else suffer the aggravation of an $18 bill heaped atop $14 in toll money. My tax accountant is going to love me, that's for sure!

Overkill brought their gutter rumble into Philadelphia without supporting acts and thus opened the stage to a pair of local bands. The first one was a whiskey-laced power metal band with major cajones, Omega Lords, while the second band, Circle of Fear, was pure out-of-control mayhem but affluent in their gut-rupturing death metal. What was unique about these guys was that they were filming a DVD for their upcoming debut disc and the lead singer pulled out every stop he could to produce excitement for his band, including singing in the midst of an active mosh pit, climbing atop amplifiers and other crowd endearing tricks. Check these guys out at www.circleoffear.com.  

As for Overkill, these old dogs are celebrating their 20th anniversary, and despite the numerous lineup changes that have plagued them, one thing you can't take away from Overkill is their headstrong delivery, both on record and in their live performance. Bobby "Blitz" Ellsworth never missed a note as Overkill ripped through some classic jams like "Hello from the Gutter" and the ass-ripping "Elimination," to dashes of newer stuff from their recently-released album "Relix IV," "Bats in the Belfry" and "Old School." The old school was rewarded with unearthed "Feel the Fire" material as well as "Power Surge" from Taking Over. In other words, every generation of Overkill was acknowledged, even to their curtain call rendition of "Fuck You," which is obviously a call to arms no matter how you're hearing it. Get 'em up ...

As DD Verni was celebrating his birthday this evening, so too was Overkill as an entity for two decades, and they played like it was an ongoing party with random banter from "Blitz" and a ton of songs heaped into their nearly-two-hour set. If you have the chance to catch Overkill on the road this year, you're likely going to be pleased. It's worth getting lost in unfamiliar territory for.

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Copyright 2005 by R. Scott Bolton. All rights reserved.
Revised: 23 Aug 2016 22:57:15 -0400.