Few frontmen are capable of creating the same vibe in a crowd as Phil Anselmo. There was no question whether the crowd at Headliners Music Hall belonged to the former Pantera vocalist on this night - if the multitude of Pantera t-shirts didn't give it away, the throng of "Phil" chants that rose from the crowd throughout the evening did.
Since the murder of Pantera's guitarist, "Dimebag" Darrell Abbott, put a definitive end to that band's legendary career, Anselmo has been dedicated primarily to Down - a New Orleans-based southern metal supergroup formed in 1994 consisting of Anselmo and former Pantera bassist Rex Brown, Corrosion of Conformity guitarist/vocalist Pepper Keenan, Crowbar guitarist/vocalist Kirk Windstein, and EyeHateGod drummer Jimmy Bower. The band's sound has best been described by fans as what would happen if Black Sabbath and Lynyrd Skynyrd had a bastard lovechild, and that description holds true live.
Despite Rex Brown's noticable absence due to his recent diagnosis with acute pancreatitis, Down still managed to pull of an impressive set composed of songs spanning three albums with Danny Theriot filling in for Brown. Opening the set with longtime fan favorite "Eyes of the South," the band locked in a steady, solid groove that pulsated throughout the venue throughout the rest of their nearly two hour set.
The Melvins were a pleasant surprise in the truest sense of the phrase. The Montesano, Washington-based sludge metal quartet fronted by Buzz Osborne (no relation to the Osbournes) delivered a thunderous set which shook the venue to its very foundation thanks in no small part to their duo of drummers (who played in perfect synchronization, no less). Judging by the looks on the faces of many in attendance, the Melvins made more than a few new fans in Louisville.
As is the case with the final date on most tours, hijinx are bound to ensue after the end of the headlining band's set, and tonight was no different. Following Down's encore of "Stone the Crow" and "Bury Me in Smoke," members of the Melvins and openers Weedeater (whose set I missed) joined Down onstage - some wearing Down "booty shorts" - covering the members of the band in a mixture of silly string and beer, and capping a night of solid performances off with a little humor.
RATING: 5 out of 5