July 3, 2013
The crowd wasn't as big as it should have been or could have been in Santa Ana, at the Observatory's Constellation Room on Wednesday night, as two bands made their first-ever appearances in Orange County. Hailing from the East Coast, old school thrash metal band Whiplash (from New Jersey), and hardcore punk metal/crossover band Iron Regan(from Virginia) both made debut appearances to around 100 dedicated fans who stuck around till well after midnight to witness these bands for the first time.
Opening the show was New Jersey up and coming, metal band Thanatonic Desire, who unfortunately, played to only several people, as the room was barely half full as people slowly started showing up for the next three bands. The band played a tight solid set of songs that sounded like a style that was half Death half Iron Maiden inspired.
Up next was local LA thrashers, Witchaven, a band from LA/Orange and San Bernardino Counties, this band skillfully blasted a mix of thrash, black metal, punk and death metal into a uniform sound that was a good warm up for the next two bands. Imagine. Paying tribute to bands like Venom, Kreator, Death, Celtic Frost and even Slayer, singer and guitarist Henry Montoya had the primitive, fierce voice and stage presence of a young Tom Araya. The kids up front loved this dark mix of brutality, speed metal riffs, and heavy crushing bass and drums. This band is one of the hardest working younger bands of LA, who tour constantly, and will play with any punk/metal bands out there. Witchaven is a staple in the underground DIY extreme metal/punk scene of Southern California.
Iron Reagan took the stage next, to a floor that was still barely beginning to fill with heads. But as the band's backdrop of a huge logo of our 40th president and a pile of skulls was presented the band came out and tore into a set full of a hybrid between hardcore punk, thrash and crossover. This band is from the Richmond, Virginia extreme music scene and features two members of Darkest Hour (drummer Ryan Parish and bassist Paul Burnette) and two members from Municipal Waste (Landphil on bass and Tony Forresta on vocals). Iron Reagan played songs that were short, caustic and to the point with a neck breaking speed that finally invoked a circle pit to form as the band waged on with a very thrash influenced punk vibe that got kids moving. This is a band for fans of the Cro Mags, DRI, and Cryptic Slaughter and of course Municipal Waste. For the band's first ever appearance in California and the West Coast, the size of this crowd was good but not great.
Whiplash took the stage around 11:20 p.m. and performed an unyielding 90-minute set of old school melodic speed metal the band is known for. It's quite a wonder for a thrash metal band from the East Coast to have been such an important part the scene in the mid 80s, to never have played to Southern California diehards, who moshed and head banged with the band for every song.
Founding member, guitarist Tony Portaro, drummer Dan Foord, and bassist Dank Delong dished out a seething old school thrash metal attack with speed metal drums, pounding bass and songs about war, violence and aggression.
The show was perfect for the Constellation Room, and the size of the crowd proved it. With around 150 people, the main room would have been empty, so the smaller stage and floor compacted fans in, to give way to a more intimate club like experience.
Fan favorites included classic songs like 'Stage Diver,' 'War Monger,' 'Red Bomb,' and Insult To Injury.' Fans circle pitted as best they could with only a dozen diehard slam dancers willing too thrash it up for Whiplash's first time ever, playing in the OC.
Ultimately, diehard fans were left pleased at the end of the night, to finally see a band that waited 28 years to play in Southern California.
For those that missed out on this show, Whiplash, Iron Reagan and Witchaven will play in Hollywood Friday July 5, at the Whisky A-GoGo, and Saturday July 6, At the Oakland Metro Operahouse, in Oakland.
The Crowd: Not a ton of people, but some old school thrashers and metal heads were in the house for sure. Also a small group of younger thrashers/crust punks, many of whom were fans of Municipal Waste, were here to see Iron Reagan. Tons of leather, denim, long hair and Slayer, Metallica, Exodus and Pantera shirts.
Overheard: “Whoa fuck this guy's got a King Diamond Tattoo??? FUCK YEAH!!!!!!!!” yelled out a drunken metal head fan just before local thrashers Witchaven were about to play.
Random Notebook Dump: Whiplash are well known among true thrash metal fans and die hard metal head historians. The band earned a huge, almost cult like following with an album many consider to be a classic in the thrash metal genre, 1985's 'Power and Pain.' The band has played in Northern California several times over the past few decades, but it is surprising that this was the band's first appearance in Southern California. Big thanks to The Observatory OC, and POOR KIDS RADIO for making it happen.