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Flotsam and Jetsam Concert Review, Austin, TX, May 14, 2018

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This could also be titled:  “NEEEEEEEERRRRRD!”  I guess most of my posts could be called that.

Last night was pretty huge for me in general.  Since first hearing Chastain’s Ruler of the Wasteland in high school, I’ve been a huge fan of drummer Ken Mary’s work.  Most folks know about his time in Chastain, Fifth Angel, Alice Cooper, House of Lords, TKO and a slew of others and there’s no need to go too in depth on his discography as that info is all out there for anyone to look up.

In recent years and thanks to the internet I’ve been able to connect with Ken and always had hopes to meet and see him play.  A year or so ago Fifth Angel did a reunion and I considered flying out for that but saw that Ken had some shoulder issues and had to bow out of the shows.  Recently he stepped in with Flotsam and Jetsam after Jason Bittner left to join Overkill.  He ended up doing the Keep It True show in Germany a couple of weeks ago and is on Flotsam’s upcoming album.  He’s also doing the current tour with them and that’s where this story gets us to yesterday.

Doors for last night’s show were at 7PM and I arrived around 6:30 in hopes to catch the band, do some metal nerd stuff and whatever.  As I pulled up, Erik AK was outside the bus while the trailer was getting some welding done to the ramp gate.  We started talking and I asked if they had dinner plans and if not, I’d be glad to take them to dinner.  He rounded up the troops, did a quick round of introductions and we walked over to the Jackalope for some burgers and beers.  Of course I was stoked to hang out with Ken and jibber jabber on the walk over.  Once at the Jackalope, the guys took pictures on the giant rabbit and I ordered up drinks and food for everyone.  It was great talking with them about the old shows at the Boathouse in Norfolk, VA where I had seen them several times in the 80s and 90s and talking with Ken about his time in Chastain, Cooper etc.  The guys really enjoyed the food and the restaurant in general.  As we walked back I mentioned having some stuff to get signed and was invited on the bus to get that taken care of.

Once there, the first thing I had Ken sign was The Book.  Obviously he’s got numerous entries in there but I wanted to have him sign on the Chastain band photo.  I already head Leather, David and Mike sign it in recent years and Ken was the final piece.  Michael Gilbert, the only other original member with Eric AK, signed my Doomsday and Flotsam (2016) LPs.   I had gotten his and Eric’s signatures in The Book a few years back.   Added bonus was Michael Spencer being back in the band on bass.  I had him sign in the Sentinel Beast section.  Score!  Of course I had a stack of LP covers for Ken.  It was really cool having him tell stories about each of the bands.  I had the rest of the band sign the 2016 F&J LP as well and then I made my exit off of the bus to let them rest up before their show.  Added bonus, I got to hear 3 rough mixes from their upcoming album while we were on the bus.  “Want to hear some of the new album?”  “Is that a real question?”  It sounded killer and Ken’s on drums for that one, too.  I also asked if they were playing Der Fuhrer from the debut LP.  Eric said they sound checked with it but didn’t plan to play it.  “We’ll add it for you.  Thanks for dinner.”  SWEET.

After putting my nerd stuff back in the car, I needed to just chill out for a bit before their set and hung out on the patio and caught up with some friends.

Flotsam was scheduled to go on at 10:20PM.  Love early shows!  They ended up going on closer to 10:30 and opened with Monkey Wrench from their 2016 LP then went into Hammerhead.  The already small crowd thinned out a little but the ones who stayed let Flotsam know they were appreciated.  The setlist mixed up a lot of stuff from Doomsday, No Place, the 2016 LP and one from Drift.  The band was solid and Eric’s voice sounded good.  This was the first show of the latest leg of their Forbidden Territories of the World Tour and we were lucky to have them as a headliner as they end up in the opening slot with Hammerfall for much of the tour.  That tour rolls back around in June in San Antonio and I’ll likely hit that show as well.  Michael Spencer is a beast of a bassist, very impressive.  Michael Gilbert and Steve Conley (F5) shred well together and of course the highlight for me was watching Ken play.  He’s not an overly busy drummer but adds the right amount of flash and technique when needed and had some nifty stick tricks here and there.  After the encore song, Doomsday for the Deceiver, Ken handed me a stick and Steve gave me his pick.  They were done just before midnight.  PERFECT.

What an incredible evening all around with a killer band and some good friends.  Super thankful to Ken and Flotsam for letting me intrude on their time for a bit.

Setlist.

Click photos to see comments.

Testament, Overkill, Flotsam and Jetsam & 4arm Concert Review, Austin TX, 2/5/2013

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Not too long ago it was announced that Testament, Overkill, Flotsam and Jetsam, and 4arm were coming to Emo’s. What a lineup! I bought a ticket as soon as they went on sale.

Let’s just get right into this. You’ve seen me talk about The Book several times and my outer metal nerd was in full effect yesterday. I left work and went straight to the venue to do some hanging around trying to catch up with Bobby and DD from Overkill and the Flotsam guys.

There was a guy and his son hanging out as well who had made a nice huge canvas screen print of a current Overkill photo with their logo on it. When those guys rolled up, they signed it cheerfully. I had Bobby and DD sign the book and got the usual question of, “What the hell is this?” Right after Overkill headed to their hotel, Gene Hoglan came out of the venue and I spoke with him for a little bit. Ten years ago I gave him a ride from his Strapping Young Lad show to go see Nuclear Assault at another venue. We laughed about shoving his huge frame into my little Saturn wagon.

A few minutes later I saw a friend of mine who works at the venue and he went ahead and walked me in with him before they started letting people in. Testament was doing their paid meet and greet on the patio and I was standing at the merch booth when Eric AK from Flotsam walked up. I shook his hand, talked to him about my F&J history of seeing them in Virginia. He remembered both venues saying something to the effect of, “The Peppermint Beach Club? Cool place on the beach? Loved playing there. But the Boathouse was a dump.” Mustaine said the same thing about the Boathouse when I met him in ’06. I loved that place (RIP), but whatever. Mike Gilbert came up as we were snapping a picture and photo-bombed it. I then had both guys sign the book and again a “WTH?” reaction. Eric said, “Come find us after the show, we’ll get Kelly and Ed to check this book out.”  Sweet!

The doors open up and a small crowd shuffles in. Australia’s 4arm was the opener at 645PM. I had just listened to a few of their songs earlier and while not overly impressed, I didn’t think it was awful…other than their name. They had a 30 minute set of standard thrash and were solid. I heard a little Slayer meets Bay Area Thrash in their sound. They were solid enough, but nothing groundbreaking.

Up next came Flotsam and Jetsam. They sounded great and to be honest were the band I was most excited about seeing. The last time was 1992 opening for Mercyful Fate. They were only given 35 minutes for a set and just came on and killed it. They sounded great in general, minus some sound issues from Ed Carlson’s amp…snap crackle and pop were all in attendance. Haha. They played Hammerhead and Escape from Within and 3 others. They were super solid, though. Kelly’s drumming was still as spot on as it was 20 years ago. I stood about 3 people from the barricade with a huge smile on my face the whole time they were on.  Just great.  Eric’s vocals started a little rough in the first song, but by song #2, he was in full AK mode sounding great and powerful.  I’m ready to see them again ASAP and hopefully with a longer set.  Eric told me after the show that they’d definitely add Der Fuhrer and She Took An Axe when they tour on their own.  I almost squealed like a little girl.

Overkill was up next and to be honest I wasn’t enthused about it. I absolutely love Feel the Fire and Taking Over and a few tracks each from Under the Influence and Years of Decay, but without Rat Skates’ insane drumming and Bobby Gustafson’s uniquely styled riffs, they lost a lot. That this man’s opinion. Overkill hit the stage and I got what I expected, a cross section of their long career. They did Rotten to the Core and Wrecking Crew and while I love those songs, they just didn’t feel right last night. Way too fast and a tad sloppy. Almost like ‘let’s just get through these as fast as we can’. I’m such a curmudgeon. They also played Elimination and Fuck You, but I only heard them from outside the venue and my friend Carlos who was getting ready to interview Flotsam called me to their bus to get Ed and Kelly to sign the book. Score! I’d missed Overkill the last 2 times they were here and I had heard that they were both good shows and that they had even played Deny the Cross(!!!). But not last night. Oh well.

Last night was my 7th time seeing Testament since ’87 on The Legacy Tour opening for Anthrax. They’ve never put on a bad show in my opinion and tonight they were on it. I think Chuck Billy’s voice sounded better than it has in years. He used his cleaner voice more than the rough voice he’s done a lot live in recent years. The setlist was a good mix of old and new with all of the usual suspects except for one, and to me it’s a major one…Disciples of the Watch was not played. To me, that is the defining Testament song. I can’t have everything, right? But overall the band was great. The new album is good and a lot better than Formation of Damnation. Gene Hoglan was on the kit again for this tour and the guy is so incredibly awesome that it hurts my soul a little. He’s so fluid in his playing that it makes it look like he’s not even trying. Skolnick’s playing was spot on as always but I always get the feeling that he’d rather be doing his solo jazz thing these days.

Overall it was a great night for $20! I bought a shirt from both Flotsam and Testament, Overkill didn’t have a design that I liked. Saw lots of friends and made some new ones. Flotsam said they’ll be doing a US tour after their new album, Ugly Noise, comes out in April. I hope they can make some Texas dates. Great to see Austin continuing to get some quality metal tours.

I didn’t get any shots of Overkill or Testament as I was playing the “old man” and hung out near the back of the venue.

4ARM

4ARM

More Flots

More Flots

Erik AK says, "Horns up!"

Erik AK says, “Horns up!”

Eric AK and I being photo-bombed by Mike Gilbert

Eric AK and I being photo-bombed by Mike Gilbert

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Sigs from "Blitz" and DD of Overkill in The Book

Sigs from “Blitz” and DD of Overkill in The Book

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Flotsam and Jetsam Live ’85

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This was posted a while back on YouTube and is definitely worth sharing and sharing again.  Just awesome. Their debut was great.  So glad I got to see them a few times in the 80s.

Written by The Metal Files

February 17, 2011 at 8:42 am