Yellow-coated event staff members tried to break up the excessive drinking of fans gathered about the First Union Center parking lots on Sunday night, but these hardcore tailgaters remained united around their trucks with heavy metal blasting and beers in hand. They weren’t there to see Allen Iverson drive the lane; they were there to see the gods of metal: Pantera.
After a successful summer on the Ozzfest tour circuit, Pantera was set to tour on their new record Reinventing the Steel last fall but injuries suffered by lead singer Phillip Anselmo forced them to postpone the tour. After 11 years of extensive touring, this was the first tour they had ever postponed. Loyal fans were promised a makeup date and a better performance because of the off time.
Thrash-metal band Nothingface opened the show with tracks from their major label debut, Violence. The six-year-old band is working their way up and is led by the deep vocals of frontman Matt Holt. Nothingface has a brash hard rock sound that’s intertwined with heavy melodies. The band’s single, “Bleeder” highlighted their short set.
Death metal veterans, Morbid Angel, took the stage next. Formed in 1984, they are relatively unknown to many metal fans, gaining a bigger audience in Europe. During their seven-song set the band seemed very distant from the music they were producing. It sounded as if there were two drummers, when only one was on stage and all four band members seemed to be in their own worlds playing whatever they felt like, almost as if they were completely oblivious to the other three band members. The only people cheering the band on between songs were those trying to make friends laugh. Needless to say, Morbid Angel’s performance did not win them many new fans.
A fog filled stage led the way for the heavy tribal metal band, Soulfly. Led by Brazilian frontman/guitarist Max Cavalera, the quartet opened their hard and heavy set with “Back to the Primitive,” the single from their latest album Primitive. Playing heavily from the new album, it was easy for anyone to get lost in the band’s frenzy of fast paced songs.
“Bring It” and “Jumpdafuckup” took notice among their set, but the highlight was when Pantera drummer, Vinnie Paul and two others joined Soulfly on stage for a seven-man tribal drum jam. “Pain” closed the set featuring guest vocals from Nothingface’s Holt.
After a short set change the “Cowboys from Hell,” Pantera, took the stage for 16 songs of massively brutal, aggressive and jagged heavy metal. The 90-minute set consisted of a healthy mix from prior albums and Reinventing the Steel.
“Revolution Is My Name” and “Use My Third Arm” dominated the first half of the high impact set and Great Southern Trendkill’s “Suicidal Part II” rung in the second half.
The band wished drummer Vinnie Paul Happy Birthday before playing their latest single, “I’ll Cast A Shadow.” With rebel flags waving throughout the crowd, the four Texas rebels burst into, “Walk,” their hit from 92s Vulgar Display of Power.
In their closing efforts, the four started into their ballad “Cemetery Gates,” but changed their minds after a minute into the song and broke into their fast paced hit “Fucking Hostile.” It was a very impressive performance that promises for more when Pantera visits Philly again this summer on tour with Slayer and Static X. Pantera kept to their word, giving fans one hell of a show.