Where do I even start? One of the “Big Four” of thrash metal. Arguably the heaviest of the “Big Four”. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve even seen Slayer. 10? 15? 20? I can’t remember. All I remember is a great show with an absolutely insane crowd every time.
When I heard that Slayer were going to do a final world tour, I knew I had to try and get on the photo list for this event – especially when I saw the rest of the lineup; and the venue at which they would be playing (I was a backstage guard there in 1995 when it was known as “The New World Music Theatre” – so this would be a sort of homecoming for me). Thankfully, I was approved, and here we go!
On the day of the show at 4:00PM, Slayer sold out the Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre in Tinley Park, IL. That’s 26,000 people, people! After Lamb of God left the stage, a black curtain was dropped in front of the stage to hide the setup for Slayer. With as many times as I’ve seen Slayer before, I have to say that the energy in the air was palpable. You could practically cut it with a knife. The photographers were lead down to the pit, and we waited for the curtain to drop and be taken out of the pit before we could enter.
Then it happened.
The lights dropped.
The curtain dropped.
The stage was lit with fire.
The crowd went insane.
We hurried into the pit and started taking photos of the stage. I couldn’t even hear the thoughts in my head above the volume of the crowd. I started taking photos and out walks Kerry King, then the rest of the band. I didn’t think it was possible, but the crowd got even louder.
The first chords of “Repentless” rang out and in typical Slayer crowd fashion, everyone went crazy. I was hit with drops of flying beer, I could hear the crowd over the massive towers of speakers, and I was home in my element.
Continuing into “Blood Red”, Slayer kept the crowd going and we kept shooting. The band doesn’t move much (certainly not like Randy Blythe), but they have tons of fire effects and stage lights changing constantly – a fun challenge for any photographer that can result in some epic shots.
It seemed like a minute had passed and we were already onto the third song – “Disciple”. One of my favorites; and being able to be that close to the band while they played it was incredible. By the time we had to leave the pit, I had gotten many great shots of Slayer that I am happy to share with you all.
If there was ever a “Best of Slayer” album put out, I think the rest of the setlist would reflect what would be on that album perfectly. It would look like this:
- Blood Red
- Mandatory Suicide
- Hate Worldwide
- War Ensemble
- When the Stillness Comes
- Black Magic
- Seasons in the Abyss
- Dead Skin Mask
- Hell Awaits
- South of Heaven
- Raining Blood
- Chemical Warfare
- Angel of Death
I’m sad to see Slayer perform a final world tour, but I’m sure they aren’t done making music yet. I’m definitely interested to see what the future holds for the band and wish them the best in anything they do.
Tom, Kerry, Gary, Paul, Jeff (R.I.P.) and Dave – thank you all for the memories, the music, and the experience.