By Elena Whidden
May 3rd 2012, Club Nokia, Los Angeles CA: The last time I saw Overkill was back in 2007 in their home state of New Jersey, where they annihilated a die-hard crowd of east-coast fans. Because of this, I’d say I brought some pretty high expectations to Thursday’s show, but Overkill lived up to them one hundred and ten percent, and as I walked back to my car I couldn’t help but feel a little sad thinking that they had a whole tour to finish before they might be back.
This show was one of a number of stops the band will make in support of their sixteenth studio release, The Electric Age, which dropped in March. Downtown L.A.’s Club Nokia hosted them, and the most striking thing about this venue was that it was practically empty. The entire upper gallery of seats was closed because, as I heard the man in the box office tell some fellow concert-goes, not enough tickets had been purchased. If I had to make a guess, I’d say the lack of online sales was due to the high price of tickets, originally around $60 for pit on the internet. They were reduced at the door, where my friend purchased hers for $30. Although the choice of a larger venue more than likely pushed up the price of tickets and precluded a lot of people from attending the show, it did wonders for the way the concert sounded.The mixing for all the bands was really professional, and each instrument sounded incredibly clear as the music resonated through the large space of the club; this was something I really appreciated, since sound quality can often be lacking in the smaller venues.
There were three opening bands, and each was very different from the next—I think the people who booked them were trying to make sure there would definitely be something for everyone. My favorite band of the three was far and away Diamond Plate. I imagine it’s hard to be the first band on stage, especially when there is a small crowd, but these boys from Chicago brought so much enthusiasm to their set of ripping thrash metal that I think everyone was wowed, and felt as happy to be at the show as these musicians did. Basically, the people who came to the show late really missed out. I also loved getting to see a band that showed how the influence of groups like Overkill continues to inspire. Next up was Suidakra, a band from Germany that plays melodic death metal with folk metal influences. They certainly changed the vibe from the one Diamond Plate had created, but I still had fun listening to them—I definitely didn’t walk into this show thinking I’d get to hear a metal version of “The Bonny Banks o’ Loch Lomond,” but get one I did. God Forbid, also of New Jersey, rounded out the openers. Their set was by far the longest between the three openers, and covered material from several different years and releases—their first album came out in 1999. They played really tight, but after their set I was definitely ready for more thrash.
Another perk of the larger venue was the fact that Overkill’s stage set-up just looked awesome. Not that they need a crazy looking stage to make them fun to watch; I just thought it was cool that the stage complimented their music. Chaly, the skeletal bat that is the band’s well-known mascot, had acquired wings made of lightning bolts in honor of The Electric Age, and was displayed on a huge banner behind the band. Three-by-three walls of cabs on either side of the stage, lighting in red, blue, and green, and a hard-working fog machine all combined to create a stage that looked like some kind of awesome industrial wasteland from hell.
Overkill absolutely exploded as soon as they took the stage, opening with “Come and Get It” off the new album, challenging the audience to do just that. In fact all the
songs off the new album sounded fantastic live—although there weren’t that many of them in the set—and they fit well into a group of songs which covered material from many different decades, something which I think speaks well for the album itself. “Elimination,” a classic off 1989’s Years of Decay, came early on in the set, and definitely got everyone excited. Bobby Blitz’ ever-distinctive vocals sounded great, and in fact his voice stayed really strong for the entire show, despite his claim that he had a sore throat—“for the past three weeks.” He moved around a lot, running around and writhing about the microphone, and was tons of fun to watch during songs; in between, he would often stand looming in the dark at the front of the stage with one foot on a speaker, in a way that was just awesomely terrifying.
After “Electric Rattlesnake” from The Electric Age came 1988’s “Hello From The Gutter,” which everyone sang along to, and then the title track to their 2010 comeback record, “Ironbound.” I really enjoyed Ironbound as an album, so I was glad the band played a couple songs off it. Also I think the newer material has some really fun drum parts, and Ron Lipnicki was spot on for all of them. “Gasoline Dream” and “Necroshine” from the nineties were followed up by “Old School,” a meditation on thrash metal that touches on the genre’s punk roots, and which couldn’t help but make me think of the fun hardcore shows I’ve been to. “Wish You Were Dead” and “Wrecking Crew” were the last songs before the encore. D.D. Verni’s bass playing was exceptional throughout the whole show, and thanks to the great mixing I could actually hear what he was doing. The tone he had on the bass was fantastic too, very heavy and perfect for metal—well done, B.C. Rich and Peavy.
The encore consisted of “Deny the Cross,” “Rotten To The Core,” and “Fuck You.” Guitarist Dave Linsk poked fun at the crowd when they wouldn’t chant “fuck you” loud enough, saying it sounded like they all were playing in San Francisco. This song was a really fun ending to a concert that was one of the best and most engaging I’ve been to in a while. During the show, Bobby Blitz yelled to the audience, “we will continue to make noise!” I really hope that Overkill keeps that promise.