Augusta Civic Center
July 11, 2004
(These photos and many others now available for sale. Email: IamKevin@fairwarning.com)
Part four of a five-part series I am doing this week as I look back at the making of Slayer’s Still Reigning DVD. From load in to load out, I was there with the band.
One of my favorite parts of being a rock photographer is the final moments before the show. There is a certain electricity that is present when a band walks from their dressing room to the stage. You can feel the power of this electricity increase with each step as the band gets closer and closer to the stage. The energy must have been contagious because even I got caught up in the moment…I can be seen leading the band out of the dressing room on the DVD’s bonus footage. I had never seen the band more focused for a show than they were that evening…trust me, I have been seeing and shooting them since the early 1980’s. This was their night and their dream was about to be realized.
The intro music rand through the venue and the band exploded onto the stage. Here is the entire set-list for this historic gig:
Intro / Darkness Of Christ
Fight Til Death
Spill The Blood
Dead Skin Mask
South Of Heaven
Angel Of Death
Piece By Piece
Altar Of Sacrifice
As the band began to bring Postmortem to a close I knew it was due or die time. I glanced at the kids that were crushed behind me in the front row and they had no idea what they were about to bear witness to. I only had moments to get ready. The kids behind me looked at me like I was a freak when they saw me wrapping and covering my cameras with a contraption I had built out of cardboard, duct tape, and plastic trash bags. There was no way I was going to chance my camera equipment getting covered in blood. No one really knew how this thing was going to work.
Kerry King and Jeff Hanneman began the screechy, dive-bomby guitar intro to Raining Blood. As Dave Lombardo jumped in with his pounding triple drumbeat, the stage lights began to turn on and off – blackness, bright light, blackness, bright light. Then we saw it, our first glimpse. Just as the stage lights turned on for that brief moment, huge buckets of blood – I am talking gallons and gallons of blood – poured down on the band. It was pure evil. I was sprayed with blood as Tom Araya whipped his head round and round as they roared into the song. Tom and Dave seemed to get the worst of it…they both looked like the skin of their face was cooked and peeled off. Kerry got it pretty bad as well, but his face was still visible.
Surprisingly, Jeff, who was the mastermind of the raining blood idea, was virtually untouched by the blood. Jeff was having some guitar problems during the beginning of the song and walked toward his amp to fix the problem. In doing this, he missed his mark when the gallons of blood were dropped from above. I saw it on his face, he was pissed – and I felt terrible for him. But Jeff was a true professional and continued to perform the song incredibly.
Then exactly on cue, as if they had rehearsed it a million times, the shower of bloody rain began. As Tom screamed out, “Now I shall rain in blood!” and Kerry and Jeff tore into their leads the impossible happened. The venue was raining blood over the stage. It was eerie and demonic, yet it was beautiful. Now the band, including Jeff, were being showered in steady blood-rain and it looked spectacular. For the first time ever, a crowd at a Slayer show were speechless, their eyes were wide open and they jaws were on the floor.
The plan worked perfectly…the blood was contained within the stage, and the crowd stayed completely dry. Flawless. And the rest is Slayer History. As the band and I headed towards the dressing room, I couldn’t help but wonder how Jeff was going to react to the mishap on stage. And, what about the flipside to that – how was the band going to react to Jeff regarding the mishap? Was I about to see a huge Slayer blowout in the dressing room?
Stop by tomorrow as I conclude my weeklong retrospect on Slayer’s Still Reigning DVD.