Exodus – April 15, 2013 – Rex Theatre, Pittsburgh, PA

Wednesday, 24th April 2013

The 2013 installment of the Metal Alliance tour with Anthrax, Exodus, Municipal Waste, High on Fire, and Holy Grail opted to bypass Pittsburgh this year, hitting up neighboring Cleveland instead. Wisely though, the powers-that-be had some of the bands lock in some off dates, which was exactly the case for Exodus’s headlining gig in the ‘ole Burgh. Holy Grail was the only band from the Metal Alliance lineup to join the Bay Area thrashers for the show, making this a fit and trim gig, perhaps just right for a Monday night where upon some folks were still filing their taxes and scratching their heads over what happened in Boston.

The Rex is notoriously loud, probably too loud for its own good, frankly. Earplugs are usually a factor, and the venue’s very lenient alcohol and Mary Jane policies had a few revelers smoking and drinking at the front of the stage. Security just stood by idly, hanging out. This was much to the amusement of the Exodus guys, who were offered several drinks throughout their set, only to turn them down (singer Rob Dukes doesn’t drink and Gary Holt claimed he only drank “expensive” whiskey). There was a preponderance of stray beer cans littering the floor once festivities ended, a good handful of which belong to this scribe’s patron-in-crime for the evening…

Holy Grail did their part in getting the crowd warmed up, having improved considerably from their nascent beginnings as a generic thrash/power act. Touring in support of this year’s Ride the Void, the band’s energetic stage presence matched their obvious technical skills, as guitarists Alex Lee and Eli Santana reeled off multiple dual guitar leads, much to the excitement of the punters up front. New jams such as “Dark Passenger,” “Crosswinds” and “Ride the Void” were moderately enjoyable, even as singer James Paul Luna tried to cut through the venues overwhelming volume swells. Extra kudos to the band for manning their own merch booth and taking the time to talk to every fan that greeted them. Such moves could benefit Holy Grail in the long run.

Without anything new to promote, Exodus has the luxury of being able to do as they please with their setlist, peppering in newer songs (if you want to call 2010 “new”) with their beloved back catalog. “Beyond the Pale” was up first, and its battering-ram tempo (drummer Tom Hunting never lays off the polka) became a bit too much to bear. Once past “Iconoclasm,” the band hit their stride with “Piranha,” “A Lesson in Violence” and set highlight “Blacklist,” where the heavy-as-a-heavy-thing downpicking of Holt and Lee Altus shook the venue’s foundation. Or something like that.

Guests were a plenty for Exodus, as their merch girl Robin handled bass on “Bonded by Blood,” while Holy Grail’s Luna chipped in on “Toxic Waltz.” “Strike of the Beast” closed ceremonies, allowing Municipal Waste throat Tony Forestra to get up and do a verse. Let us not forget Dukes’s always-entertaining stage banter, as he proceeded to call Penguins star Sidney Crosby a “fag” as a show of support for his team of choice, the New York Rangers. Take it from someone who’s spent a considerable amount of time badgering Pittsburgh sports fans: They’re awfully sensitive. All was forgiven, though, and rightfully so – Exodus never fails to entertain.

Exodus official site
Holy Grail official site