Heavy rains didn’t deter the diehard Anselmo fans from flocking to Trees on Saturday night, September 8th. Philip H. Anselmo and the Illegals joined forces with fellow Housecore Records artist, King Parrot, for the Choosing Mental Illness US Tour. The night was rounded out with local openers, The Crimson Veil, The Black Moriah, and Flesh Hoarder. With a sizable crowd waiting in line before the doors opened, the night promised to be a memorable one, both for the fans and the bands. With numerous tour date cancellations due to Phil having a severe back injury, coupled with what seemed to be absolute silence from the Illegals over the past five years since their debut release, you could feel the anticipation radiating from the crowd.
Hailing from the land down under, King Parrot was the first of the two touring bands to take the stage. The Melbourne, Australia natives are known for their in-your-face live shows and they did not disappoint. The band’s mash-up of punk, grindcore, and thrash was overshadowed by the pure energy of the members. That being said, the crowd didn’t seem to care what the setlist consisted of, nor did I. The songs don’t need to be memorable when a band brings that much stage presence. Vocalist Matthew Young demanded the crowd’s attention with his traditional grindcore vocal approach. Young didn’t hesitate to call out members of the crowd that rubbed him the wrong way. Whether it was not drinking your beer fast enough or being on your cell phone, if Young caught you doing something that he didn’t approve of, you would know. From name calling to even throwing water on people using their phones, Young made sure that all eyes were trained on the stage. Love it or hate it, it was an entertaining set to say the least. If you could look past the stage hijinks, which I don’t know why you would necessarily want to, you would witness a band of Australians jamming through a mediocre grindcore set. Musically the band was on time, the tones were good, and the set flowed well from one song to the next, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to rush out and get their albums. If you’re looking for groundbreaking grind, King Parrot is not where you should start. However, if you’re looking for an entertaining show, catch these dudes when they come to a city near you.
Finally, the moment that the crowd had been waiting for had arrived. The stage was set for Philip H. Anselmo and the Illegals. The curtain drew back and before Phil said his first word into the mic he approached those in the front row. Even though Phil has a home base in Louisiana, the band’s roots run deep in the Dallas area (drummer Joey “Blue” Gonzales calls the DFW area home). Anselmo has also worked with countless other artists from the area over the years. There was definitely a sense of an extended family reunion at the show. The fans were greeted with hand-shakes, fist bumps, and individual thanks for them being there to support. Phil then gave thanks to the rest of the bands on the bill and discussed his support for Foundation 45, a Dallas based suicide prevention support organization that also had a booth set up near the venue entrance. After the outpouring of thanks, the Illegals jumped into an extremely aggressive set.
It appeared that fans who were there just to see Philip Anselmo were a bit puzzled by the performance. This wasn’t your typical Down or Superjoint set that many of the fans appeared to be expecting. The set was chock-full of blast beats, heavy breakdowns, and unrestrained energy. Uncompromised aggression on the stage poured into the crowd as they went into a mosh-pit frenzy in true Texas style. The band is touring in support of their latest release, Choosing Mental Illness as a Virtue. This is the first album that Deleon contributed to and his addition to the band and the energy on stage was well received by his hometown crowd. The band entertained the crowd with a blistering set that included the tracks, “Choosing Mental Illness,” “Bedroom Destroyer,” and others from both of the bands albums. The mix of death, thrash, and grind kept the crowd moving. The floor was in constant motion from start to finish. Phil also brought out his friend Scott Shelby (Warbeast) who wore a Libre mask as the “Mex-ecutioner.” The “Mex-ecutioner” was dethroned after a full-blown wrestling match on stage before getting tossed into the pit.
It was obvious that Philip H. Anselmo and the Illegals were elated to be on stage again. The set ended with an emotionally charged Pantera medley for fallen brothers in metal, Vinnie Paul and Dimebag Darrell, as well as support for Warbeast frontman Bruce Corbitt. The band delivered a well-rounded set that I’m sure will continue to get better as the tour progresses. Phil has definitely expanded his vocal range and delivery over the years and it doesn’t seem like he will be slowing down anytime soon. You’d never know that the band has had so many setbacks if you see the live set. If you’re a fan of anything that Phil has done over the course of his career, you won’t be disappointed if you attend an Illegals show.
– Corey Smith
EDITORS NOTE – We talked to Phil earlier this years to get the low-down on the Illegals latest album, Choosing Mental Illness as a Virtue. Read our interview here.
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