"Machine fucking Head! Machine fucking Head! Machine fucking Head!"
As those frequently loud chants reverberated throughout the Aztec Theatre on Monday night, one thing was clear: the guests at the nearby downtown San Antonio hotels were sure to be awakened. Oh well. It's not like they had anything better to do on a Monday night.
For those inside the cavernous and historic venue, "An Evening With Machine Head" was the perfect way to spend the slowest night of the week. A mere four days into their U.S. tour and only 72 hours removed from releasing latest album Catharsis, singer/guitarist Robb Flynn, lead guitarist Phil Demmel, bassist Jared MacEachern and drummer Dave McClain were polished both musically and in white-and-blue denim attire.
McClain, the one-time drummer of early '80s local band S.A. Slayer and Riot offshoot project Narita, enjoyed his first homecoming of sorts since Machine Head visited in 2015. With his former respective bandmates and San Antonio natives Don Van Stavern and Bobby Jarzombek looking on, McClain and his current band unleashed a 21-song program that lasted more than 2 1/2 hours and served as an early alarm clock for nearby tourists and locals hell bent on going to work the next day.
For the moshers and metalheads inside the Aztec, it was business as usual too. Of the headbanging kind. And Machine Head provided plenty of it. Opening with 2003 track "Imperium" before unleashing Catharsis' first tune "Volatile," Machine Head set the tone for a night that those in attendance wouldn't soon forget.
Flynn, known for his outspoken opinions on social media nearly as much as for being the band's founder and frontman, to his credit kept the mood light when he spoke . . . and the music heavy when he didn't. Watch ATM exclusive footage of "Catharsis" and "From This Day" here.
Flynn, in fact, had high praise for the venue: "This is one of our favorite, maybe even THE favorite venue in the U.S. of ours to play. It feels like "Raiders of the Lost Ark!" He also acknowledged the evening's inhabitants by saying, "I have respect for every person who came out on a Monday night to see Machine Head, man!"
With Demmel shredding exit stage right all night long and MacEachern providing a whirling dervish of headbanging while he took care of the low end on bass, Machine Head mowed down the Aztec with other older tracks such as "Now We Die," "Killers and Kings," "Ten Ton Hammer," "Locust" and "Aesthetics of Hate" with newbies "Beyond the Pale," "Behind a Mask" and "Bastards" (setlist in photo gallery at bottom). See Facebook Live footage of "Davidian" here.
McClain, meanwhile, enjoyed the spotlight in his homecoming of sorts with a drum solo as a segue into "Bulldozer" (ATM footage below). For encore "Old," Flynn dedicated the debut-album track "to those who have been seeing us since the White Rabbit."
As a band that formed during the height of the grunge movement in the early '90s that claimed the metal scene as it was known back then, Machine Head could have easily been a short-lived unit. Nearly 25 years later, however, Machine Head isn't just standing tall.
It's taking names and kicking ass.