Iced Earth and Megadeth
Wausau WI, Wed. October 31, 2001
 Review by: Nate Dressel
October 31 is a time of year with many esoteric designations. Known as the Feast of Sekhmet and Bast in Egypt, as Dasehra - the celebration of Rama and Kali’s fight against the demon Ravana in India and the Celtic Feast of the Dead. The “thin veil between worlds” is most commonly referred to as Halloween, the holiday of horror. In the year 2001, it is the night Iced Earth and Megadeth played Shawn’s Bases Loaded in Wausau, Wisconsin, to a crowd inevitably touched by the presence of the Moon during the 13th lunar month - the Moon of the Dead.

This particular night also happened to be the first Full Moon on a Halloween in 47 years! The Full Moon is the Moons most dominant phase, its’ magick affects our state of mind as well as every aspect our lives. And on this special evening the luminescent reflections of the moons mystical influence did not go unnoticed, as I hereby testify.

Nocturnal madness danced into shape as hundreds of moonstruck metal maniacs formed a human snake outside the gates to certain moontallic damnation. Those who failed to purchase advance tickets for the night’s chord crunching terror traveled the twisted line searching for individuals insane enough to give up theirs. While high above Lady Luna beamed more radiant than any of the women in attendance. Not even the craters on her face could take away from her stellar beauty.

Masks and entire costumes were not uncommon; one metal warlock wore a black Danzig skull T-shirt with a Scottish kilt and combat boots. Surprisingly, I didn’t see any witches. Perhaps they were out in the woods performing rituals in honor of their favorite moon goddesses’ or maybe they were busy riding broomsticks in the tour buses?

Mysteriously, the entire mass of moon charged metalheads somehow scrunched into the small square shaped metal building, packing it so you could hardly move let alone make it to the beer stand. The merchandise area was arranged in a rear corner of the room, consisting of three pool tables with boards over the top. Two-by-fours had been nailed across the bathroom doors making it obvious why porta-poddies were set up around the deck. However, because the ground surrounding the deck was sloping so were most of the porta-poddies! A cruel prank perpetuated by the dark moon goddess Circe? Nevertheless, if drink manipulated your balance it was not a healthy proposition to use them; thus bushes and trees were fertilized quite frequently.

Desiring the most potent concert experience possible, I squeezed my way towards the stage before everybody in line was let in and the room was transformed into a giant cursed block of half-melted Wiccan cheese. As I found a spot center stage I joined the other anxious Ice Devils chanting “Iced Earth! Iced Earth!” at the top of my fanboy lungs. Finally the epic ones entered the stage, took their battle positions and broke into “Burning Times.” We screamed and screamed and screamed some more. It was all out metal mayhem under the glorious power of the Full Moon as the horror show began. “Damien” brought on a mass somber headbang with many fists and horn signs thrust high overhead in uniform metalhead fashion.

Following the brooding epic, vocalist Matt Barlow spoke briefly pertaining to Sept. 11th, closing with the retaliatory words, “Vengeance is Mine!” Fans reacted in a very predictive manner – they went even more nuts. Unfortunately for guitarist Jon Schaffer, his footswitch wouldn’t switch back and forth from clean to distortion. Circe again? Despite the problem the band surged forth with lunar powered intensity while Jon and some roadies worked quickly to resolve the problem. Soon Jon was back for the attack as the ritual orgy of violent Moon driven moshing intensified.

After vengeance was served, the introspective darkness of “Dracula” raged wickedly in righteous wrath with a few slaves to the dark projectile vomiting blood. “Ghost of Freedom” took on a new air of meaning with the attack of Sept. 11, having taken place less than two months previous. Everyone, even those who had never heard Iced Earth before, soulfully sang along with the powerful anthemic lyrics /don’t tread on me… live free or die/. Some bravely gave way to tears.

Soon the River Styx called our number and we all climbed on board for the haunting gallop of “Travel in Stygian," epic riffage included. At this point, the beasts in the pit started rocking the boat a little too hard, surrendering all their self-control to the invisible effects of the Moon as they devolved into total self-centered lunatics. Interestingly, the word lunatic is derived from Luna, the word for Moon. Coincidence? I hardly think so.“The Coming Curse” ended a set that was way too short to satisfy my Iced Earth cravings and I know I wasn’t alone in feeling this way.

Eager to meet and hangout with the guys from Iced Earth once again, I only watched about 10–15 minutes of Megadeth’s energetic set. But hey, I have seen them several times before and I was soon to see Al Pitrelli with Trans Siberian Orchestra. However, much to my surprise, the moonlight madness was not yet over. Two security personnel almost tackled me when I walked around the building the wrong way looking for Iced Earths tour bus. Not long after that, some retard asked Jon to sign his stinky mud covered shoe, which Jon did with my silver pen. And to top that off, a security guard head-butted an unruly Megadeth fan about 5 feet in front of Iced Earths tour bus, right behind us!

The moonmania finally came to a conclusion after Megadeth screwed their fans out of an autograph session. Their people had arranged everyone for a meet and greet and told us how they were going to run us through in a single file line. We waited an hour in the freezing cold as the band ate. Then, as we watched in mystified horror, Megadeth’s bus slowly backed out of the parking lot and took off down the road. A few moonmerized maniacs tried to stop the bus from leaving the parking lot and when that failed they got in their cars and chased it down the road.

On the bright side, before the Megadeth abortion, a small ever changing group of Iced Earth fans enjoyed in-depth conversation with Jon Schaffer covering a variety of topics including the World Trade Center attack, Demons and Wizards, Lord of the Rings, the McFarlane Eddie figures and record label bullshit. Matt, Larry, Jimmy, and new drummer Richard Christie came out to chat in the silver light of the night as well. Suffice it to say, the band members of Iced Earth are some of the coolest and nicest that you will ever meet and hanging with them after their incredible performance made my evening simply moontastic.