I was sixteen years old. Everyone who was anyone was just starting out. Bands like Metallica, Exodus, Megadeth, Anthrax, Sepultura, Testament and Suicidal Tendencies, just to name a few. The metal scene was flourishing thanks to record labels like Metal Blade and Mega Force. Their crowds consisted of maniacal fans known for violently thrashing around in circles or ‘pits’, headbanging to speed metal and stage diving. To be a metal head during the 80’s, was to have truly lived.
My friend and I dressed in our usual, 80’s metal head attire. Spandex, leather boots, gauntlets, spikes, and of course plenty of black eyeliner . The all-ages show had been booked in a quaint little venue called, ‘The Villa Fontana’, which was located in the heart of downtown San Antonio. It was frequently utilized for local metal shows. The stage was rather high; to keep the metal heads at bay I should think. Being a fan who insisted on standing as close to the stage barricade as possible, I knew the side route very well. I assumed the show would be no different than any other. However, I could not have been more wrong. The venue was almost, if not, packed beyond capacity and anyone who left was not allowed back inside. The Villa Fontana was literally a human sauna. We paid $5.00 dollars and upon entering, we gazed out over the sea of people who engulfed the ‘standing room only’ floor . It was going to be a fight to get to the front of the stage, but hell man… it was both Slayer’s!
After local band, Byfist and Austin favorites, Militia both played, S. A. Slayer took the stage. The San Antonio crowd roared in support of their band. Headbanging erupted as Steve Cooper and the boys delivered their signature song, “Prepare to Die”. The crowd raged on as they belted out one song after another. Finally, it came time for Tom Araya and L.A. Slayer to take the stage… and take the stage they did. L.A. Slayer walked out and their first song was “Face The Slayer”, of off the album, Show No Mercy. Within minutes the crowd broke into a massive pit. People were going crazy! Several had come to see them play. Those who were not original fans, left that night as guaranteed fans. They played an absolutely amazing set! Vocally on point, Tom hitting unimaginable notes; Jeff and Kerry as they interchanged, growling guitars solos that literally spoke to the fans; Dave’s amazing drum work; These guys were on fire!
This was to be a pivotal point in the history of metal. After L.A. Slayer finished their set, it was time to vote. San Antonio Slayer came on to the stage. Everyone in the whole place cheered and applauded. Screams and yells filled the venue. L.A. Slayer came out onto the stage and the walls began to shake the windows rattled and people yelled so loud they could be heard two city blocks away. They had won hands down! Slayer kept their name and all was as it should be.
What of S.A. Slayer? Well, that is another story… for another time….. ; )
For Dan Bosma