The third installment of Gigantour, Dave Mustaine's traveling metal circus, had its first of two sold-out shows at New York's Hammerstein Ballroom last night. Never one to blow an entrance, Mustaine opened Megadeth's set standing alone onstage, ripping into "Sleepwalker," the first cut from last year's United Abominations. From then on, the order of business was to thrash as hard as possible for ninety minutes, with items on the agenda including a blistering "Take No Prisoners" and a sneer-heavy "Symphony of Destruction." Mustaine's ginger mop doesn't bob as much as it used to, but his chops were still there — impressive for a guy who had to essentially re-learn his instrument five years ago after suffering nerve damage. The big revelation of the night was newly added lead guitarist Chris Broderick, who made trading shred-heavy lines with Mustaine on "Hangar 18" seem like child's play. And speaking of children, the 1984 mullets several attendees forced upon their spawn likely qualify as a form of child abuse.
Bouncing back from a pair of albums that were light on memorable moments, Sweden's In Flames performed a handful of vicious songs from their latest, A Sense of Purpose. Diehard fans gnashed their teeth at the dearth of pre-2000 material, but new songs "The Mirror's Truth" and "Disconnected" featured enough bite to grab newer ears and likely won back a few of the old ones.
Most attendees in the massive line missed an impressive — if unpleasantly early — set from Oakland's High On Fire, who conjure up as much blood and thunder as Mastodon and do it with only three guys. Phoenix-based youthful Internet buzz band (7 million MySpace views!) Job for a Cowboy followed by showing off solid technical proficiency and was the night's most straightforwardly brutal act, suggesting the band could become pretty noteworthy once its songwriting catches up to its skill.