Toxic Holocaust @ Mosquito Rock Bar
San Juan, Puerto Rico
Sunday September 2nd 2012
Review by Titus Isaac
Photography by Fran Jaume
After much disappointment caused by a particular festival, which took place on Saturday November 1st, Toxic Holocaust decided to find a place where they could give a free show the next day, in order to compensate for not being able to play that night.
Toxic Holocaust, along with local band Zafakon, were booked to play that Sunday November 2nd at Mosquito Rock Bar in San Juan. As soon as the news got out, many members of the Puerto Rican scene started contacting each other through the internet, text messages, and phone calls; I know because that night, every person I ran into told me about a "Free Toxic Holocaust gig" set to happen that Sunday.
Next day, during the afternoon, I managed find a few other people and organize a group so that we could drive all the way to San Juan that night (the show was scheduled to begin at 8:00 pm, so we were on a tight schedule). Although Toxic Holocaust’s set had to be cut due to bassist Phil Zeller aka Philthy Gnaast fainting because of the heat, the band played a killer show that night.
Since the group I was with had never been to Mosquito Bar, we had some trouble finding the joint, but then finally got there just in time to catch Toxic Holocaust. Zafakon opened the show, but unfortunately by the time I arrived, their set was over. From what I gathered, the band announced that they were planning on releasing a new record in the near future, tentatively titled “War as a Drug”.
The place was not too big, but it was certainly big enough for a decent mosh pit.
It was basically a two story building with a balcony on the second floor. People from all over the island showed up to watch the event, so Mosquito Rock Bar was definitely packed that night.
It should be noted that inside the place, the heat was unbearable, to say the least. The stage is right next to the entrance door, which made it a little hard to go inside, as people watching the bands would block the way in.
As I made my way towards the bar, there were tables set up with merchandise and Joel Grind was there. He was very friendly towards the fans, and spent most of the night letting fans take pictures with him or signing records. The band bought their merchandise, and they were right there striking up conversations with the fans.
Many on attendance reacted positively to this announcement, and it seemed like the band went over pretty well that day. I would have loved to hear them, but I only caught like the very last song.
Once the band finished their set, literally everyone went outside, because the temperature got too unbearable. From the outside, Toxic Holocaust could be heard setting up their equipment, so I went in as the heat inside still as unbearable as before.
This would play a major factor in the band’s performance that day, since even before the band played a single note, everyone in the room was already sweating.
As the band took the stage, people again gathered around the stage, blocking the entrance, which again, made it a little hard to go in. Joel Grind took the opportunity to mention how this last minute free show was in order to make up for the previous night’s events.
Toxic Holocaust’s set consisted of songs like War is Hell, 666, In the Name of Science, I Am Disease, Endless Armaggeddon, and Wild Dogs. The crowd went crazy right from the start, as a massive mosh pit erupted and bodies flew all over the place.
Crowd surfing started during the intro section to In the Name of Science, and continued during the rest of the set. This is when it began to become harder to stay put as the crowd would push you away every time somebody landed on top of each other, or whenever the mosh pit got more violent. The audience also sang along as the band tore through a great version of War is Hell.
As the band played a blistering rendition of I Am Disease, the crowd went from moshing to headbanging, as the song’s infectious riff and slower tempos provided a bit of a breather. It was also at this point that the heat was officially starting to take toll, as some in the crowd began to gather under the ceiling fans.
Everybody was covered in sweat, and as people flocked to the bar area, we discovered that the place had run out of beer, and that the bar was only serving water. Apparently, since the show was announced on such short notice, there was no chance of replenishing the alcohol stock, and all that was left from the weekend was consumed that night.
As the band played, it was evident that the unbearable heat was getting to bassist Philthy Gnaast, who soldiered on and played the songs until finally fainting. As the fans brought him water, the band announced that they would take a short break. However, concerned over Zeller’s condition, it was decided that the show would stop there. Later, the bassist was doing better, as everyone was outside getting a breath of fresh air.
At this point, the show was over, as even though the band expressed that they wanted to keep on playing, everybody was worried about Phil. Since the place also ran out of alcohol, they decided to close up for the night. Still, in the end, the band had left everybody there feeling more than satisfied with their performance that night. Many, myself included, are looking forward to their return to the island, and this time hopefully through a more efficient production group than the ones who brought the band to the island this time around.
Toxic Holocaust – Setlist:
1. Wild Dogs
2. War Is Hell
3. Reaper’s Grave
4. Death Brings Death
5. In the Name of Science
7.I Am Disease
8. Endless Armageddon
9. The Lord of the Wasteland