We woke up on a boat in San Diego… my home sweet home. The second day aboard Megadeth’s metal MEGACRUISE started out with Dave Ellefson’s Breakfast Club. He did a little Q & A, told some stories. One of the stories that fascinated me was him talking about doing his ‘Basstory’; there was a show in Fullerton, CA that Chris Poland (of Megadeth) jumped in for a couple songs. I was at that show with Thom Hazaert (co-author), John Bush (of Armored Saint), and Opus Lawrence and Dave Sharpe (of Dead By Wednesday). Chris told Dave he wasn’t sure he remembered how to play the songs, so the two looked up videos on YouTube of kids playing their songs to relearn them. Dave Ellefson had his book, My Life With Deth (co-author Thom Hazaert), and bags of Ellefson Coffee Co. for sale. He happily signed them, took photos and seemed genuinely grateful for everyone that showed up.
The second day aboard Megadeth’s metal MEGACRUISE started out with Dave Ellefson’s Breakfast Club.
I had my coffee and ketones in hand while I met up with everyone for the 5K Fun Run with Luc Carl (Sirius XM Radio Personality for Hair Nation and Ozzy’s Boneyard) and Kiko Louriero (guitarist of Megadeth) down on the beautiful San Diego bay. There may have been about 30 of us. We start walking down off the boat and I found myself in a conversation with Kiko. What is happening, right now?! Most of the group ran, while a few of us were walkers. Luc Carl was kind enough to wait for us walking stragglers. Luc wanted to check out the Midway Museum, so, why not? Let’s roll! I suggested Kansas City BBQ (famous for the jukebox scene in Top Gun) for lunch and did a little shopping at Seaport Village after. Being a tourist for a day in my hometown was fun! There’s so much to do in San Diego… but there was a lot happening on the boat, too! Band Q&As and a photo experience with John 5, Beasto Blanco and Suicidal Tendencies. There was a live DJ at the Pool Stage; I kicked it with a drink by the pool on a boat in San Diego on a gorgeous day with metal blasting.
Testament played at 730pm in the Stardust. I have been a fan since 1989 when Practice What You Preach was released. Testament always plays an intro to build excitement, waiting for the players to come onstage. Old-school style — I love it! I was against the stage, right in front of original guitarist, Eric Peterson. Fan girl in full effect. Chuck Billy was kneeling down to get right in with the fans. I think they hit at least one song from every album. Jose Mangin, THE Metal Ambassador for SiriusXM Octane and Liquid Metal, got a shoutout from Chuck Billy for being such a huge contributor and supporter of the metal scene, helping bands get heard. Jose is a fan first and foremost. You can find him in the crowd most of the time, right in with the rest of us. For me, I think it was one of best performances I’ve ever seen by Testament. They seemed to have had a blast soaking in all the Megacruisers’ energy.
While still in port, John 5 was up on the Pool Stage, but was shut down a few songs in by the SDPD for noise disturbance in the port. Apparently, SDPD threatened to arrest the captain of The Jewel if they didn’t comply! John said he was only here for the one day because he gets seasick, so he apologized for there was nothing they could do. The crowd booed, but remained pretty chill and accepting, especially when they found out the show was moving below deck to The Bliss.
I tried to be everywhere at once, but it was just impossible. David Ellefson’s Mega Jam in the Spinnaker… Metal Church in the Stardust Theater… This was my first time seeing them live and “Watch the Children Pray” live in the theater… so amazing. I heard a lot of excited chatter on the boat about Mike Howe returning as frontman for Metal Church. He was out mingling with everyone — a big smile on his face, taking selfies with fans. I even saw him being fan boy at Armored Saint’s Q & A with his own question for the boys!
I stepped in the elevator with two guys. I always feel weird not knowing a band or their names, but I saw the word ‘Artist’ on their lanyard, so I just sucked up the embarrassment and asked them who they were. It was Mecanix’s bass guitarist Stephane Bedard and drummer Simon Labrecque in the elevator. They said I should come to their show; they have surprises. Done, I’m there. Mecanix is a Megadeth tribute band, complete with crazy wigs (except Stephane, he has his own locks). Guess who I saw side stage… Dave, Kiko and Dirk, who all jumped in with them one at a time. I had to cut out a little early to catch Death Angel on the Pool Stage. The ship crew pulled the gangway, so the police couldn’t come back on, and Death Angel crushed it. I’m pretty sure the sound had been cranked up just a bit louder as a middle finger to the port while we cruised out to sea.
Death Angel got me through some tough times in 1988 and here I am listening to them, having the BEST time of my life 31 years later.
I clearly remember standing there soaking in that moment: I’m here on a boat at sea with my metalhead tribe who understands how utterly fucking amazing this is to be here thrashing to some old-school Death Angel right now. They played “The Moth”, “Seemingly Endless Time”, “Kill as One”. Death Angel got me through some tough times in 1988 and here I am listening to them, having the BEST time of my life 31 years later. Everyone has their stories about different bands and what they mean to them, yet it’s amazing connecting to people that completely understand your deep love for metal.
Karaoke every night was the place to be, which happened until they kicked us out at 4am. That is where I met so many new friends, bonding over singing as loudly as possible to ridiculous songs by Wilson Phillips, Madonna and even Smokey and The Bandit. The whole bar (except my European friend) was singing “We’ve got a Long Way to Go”. He thought we Americans were pretty funny. Some brave soul sang Pantera and Anthrax songs, which were pretty good, forming a mosh pit on the dance floor. I fucking love Metalheads!
Day 2 in the books. Only three more to go!
Photography by Heather Vandemark