A Lesson in Metal

Dave Mustaine may just want to have fun with Gigantour, but other participants want to sell records

No longer ignored by summer festival promoters, Tucson will play host to the inaugural Gigantour--the metal festival created by Megadeth frontman Dave Mustaine--this Friday at Casino del Sol's AVA.

Why did Mustaine decide to launch yet another summer metal festival?

"Some people create festivals on a basis to further their careers," Mustaine said during a recent phone interview. "I just wanted to do this festival from the point of view a being a fan."

Gigantour features an intriguing lineup of metal bands who are stylistically all across the board--ideal for curator Mustaine.

"I wanted to play with a bunch of metal bands who have solid musicianship. Even if all the bands playing aren't necessarily speed or thrash metal, they're all real good," he said, adding that band selection was also based on who had new albums out--so they could use Gigantour as a way to promote their upcoming releases.

So the truth comes out: There is some obvious career-furthering involved. But for Tucson metalheads, who really cares? Unlike other traveling summer concert festivals, Gigantour is not some "flavor of the month" package featuring a horde of up-and-coming acts. Besides Megadeth, Gigantour also features Dream Theater, Fear Factory, The Dillinger Escape Plan and Nevermore on its main stage. On the second stage, Life of Agony, Symphony X, Dry Kill Logic and Bobaflex round out the bill. So, instead of a trendy nu-metal festival, Gigantour features the best of thrash, speed, industrial and prog metal out there--a true lesson in metal for those who attend.

Mustaine knows a thing or two about metal fests; he's a veteran of 1991's Clash of the Titans (with Slayer and Anthrax) and the granddaddy of them all--Ozzfest, in 1998.

Mustaine emphasized he's not trying to compete with Ozzy's annual American summer metal festival. "Ozzfest is legendary," Mustaine complimented. "I have the utmost respect for Ozzy and Sharon Osbourne."

The biggest lesson that Mustaine said he learned from Ozzfest when it came to creating Gigantour was to "not take Limp Bizkit." (Well, duh!)

Joining Megadeth on the main stage will be industrial-metal innovators Fear Factory, themselves 1996 and 1999 Ozzfest veterans. Possibly the most aggressive 40 minutes to be heard in a live setting, a Fear Factory set is not to be missed. "This will be a fresh tour with different types of bands," said vocalist Burton C. Bell. "And it does not coincide or compete with Ozzfest." (Jeez, are these people afraid of pissing off the almighty Osbourne clan, or what?)

Bell noted that performing on Gigantour is more like a summer vacation than actual work, since Fear Factory does not have the pressure of headlining. "We're gonna rock out at every show the best way we can, then go mingle with fans," Bell said, adding that the band's main goal is to (career-furthering alert!) promote their upcoming release, Transgression. "When the record is released, we want people to buy it and enjoy it," he said.

Another band that hopes Gigantour will push them toward a bigger audience is Seattle's Nevermore. "We want to play in front of as many people as possible," said Nevermore guitarist Jeff Loomis. "We want to get bigger venue experience; we play the huge festivals in Europe all the time, but Gigantour will be a new learning experience for Nevermore."

Mustaine said that future installments of Gigantour hinge on the success of this year's outing, while admitting, "If things ended tomorrow, I would be very happy with my life right now."

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