The crowd had been chanting "Megadeth! Megadeth!" for about a minute Dec. 2, when the stage at the Knitting Factory suddenly went black. A confused rumble echoed through the crowd and a drum beat, somehow inaudible until that moment, overtook the din. The stage flickered to life and there he was: Dave Mustaine, one of metal's central figures.
All the while, Mustaine was throwing down so many notes on his Dean VMNT electric guitar at such volume that it felt like being pelted with hailstones in the back of the concert house.
Dressed in black jeans, a white button-up shirt and his trademark mop of golden hair, Mustaine kept the heavy metal stage antics, head-banging and wide stance guitar playing to a minimum, but was still every bit the thrash legend. His pantheon—Dave Ellefson on bass, the monkish Shawn Drover on drums, and Chris Broderick on guitar—played the parts of rock gods to a "T."
Megadeth's sound was polyphonic. Every band member got his moment in the center stage to give full voice to his part in the band. Broderick's note-flooded guitar barrages would have sounded like speed metal if he'd played slower; and Drover's drumming, the beating heart of every song, erupted when the guitar storm periodically broke.
The energy put off by the band multiplied when Mustaine and Broderick played call-and-response guitar solos. Broderick laid a bloody mess of notes over the drum and bass, paused a beat, and Mustaine would respond in his crisp, methodical style. In that single beat, the audience, reduced to piranhas in the mosh pit near the stage, was caught between Scylla and Charybdis in a whirlpool of sound that sometimes more closely resembled a typhoon of broken glass and tinkling loose change than rock 'n' roll.
It was a line of communication Megadeth opened to the audience, which was encouraged to sing along to the set.