We now reflect on one of U.S. metal’s most historic days ever—the April 23 Big Four show in Indio, Calif. In terms of size, this show was on a par with the US Festival show of May 1982, which presented the biggest California hard rock band of that time (Van Halen) and helped launch the next wave of Sunset Strip-based metal. The US Festival was bigger than any other show to date, and it united heavy music fans to hit the mainstream throughout the rest of the ’80s.
Interestingly, it was at that exact same time that another U.S. metal scene was emerging, led by what would much later be called the Big Four. Rather than the overinflated antics of traditional show biz, our music was a convergence of metal, punk and skate cultures called “thrash metal” by the press. Together, with our fans, thrash turned metal on its ear to launch a mass of carnage across the planet in the next decade. So for us, Indio Big Four was our festival for our tribe to unite! What made Indio Big Four such a great day out was the spirit of a sort of “family reunion,” a place for every one of us in the United States to rally continued support for this scene we started almost 30 years ago. Fans, journalists, radio personalities and a plethora of A-list artists who hung with us backstage to celebrate something we all fought the good fight for these past three decades. Thank you to Jackson guitars for flying out two lucky winners from Wisconsin to witness this historical event. My Jackson basses have pronounced an unprecedented musical voice in thrash metal history, and I’m glad we stood side by side on the stage of this incredible day!
Ellefson onstage (left) and with Jackson contest winners (right).