Heavy metal band Anthrax has played to sold-out stadiums from Tokyo to London in its 30 years of existence, but for three of the five band members, the show at Yankee Stadium on Wednesday, September 14 was special. They got to come home to the Bronx.
Bronxites Charlie Benante, Frank Bello and Rob Caggiano played their first home-borough show in decades when they were part of the Big Four concert at Yankee Stadium with fellow metal legends Metallica, Slayer and Megadeath.
All three are from the northeast Bronx. Benante, the drummer and Bello, bassist grew up in Throggs Neck, while Caggiano, who plays guitar, is from Pelham Parkway.
Benante said it was the closest show he’s played to where he grewup since he was in high school and going to now-defunct clubs like Hole in the Wall and A Man’s Castle in Throggs Neck and Streets in Mount Vernon.
“I remember my sisters had to drive me there, and I would play four sets in a night,” he said. “That’s where I cut my teeth.”
Benante also played battle of the bands competitions at Lehman High School, which he graduated from in 1983. He now lives in the Chicago area.
Caggiano joined the band in 2001 and is several years younger than Benante. His father, Phil Caggiano, still runs an elevator company on East Tremont Avenue. Rob said his father “has been flying the Bronx flag for a long time.”
He played local house parties while growing up, as well as traveling to clubs throughout the entire city.
“As a band in New York back in the day, you had to play (all over) the city. But the Bronx is a very creative place to come from,” he said.
“All my friends lived in Morris Park,” the Fordham Prep alum said. “I was there pretty much every day.”
Both Benante and Caggiano agreed that given the lack of rock clubs around the Bronx, and the city as a whole, compared to when they grew up, as well as the current state of the music business, they would have had no chance at the kind of success they achieved if they were just starting out in the present day.
“There’s no artist development,” said Caggiano, who now lives in Manhattan. “You had A&Rs going to clubs, and artists weren’t really successful until their third or fourth record.
“Springsteen hit it big with Born to Run (his third album), nowadays he would have been dropped,” he said.
“Nowadays if you’re a young artist you would have to be out of your mind to commit to this,” Caggiano said. “But that has to change.”
With album sales down across the board due to the internet, artists are using live shows, such as the one at Yankee Stadium to generate revenue.
“It’s an honor and a dream come true to play at Yankee Stadium,” Caggiano said.
Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. named the day of the Big Four show “Anthrax Day” in the Bronx, in honor of the native sons in Anthrax.
“Worship Music,” the band’s first album of new material since 2003 was released in stores in Tuesday, September 12.