Thursday, January 08, 2015

On This Date: January 8th

Tonight in San Jose, California in 1999: The first Black Sabbath reunion tour with Pantera and..  Incubus??  This was only the 5th show of the tour and they had just played L.A.; Ozzy said from the stage how lame the L.A. crowd had been compared to S.J.. 

As I was making my way to my seat I ran into Steve Von Till and Dave Ed of Neurosis who were sitting in the section next to me. Full circle. Thanks to a last minute ticket switch I ended up with a great seat only one row up from the main floor on the stage left side.  It was my first time seeing the original lineup and I was completely geeked out... and a great 'board feed bootleg emerged from the show as well.  The limited edition boot done by some friends:

It was only the 5th show of the tour and Bill Ward fucked up at the start of 'War Pigs' by coming in way too early.  Awkward... but as I type this I'm listening to the show again after 16 years and for the most part Ward pulled it together for the rest of the set after that.  The band were dialed in and Ozzy sounded great.  Needless to say, Tony and Geezer were godlike.

Ozzy after the opening song 'War Pigs': "I gotta tell you guys.. We just played Los Angeles but you guys fucking kick their asses, man.. This is where it's at!!"

In hindsight it was a pretty emo show for Umlaut since Sabbath are one of my all-time favorite bands and are without a doubt the one band that influenced my head the most in my salad days.  Seeing the original lineup in a packed arena was, like, special.... man.

Sabbath confetti from the show.. Never throw anything away.

"Faeries wear boots.. yeah.. you gotta believe.."

Monday, January 05, 2015

A Sun That Never Sets

Neurosis / Tragedy / Author & Punisher / Kowloon Walled City
Great American Music Hall, San Francisco
December 30, 2014

At this point in Umlaut's life, there are actually a few bands that I've shockingly been following for almost half of my life.. which for you keeping score at home means at least 25 years.  Hope I die before I get old..  Anyway, Neurosis is one of those bands.  It's been profound watching them evolve from playing pizza parlors and warehouses into the elder statesmen and volume icons they are here in the 21st Century.  Trippy, man.  I remember when they were hardcore vegans.  I also remember when they started eating meat again.  Full circle shit, man.

[Photos from the Umlaut Archives]

Top photo:  Steve Von Till and Scott Kelly with the xeroxed Umlaut Issue #2 'zine at Brave New World (R.I.P.), San Francisco circa 1992.   Bottom photo:  Neurosis visuals equipment on tour in 1992 at Spanky's Pizza (!), Orange County, California.

In what's turning into sort of an annual tradition, Neurosis closed out another year with hometown shows (tonight and a New Year's Eve shindig).  Considering that 2/5 of the band now lives out of state and this is about as heartwarming a gesture as you should expect from these dark lords.  Combined with the fact that several old friends who I rarely see in person were also in attendance and it made me glad I had ventured out on this very cold and windy San Francisco night.

I arrived early enough to catch the last part of the opening set by locals Kowloon Walled City.  I've seen the band a couple of times over the past several years and I will admit I wasn't really a fan early on... but they've won me over since then.. although I didn't think tonight was one of the better performances that I've seen by them.  Do I sound like a dick?  If so... sorry.. I honestly didn't mean to.. Anyway...

Next up was the one-man metal shop class come to life that is Author & Punisher.  I was only familiar with A&P by name only but my friend filled me in how it's the work of industrial artist Tristan Stone who made all of the harrowing equipment himself.  Honesty is my only excuse:  I can't imagine anyone listening to A&P at home or in their car.  It's like watching and listening to a drill press... but in a live setting A&P are kind of hypnotic.  My only smart ass suggestion is that it would be, like, totally cool if he manufactured trinkets during the show with the equipment (like maybe those souvenir pressed pennies..) to give out or sell after his set.  Just saying..  Anyway...

The final support act tonight was Tragedy.. and I knew absolutely nothing about them although the members looked like they've probably been to Gilman St... although the Interwebs informed me they're based in Portland.  I did not mind their Punky ways at all.. Anway...

Neurosis are probably the only band who can still turn my head inside out and affect me in the same way as they did in the 20th Century.  Their dark energy has matured and fermented into something that I find positive in a foamy dark way.  It creates a vacuum in my psyche that also pushes my mind out.  Hmm... Does that sound like Hippie Shit? 

I realized early in the set that, although this was around my 30th Neurosis show (dating back to 1991 or so), it was the first time I'd seen them headline a show without their once trademark visuals.  For the newbies:  The band jettisoned the visual side of their live performances in favor of a stripped down vision... and it completely works.  Back in the day the band's visuals were pretty cutting edge and relied on analog equipment like a slide projector and colored film placed on a bicycle rim turned by a film projector (see the photo I posted here).  Fast forward to the 21st Century and any half baked "artist" can "create" a "visual presentation" and use it with their "band" via their laptop.  Technology has ruined so many things by making them too easy, man.  I think Neurosis realized this and took themselves back to their roots... bloody roots:  Sound.. volume.. words.. music.

Opening with the appropriate 'At The End Of The Road' the set hit an early peak with the now vintage maelstrom 'Eye' coming early in the set... but the night's thematic heart came during 'Distill' for me.  It burned.. Tonight was possibly the most understated Neurosis set I've ever seen.  The energy level was a slow simmering darkness instead of the manic heated boiling madness of other shows I've witnessed.  It was mind bending for me in a different way than the past.  It was just an example of how this band can communicate differently within their own realm.  A slow burn destroys as effectively as a flash fire.  Closing the set with the constricting beauty of 'My Heart For Deliverance' (my favorite recent Neurosis song) was beyond perfect.

I didn't do a merch audit.. but I did drop $5 for a Neurosis patch and it was cool that their merch guy said how much he liked Murder In The Front Row.  Right on, man!  On the way back to the car, some pimply-faced teenagers called me a fag.  In between bands there was a Von Till dog pile with some other dudes who I've known for 20+ years and who I first saw Neurosis with back in the hazy Red Hook-drinking days:

It was a brief but special moment.  This was also my final gig of 2014.. which was also the 10th (!!) year I've been ranting in this "blog".  Crazy, man.  The more things change.. the more they stay the same... sometimes. Let's see what 2015 brings...

Saturday, December 27, 2014

World Painted Blood

The other night Umlaut was having dinner with some old friends in The Mission District of San Francisco.  Near the end of the meal one of the friends mentioned how he thought there was a mural nearby that included some old school looking Metalheads.  Odd, right?!  Umlaut lived in The Mission in the early-90's but I had never heard of such a mural but it sounded awesome.

However, my friend couldn't remember exactly where it was and it had been at least 7 or more years since he'd last thought about it.  Since his memory said the mural was sort of on the way back to our cars we headed in that direction... and after walking down a side street we came across a crazy cool mural painted on the side of a building!

It had various scenes of Mission and San Francisco life and seemed to date from 1980's S.F. since there were details like Joe Montana in his full Niners glory depicted... and near the end of the mural were these two dudes:

Heaven & Hell

Show No Mercy

To quote Slayer:  "Trapped in purgatory... A lifeless object alive.."   Of course, The Interwebs was able to reveal the story of this awesome mural.  It was done in 1985 so it does date from the time of the original Old Metal Days of San Francisco!  Amazing!!

Click HERE for the story and location of this piece of San Francisco art history.

To quote Dio-era Black Sabbath:  "If it seems to be real.. It's illusion.."

Sunday, December 07, 2014

Never Mind The Baubles

A year ago Umlaut was in London for Christmas and happened to channel surf onto this amazing documentary on the BBC.   It tells the little known story of a benefit show the Sex Pistols performed for the children of striking firefighters in Huddersfield, England on Christmas Day 1977.  It was also the final show the Pistols would play in England.  Watch it and be amazed and inspired:

From The Guardian's post about the program a year ago:

"As well as documenting what would be the last home stand of one of Britain's most influential groups, Never Mind the Baubles captures a different side of the band. Here are Britain's most notorious punk band putting on daft hats and being kind to children.

As Temple remembers, they arrived in Huddersfield at the height of a moral panic and tabloid frenzy. "To most people they were monsters in the news. But seeing them playing to seven- and eight-year-olds is beautiful. They were a radical band, but there was a lot more heart to that group than people know."  

By December 1977, the Pistols were banned from playing almost anywhere in the UK. "They were even banned from Holiday Inns," says the director. "Like Mary and Joseph."

Meanwhile, the firefighters had been on strike for nine weeks and were struggling to feed their children. A benefit gig was ideal for both sides.

"The cake was the size of a car bonnet and had 'Sex Pistols' written on it," policeman Jez Scott, who had been a 16-year-old punk at the gig, said in 2007. "I got a yellow skateboard with pink wheels – like the Never Mind the Bollocks album cover – by winning the pogoing competition. The gig itself was great, very exciting. I remember they played Bodies, but omitted the swear words because of the children."

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Defenders Of The Faith

Judas Priest / Steel Panther
City National Civic, San Jose, California
November 16, 2014 

Although the Silicon Valley is the land of my birth, I'm always surprised what a ghost town downtown San Jose becomes after 6:00pm on a school night.  However, this was a nice mini-road trip down with 3 good buddies but it was weird to see a show in this building again.  I hadn't set foot inside the Civic since the 80's when the likes of April Wine, Dio, and Iron Maiden played there.  Anyway, if only all shows were this easy:


Steel Panther are awful... I get it.. They're supposed to be funny but I'm not laughing.  All I will say further is that I couldn't understand why they were on this tour...until my friend on the Priest crew informed me that 1 or 2 of the members were in Fight with Rob Halford.  Nepotism uber alles I guess.  Perhaps the worst thing about them being on the bill was the 3 or 4 jock types who came to the show dressed in "Hair Metal" costumes complete with wigs and spandex.  One of them didn't take kindly when I said "Halloween is over.." as they walked past us.  So lame... During Steel Panther's set I wandered into catering... where it was empty.. but it was interesting that probiotics are on the 2014 Priest backstage rider.

Delivering the goods?

I suppose Priest played as solid of a set and song mix as you should expect here in the 21st Century.  The current tour not only features the new album but also celebrates the Defenders Of The Faith album... but as they started my least favorite song of their entire catalog ('Turbo Lover') I went to get a beer and discovered that San Jose beer sales were already cut off... and it was barely halfway through their set!  WTF San Jose...  No beer.. No KK Downing at stage right.. but at least 'Beyond The Realms of Death' came a couple of songs later... and it was a really great version.  That song and 'Devil's Child' reminded me how much Priest meant to me in my Salad Days a million years ago in a suburban bedroom just down the freeway from this venue.

[Photo courtesy of Photo Ray]

I'm not going to nitpick about Priest and this was the 2nd time I've seen the current lineup.  Tonight was a good show and I enjoyed it.  Halford was more animated and sounded better onstage than he has on the past couple of tours.  I will also admit that Richie Faulkner is a really good guitarist and holds his part of Priest 2014 down admirably... but he's not KK.. and the fact that Priest still plays KK's signature song 'Victim Of Changes' with his replacement bothers me... but I said I'm not going to nitpick about Priest.  I had beers.  I had fun.  Priest played songs I like.

 Living After Midnight from stage right..

If you bought one of every Priest merch item you would have paid around $400 I think.  On the way back to the car, some pimply-face kids called us fags.  As mixed as my feelings are about seeing Priest 2014 I caught myself from being too jaded.  I reminded myself that I must pay respects and see my old heroes.  They will not be around forever, man... and they're still better than 95% of the newer crap Metal bands out there today.  O.K.. Old Man rant over.

"Feast your eyes on a whole lot of sin..."

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Black Magic Nights

Slayer / Suicidal Tendencies / Exodus
The Fox Theater, Oakland, California
November 11, 2014

Yeah, these shows were almost 2 weeks ago... but better late than never in the name of this "blog".  Anyway... This year is closing out with a tidal wave of great heavy shows here in The Bay Area (Melvins, Satan, King Diamond) but I have to admit I had been looking forward to this event most of all.  It's not often that a big Metal show rolls into town at a proper venue featuring a bill of this historic caliber... and when was the last time there were 2 sold out nights of Metal in a large indoor venue here... and it wasn't a lame 15 band bill in the local amphitheater and its parking lot.  Impressive.  I will also be honest and admit I got emo thinking about how it's been 30 years since the last time these same 3 bands shared a Bay Area stage at the legendary Day In The Dirt show back in August 1984:

[From the Umlaut Archives]

Of course, getting to the show on a Tuesday meant driving into the teeth of Bay Area rush hour traffic... and it sucked... but it didn't kill me so that's all that matters.  I should come clean and say that I used the commuter lane to get onto The Bay Bridge eventhough I didn't qualify to use it and risked a hefty fine... but I didn't get caught and it probably saved me 45 minutes getting over to the 510.  To quote the headliner:  "Blasting our way through the boundaries of Hell!"   Upon arriving I was pleasantly surprised that, despite it being the first night of the tour, there was zero Will Call drama.  If only all shows were this easy:

Since I arrived later than expected I quickly made my way downstairs to give my regards to the hometown heroes and old friends Exodus before they went onstage... and then watched from stage right as they hit the stage before moving out front.  For the newbies:  Although it might seem cool to watch a band from the side of the stage the sound sucks.  

Anyway, 6 songs was criminally too short of a hometown set for Exodus.  After opening with 2 songs off the new album the local boyz sprinted home with a solid punch of 'Blacklist' into 'Bonded By Blood' into 'Toxic Waltz' and closing with the old warhorse 'Strike Of The Beast'.   Exodus with Zetro back is great too. No more instructing a crowd to do a Wall Of Death but just letting the crowd action happen naturally.  As I said back in July, no disrespect to Dukes, but Zetro brings the East Bay vibe back to Exo that had been missing. The way he talks to a crowd, etc.. 

I guess I'm not a Suicidal For Life because I spent their set downstairs catching up with and chatting with old friends from near and far.   However, for the newbies: Backstage isn't as exciting as you might think.  Tom Araya used the dressing room blender and made a fruit smoothie while chatting.  Metal.

Back upstairs later:  Slayer pulled out an excellent setlist that was a cross section of their catalog but, since I'm having writer's block and still recovering from a flu thing, I think this photo courtesy of Umlaut's iPhone sums up the night accurately:

This dude standing in front of me took his shirt off because Slayer started playing 'Dead Skin Mask'.  SLAAAYEER!

As good as the show was performance wise I was a bit put off by how many hipster types were in the house... I mean the types who wear fashion correct denim vests with "the right" vintage looking band patches but who drunk dance to SLAAAYEER.  Anyway, who am I to judge... It was still a great show.  Then 24 hours later it was... 

Slayer / Suicidal Tendencies / Exodus
The Fox Theater, Oakland, California
November 12, 2014

Tonight I stepped up my game and arrived earlier and was able to watch some of Suicidal's soundcheck.  In the end, they were fucking with me subliminally.

War. Inside. My. Head.

After this I popped back outside to the civilization of downtown Oakland and met some friends for a pre-show dinner at the supernaturally convenient Rudy's Can't Fail.   The vibe at tonight's show was definitely cranked up a couple of notches from the previous evening as the crowd was more Metal, a little more liquored up, and a little more East Bay in general.  It was obvious that the bands picked up on this as well.  The set Exodus played, while again criminally brief, was one of my favorite sets by them in years.

Strike. Of. The. Beast.
[Photo courtesy of Photo Ray]

Again, I proved that I wasn't a Suicidal For Life as I managed to not watch their set.  Homies can bitch slap me and call me a poser the next time you see me, 'kay?  Suicidal still wanted a Pepsi but all this guy wanted was a beer... and I got one.. as well as good hang time with some old friends from near and far again.

Yes, Slayer played a different setlist tonight which was awesome. I took advantage and watched the set from different spots in the venue.

South. Of. Heaven.

Obviously, Slayer 2014 is different than the "classic" version but, as I've said before in this rant space, this lineup is so rooted in history it's profound. Both Gary and Bostaph are from the orig Bay Area Metal scene of the early 80's so the fact OG Bay Area and L.A. have joined together is profoundly full circle. More importantly this lineup has completely jelled and has a vibe that's better than you should hope for post Hanneman and Lombardo. Haters will always hate and complain because that seems to be what Metal fans do best now. Whatever.. The past is the past. Slayer 2014 is fucking great.

 Seasons. In. The. Abyss.

If you bought one of every Slayer merch item you would have paid around $500 I think.  On both nights on the way back to the car, some pimply-faced teenagers called me a fag. All in all, a very great pair of nights in beautiful downtown Oakland amongst old friends and old bands.  Hope I die before I get old.

"Cursed... Black magic night.. We've been struck down.."

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

The Return Of The King

King Diamond 
The Warfield, San Francisco
October 30, 2014

This was quite an epic week in San Francisco! The night before the San Francisco Giants got it done and improbably brought the World Series Championship back to The Bay.  CRAZY!  Ironically, this show also fell within a few days of the 30th Anniversary of Mercyful Fate's first visit to San Francisco:

[From the Umlaut Archives]

If I remember correctly, this was King's first U.S. Tour in 6 years.  Of course, the excitement around this trek was completely justified; the S.F. show was sold out around 2 months in advance.  It's not often a bona fide event like this comes to town.  It was an obvious reminder that, compared to Metal legacy acts like King Diamond, few recent Metal bands have the same level of mystique and history that can turn grown men into screaming little school girls... unless maybe it's Baby Metal. Discuss amongst yourselves.

After a little bit of Will Call drama I found myself in the lobby during the support band surrounded by many old friends, some of whom I've known since we were teenagers.  This included an old Metal penpal named Brian Slagel who still pursues his teenage hobby of putting out records by Metal bands.  It was cool to chat and catch up with Mr. Slagel again.  The entire lobby experience tonight was all a nice full circle moment.  Curiously, members of Rancid were also there.  I guess there wasn't a Punk show tonight?

When the houselights switched off the pent up anticipation, worship, and excitement that everyone in the room had been feeling exploded.  When King appeared onstage a lot of people.. for lack of a better term.. lost their shit.

[Photos courtesy of Photo Ray]

I'll come clean and say I've never been a big fan of King's solo material.  Mercyful Fate were and are one of the most important bands in my life... but I never gravitated towards King's other material as profoundly.  Honesty is my only excuse.  However, the stage show was one of most theatrical Metal performances (in a good way) that you could hope to witness.  Since King is such a larger than life figure, the fact that he was able to bring his full European stage production here in 2014 was nothing short of a blessing.  From the cemetery gates that divided the band from the audience for the first songs, to the simple iconic backdrops, to the excellent multi-level backline it was a show I can only imagine was life changing for the youngest fans in attendance.

 [Photos courtesy of Cable Car]

Combine that with some entertaining theatrical moments with characters such as Grandma (!) during 'Welcome Home' and later her burning during 'Cremation' and it was one of the best value for money shows you could hope for in this day and age.  More Metal shows should have magic tricks onstage IMO!  Of course, on top of all this magic was King and his top notch band of veteran musicians.  They were all solid and King sounded GREAT!  Given his recent health issues, it would be easy to expect King not to be able to perform to the same level of his past and cut him some slack... but there was obviously a reason why he's waited so long to return to the stage.  Recovery.  Rebirth.  His voice was top notch and his charisma was still undeniable... and when he and the band launched into a Mercyful Fate double shot of 'Evil' into 'Come To The Sabbath' the 3,000 or so in attendance.. for lack of a better term.. lost their shit.  As a bonus since it was that time of year, the set also included an especially nice version of 'Halloween' during the encores.

Hail Satan!  Go Giants!!

If you bought one of every King Diamond merch item you would have paid around $300 I think.  On the way back to the car, some pimply-faced teenagers called me a fag.  I don't know what else to say... and I also don't think I said enough.  King has been one of my heroes since before I could buy alcohol legally and it's a special thing to know that one of my heroes is still basically at the top of his game. 

"Grandma, welcome home..  You have been gone for far too long.. Is this a dream?  Are you really back?"

Click HERE to see more of Photo Ray's shots from the night!

Saturday, November 01, 2014

Trial By Fire

Elbo Room, San Francisco
October 25, 2014

My friends, sometimes time travel does exist!  This show was a direct link back to 1983 San Francisco and the original Bay Area Metal Scene.  Although they've played on the East Coast before, this was Satan's first ever U.S. Tour.  The NWOBHM legends were one of the cornerstone bands for that original Bay Area Metal Scene via the tape trading and import records scene; we embraced the band as much as we did Mercyful Fate.  There were probably more bootleg Satan patches and shirts in The Bay Area than anywhere else outside of the band's hometown of Newcastle, England.

Bootleg Satan Patch - Aquatic Park, Berkeley - August 1984
[Photo by Harald O. from Murder In The Front Row]

Tonight was a moment I had been waiting for since 1983 and never thought would happen.  I was penpals with singer Brian Ross back in The Day and even talked to him on the phone although I couldn't really understand his Geordie accent at the time (HA!).  However, it was also bittersweet as there were many ghosts in the room.. including my old friend Sam Kress (R.I.P.). Sam introduced me to Satan.. and it still amazes me that Sam and I and our 'zine Whiplash were thanked on the Court In The Act album. 

Prior to the show I watched Game 4 of the World Series (GIANTS!!) from the comfort of Casa de Umlaut and then headed into The Mission with Photo Ray for the gig.  I was expecting the hipster infused Mission to be an overflow of vomiting post game revelers, but it was not!  Parking was found a mere 2 blocks away and, as I would soon realize, The Metal Godz had much planned for us tonight.

It still surprises me that some bands, even those who have been around a long time, might not comprehend the impact they've had on people.  The first member of Satan who I saw was guitarist Russ Tippins as he was getting out of their van.  When I approached him and asked "Are you Russ?" he answered almost warily with "Yes....." like I was a stalker.   HAHA!   It was all good... and then this happened:

[All photos courtesy of Photo Ray]

Words cannot completely articulate how profound this moment was for me... Full. Fucking. Circle!! Satan.. Whiplash.. I was speechless.. It was a moment that had been in the making since 1983... and I wish that my old buddy and co-editor Sam Kress could have been there with us on that bench on Valencia Street in San Franfuckincisco in 2014.  Amazing.  Except Russ Tippins was MIA for the photo... Oh well.

This show transcended merely being an oldies concert by an old band.  It felt like a high school reunion since SO MANY people who I first met as a teenage Metalhead were there.  SO MANY.  It was pretty emotional to be honest.  It was a moment that brought us all back to when we were pimply-faced Metalheads: The original lineup of Satan onstage in San Francisco!  Hope I die before I get old...  Due to the magnitude of the night I found myself down at the sweaty front as the band launched into 'Trial By Fire' then into 'Blades Of Steel'... and the time space continuum was shattered for the next 75 minutes or so and I was 18 years old again.

Obviously, nostalgia can cause you to look at an event like this through rose-colored glasses and rationalize any shortcomings a band might display.  Let's be honest:  Satan are a band who emerged over 30 years ago and, while it was great that it was all original members, we all know how this scenario usually plays out.  The older version of the band we loved as kidz isn't the same band from our salad days.  People get older and the youthful spirit that fueled them 30 years ago has naturally evaporated over the years.  However...


I was completely floored by how fantastic they were!!  They were NWOBHM legend tight and, dog bless him, Brian Ross and his voice sounded timeless and powerful.  During the set I was surrounded by old friends and at several times during the set we looked at each other and said "Holy shit!" at each other.  It was pretty special to feel 18 years old again in the company of people who I actually knew when I was 18.. back when I had a baby's brain and an old man's heart.

Graeme English (bass) and Sean Taylor (drums) anchoring the band and the twin guitar greatness of Steve Ramsey and Russ Tippins put me right back in my teenage Metalhead bedroom again.  It was an epiphany to discover that Russ Tippins is the unsung Guitar God of my generation!   We never knew who played the guitar solos on specific songs and his live solos transcended any studio recordings.  It was a revelation, man... and it just added to the entire magical nature of Satan finally laying waste to San Francisco after all these years. 

I did not want the set to end.  The instrumental 'Dark Side Of Innocence' was the perfect aural bridge in my head back to the early-80's when life really was more innocent.  I felt like I had drank from the Fountain of Youth and could rage all night with one of my life-defining Metal bands again... but alas.. all things come to an end.  Appropriately the set closed with my fave Satan song 'Alone In The Dock'.. and as the sweaty heat from this blazing fun set hung in the air the night's quintessential moment came when Brian Ross dedicated the set to our departed brother Sam Kress (R.I.P.) before they left the stage.


After the final notes rang out I made my way to the band's dressing room.. and each of the band guys greeted me with a spontaneous bro hug.. and 30 years melted away just like that.  Then when I walked outside I encountered most of the old friends I mentioned before and we all gave each other hugs.  This was as close to a high school reunion as I've ever attended and it was amazing that a Metal show could remind me of that long ago youthful bond again.  I hope the current generation of Metal kidz can have this kind of life affirming Metal moment years from now.  Then maybe some of the newer Metal bands who I dislike so much now will have served a purpose after all. 

As I said at the start of this, time travel does exist. Finally meeting these lads from Newcastle after 30+ years made up for the pain I got from my parents when they got the phone bill in 1983 after I called Brian Ross in Newcastle, England long distance to chat about Metal.  Amazing.

Special THANKS for my Asian Brutha from a different mutha Henry who was part of the Satan crew.

If you bought one of every Satan merch item you would have paid $95.  On the way back to the car, some pimply-faced teenagers called me a fag. When I got home I realized that both of my upper arms were covered in bruises from the crowd action.  I still got it.

Click HERE to see more of Photo Ray's shots from this magical night!

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Night Goat

Great American Music Hall, San Francisco
October 21, 2014

It's an interesting time (again) to be a Melvins fan.  Earlier this year Buzz embarked on a solo trek that was an epiphany for this longtime fan.  Now the band (aka Dale and Buzz), who are the masters of fucking with expectations and completely fluid at reinventing themselves, have joined forces with Pinkus and Leary of the Butthole Surfers for a new album.  Inspired!  Old School!  Not only that but the current Melvins tour has them back onstage as a power trio with Dale and Buzz being joined by Pinkus on bass.  I've been following the Melvins for almost 25 years now and they're the only band who I completely accept whatever they're doing and enjoy it.  I do this without any grain of salt or any rationalizing; they are the only band I don't nitpick about... and I can't say that about any of my other favorite bands. 

Backstage prior to their set I had a sportsmanlike conversation with hardcore Dodgers fan Dale about baseball.  It's cute how 2014 Dodgers fans clutch to the straws about how they won the Western Division... but, I must remind them, it's the Giants who stabbed and slashed their way into the World Series... to which they counter that the Giants are merely a "Wild Card" team... to which I say they don't fully understand 21st Century baseball since getting to the World Series meant the Giants had to win cage match-style games when they counted in THREE do-or-die confrontations with THREE of the leagues other best teams... including the Nationals who had the best regular season record in the MLB and the Cardinals who pretty much humiliated the Dodgers in the NLDS.  What?  Oh right... I guess I should go back to ranting about the Rock Show and not Jocks.  Sorry..  

"SOLD OUT!" said the sign at Will Call and it warmed my heart that the Melvins can still pull in a full but diverse house of followers.  However, it was kind of interesting that the front row tonight was noticeably female dominated.  Discuss amongst yourselves...  As I watched from stage left I could feel the collective heat and humidity coming off of the sold out room combined with the Great American's unfortunate ventilation system.  To paraphrase from that great Southern Rock live album, it felt "hotter than a box in a forest fire".  My first thought early in the set was that it was great to see the Melvins performing as a volume-riffic power trio again.  My second thought was that I was glad the waitress working the room was obviously a Melvins fan.  She took advantage of her workplace efficiently and stopped to watch the band at stage left while making her floor rounds... so I was able to place a beer order with her and not have to go to the other side of the room to the bar.  Hope I die before I get old.

 [Photos courtesy of Photo Ray]

Pinkus on the 4-string brought a funky rocking swing to the bottom end that the band really hasn't had live before.  A cover of the vintage Butthole Surfers song 'Moving To Florida' was a nice nod to Mr. Pinkus and the set also included 2 songs from the new album featuring the Buttholes as well.  Tonight's sonic hammer lasted around 14-songs I believe with the most ancient tune being 'Your Blessened'.  If you must know, my fave song of the evening was the vintage classic 'Night Goat'!  It was the perfect song to feature Pinkus on the 4-string.  If you're a Melvins fan.. you know what I'm talking about.  It also still fascinates me that 'The Bit' is basically the Melvins signature song here in the 21st Century; I guess they can thank Mastodon for that?

There was too much merch and I didn't do a merch audit, but I did score the new 'Night Goat' 7" reissue from AmRep with new badass screen printed art.  On the way back to the car, some pimply-faced teenagers called me a fag.  The Melvins are one of those bands that, as much as I love them, it's hard for me to feel like I have anything "new" left to say about them that I haven't ranted about already.  Seeing a band almost 50 times (according to the Umlaut Archives) will do that I guess... or probably I'm just getting lazy.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Humm Baby

I've been a Giants fan since I was 5.  I've been going to games semi-regularly to religiously for 30 years.  Tonight was the most amazing greatest game I've ever witnessed in person.

I lost count of how many times I said "Holy. Shit." out loud after Morse's HR in the 8th to tie and then after Ishikawa's walk off HR in the bottom of the 9th.  It was the first time the Giants have been sent to the World Series on a walk off HR since Bobby Thomson's "Shot Heard 'Round The World" in 1951. 




Tonight was made even more special because I was also at the September 13th game when the Giants lost 17-0 to the fucking Dodgers; I stayed until the final out with a couple of good friends and beers.  It was the worst home loss in the 131-year history of the Giants.

Yes, I'm afraid at this moment in my life I love baseball more than Metal.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Acid Hype

Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats
Slim's, San Francisco
October 10, 2014

Appropriately, San Francisco was show number 13 of Uncle Acid's 15 show debut U.S. Tour and the anticipation on the Interwebs and in the streets was thick enough to cut with a dull knife.  Quite possibly the most hyped debut trek by a new band since Ghost 2 years ago, right?  To support that notion, this show was sold out a solid month in advance and assholes were asking $100 or more for tickets on Craigslist, etc.

I completely missed Danava because English Bob, Photo Ray, Naked Rob, and Rafa of Black Cobra redirected me from standing in the long Will Call line to across the street for a beer.  Long story short, it was a good hang but it degenerated into a ethical debate with the bar's "DJ" over the fact he calls himself a "DJ" but he was playing all of his music off a MacBook AND had 2 turntables set up only as PROPS.  What. The. Fuck.  Anyway, I walked away and back across the street to Slim's just as this debate heated up.  In hindsight of course I'm bummed I missed Danava.. but oh well.

Just as the clock struck 10:30pm the latest Rock Godz from England walked onto a San Francisco stage for the first time... and the lads lurched into 'Mt. Abraxis' and 'Mind Crawler' from their new album and... much to my surprise... the world did not explode and the time space continuum remained intact.  In fact, reality and perception did not shift for me during Uncle Acid's entire set.  The hype blew into my face and evaporated like so much fog.  Also, the drummer was wearing a Grateful Dead shirt.. which I assumed was a nod to playing in San Francisco... but it wasn't Metal.  Although Umlaut understands because I saw a dozen Dead concerts.  Does that blow my Metal cred?  Oh well...

Shitty iPhone Pic courtesy of Umlaut's iPhone

I'm a big fan of Uncle Acid from their albums but seeing them for the first time in the flesh left me... underwhelmed.  Being in the same room as them didn't open my mind to a new way.  Don't misunderstand me, the band played well given that they've been on the road for the past month in the States.. However, there was no TONE in their sound at all and it was all very clean.  Maybe it was because they were playing on rented equipment for the tour that wasn't dialed into their specs?  I don't know... but it wasn't just me who was brushing the hype dust off their sleeves.  Several people literally said to me during their set "They sound exactly like the album!"  Which, on one hand, is a good thing, because they did sound and perform well... but on the other hand it left me asking the age old question "Why should I see this band live?"   I also watched the show standing with 3/4 of the mighty Orchid and this only heightened my awareness about Uncle Acid's lack of a wall of sound. Anyway, after the show this happened:

When Orchid met Uncle Acid & the Deadbeats for the first time.  A pretty cool moment, man.

For some reason I completely spaced on doing a merch audit tonight, but I was surprised that Uncle Acid did not have more shirt options since they're definitely a "merch" band.  On the way back to the car, some pimply-faced teenagers called me a fag.  I'm sorry to say I only have one foot on the Uncle Acid bandwagon right now.  Hopefully our paths will cross at another venue in the not too distant future and I'll be convinced to take a seat.  In the meantime, my Sabbath and Pentagram albums are staring at me from their shelf..

Sunday, September 28, 2014

He Who Cannot Be Named

Samhain/ Goatwhore / Kyng
The Warfield, San Francisco
September 20, 2014

Tonight was one of only 6 Samhain "reunion" shows scheduled for this year featuring 3/4 of the original band and the guy from Baroness filling in on guitar.  The week prior to the show I listened to Samhain again for the first time in awhile and I was surprised how Goth they sounded... something I guess I never thought about before.  Am I a poser or what?  Anyway, if only all shows were this easy:

This was the magical All Access wristband for Samhain in San Francisco... and then this happened:

Long story short:  Sitting on a dressing room couch next to Glenn as he told anecdotes about Misfits, Samhain, and Danzig Bay Area shows back in the old days was kinda surreal.  He also rattled off a couple of Cliff Burton and Jaymz Hetfield stories. Say what you will about Danzig, he was really cool and genuine to me.  I was surprised how much he remembered.. The Mabuhay.. The On Broadway.. The Stone..etc. He even mentioned the Mabuhay show later onstage.  Anyway...

I guess I should mention the support bands:  To be honest,  I've not listened to much if anything by Kyng but, because of my face time with the headliner, I only saw a sliver of their set as they played a cover of Van Halen's 'Hot For Teacher'.  The Umlaut Archives say that I've seen Goatwhore at least 10x now and if you've seen one of their Satanic sets you've seen them all... which isn't meant to be a negative... but maybe it comes off like it... so maybe it is..  Honesty is my only excuse.   Anyway...

Evidently there was a "no camera" policy in effect at the show but I wasn't aware of it until long after the show was over.  Oooops...

The view from the soundboard

The set was basically the Initium and November Coming Fire albums played in their entirety... which meant 'All Murder, All Guts, All Fun' and 'He-Who-Cannot-Be-Named' got the night's festive energy going early in the set as a result.  One thing that was obvious was how engaged Glenn was performing these songs compared to the most recent Danzig show I saw last year.  Samhain obviously still means alot to him and his demeanor onstage reflected that; he wasn't going through the motions.  

The first half of the show featured Initium with such "hits" as 'Horror Biz' and closing with 'Archangel' featuring Glenn on guitar. The second half of the night focused on November Coming Fire and was actually better.  Original members Steve Zing and London May traded places on bass and drums and it was interesting seeing the different energy each brought to those roles onstage.  London May had more of a swing to his drumming that kicked up the energy a notch more for those songs IMO.

During the set I wondered how many in attendance in the half full venue were there because they knew Samhain songs or because Glenn Danzig was performing.  You have to admit that Samhain is basically Glenn's deep cuts, right?  The night's final song was the Misfits 'Halloween II' which seemed to hit the "Hey! I know this song!" nerve with the majority of the half full venue.  Not that it mattered... I thought it was a solid set and I enjoyed it more than I thought I would.

It's a shame that Glenn has become the public figure that he is now here in the 21st Century; an easy target for ridicule and jokes.  The Misfits and the first couple of Danzig albums still completely hold up in my book... and Samhain is under appreciated.   Still... It's impossible not to laugh at Henry & Glenn Forever.

THANKS to Wedge for sorting me.  I didn't do a merch audit tonight..  On the way back to the car, some pimply-faced teenagers called me a fag. All in all not bad for a Saturday night in San Francisco.