Thursday, August 18, 2016

Pimply-Faced Teenagers

Four months ago back on 4/20 (Dude!) Umlaut found himself at Metallica HQ in Marin County, California in front of a professional film crew from Spotify talking about *that band* again.  It was a long afternoon but a fun experience.  The results are launching today as a 4-part, 27 minute long documentary called Metallica: The Early Years as part of Spotify's new Landmark video series.



Take 3...


Honesty is my only excuse:  I've never used Spotify... but everyone I worked with during this project from the company were very nice and appreciative.  Spotify also licensed the use for quite a few photos from Murder In The Front Row for the film which was much appreciated by my co-author Harald and I.


So.. now whenever I see something on the Internets ranting about Spotify destroying the "music industry" or something like that I'll be conflicted and confused.  Anyway, you can watch the first episode on the Spotify Facebook page and all 4 episodes only on the Spotify mobile app (non-paying members have access to them).

https://open.spotify.com/episode/4wKKe8tFK7BCww4qOaThtJ

Click HERE to check 'em out.  No Life 'Til WiFi... 
 

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Chinese Democracy

Guns 'N Roses
AT&T Park, San Francisco
August 9, 2016



One thing led to another and Umlaut found himself with a last minute ticket to this self-proclaimed "Tour Of The Year" a mere 3 hours before start time.  I was not a big Guns 'N Roses fan back in The Day.  Obviously their debut album deserves a place in record collections, and they did torch away the hairspray from L.A. Hair Metal, but after massive success hit they became just another out of touch band to dislike.  Axl jumping off an oil tanker to swim with dolphins in that music video that cost $4 MILLION to make summed it all up.


The most ridiculous Rock music video ever.

Since getting to this show was so easy and it included free parking I put history aside and made it to AT&T Park with enough time to watch the Giants road game from Miami on a television in the Club Level while the opening band called The Struts (who?) did their best to warm up the San Francisco evening.  Ironically I ran into some of the same friends who I would also see at a Slayer show.  Discuss amongst yourselves.  The last time I saw GNR was at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena during the Summer of 1992 when the "support" bands Metallica and Motörhead wiped the stage with them.  My 1992 self asked "What the fuck are you doing here!?"

Dude / Dad: "Where's the escalator?"
Chick / Mom: "I thought we were VIP."
Me: (forehead slap)


Despite the 20+ year old reputation for arriving onstage late, GNR and Axl actually went onstage early tonight.  This must have pissed off the thousands of fans who were still trying to enter the stadium.  For Umlaut it was only annoying as I stood in a bar line as the first song 'It's So Easy' rumbled out of the PA on the field.  The woman behind me in line said "That sounds like them.." and when I confirmed that it was "them" she said "Oh well... I'm not going to rush.. I'm not 20 anymore!"  It should be noted that this Tuesday evening was definitely a Mom & Dad date night and the most un-Rock crowd I've been around at a "Rock" concert in ages.


For all of the hype over this "reunion" tour, and the rationalized modern mathematics that 3 of 5 original band members equals a "reunion", tonight's show was not completely sold out.  It was full to be sure, but I didn't encounter any long lines for anything compared to Metallica in this same venue earlier this year.  Not that I was complaining at all of course, but can we all agree that having reserved seating on the floor for a stadium concert is the worst thing to happen to concerts maybe ever.  Reserved seating killed the arena and stadium concert experience and made it "safe".  Thank dog for Slayer shows.

Surprisingly, I have to admit that Guns 'N Roses were not awful here in 2016.. but I also admit my standards are much lower than they were in 1992.  It's obvious that Axl is in shape again and consistently sounded like "Axl" during the set.. but I didn't see him shimmy once.


"One gourmet CHEEEESE tray.."

For old times sake, Axl broke out the white leather jacket; I wonder if it has its own bus on this tour.  Duff still does the bass player swagger thing better than most.  Slash carries the band by being a solid guitar god type dude onstage.  I have no idea who the other band members are on this "reunion" tour.  Don't talk to the hired help.. No, don't even look at them.

Anyway, I think it's safe to assume that the songs I didn't know were off that Chinese Democracy album.  'Rocket Queen' would be the song I liked the most tonight, but 'Live and Let Die' reminded me how much I hated GNR in 1992.  At one point during their set I traded texts with the guy who so eloquently read their concert rider on camera back in that Summer of '92.  The screams of all the Moms losing their shit as Slash played the intro to 'Sweet Child 'O Mine' was a bit unsettling.  No mosh pits opened up on the floor during 'Out Ta Get Me' which was disappointing. I hope the people who left early during the set closing 'Night Train' were leaving to score smack.  The show closing and final encore 'Paradise City' was good in that "kidz getting crushed to death at Donington '88" way.  The biggest let down of the night was that Slash did not stand on Axl's piano during his solo in 'November Rain'.

Kudos to GNR for having a Dirty Harry themed event t-shirt for San Francisco tonight.  On the way back to the car, some pimply-faced teenagers called me a fag.  The bottom line was I had fun tonight and it was an easy gig for Umlaut to attend.  It was better than spending a Tuesday night on the couch, right?  However, my main thought as I left the stadium was that as Guns 'N Roses were onstage their hometown Dodgers had won their game to move into a tie with the Giants for 1st place in the NL West. Irony is a dish best served cold.


Fuck the Dodgers.

Monday, August 01, 2016

Murder On The Big Screen

Friends of Murder In The Front Row -

We wanted to let you know that production has started on the Murder In The Front Row documentary film. We are working with a director and producer who have a long history and list of credits documenting music and we think they're the perfect filmmakers to tell the story about the birth of our original Bay Area Metal scene. Thanks again for all of the support you’ve given the book and we'll keep you updated as this new project progresses.

Bonded by Blood!

From earlier today: Cliff's dad Ray Burton with Murder. Mr. Burton spent time today being interviewed for the film. We are so honored he was happy to contribute his insight and stories for us.


Sunday, July 31, 2016

South Of Comic-Con

One thing led to another and Umlaut found himself in San Diego for a week working at the iconic global event known as San Diego Comic-Con.  From a nerd fan perspective it must seem like a magical celebration of science fiction, fantasy, horror, and entertainment (oh yeah... and comics).  However, if you're working Comic-Con it's mainly a shit show of long hours, hard work, and humanity on an insane scale in a confined space:


That was the human gridlock outside of our booth because of a Game Of Thrones thing that was literally 100 yards down the aisle.  Comic-Con in Umlaut's world is basically just like any other tradeshow (meetings with partners, customers, and industry friends) so it could be far worse.  At least it wasn't a plumbing tradeshow.  Anyway, the Rock Godz work in mysterious ways and, miraculously, two of my favorite bands had shows in San Diego while I was there... which went a very long way to keeping me sane outside of the work stuff.

SLAAAYEER
July 21, 2016
House Of Blues, San Diego, California



Slayer were participating in Comic-Con 2016 due to their comic collaboration with Dark Horse Comics with this show (I thought I heard $17 tickets were sold first to Comic-Con attendees) and a couple of autograph sessions at the convention.  Metal.. Pretty cool, right?

Upon arrival at the venue there was no Will Call drama, but I didn't have a pass.. Which wasn't that big of a deal since it was such a small venue.  However, one thing led to another and after a couple of text messages I found myself standing at stage right getting a bro hug from that old friend who I've known for over 30 years who now plays with Slayer at stage right.

"BEER"

I'll cut to the chase and say this was the best Slayer performance I've seen in recent years, certainly during the post-Hanneman era.  I would need to consult the Umlaut Archives, but I can't remember the last time I saw SLAAAYEER in such a small venue (1,000 capacity).  When I arrived the room was already packed, drunk, and the lack of ventilation made the floor slippery from the condensation and spilled beer.  Perfect.. and the setlist was a SOLID 18 songs.. All killer.  No filler. 

"TEA"

Also, the stripped down stage with no production outside of lighting jacked up the vintage atmosphere as well.  The songs and performance ruled on this night, with the band having a loose gunslinger quality onstage that fed profoundly off the drunk Thursday night crowd.  On top of that, Tom was downright chatty between songs.  Clearly, a happy Slayer is not a bad thing.. sometimes.

Adding to the old school vibe, a punter spit on Tom so he stopped the set to confront the asshole... which led to a guy down front getting beaten by dudes in the crowd and then dragged over the barrier to be tossed out.  Hopefully it was the right guy and not some innocent dude... SLAAAYEER!  The show was delayed another time because of the wave of drunken humanity coming over the barrier on the stage left side.   A SLAAAYEER show should not be any other way and it made my heart happy that it can still feel like a dangerous place.  The only Metal band that still matters?  On this night I would say YES.

Oh... and this is what happens when your old friend flicks his pick at you after his band played 'Angel Of Death':


Adorable, right?!

Seeing a show in a foreign city meant I had to "prove" my cred:  On my way out, some smart ass San Diego Metal guy noticed my Maiden - 'Number Of The Beast' tee and pointedly asked me "What's your favorite Maiden song!!?"  Without missing a beat I said "Prowler..." and kept walking and I heard him say to his buddies "I didn't expect that..."  Fuck you too, dude.

After the show I literally tried 3 times to get a Lyft and Uber ride to go meet up with my co-workers, but all of them failed.  I ended up going old school with a reliable cab and was informed Lyft and Uber drivers usually don't pick up from the House Of Blues after shows because they're afraid of trouble.  Noted.

A perfect night.

Then 24 hours later it was...

Boris / Earth
July 22, 2016
The Casbah, San Diego, California



According to the Umlaut Archives, I hadn't been inside The Casbah since 1994 when I was on a brief California tour with the Melvins and Acid King.  I realized I'm working for the right company when the common band between myself and 7 co-workers is Boris and we all geeked out that the band were playing while we were in San Diego.  The anticipation for the show made the pummeling work day at Comic-Con that much easier.


The Casbah felt like entering a time warp back to the early-90's, when venues like this ruled my world; it felt familiar.  Honesty is my only excuse and I have to admit I wasn't into Earth tonight... or at least my head wasn't into them.  I spent most of their set leaning against the FOH area waiting for the Japanese to come onstage. Sorry, Earth.. It wasn't you.. It was me.

Shortly before Boris started their set, a guy in a wheelchair made his way to the front and everyone let him through so he could be against the stage in front of Wata.  It was very cool and I ended up standing directly behind him with the the handlebars of his chair ending up on either side of me.. which ended up being both a blessing and a curse as the show progressed.

Tonight was the first show of U.S. Tour and for 90 minutes Boris leveled San Diego with their wall of volume and it was by far my favorite time seeing them.  On this tour the band is playing their seminal 2006 album 'Pink' in its entirety and the crowd's familiarity with the material gave the night an extra boost of energy. 

Phone pics by Joe and Brandon 

The crowd action got a little rough (I would say a 5 on a 10 scale) and it was a challenge a couple of times keeping the overzealous punters from crashing into my wheelchair-bound friend.  I ended up teaming up with the guy standing to my right and we did our best to run interference, which ended up being really cool in that unspoken concert brotherhood way.  We didn't say a word to each other all night, just helped out, and at the end of the set did the bro handshake and that was it.  It was an experience that inspired me to remember that seeing bands live is still my favorite thing... next to Giants baseball games of course.

However, seeing a show in a foreign city meant I had to "prove" my cred: I was wearing a Motörhead  - 'Iron Fist' tee and I know every other guy wearing a Motörhead tee thought I was a poser.  Fuck you too, dudes.

After working the combat zone that is Comic-Con, with another 2 1/2 days to go, Boris was the exact kind of head cleaning I needed.  Volume blasting the nerd slime from my brain.  A perfect night. Following the show my co-workers and I wandered around looking for late night food and found some shitty, over-priced pizza place that served its purpose.  We just had to ignore the nod time guy passed out in the booth next to us.  Lock 'N Loll.

Since I no longer work in merch, I didn't do a merch audit.  On the way back to the Bay Area, some pimply-faced teenagers called me a fag on the plane.  For the record, the "best" costume I saw at Comic-Con 2016 was an overweight Hispanic dude dressed as a Japanese anime girl.. complete with short skirt and ankle socks.  You can't unsee that level of wrong.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Don't Sweat It. Get It Back To You.


It's taken me awhile to realize that Lemmy's death affected me more than I realized.  This week will mark 6 months to the day that he left this mortal coil.. and it's still very weird that he and his band no longer roam the Earth.  Things seem boring now.  Trivia: The "Motörhead Delivers" design is from the final tour last year and was based on a sketch that Lemmy did himself.


I attended Lemmy's 70th birthday party in December.  I attended his funeral in January.  The emotional swing and magnitude of both events was obviously profound.  To be invited to both events celebrating someone who had been my hero since I was a teenager was mind blowing and I did not, and never will, take the honor for granted.  His funeral and the private reception afterwards was a sad, surreal, and amazing experience.  I honestly can't imagine ever visiting The Rainbow again.

Ironically, both Lemmy events coincided with the first "career" change I've experienced in almost a decade.  However, The Rock Godz work in mysterious ways, and as one door closed another one opened for me.  I'm now in a different (but also not that different) part of the "entertainment" industry.  Thankfully it is one that is more rational and stress free than my recent past professional life.  I'd like to think my Karma Bank deposits over the years finally paid off... and my colleagues now include such badass dudes as Yeti Wing Kong.


All of this being said, nothing has been inspiring me this year.  Yes, I've still been hitting gigs fairly regularly.. but I've also passed on a good number as well. For the record I've been at these shows so far in 2016:

January:
  • Rancid / OFF! / The Interrupters - The Warfield
  • Metal Allegiance - The Whiskey, Los Angeles, California
  • Mastodon - The Chapel
  • Venom Inc. - DNA Lounge
February:
  • Metallica  - AT&T Park
  • Black Sabbath / Rival Sons - SAP Center, San Jose, California
  • The Mummies - Elbo Room (27th Anniversary Show)
  • Megadeth / Suicidal Tendencies / Children Of Bodom - The Warfield
March:
  • Neurosis / Sleep / Vhol - The Regency
  • Melvins / Dusted Angel - The Ritz, San Jose, California (Pre-tour warm up show)
  • Slayer / Testament / Carcass - The Warfield (2 nights)
  • Satan / Night Demon / Hellfire - Elbo Room
  • Abbath / High On Fire / Skeletonwitch / Tribulation - The Regency (Decibel Tour)
  • Iggy Pop - The Masonic
April:
  • Metallica - Rasputin's Records, Berkeley, California (Record Store Day) 
  • Saviours / Ides Of Gemini / War Cloud - The Chapel
May:
  • Napalm Death / Melvins / Melt Banana - Slim's
  • The Cure - Shoreline Amphitheatre, Mountain View, California
June:
  • Armored Saint / Metal  Church - DNA Lounge
I haven't been a recluse, but I also haven't been motivated to write about much.  I had the epiphany that posting on my personal social media has marginalized the "creativity" I used to channel into this space.  Cutting back on that white noise posting chatter needs to happen I guess.  There were definitely events that I should have captured here.. THE major one was Record Store Day 2016 that featured Metallica performing live at Rasputin's in Berkeley and immediately afterward hosting a private party for invited guests at 3132 Carlson Blvd.. aka The Metallica Mansion.


The party was to thank those old friends and associates who helped the band with the massive reissues of Kill 'Em All and Ride The Lightning.  At some point I intend to document my involvement in this project, which began with me sitting at a kitchen table with Jaymz and Larz over a year earlier and them revealing their reissue plans and basically hiring me to be a consultant on them.  Full circle.  Anyway, until I do that they say a picture is worth 1,000 words... so here's 4,000 words to hold you over about this.

Top photo by the teenage me:  December 28, 1982.  Bottom photo by the adult me:  April 16, 2016:

 
Two Motörhead fans recreating that photo from Summer 1983 taken in that exact same spot:




If you really need to know what happened on that magical day and night right now, click HERE for what the band posted about it. I'll get around to documenting the profoundly full circle experience of being involved with the reissues.. even though it's already old news.

 
Truth be told, baseball is the only thing I really give a shit about at the moment... and I'm annually obsessed with the San Francisco Giants at this time of the year anyway but I'm more ratcheted up this season because it's also the 30th Anniversary of the amazing 1986 team.  That 1986 team is my favorite Giants team ever.



Anyway, that's basically where my head has been this year so far.  I needed a reset... and I'm not sure I've gotten one yet.  On the way back to the blog, some pimply-faced teenagers called me a fag.  This space has been running since 2004... 12 (twelve!) fucking years of ranting about shit.  There are some major things in the works.. some happening soon.. others happening further down the road.  All are pretty fucking cool.


Eventually I'll remember how to put words together in an interesting way again.  Hopefully sooner than later.  To quote Motörhead:  "Don't sweat it.  Get it back to you."

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Pain Of Mind

Neurosis / Sleep / Vhöl
The Regency, San Francisco
March 4, 2016


It's funny that The Bay Area is revered for its Thrash Metal history but there's another era here that was just as influential on the generation of Metal that came after the Thrash scene that gave the world bands like Neurosis and Sleep.  Echoing what Metallica did a few years back, local heroes and icons Neurosis celebrated their 30th Anniversary with 3 sold out hometown shows featuring support from bands who have been their friends and comrades over the years.  The magnitude of this event was simply shown by how many people traveled from out of state and from far and wide to attend.  Tonight's opening night bill was the most epic and the most symbolic of the band's Bay Area roots with their brothers Al and Matt of Sleep (with Jason Neurosis now on drums of course) and Vhöl, a band featuring veteran musicians from such beloved bands as Ludicra, Hammers Of Misfortune, and Yob.

I've known Neurosis for around 25 of their 30 years and they are a very important band to me... Not only because of their music and vision.. but because I spent a good amount of time with them in those early years.. Hearing early demos of what was to become the Souls At Zero album at Steve VonTill's house in San Jose after he served the first vegan meal I'd ever had (here in the 21st Century neither one of us is vegan).  Going on tour with them a couple of times including a legendary night of debauchery and mayhem in Tijuana, Mexico.  Watching the Metal mainstream via OzzFest try to assimilate them and Neurosis deciding not to go towards that light but instead building an independent empire for themselves.  Neurosis is one of the few "old" bands who still blows my mind and reminds me of the mayhem I experienced seeing them with smelly crusties at random shitty venues and pizza parlors back in the days long before The Internet.  According to the Umlaut Archives tonight was around my 25th Neurosis show. 

Before the gig I stopped at a work function to celebrate the opening of a new store.  I had a good but brief time with my new co-workers over complimentary Lagunitas... and with cool stuff like this hanging on the walls around us:


Then I made a polite early exit and made my way across town to The Big Rock Show.
 
In surgically precise fashion I found a parking space across the street from the venue and inside it was old school style gathering of the tribe.  Many old friends from far and near.  It was good to see that kid who used to work at Tower Records in Mountain View who always wanted to talk about Black Sabbath with us... and who would bring his bass to work so he could practice on his breaks.. and then who formed a band which we thought was adorable.. and then he told us about the band and how the band was called Sleep.. and then he grew up, grew a beard, and became an icon.


It's a reassuring thing to bro-hug Al every couple of years.. our Stoner Rock Tiny Dancer.

It was a big deal to me that Vhöl were on the bill.  I believe tonight was only their 10th show ever and the 2nd time I've seen them... and their most recent sophomore album is a revelation.  Obviously I was initially drawn to them because the band is made up of members of some of my favorite bands like Ludicra and Yob.. but the new album is a diverse hammer of progressive punk-tinged volume that translated well onstage.  While members of the band disagreed with me when I saw them after their set I honestly thought they killed it.  So there.

 Vhöl 
[Underwhelming photo courtesy of Umlaut's iPhone]

As much as tonight was about celebrating Neurosis, honesty compels me to say that Sleep owned this Friday night for me.   I think it had to do with them playing a rare support role and lumbering onstage to deliver their riffage in honor of their old friends.  ‘Dragonaut’ live never gets old.  It’s still weird that Sleep are now like the sage old wise men.  It seems like only yesterday they were those young and precocious weed smoke infused scamps.  Sleep played all of the (bong) hits and it was trippy watching them be an opening band again.. in a great way of course.

Sleep
[Underwhelming photo courtesy of Umlaut's iPhone]

It was undoubtedly a huge moment for Neurosis to kick off their 30th year celebration in front of a sold out and rabid hometown audience.  The guys appeared onstage like a black fog off San Francisco Bay and launched into ‘Lost’ which I believe they had not played live in almost 17 years. Damn..  but as fanboy great as that was the set took a complete u-turn back to the future as they dropped nostalgia bombs from the Pain Of Mind album onto the hometown crowd.  Songs that had not been played in 20+ years lifted the event to another level.

When The Regency is sold out and packed it's possibly the most uncomfortable sweaty venue in The Bay Area... which only added to the dense sensory atmosphere.  There are some who lament that Neurosis have abandoned the visual side of their live shows.. and I get that.. because it's what made them the "Pink Floyd" of the dark underground.  I miss that aspect of the band's creativity to a certain extent... but now as the years continue to march on I think it's more appropriate that the band uses their music and audio aura to immerse a crowd.  You cannot be lazy at a Neurosis show now.  You're either paying attention or you should not be there.  I was almost brought to tears when they launched into the vintage strain of 'Takeahnase' and their equally vintage cover of Joy Division's 'Day Of The Lords' rang even truer now.   When it was all said and done.. 13 songs.. 2 hours.. and 30 years came back around full circle for Night 1 of this 3-night hometown stand.  The other nights just weren't in the cards for Umlaut and I was fine with that because this was the bill I "needed" to see and I'm glad I did.


Since I no longer work in the merch biz I didn't do a merch audit; change is good.  However, the merch line was hella long all night but the event screenprint was only $20.  On the way back to the car, some pimply-faced teenagers called me fag.  In hindsight I realize it's not very common to follow a band for 20 or 30 years of your life.  For Neurosis to still be around and completely relevant and with their integrity intact is something to behold.  No seed will grow of this barren Earth, like, forever, man..

Monday, February 15, 2016

Home Field Advantage

Metallica
AT&T Park, San Francisco, California
February 6, 2016


I know.. I know.. It's been almost 2 weeks since this show.. but better late than never.  Long story short since this is old news:  There were some who thought Metallica should have played the clusterfuck that is the Super Bowl halftime show since it was being hosted here in The Bay Area.  Yada yada...It didn't happen and instead they were booked into playing their own show at AT&T Park as part of the festivities surrounding the game.  It would be Metallica's first proper non-festival, non-fan club only, non-corporate event headlining show on their Bay Area home turf in 7 years.

The show sold out in 28 minutes.

Fast forward:  The band did their soundcheck the night before the show in front of around 300 friends and fan club members.  I've seen a couple of Metallica tour rehearsals in years past but it was interesting to attend this; Umlaut tends to geek out on the production side of concerts in his old age.  Obviously it was pretty cool to see a glimpse of the "nuts and bolts" side of a huge Lock 'N Loll show so intimately without thousands of drunk fans falling into me.  I arrived at the designated time and, long story short, found myself inside the stadium ahead of most of the guests.. which really didn't matter.. but it was still a nice experience.


The band ran through around an hour or so of songs here and there, but it was really about them working out stage cues and other entertainment details of the show.   Trivial: AT&T Park is only 2 miles from where the teenage me took the following photo back in the last century:

The Stone, San Francisco - March 5, 1983
[Photo by the teenage Umlaut - From the Umlaut Archives]

Every now and then I still trip out on how far Metallica have come from that homemade plywood drum riser.  Crazy, right?   Anyway, probably my favorite moment of the entire weekend was finding myself alone as the only non-crew person in The Snakepit directly in front of the stage as the sound was checked:

Umlaut View of the Stage

Stage View of Umlaut
[This photo courtesy of Jeff Yeager / Metallica.com]

How this happened I kind of have no idea.. but it was special.. and also kind of awkward when I made eye contact with the various members of the band as they made there way around the pit's ramp.  Cue 'One'.   This also happened:


Is it baseball yet?!


The next day was the big Rock Show and the area around AT&T was buzzing and crowded like a Giants game day on steroids.  As I approached the stadium it was surreal seeing thousands of people wearing Metallica t-shirts on the streets with thousands of people wearing various NFL team jerseys and gear.  It made me realize that San Francisco was literally the center of the professional sports world at that moment.  It's too bad the Niners suck so bad these days.

Anyway, long story short since this show is old news at this point, the evening for me was like a high school reunion as I saw friends old and new from near and far.  One thing led to another and I found myself in the deepest bowels of the stadium in the dressing room area... where there was a really amazing art piece on display that was a gift to the band from the promoter:


... but, aside from grabbing some cold water bottles from a 'fridge and some snack items from the catering table, this is pretty much as exciting as backstage got:


However, one exciting moment did happen when a trio of SFPD officers with a BOMB SNIFFING DOG entered the dressing room area to make sure our homeland security was secure.  After some tense moments of "searching" all they found was Sammy Hagar.. who posed for selfies with them and the dog.  Thank you for your service.


Fast forward:  One thing led to another (again) and I found myself back in The Snakepit in front of the stage.  This time there were around 300 other folks with me while another 45,000 or so packed the stadium behind and on either side of us.  Obviously, unlike the night before, I was not alone but it was once again special as I was standing with a half dozen or so old friends this time.  My favorite moment of a Metallica show is when the houselights go off after a traditional old school song from our salad days is played over the PA (that song tonight was 'The Boys Are Back In Town') and they start 'The Ecstasy Of Gold' intro tape accompanied by The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly footage on the screens.  The fact that they've used this same intro tape since literally Day One back in the clubs at their first shows still gets me emotional.  Tradition, man..  Then they stormed onstage with 'Creeping Death' and for the next 2 1/2 hours Metallica owned San Francisco lock, stock, and barrel as hometown heroes should.


Long story short since this show is old news at this point (you can read legit media outlet reviews about the show on The Internets.. Google it..), but my favorite song of the show was the first encore of 'Whiskey In The Jar' dedicated to Cliff that featured Kirk playing the iconic Greenie Les Paul onstage.


So cool... and the other highlight for Umlaut were the heartfelt things each band member said to the hometown crowd after the final encore ("I was born 5 miles from here!" - KRK).  I think it was smoke from the fireworks or something in my eyes... Home cooking always rules, man.

If you bought one of every Metallica merch item you would have spent around $500.  On the way back to the car, some pimply-faced football fans called me a fag.. but before I returned to the car this happened:   One thing led to another (again) and I found myself at the After Show party not far from the stadium at a restaurant called Tres with a couple of hundred other folks who had the required wristband.   The atmosphere was extremely bubbly given the open taco and alcohol bars and it was a nice way to end the weekend with the old friends in attendance.  Yes, band members were there but THE Rock Star moment of the weekend happened when my San Francisco Giants fanboy brothers and I worked up the courage to approach Larry Baer.


For the newbies:  Without Mr. Baer there would be not be an AT&T Park, 3 championships in 5 years, etc. etc. He is also a born and bred San Franciscan who knows all about and appreciates local roots.  The best part was being about to thank him for everything he's done... and despite our initial nervousness, Larry could not have been cooler!  He even said "I like your shirt.." when he noticed my bootleg Giants Misfits tee. He even adjusted his Giants World Series ring to make sure it showed in the photo.  

Honesty is my only excuse:  I care more about baseball than I do about Metal at this point in my life.   Is it baseball yet?!  This year's annual Metallica Night at the San Francisco Giants game is May 6th... and it cannot come soon enough.  Hit 'Em All!