Thursday, October 05, 2006

Morbid Tales

Celtic Frost / Sun O))) / Goatwhore / 1349
The Fillmore, San Francisco
October 3, 2006

This was the first time Celtic Frost has toured the U.S. in 17 years. Tickets for The Fillmore went on sale 6 months ago, which was kinda brilliant since a genuine, slow burning hype built up around the show amongst the Old Metal crowd. That hype was ratcheted up a notch when the new Celtic Frost album was released in May and it was fookin' gleat!

The hype came to fruition as I ran into many Old Metal people as soon as I entered the lobby. I sort of recognized one guy wearing a Witchfinder General shirt and he greeted me by name like an old friend... Unfortunately, I had no idea who he was, but we had a good conversation anyway. I felt bad, but it would have been lame to ask his name after I had pretended to know him. Also, for the first time in probably 20 years I was in the same concert venue as John Silence!

We arrived in time to see Goatwhore, who were just as awful as when I saw them 2 months ago with Venom. They committed the cardinal sin of any support act: They mentioned the headliner to win the crowd over ("Are you ready to see Celtic Frost?!!!").

To be honest, I wasn't in the mood for the endless bottom end of Sunn 0))), but it was cool that former Melvins' bassist Mark Deutrom was in the lineup. That being said, Sunn 0))) definitely brought drama to the night with their smoke machine overkill, hooded robes, and effective lighting... although it also says something that 1/2 the crowd cheered and the other 1/2 booed when they left the stage.

Celtic Frost were everything an "old band" should be: seasoned performers with the musical chops and songs to back it up. On top of that, their new material sounds just as relevant as any new band out there. Long story short: Venom and Trivium can't carry Celtic Frost's jock.

At one point Celtic Frost brought the singer from the opening band 1349 out to sing 'The Usurper' (it was 1349's final night on the tour)... 1349 are from Norway and the singer had a genuine Scandinavian Death Metal thing about him (in a good way); he was not a poser.

Best Quote:
Lori Acid King - "Where's he from?"
Me - "He's not from around here."

Trivia: 1349 is the year The Plague was brought to Norway. No matter what you might think about Metal Geeks, most of us tend to be History Geeks as well!

The highlight for me was 'Into The Crypts Of Rays', although Ref would say it was the old Hellhammer song, and John would say it was 'Necromantical Screams' > 'Dawn of Meggido' back-to-back. Discuss amongst yourselves.

This was the 24th gig I've attended this year and I gotta say it was my favorite show of the year (so far). Every year there seems to be one show that reminds me of my roots, a show that reminds me of my true Music Geek nature (for better or worse)... and Celtic Frost were that for me in 2006. By the way, have you heard the new Paul Westerberg soundtrack CD?

Witchfinder General shirts = 2. If you bought one of every Celtic Frost merch item you would have paid around $300. On the way back to the car, some pimply-faced teenagers called us fags. The next day, the Old Metal buzz in the e-mails from friends about the show was Old Metal F-U-N! Long story short: We all had a GREAT time and some of us actually bought merch. I wore my new Celtic Frost shirt to work and met with Japanese business partners while wearing it. METAL.

'Into The Crypts Of Rays' - 1985

Umlaut's Metal brutha Dave provided this insight into the show:

Something you may not have known: The fellow singing for Sunn o))) that night was one of the original frontmen for Mayhem, "Attila". He fronted the band in their heyday of murder, drugs, & suicide. He came in, I believe, after "Dead" blew his brians out. How METAL!!!

How could Umlaut be so clueless about this!? I'm a poser... For the newbies: Mayhem are one of THE legendary Scandinavian Black Metal bands.

Even if you're not into Metal you should read the amazing book Lords Of Chaos by Michael Moynihan and Didrik Soderlind. It's a fascinating look at the Norwegian Black Metal underground, with a focus on the mayhem and murder resulting from the scene's anti-Christian stance. Church burnings A-Go-Go!

All Punks are complete pussies compared to these Norwegian Metalheads.

A report from San Diego by Drunk Ted:

Saw Celtic Frost last night. I was shocked how many people I knew there that were/are closet metal fans! At least half a dozen that I personally know, a couple of bartenders from Live Wire and the Tower Bar too.

Another shock was how nice everyone was there! That includes the band. Friends were to be made everywhere. Drinks were being bought for strangers on more than one occasion.

Waited in line around 8pm to get access to the signing the band was doing. When we got in, the band was nowhere to be seen. I brought my UK copy of Tom's book, "Are You Morbid?" for him to sign. A few other people did the same.

Weird thing about this show was that it was all ages. Last time Celtic Frost came around was almost 20 years ago! So anyone who was underage was most likely not even born last time they came around! Because it was all ages, the bar was upstairs where the kids couldn't go. Not too many kids at the show either.

So before the show, we're at the top bar wondering "Where's the signing? How come they're not here yet?" Was kind of pissed I had to carry the book around all night, so me & my friend went up to this other guy who had the book and made some comment about the signing. He said "It's going on right now, downstairs"! We had just checked not even 5 minutes before.

We ran back down. Sure enough, there they were. Tom & Martin were very, very nice to the fans. As I handed Tom my book, I told him how I interviewed him last time he came here. He said "For real?" I said "Yeah, and you chewed me out for making a face when you mentioned the Cure as an influence". Told him that what I was trying to express was surprise, not disgust. Tom smiled at me and said "I was very young then". I said "I was too." Then he said "Now I'm old." I said "I'm older, but not going to admit being old."

What was really funny was that Ain & Warrior were completely friendly and down to earth talking to fans. But when they were asked to pose for a picture, they did the devil horns and tried to look very mystical and morbid. Sharp contrast to what they were really like.

Goatwhore was great, but completely ruined by the cookie monster vocals. Reminded me of Kreator and Possessed. I had flashbacks to '85. Too bad their singer completely ruined the band.. If I could buy an instrumental CD of theirs, I would've.

The 2nd band played one song. (Sunn?) For about 45 minutes. The same note. Very loud. Like the Melvins, but they only played one note. It actually was pretty cool, but only for the first 20 minutes. I cracked the whole upstairs bar up by yelling "ENCORE" when they finally finished. It was only after 30 minutes that I realized that this whooping sound wasn't a part of their music! Turns out they had set off every single smoke alarm in the place with their fog machine. (Noticed it when I went to the bathroom and the strobe alarm there was going off).

Celtic Frost proved that they were really ahead of their time. All those stoner metal bands owe a great big debt to them! They were great, but I sure would've liked to have heard more of the new songs live. At least they didn't cut the set short this time because of a "riot" (which consisted of 3-4 guys running behind the stage when they last played in San Diego). And Martin Ain looked completely bad ass! I was freaking out on him the whole show.

The show was probably half full. 3-400 out of 700, I'm guessing.


Umlaut's old friend John Silence has posted an excellent review of the San Francisco show:

"A good night out, indeed. It’s hard to compare the 1985 show with the 2006 one. The eighties show had more of an impact on me (and Voivod was better than all of the bands opening for them this time around) but I think this one was probably better. I’ve mellowed out a bit and seen a lot of very different live shows in the intervening years, but this was a very welcome return to the childlike excitement of the old days. Heavy metal is a very potent form of music if it’s done right. Celtic Frost does it right."

Click HERE to read John's complete reaction to the night.

The Feel Good Show of 2006:

Okay, who would have thought Celtic Frost would be the feel good show of the year??! I can't remember the last time there was such a universal post-gig buzz in the Umlaut Coven about a show!

Here's another excellent Frost addendum, this one by Umlaut friend Volume Merchant Ted:

We are taking litigation against an old guard SF merchant who is infringing on our bands rights etc. and I had to be at a mediation in Palo Alto super early..knowing I'd be in suit and tie and have to be alert, coherent, and well spoken, I made the difficult decision to skip the show...this was even more painful cause this four band card was MY hard music dream bill for the year! Unlike Umlaut, I like Goatwhore and LOVE fucking Sunn 0)))))))... have all their releases, a bunch of live stuff, side projects and have seen them with Xasthur as a guest...

Anyway, Uncle Larry, my roommate, works at The Fillmore. I came home the next day and saw a Celtic Frost hoodie hanging on one of the dining room chairs...Larry is not a headbanger but he likes to procure swag at gigs (Stuff We All Get... is a lame acronym, if this is what it in fact stands for, but that's another post)...for some reason I noticed the hoodie was not new, it had no drawstring.... As it also fucking reeked of perfume..I thought Uncle Larry had scored a headbanger chick and brought her back to the nest for some rock and roll RnR....anyway the next night the true story of the hoodie came out as I inquired to hear details of how my roomie bagged a backstage betty at the Celtic Frost gig!

Turns out he was wearing a Slayer workshirt I had given him a bit back (he is sz medium so he is the recipient of more samples than he could ever wear in three lifetimes!) and one of the band members had seen it on him, told him they had never seen it before, and that they attend every Slayer show they can and that they collect Slayer merch!

Larry, being a cool guy (and to be honest, not the biggest Slayer fan) immediately removed the shirt and gave it to the dude. The dude could not fucking believe it and would not take for granted whatsoever that Larry would accept no payment or any other reciprocation...after much earnest and friendly convincing the Celtic Frost dude removed the hoodie and insisted Uncle Larry have it....not the sordid story I was hoping for but seems in keeping with the interview I saw with the band on Headbanger's Ball this guys...they love Slayer, but dude, that fucking cologne has got to go. Some kind of Brut 70's style shit. Damn.

Warrior Mail:

Okay, this post easily rivals the legendary Kaiser R.I.P. for audience participation!

Brad, Umlaut's Old Metal brutha and now an ex-patriot Yank, chimed in all the way from Prague, Czech Republic with his Celtic Frost memories:

I wrote Tom Warrior after the "Triumph of Death" EP by Hellhammer, probably to suggest retirement, I don't remember actually. In early 1985, I was sent a demo/preview cassette of "Morbid Tales" with a hand-written letter from Tom W. thanking me for the support. The preview tracks were good, I bought the album. I was shocked that I liked it so much given how awful Hellhammer was just 2 years prior. Still have the letter and cassette of course.

It all makes sense now. Tom W. was a design arts graduate turned recording artist a-la Chuck D of Public Enemy. Being Swiss he's a natural diplomat. Having higher education he's got a grasp of the deeper meaning in addition to the visceral beauty of well-crafted aggressive music. Somewhere in there he's got a talent for marketing too. He viewed every contact as an opportunity and built up a worldwide audience by doing it the right way. He earned his success and deserves whatever he's got.

Click HERE for some GREAT pics from the San Francisco show (THANKS RAY)!