DNA Lounge, San Francisco
January 29, 2010
To quote the mighty Saint Vitus:
"I can tell by their eyes they're just a bunch of fucking unaware squares.
They can't tell just where I'm at... slice me wide.. I bleed black."
When I walked up to the DNA on this rainy San Francisco night I was struck by a sense of deja vu since it was exactly a year ago plus a day that Amebix flattened the city. The smell of unwashed black denim hit me... and I felt at home. This was the DNA's first show after being shut down for a month by the fascist California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control. Click HERE for the back story about all of the bullshit drama.... and it was cool that their first show back was a historical one like this! Fucking Saint Vitus playing in San Francisco for the first time in, like, FOREVER!
As I was putting my I.D. away, Oakland's own Laudanum were already bludgeoning onstage via their maddeningly great style of Drone / Doom. They really remind me of early Neurosis in that they create a dense, black, and bleak sonic wall of sound that's impossible not to get sucked into... It took me a minute to get my head back after they left the stage... and I'm glad I was able to give props to Becky (drums) after their set at the bar. Oakland is the Black Heart of Metal these days, man.
If Laudanum were the left fist representing Oakland tonight, then local heroes Saviours were the right fist of Oakland that brought the glorious pain; they were the perfect direct support act. The transition from Laudanum's bleak wasteland to Saviours full-tilt Metal boogie groove was perfect... and all the time they've spent on the road over the past year has honed them into a compelling steamroller onstage. When the Saviours put their foot on the monitor it isn't simply a pose... it's them staking claim to the stage with the foot figuratively clamped down on the throat of non-believers. You better start believing, motherfucker.
If you don't know about Saint Vitus I have to say that you're not really part of the Umlaut Nation...sorry... just being honest. Go do your homework and come back to class when you're more prepared. During the break before Saint Vitus came on I realized what a great night it was... DNA reopening and showing off some upgrades (a new main floor!), the local flavor of the bill, and so many old and new friends in the house. It was special, man.
As Saint Vitus walked onstage I was a bit apprehensive that this might end up being "one of those" reunion shows where the old band would simply phone in it and not display any of the original fire that made them legends. I haven't mentioned how the DNA was sold out to the rafters and the excitement in the air around me was thick enough to cut with a knife... and it was special that I was standing with Lori Acid King since I know what Saint Vitus means to her (awww!). The first song was like a blur to me as I got my head around the fact that the band were really onstage.. but then they launched into 'I Bleed Black' as the 2nd song of the set and it was game over, man... game over.
For the next two hours it was like sitting underneath a cement mixer and having glorious volume poured onto my head and soul. Wino's voice was note perfect and you could tell he was *into it* as he grabbed the mic stand to deliver one Saint Vitus classic after another. The legendary bottom end was still anchored by Mark Adams with new drummer Henry Vasquez in the balance. Dave Chandler is technically not the best guitarist, but what he has that most guitarists lack is TONE. His TONE is personal... His TONE is a beast leashed to his heart that does his bidding.. His TONE is so fucking THICK. His TONE scares me (in a good way) down to my core... His TONE inspires me.
For me, the band's performance spiked with an absolutely mesmerizing version of 'Dying Inside'... Is there a more compelling and personal song about battling personal demons? Nope... and watching Wino sing those lyrics again... chills, man..... chills... down... my... spine. "Drinking has wasted my life... and I'm dying inside.."
After such a riveting, magical set I was expecting the band's signature song 'Born Too Late' to be anti-climatic... since it was the song everyone was waiting to here.. and when Wino asked "What song is it you wanna hear?!" I don't think anybody shouted out 'Freebird'... but when they launched into 'Born Too Late' it was like I was hearing the song for the first time again. It's amazing to say but, on this rainy night in San Francisco here in the 21st Century, Saint Vitus sort of changed my life again too. As we made our way back to the car and to Taqueria Can-Cun on Mission for 1:00am burritos I felt really glad and thankful to be alive.
Photo Ray, Crow, Montana Chris, Wexford Girl, The Bassist, Leila, Tscam, Jenn, and Stacy.
I think Vitus shirts were $20... Patches were $5... that's all I noticed. On the way back to the car, some pimply-faced teenagers called me a fag. Saint Vitus, man... Saint Fucking Vitus... Show of the year so far.
"I bleed black..."
Click HERE to see the DNA Lounge's photos from the night.