Monday, June 11, 2012


Corrosion Of Conformity / Torche / Black Cobra / Gaza
Slim's, San Francisco, California
June 9, 2012

Corrosion Of Conformity are a unique band in my mind because they seem to exist as 2 separate bands: the original "Punk" version and, when Pepper Keenan is involved, the "Metal" version. For the past couple of years the original Animosity era lineup has been touring and they released an excellent new self-titled new album earlier this year.

Prior to the show I was able to hang out with Umlaut hometown brothers Rafa and Jason of Black Cobra. They've been away on tour for the past several months so it was good to catch up with them. They also facilitated me giving C.O.C. a copy of Murder In The Front Row and this moment happened:

"It looks like a text book!" - Mike Dean

I have to say this was my favorite bill of the year so far; the diversity of the volume was pretty inspired compared to the unimaginative and downright boring package tours that have been crisscrossing the continent in recent times. Unfortunately, since I was being a social butterfly, I only managed to catch the last couple of songs of Gaza's angry set. Sorry, guys..

It's always fun to watch Black Cobra play in front of a crowd of mostly non-believers. Although it was amusing that there were no less than 5 photographers along the front of the stage for their set; pretty boys making noise. To be honest, I can't say anything about Black Cobra that I haven't already said in this space before. Tonight was my 15th time seeing them and Jason and Rafa are playing and performing at a higher level these days. The band has been dialed in by constant touring and a commitment forged in volume; I think the boys will have played over 100 shows this year by the end of July. Black Cobra commands a stage better than most bands with twice as many members. The crowd reaction after their 40 minutes indicated their merch guy did a healthy business while they loaded out.. which is how the Rock Show thing is supposed to work.

Photo courtesy of Sensory Abuse

Torche seemed to be the big draw tonight judging by the crowd reaction. Although I was surprised that Slim's was no more than half full on a Saturday night; this bill deserved more than that. Sometimes the San Francisco music scene is annoying in its fickle nature. If Torche are considered a Hipster Metal band then I must be a Hipster because I totally dig them. The songs off their new album translated great to the stage with 'Letting Go' coming across like a call to arms. The set was brutal in an understated way, like getting hit repeatedly with a unicorn print pillow filled with polished stones. Torche songs offer light through volume and I'm completely down with that. The dark thing is being done to death by bands these days. Being loud and hopeful is not a sin if it's done well. For some reason whenever I hear Torche I think of the band Big Country... in a good way... "Come up screaming..".

Photo courtesy of Sensory Abuse

After my Murder In The Front Row moment with Corrosion Of Conformity earlier, I was ready to watch their set remembering they were one of the bands who influenced the original Bay Area Metal scene. Given the current lineup the setlist mainly consisted of the Animosity album and the songs off the band's excellent new self-titled album. They also threw in snippets from songs like 'Vote With A Bullet' into the mix which acted more as a tease than anything else. Given their years on the road and playing small venues like Slim's, it was cool to watch the band's interaction with each other... with Reed all smiles behind the kit, Woody looking like he was having the time of his life playing his beaten up white SG, and Mike leading the charge as he always does. Although C.O.C. absolutely killed it I was surprised, even shocked, by how sedate the audience was for their set. At the end of the set a decent pit finally opened up, but it almost seemed gratuitous at that point... but that wasn't the band's fault. What was up with San Francisco tonight?

Photo courtesy of Sensory Abuse

If you bought one of every C.O.C. merch item you would have paid around $240. On the way back to the car, some pimply-faced teenagers called me a fag. Although the C.O.C. crowd action had been lackluster, it was an unusually warm night in San Francisco and the show ended at an early hour. Instead of going directly home to Casa de Umlaut I made a detour to Taqueria Cancun for a late night burrito. As I approached the counter a dude waiting for his to-go order noticed my Sleep shirt and asked "Did you go to the show the other night?" I said I had and agreed how awesome it had been. A cool moment of Music Geekdom; San Francisco's music scene is not without its charms after all.