Thursday, June 07, 2012

Give Me Fire

The Independent, San Francisco
June 3, 2012

From 1981-85 Umlaut was dogmatically and fanatically all about METAL. Although I'd seen Suicidal Tendencies with Slayer a year earlier, the first all Punk show I ever attended was this one back in June 1985:

Crossover A-Go-Go. Tonight's G.B.H. show was only 1 day past the 27th anniversary of that first show! Amazing, right? Ironically, on this same night over in Oakland, Van Halen staggered into town on their geriatric reunion tour. Of course, Van Halen meant alot to me in my Salad Days... but I honestly haven't been a VH fan since 1981. That was the year I discovered Iron Maiden... and it changed everything... which led me on a musical journey that included that night in 1985 when I attended that first Punk show headlined by none other than G.B.H.. Fast forward to the 21st Century and it was a no-brainer that I would choose the $20 G.B.H. ticket over the $200 for Van Halen. Cue some random Eddie Van Halen guitar wank.

The old school energy as G.B.H. took the stage was sharp enough to cut my soul with a knife... and I mean that in a good, life affirming way. The crowd action was steamrolling and the crowd singalongs were heartwarming. As the set stomped through one G.B.H. classic after another it was like traveling back through the years and I returned to a mindset when I wasn't serious about life yet but I was serious about music. I was serious about music and it was all that mattered to me and if the music was aggressive and angry it mattered to me the most. 'Sick Boy', 'Time Bomb', 'Drugs Party In 526'... 'City Baby Attacked By Rats' that went straight into 'City Baby's Revenge'.. 'I Am The Hunted'.. 'Diplomatic Immunity'. Bruising! It's special when you see a veteran band perform their songs and they take you right back to a specific time in your life in a profound way. G.B.H. took me back to that crazy Summer of 1985 immediately, but not just because of the songs. G.B.H. took me back to those days because of the legitimate, angry energy they can still inspire without pandering to nostalgia in any way, shape, or form. Anger can still be an authentic energy even when you're older.

Photo courtesy of Sensory Abuse iPhone

The crowd action during 'Give Me Fire' was as inspiring as any dated Eddie Van Halen guitar solo that was happening over in Oakland at the same moment. This was G.B.H.'s first Bay Area show in almost 4 years and the punks are still 3/4 of the original lineup strong and the drummer has been with them over 15 years. I would also bet ownership of Casa de Umlaut that Colin Abrahall could take both David Lee Roth AND Wolfgang Van Halen out without messing up a single spike of bleached blond hair on his head.

As 'Give Me Fire' started Photo Ray suddenly bolted into the pit action. Woah!! It was an inspiring move and I almost handed my beer to our friend Scott to enter the pit myself... However, I then thought how it would really suck if I turned my ankle in the pit and how it would fuck up my work week. So I held onto my beer and moshed vicariously through Photo Ray and the dozens of other fearless ones. Hope I die before I get old.

As great as the performance was, the most memorable moment of the night came just before G.B.H. came onstage. A guy wearing an old C.O.C. shirt came up and said he reads this blog. He then said his dad was in a band I had written about. I asked what band.. and he said "Y&T".. I asked who his dad was.. and he said "Phil Kennemore". I was speechless for a second. The rest of our brief conversation was profoundly amazing. I told him that his dad was the first "Rock Star" who I ever met and asked for an autograph after a Keystone Palo Alto show (circa 1981). True. R.I.P. Phil... and thank you to his son for giving me a full circle moment like that.

If you bought one of every G.B.H. merch item you would have paid around $240. However, the one aspect of the night where the Punks failed was their merch person left me standing there too long... so I walked away with my $20 still in my pocket. On the way back to the car, some pimply-faced Punks called me a fag. The next shows on the G.B.H. schedule after S.F. were in... Honolulu... Hawaii. That's not very "Atomic Punk"...

Women And Children First Tour
[From the Umlaut Archives]