Sunday, June 30, 2013

No Shoes No Service

Quicksand / Mastodon / High On Fire / Saviours / Hot Lunch
Slim's, San Francisco
June 26, 2013

Converse landed in San Francisco to host a series of 5 free shows over 5 nights at Slim's.  Each night showcased a different "sound" or "genre" as defined by the Marketing brains at Converse (and their parent company Nike) I assume.  Civilians had to enter an online lottery for tickets in the weeks leading up to the events; the shows were part of the marketing blitz for the opening of a new Converse store in this fair city.  You have to admit that Converse has balls to totally bite Vans style with this event especially since the latter has worked with some of the featured artists in the past.  In shoes there is no loyalty I guess.  Since the capacity for the shows was capped at 500 the demand to get in was probably pretty high.  The lesson that I learned was this:  Never delete an e-mail address even if it's 3 or 4 years old.  Long story short:  THANKS to that old business associate of mine at Converse for sorting me.  Also big kudos to the Slim's staff who got me inside after I was given incorrect instructions by a Converse rep after I left Will Call.  Anyway, tonight was the "Metal" night. 

I learned later that the guitarist in Hot Lunch was in the early-90's San Francisco band Mensclub.  Interesting.  I didn't recognize him and I only caught the last part of their set.  Mensclub ruled The Mission in the cheap free swinging pre-dotcom days of the early-90's.  Good times. Moving on...

Although 1/2 of Saviours no longer live in The Bay Area, it's always great to see the guys again.  I was glad to see Austin and bassist Carson keeping it real and removing their shirts prior to starting their brief set.  Given the corporate nature of the night the band was only allotted 20 minutes to do their damage and they did it up right.   Boom boom, riffs, solos, and Brent of Mastodon joined them onstage for a Ted Nugent cover. Pretty cool, right? Thankyougoodnight!

The Bay Area flavor of the night was continued next by High On Fire who steamrolled through a fantastic but short set.  'Frost Hammer' ruled the night and how heartwarming was it to be standing at the bar as most of the dudes around me shouted "FROST HAMMER!!" along with Matt?!  VERY!   Given the corporate nature of the night, the band's set was noticeably stopped short by the stage manager as they probably went over their allotted time.  Oh well... 31 minutes of HOF is better than a full set by a lot of other bands, man.  

According to the Umlaut Archives this was my 14th time seeing Mastodon over the years.... It was also the 4th time I've seen them at Slim's.  I have to admit that I was a little giddy about seeing them in a club again.  Seeing the band play their recent songs onstage stripped down without the A/V trappings of their current live show was almost an epiphany.  An 11 song, 45 minute set that was a nice cross section from their song arsenal with 'Dry Bone Valley' being my favorite of the night as I sipped a beer.  Solid.

Besides having 2 of the best local bands on the bill tonight, the local vibe was further exaggerated by the presence of quite a few friends, acquaintances, and band dudes from Death Angel and Acid King.  At one point 'Sucking My Love' by Diamond Head played over the PA in between bands. Nicely done, Converse DJ.

Anyway, the Quicksand reunion after over a decade of inactivity is a big thing to a lot of people; I shrugged my shoulders.  I did see Quicksand twice in 1992 including this show in downtown San Jose:

Nine dollars...
[From the Umlaut Archives]

Anyway, Quicksand were the obvious crowd favorite tonight and a couple of guys seriously lost it when they started playing.  I shrugged my shoulders.  Quicksand sound so dated and I was taken aback by how much they sounded like Jane's Addiction here in the 21st Century.  Oh the 90's...  I bailed early and stopped at Taqueria Cancun to grab a post Rock Show burrito.

Number of Bolt Thrower and Mercyful Fate shirts = 3 and 2 respectively.   There was no band merch for sale but Converse gave out a free event tee.  On the way back to the car, some pimply-faced teenagers called me a fag.   Then 24 hours later it was:

Suicidal Tendencies / Rocket From The Crypt / The Bronx / Ceremony
Slim's, San Francisco
June 27, 2013

Tonight was the "Punk" night.  Prior to the show I met up with Sensory Abuse and Photo Ray at the awesome Cathead's BBQ for food and libations.  Umlaut says visit Cathead's prior to seeing a show at Slim's next time.  Best good number one!   With the Supreme Court's ruling on Prop 8 earlier in the day and Gay Pride weekend approaching the mood on the streets of San Francisco felt downright giddy tonight.

I didn't know anything about Ceremony but evidently they've played Gilman St. in the past... so I guess the obvious question is will they be allowed to play Gilman again now that they've played a Corporate gig?  Oh the politics..  Discuss amongst yourselves.
The Bronx RULE.  That is all.  My favorite band from these 2 shows.  That's all I'm gonna say.  Go see them the next time they come through your town... they'll help you party down.

Vid courtesy of Umlaut's iPhone

As I waited to see Rocket From the Crypt for the first time in 17 years, 'Warrior' by Thin Lizzy played over the PA.  Nicely done, Converse DJ.  It was obvious that the RFTC reunion was a very big deal as the crowd was jammed down front and going nutters with the band from the first note.  The band's infectious San Diego horn infused guitar punk-a-billy was still F-U-N after all these years and they played all the hits.  John is still a charismatic goofball front man and the rest of the band was tight;  I'm sure it helped that drummer Mario has been keeping sharp by playing with OFF!.  A pretty great set and I'm glad I saw RFTC again since they're only playing a few select shows worldwide and it's unclear how long this reunion will last.

The crowd noticeably thinned out during the changeover for Suicidal which I guess shouldn't have been surprising.  Kidz these days probably think they'll get shivved at a Suicidal show like it was 1986.  Mike Muir and his current band took over the stage and surprisingly played 'Institutionalized' only 3 songs into the set.  It was obvious that this was the only Suicidal song the majority of the crowd knew.  Less than 3 songs later literally 1/4 of the crowd left as Mike and the boys played a good version of 'War Inside My Head'.  Maybe all of those people had to meet their parents out front for a ride home or something.  Oh well...  Punks not dead... Just bored I guess.

All in all it was a F-U-N pair of nights as guests of Converse and their parent company Nike.   The shows were well organized and they were FREE so there really is nothing for me to complain about without sounding like a dick. On the way back to the car, some pimply-faced teenagers called me a fag.  For the record, Umlaut doesn't wear Chuck Taylors any longer because I need arch support.  Hope I die before I get old.