San Jose State Event Center, San Jose, California
Roctober 30, 2013
This might have been the last show I go to in San Jose on a week night. It took Umlaut 2 1/2 HOURS from driveway to parking space; this drive should only take 45 minutes given the distance. Rush hour traffic through Silicon Valley here in the 21st Century is ridiculous. Anyway... If only all shows were this easy:
Once inside I had to take care of a work related task that basically involved me carrying a 30 pound box across the San Jose State campus... but after that it was Metal. Unfortunately, I missed Gojira because this was happening:
For the newbies that would be 2/5 of the Bonded By Blood-era Exodus lineup (Rick Hunolt, Tom Hunting) and Mr. Tom Araya. Crazy how time flies. It's funny how a Slayer show is like a high school reunion for me now. Double digit old friends are always in the house and the vibe is very tribe-like. Slayer shows are supposed to be angry affairs but I find myself laughing and smiling almost the entire time. Since I was caught up in socializing it didn't hit me right away that this would be my first Slayer show since Jeff Hanneman passed away. Reality check..
Yes, there is much debate about Slayer these days, but I really don't care what anyone else thinks. The bottom line is that Slayer are on fire again. Yes, it's only 1/2 original members now but the other 1/2 are guys who were there in the beginning too. The current version of Slayer is so heavy with history and bonds of blood it gets me all emo. Slayer is now 1/2 L.A. Thrash and 1/2 Bay Area Thrash. It's all a direct line straight back to Ruthie's Inn and San Pablo Avenue circa 1984.. and the band guys know it. Their nod to the Bay Area by playing 'Strike Of The Beast' (EXODUS!) in the middle of the set unannounced and with zero fanfare is proof of that. I was standing next to 2 current members of Exodus as this happened, watching their Exodus brother Gary onstage, and it was special. SLAAAYER!! In fact the entire set was all old school vintage material with nothing post 1988 performed... 19 songs that kicked off with 'Hell Awaits' and they played 'At Dawn They Sleep'!!
There is a different energy with Slayer onstage now. It's not better or worse than the old days. It's just different. Tom smiles onstage now and I like how it's obvious he is watching the crowd and paying attention to the other side of the barrier. Gary and Kerry bring a special volume storm to things that is unrelenting both sonically and historically; so much history is shared by those 20 fingers now channeling their departed brother. Hanneman is definitely a spirit in black that hovers over it all now and if you don't believe that then you're way too jaded to be reading this blog. Bostaph is the logical drummer now and he really does hold it down great for the most part, but I will say that 'Angel Of Death' is not the same. Some things can't be replicated or summoned again, but that is not Paul's fault. Haters will bitch and rant about why Slayer should call it quits, but why should they? Umlaut is old. My Metal heroes are old. Alot of my old Metal heroes are gone. I'm thankful for who is still here and I'm thankful Slayer can still deliver us to evil. I've been supporting them since literally Day One and I have no reason to stop supporting them now.
[Photo courtesy of Cable Car]
Maybe I should grow a beard. It's funny how the Slayer front line (Kerry, Tom, Gary) is now the Beard Wehrmacht. I dance with the beards in my dream.. Listen to their hallowed screams.. the beards have taken my soul....
Anyway, if you bought one of every Slayer merch item you would have paid around $600. On the way back to the car, some pimply-faced teenagers called us fags. Who knows what the future holds for Slayer.. but for now I say just cherish them because there are a lot of kids out there who think Avenged Sevenfold are, like, the best band ever.
"An unforeseen future nestled somewhere in time.."
Then 24 hours later it was...
Danzig / Butcher Babies / Ghoul / A Pale Horse Named Death
The Warfield, San Francisco
Unlike the night before, tonight's trek to the show was much more tolerable and realistic. Twenty minutes from driveway to parking space is more like it... Oh yeah, it was also Halloween. When did Halloween become a 2 week "holiday" and just another reason for douchbags to get fucked up? However, seeing Danzig on Halloween had a nice, nostalgic ring to it... and if only all Danzig shows were this easy:
Yes, liking Glenn Danzig is problematic here in the 21st Century but as soon as I hear any of those old Misfits or Samhain songs or the first pair of Danzig albums I remember how great he used to be. Then I see that video of him getting punched in Arizona and the reality of today returns. Oh Glenn...
Halloween... and tonight was also the last night of the tour. There were a surprising number of Umlaut Nation friends in the house tonight, which was a nice surprise. Evidently the first band, A Pale Horse Named Death, included Danzig's drummer and a former member of Type O Negative... but I didn't pay attention to them. Honesty is my only excuse: I was never a Type O Negative fan. However, also on the bill were local Thrash Horror kings Ghoul!
Maybe I was caught up in Halloween or something, but I assumed that Ghoul's East Bay-centric fanbase wouldn't be at the show in force due to the pricey ticket. Wow, was I wrong! Naively we made our way to the front and as soon as Ghoul hit the stage some nice pit action immediately opened up and the drinks we were holding were knocked out of our hands. Sadly Ghoul were denied from using their usual blood-colored liquids by the headliner so their stage show was neutered... but the hooded locals and their mechanical and diabolical stage friends made up for it with one of the best sets I've seen them play. Their 30 minutes was quintessential Halloween mayhem.
Uh, yeah... Butcher Babies. I will be polite and only say that I had a wonderful conversation with a cold beer during their set. Anyway, there was a very strict "No Photo" policy in effect tonight, which included phone cameras. However, one thing led to another and I ended up watching the headliner from this vantage point:
Long story short, "Danzig" here in the 21st Century does feel like a cover band who are required to dye their hair black to be in the band, but Glenn was better than I expected. It still surprises me how I know the lyrics to almost all of his songs. 'Twist Of Cain'... 'Dirty Black Summer'.. 'Mother'... but it was the Misfits set with Doyle that was the obvious draw tonight. Danzig and Doyle playing 'Halloween' on Halloween was cool.. but not as entertaining as the guy wearing the gorilla mask who randomly attacked a guy in zombie makeup right in front of the soundboard. Security! I will admit without any guilt that 'Skulls', 'London Dungeon' and 'Bullet' made me smile. All in all it was a fun, easy night and I must thank Wedge for sorting me and letting us watch the show from his office. Cheers, brother!
If you bought one of every Danzig merch item you would have paid around $260. On the way back to the car, some-pimply faced teenagers called us fags. Actually, on the way back to the car I saw Ross of Ghoul and he gave me a hug when I told him how our drinks were spilled by the pit mayhem during his set... Then we passed a new Prius on Market Street that was basically surrounded by 8 (EIGHT) SFPD officers wearing riot helmets. Hybrid Horror!
"I remember Halloween.."