Monday, August 02, 2004

Hell Bent For Leatha: The 6 Days of Rock

The 6 Days of Rock thundered across the Umlaut landscape from July 27th through August 1st. When The Rock Godz call Umlaut, their siren call of "Me rock you long time" must be heeded.. and it was good.

July 27th:
Jet / Sloan
The Fillmore, San Francisco

Me likey Jet’s greasy haired, unshaven, unkempt Rock. They also get Bonus Points for playing The Faces as their intro tape.. And a gold star on their foreheads for only charging $15 for t-shirts. I can’t remember the last time I saw merch being sold for “reasonable” prices at a Corporate Rock venue like the historic Fillmore.

Beer count = 1. Leatha Rating = Low… but Jet’s drummer did wear his leather jacket for the entire set. I’d hate to be near that thing on the tour bus. Average height of the crowd = 5’7” or so. On the way back to the car some pimply-faced teenagers called us fags. The exodus of scenesters prior to the encores was unfortunate. Choke on your Abercrombie & Fitch-flavored Kool Aid!

July 29th:
The Vue
The Great American Music Hall, San Francisco

Before I go any further I must state that as of this week, The Vue are my favorite band. I’ve been seeing bands since 1978 and only a handful have been as locked into The Rock onstage. The Vue are locked. The first time I saw them I couldn't stop saying to myself "They are the real deal.." and I've said that after every one of their shows since. Rock Star Crushes aside.

Beer count = 2. Leatha Rating = Low. Average height of the crowd = 5'8" or so. On the way back to the car some pimply-faced teenage prostitutes called us fags. I can't remember the last time a band's merch person gave me free stuff for saying how much I liked the band.. but it happened on this night.

July 30th:
Judas Priest / Slayer
Sleep Train Amphitheatre, Marysville, CA

A surgically precise 265 mile (round trip) road trip to California's Central Valley. The venue was in the middle of bumfuck nowhere surrounded by farms, new soulless real estate developments, and road kill.

SLAYER: The Slayer fan "call and response" is a sociological phenomenon that has humored folks like me for years. It goes something like this: At a gig, one Slayer fan shouts (or screams) "SLAAAYAAAHH!!" to no one in particular. In response, Slayer fans in the vicinity (usually wasted) shout (or scream) "SLAAAYAAAHH!!" back at the original shouter. At this show we witnessed this (1) in the parking lot, (2) at the entrance gate, (3) in the Men's Room, and (4) in the seats. Hearing a Men's Room full of pissing dudes screaming "SLAAAYAAAHH!!" at each other must be what a Superbowl locker room feels like.

However, the joke was on the Slayer Call & Response dudes since while most of them milled around the concourse getting drunk and yelling at each other, SLAAAYAAAHH walked onstage way earlier than expected since the advertised opening act was cancelled. It was criminal for Slayer to play in front of a practically empty amphitheater.

One of the highlights of Slayer's set was a wannabe Suicide Girl a couple of rows in front of us. She sang along PERFECTLY to every song.. Her memorization of the lyrics was VERY impressive. The two dudes sitting in front of her (obviously there to see Priest) even turned around to see what the deal was since while she sang she also banged her head, jumped up and down, and gave the devil horn sign. She'll make someone a fine psychopatic spouse some day.

The pit action during 'Seasons In The Abyss' and 'Angel Of Death' was sublime. 'South Of Heaven' made me smile. Dude! They played 'Postmortem'! Meanwhile, the two little daughters of Slayer members watched the fun from the side of the stage (awwww). They looked bored.

Prior to the gig, I counted on soaking up some Central Valley White Supremacist fun and I wasn't disappointed. (Note to non-Californians: Despite Cali's liberal rep, we have a nice White Supremacist movement in our Central Valley, thank you very much). Twas sweet seeing white boys walking around sans shirts with "WHITE POWER" tattooed across their stomachs. Such irony that they follow Slayer when Tom Araya isn't close to being Aryan. Perhaps they think his name is Tom ARYAN. Goofball racist fucks.

"I dance with the dead in my dreams, listen to their hallowed screams.."

JUDAS PRIEST: From 1980-82 Judas Priest were my favorite band. Ironically, my friends and I were completely clueless about the homoerotic undertones in Priest's music. We innocently drove up to S.F. and bought our studded belts and wristbands at gay leather shops.. "That giant rubber fist is kinda weird... I wonder what it's.. NO WAY! That belt is JUST LIKE Halford's!!" Kidz these days with their safe and sterile Hot Topic shopping are wimps.

Unfortunately, Priest chose to play the godawful 'Turbo Lover' and a semi-acoustic version of 'Diamonds & Rust'. My guess is the latter is Halford's exclamation that he's out of the closet since he channeled Joan Baez quite heavily during the performance. Note to non-Metal readers: 'Diamonds & Rust' is a Joan Baez song that Priest covered and made their own. For old Metalheads it should have been our first clue that Halford was gay.. but alas we were clueless 'cause the Priest version ROCKED.

'Green Manalishi', 'Victim Of Changes', and 'Beyond The Realms Of Death' were total godhead. Me smile and bang head. Good.

Beer count = 1. Leatha Rating = THROUGH THE FUCKING ROOF!! Priest are BACK! Average height of the crowd = 6' or so. For the first time in the 12 years of Umlaut, we were called fags BEFORE the show instead of on the way back to the car! Stunning. A pimply-faced teenaged waiter in a Sacramento brew pub did so by his facial reaction when Timo ordered a PINK lemonade instead of a beer. When he brought the check he also said "Do YOU TWO want anything else?" The implication that Timo and I were a couple was obvious. We said "No thanks" and told him we were on our way to see that openly homosexual Heavy Metal band Judas Priest.

"The air's electric, sparking power...loaded... loaded.."

August 1st (Early):
Hot Chick Stoner BBQ DVD Release Party
Featuring Old Grandad / Acid King / Totimoshi
Bottom of the Hill, San Francisco

On a serious note: Of all The 6 Days of Rock shows, this was the most special since a family emergency developed the night before (Get well soon Dixie! Love, Mom & Dad). Hanging out with so many old friends at this gig meant a lot (A huge shout out to "The Core".. You know who you are..).

Anyway, back to bizness: Eight bucks at the door got you 3 of S.F. / Oakland's finest (and heaviest) bands AND all you can eat BBQ. Hey! You got RAWK in my BBQ! And you got BBQ in my RAWK! This was the type of show that made me want to keep my hair long and (occasionally) greasy. Posers will pay the price. It was also the type of show that felt like you were standing behind a dump truck as it unloaded 2 tons of mud on top of you.. but in a good way.

Beer count = 2. Leatha Rating = Moderate. Average height of the crowd = 5'7" or so. On the way back to the car some pimply-faced teenagers called me a fag. In another life (and another band) I saw Acid King's drummer perform on that same stage wearing fish net stockings, which he showed off by standing on his drum stool.

August 1st (Late):
The Hives / Sahara Hotnights
The Fillmore, San Francisco

I think "The Hives" translates from Swedish into "The Swedes don't know how to pull off an ironic sense of humor the way the English can". In the hands of the Swedes irony comes off as annoying. But I suppose it's the best they can do considering IKEA is all their fault.

Beer count = ZERO. Leatha Rating = ZERO. It was simply shocking how NORMAL looking the crowd was.. Average height of the crowd = 5'6" or so. Umlaut aide Miatomic battled The Hives' Southeast Asian fan base.. Literally and figuratively. On the way back to the car some pimply-faced teenagers called us fags. I think "Sahara Hotnights" translates from Swedish into "The Donnas".

And on The 7th Day Umlaut rested.

With The 6 Days of Rock over, I can think of nothing more appropriate than to watch the best San Francisco movie (IMO):

Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home

"Are you sure it isn't time for a colorful metaphor?" - Spock