Monday, November 29, 2004


The Rock Godz work in mysterious ways. Funny how things go around then come around... Green Day and Metallica are arguably the biggest bands in their respective genres. Both are rooted in the Bay Area and Umlaut was fortunate enough to have witnessed their infancies in divey clubs back in The Day(s). As the curtain began to fall on 2004, both mega-acts ended their respective tours at home.. And The Rock Godz sent forth Angels to assist Umlaut and his trusty confidante Skychick with each event.

Ready? Here we go:

Green Day - Bill Graham Civic, S.F. - Nov. 24, 2004

Twas the final show of the American Idiot 2004 U.S. Tour. Did you know that Green Day has sold 20 MILLION albums worldwide? That's basically equal to the population of Australia. Throw another studded belt on the barbie.

In 1991, Big Wayne told me to check Green Day out so I did. I think the first time I saw them was at a warehouse / art space in The Mission... I still root for the lads, even if they did spawn all of the gutless 3rd rate punk bands inhabiting MTV and Hot Topic these days... but you can't blame them for that. Good bands spawn crap bands.. Tis the Music Biz.

The 8,100 capacity Civic was sold out weeks in advance and tickets were going for up to $113 each ($30 face value) on Ebay. Punks Not Dead. It had been 12 years since I last saw GD and I actually dig their "critically acclaimed" new album quite a bit. However, despite that, I was still expecting the show to be a Hot Topic Mallrat faux punk show. 'Cause I've seen it all before, kids these days, a mile in the snow uphill barefoot, blah blah blah.

But you know what?? I realized what a jaded old fart I was for having that expectation. For one brief shining moment I had become my parents. Gee Mr. Umlaut, not ALL of the music The Kidz listen to today is crap.

Green Day were fucking GREAT GREAT GREAT on all levels. Showmanship. Musicianship. Songs. Pyro. Humor. And The Kidz LOVED them. They still had a bit of that East Bay attitude that people who remember Gilman St. before there was a yuppie brew pub across the street would appreciate.

(Note: I was once knocked off my feet by The Pit at Gilman... but I've also been to that brew pub. The fish 'n chips are excellent.. I sold out a long time ago, kids.)

Best Moments - The show opening blast of 'American Idiot'... The band's onstage musical versatility via some additional musicians (guitar / keyboards / horns) left me gobsmacked. A version of the Operation Ivy song 'Knowledge' with kidz pulled from the audience playing bass, drums, guitar. The song concluded with Billie Joe urging the young girl / bassist to stage dive, which she did after a nice running start. Basically watching the show from the lighting board and not breaking a sweat the entire night (Cheers to The Wag Man). A bitchin' (for lack of a better term) cover of 'We Are The Champions' complete with gonzo confetti cannons filling the Civic with red and white paper. Thousands of kidz singing along loudly to every song, even the new ones. The little 8-year old boy standing next to us with the green mohawk.

Best Quote - Me: "A punk band with pyro onstage?" Tour Manager Doug: "We like to blow things up."

Parking Lot Fee = $5. Some homeless guy tried to scam us in the parking lot before the show, but I would have none of it. On the way back to the car some pimply-faced teenagers called us fags. Thanks to old Umlaut friend Doug for the +1 into his All Access Pass World. Keep it real out there, for The Kidz.

The Kidz ARE Alright... At least the ones into Green Day. Hope I die before I get old.

Metallica - HP Pavilion, San Jose, CA - Nov. 28, 2004

Twas the final show of the Madly In Anger With The World 2003-2004 World Tour. Did you know that Metallica has sold 90 MILLION albums worldwide. That's basically equal to the population of Germany. Achtung Bundesliga.

In 1982, old Umlaut friend K.J. told me to check out Metallica's demo tape so I did. The first time I saw them was at a club in North Beach. That club is now a "high end" strip joint. For better or worse, I've seen Metallica more than any other band... This gig was approximately the 40th time I'd seen them dating back to the year of the Falklands War. When it comes to this band I'm like Smeagol / Gollum. As much as I fight it, sometimes I still clutch The Metallica Ring. "I am no man..." Filthy little Rock Star Hobbits.

Best Moments: Hunting for the VIP Room so we could use our drink tickets ("Hello Cleveland.."). The Biker wearing the “Nazi SS - Support Your Local White Boy” t-shirt in the VIP Room and the looks he got from the other racially mixed “VIPs” (Hmmm, which band member would have put him on the guest list.. Hmmm..). Basically watching the show from the soundboard and chatting with Old Metal friend John Marshall (An original Metallica roadie (now retired) and fill-in tour guitarist in 1986 and 1992 when James' arm was broken and burned). Noticing all of the crew people around the soundboard calmly reaching for ear protection simultaneously just prior to the SHITLOADS of pyro that introduced 'One' (THE best arena pyro display IMO) and then calmly removing the ear protection simultaneously after the final explosion.. Seeing Lars slither past with his actress girlfriend in tow (Seen Gladiator?). I'm happy to report no civilians or other unauthorized personnel interfered with their passage. Introducing Skychick to Kirk and chatting with him for, like, 10 seconds but having him tell me that he tried to get the band to play ‘Mercyful Fate’ as part of the night’s set but the rest of the band weren't into it. Posers.

There were a good number of empty seats way up in the nosebleed sections, so the 18,000 seat arena wasn't sold out. However, the sold out general admission floor tickets went for up to $124 each ($75 face value) on Ebay. Corporate Rock Rules. After all these years, seeing Metallica for me is like attending a performance of Cirque du Soleil. It's not about the content, but the spectacle. I must admit that I spent a good portion of their set trying to figure out the function of the PDA / Pocket PC plugged into the soundboard. I also found myself watching the guy working the high tech gear monitoring the mini-cameras positioned around the stage. (GEEK!)

Parking Lot Fee = $15 (Mofos!). On the way back to the car some pimply-faced teenagers called us fags. For the Old School Bay Area concert goers: THE CAVEMAN was at the show (Note: The Caveman was seemingly at EVERY major Bay Area concert in the 70’s and 80’s.. The Caveman has bushy hair, beard, and always wore FUR shorty shorts and FUR boots and “danced” wildly during shows.. and in 2004 he hadn’t changed..)! The more things change, the more they stay the same. Thanks to old Umlaut acquaintance The Lead Guitarist for the +1 into his All Access Pass World. Keep having those champagne wishes and caviar dreams, for The Kidz.

If you had been on The Drummer's guest list you would have seen this sign outside of his personal VIP room (The sign was "acquired" by Umlaut on the way back to the car...).

Footnote for The Old School: Today is the 22nd Anniversary of Metallica's legendary Old Waldorf, S.F. "Metal Up Your Ass" show. Oh, The Rock Godz do like their irony, don't they? Time sure does fly when you're growing up.

Epilogue: Umlaut was struck by the contrast between the two gigs... The differences in energy, band performances, crowd vibe, etc. etc. were quite profound to me. To keep it short I will use the age-old music snob cliché of analogy: If each band were a drummer, Green Day would be Keith Moon (circa 1965-71) and Metallica would be John Bonham (circa 1979-Drinking Binge).

Enter night, Exit light.

The End.