Sunday, March 26, 2006

March Of Guitars

DMBQ / Drunk Horse
12 Galaxies, San Francisco
March 22, 2006

Umlaut was all set to see this bill back in November, but the tour was cancelled due to the terrible accident that took the life of DMBQ's drummer Mana (R.I.P.). Triumphantly, DMBQ regrouped and returned to the States in a remarkably short time.

This gig was also a convenient excuse for Umlaut to have a platonic rendezvous with Caucasian House Boy. As the Jetta pulled out of the driveway, Little Steven's Underground Garage was on local Rock Radio station 107.7 and 'Shake Some Action' by The Flamin' Groovies was playing. Nice. The tone was set for the evening.

My Indie Cred took a hit when I decided to arrive late and miss the opening set by Yikes!, the band that's staggered out of the ashes of the Coachwhips. Oh well.

I walked in just as Drunk Horse was starting. I really dig Drunk Horse. Their latest album In Tongues has been a favorite on Umlaut's iPod since its release. Dueling Les Paul Stomp 'N Roll straight outta Oakland. Gotta support the local boys! Any band with a song that references H.P. Lovecraft, as Drunk Horse does with 'Howard Phillips', has me in their merch line. Also, they did a credible cover of the Jeff Beck instrumental 'Beck's Bolero' .. I was impressed! Guess I'll be seeing the Drunk Horse boys at Jeff Beck's S.F. show in a couple of weeks.

Afrirampo are two girls from Osaka who have that Cool Kid appeal.. Anyway, I know I'm blowing cred with The Kidz but... I'll simply say I found them tolerable as I hung out on the sidewalk with Caucasian House Boy and Todd during their set.

BEST QUOTE - While standing out on the sidewalk, a guy came up to Todd and said "You look like a guy who I used to know in Philly named Todd". Yep. A Philly reunion on Mission Street after 20 something years. Magical in a Old School Punk way... I guess.

As DMBQ took the stage I was only intending to stay for 2 songs since I was TIRED and it was already past midnight on a school night.. But I ended up not leaving until after 1:30am.. Goddam but DMBQ TORE IT UP! Even more amazing when you remember the tragedy they experienced only 4 months ago.

When was the last time you saw a band's frontman held aloft by audience members ala Iggy Pop in Cincinnati 1970??

Iggy Pop - Cincinnati International Pop Festival - 1970

Well, my answer to that question is now 3/22/06 at 12 Galaxies.. "That's peanut butter!"

(Kudos to the Music Geeks who are laughing out loud right now..)

I wish I knew DMBQ's song titles, because they constructed a 20 minute song that blew my mind. If Japan had won World War II and Zeppelin wrote 'Dazed & Confused' while jacked on wasabi it would have sounded like that song.. Amazing. Plus, it was long enough so Caucasian House Boy went to the can, got another beer, and still made it back well before the song reached its climax. Someone once described DMBQ as being a fistfight between Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin, and I'd agree with that.

It's easy for an old fart like me to be cranky about this generation's Mission Kidz.. However, on this night I was proud of 'em. Umlaut was one of them 15 years ago (DOH!) and it was good to see Mission Kidz in all their drunken glory appreciating a great band like DMBQ. Fuck the rest of the S.F. Hipster Kidz: The Mission Kidz are keeping it real! Old man look at my life, I'm a lot like you.

DANKE to Todd for the pestlist and to Dema for just being Dema. Thanks to Caucasian House Boy for turning the world on with his smile and for taking a nothing day and suddenly making it all seem worthwhile.

Number of shirts with the pic of the Scorpions from the back cover of the In Trance album seen = 1. If you bought one of every Drunk Horse merch item you would have paid NOTHING 'cause they weren't selling anything. Every piece of DMBQ merch would have set you back around 8,000 Yen (around $70 USD). On the way back to the car, some pimply-faced teenagers called us fags. I stayed out 'til almost Bar Time on a school night. I still got it.

INTERMISSION: In addition to the comeback of DMBQ from tragedy, I read this week that Guitar Wolf are back in action with a new bassist to replace Billy (R.I.P.). Good news for sure, like, Gamera is the friend of all children. Totally.

The Hellacopters / Nebula
Slim's, San Francisco
March 24, 2006

The Hellacopters haven't toured the U.S. in 4 years, so I should have known there would be some Rocker Hype surrounding this show. The gig brought a number of Umlaut friends out of the woodwork. Very nice.. So, a shout out to Timo, Old Metal Erik, Captain Fireball, Mark D., and Craig B. (Two Bit Thief!). Slim's was packed and you could tell it was gonna be a good night by how early the floor was sticky from spilled beer. Friday night Lock 'N Loll!

Space Geeks take notice, Nebula's new album is called Apollo. Tranquility Base, the Eagle has landed. Sometimes when I listen to Nebula at home I think "This is one of my favorite bands!" but then I go see them and I'm feeling that way for, like, 4 songs. Then I find myself wandering to the bathroom, or over to the bar, or over to the merch table. During their set I found a promo poster for their new album on the bench next to the Coat Check. I folded it up and put it my pocket. The Iggy thread I started earlier in this piece with DMBQ can be continued here because Nebula did a credible cover of the Stooges' 'I Need Somebody'. If Nebula were a NASA program they'd be the Space Shuttle 'cause some of their stuff flies and other stuff has O-ring failure during launch.

I missed The Hellacopters on their last tour in 2002... but I did see the Swedes on their previous Stateside treks in 1998 (12/18/98 @ The Justice League, S.F. w/ Fu Manchu and Acid King) and 1999 (12/99 @ Slim's w/ the Supersuckers and Zen Guerrilla). Remember when they were, like, one of the ultimate Music Geek bands?! Releasing a bazillion things on vinyl only!? Me too.

As they geared up for their final encore I thought it was odd that Front Man Nicke had strapped on a cheapie Epiphone Les Paul. The reason why came midway through the next song, which was a credible cover of MC5's 'Kick Out The Jams'. Midway through the song Nicke took the guitar off and tossed it in the crowd. An excellent example of planned spontaneity! Of course, an entertaining tug-of-war fight ensued between punters for the free axe.

The struggle came down to 2 guys, neither of whom wanted to let go of the guitar's neck. They were eventually ushered out the back door by a bouncer; maybe they settled it with fists outside. It was pouring down rain, so that would have been kinda cool. I suppose that since it was a left-handed guitar it was probably worth, what? 150 bucks? So the fight was worth it I suppose. I assume The Hellacopters are making the most of an Epiphone endorsement deal... for The Kidz!

During all of this, Nicke had already strapped on his real guitar and the band continued to channel Rob Tyner & Co. one last time for the night. Then Drummer Robert kicked his drum kit over. The wailing guitars, the crash of the drums, makes me wanna keep a-rockin' 'til the morning comes.

BEST QUOTE - Hellacopters Bassist Kenny stepping to the mic to give a shout out to Old Metal Erik's old band American Heartbreak. HA!

Unfortunately, the Swedes didn't play my favorite song ('Hey!'). However, they did play the oldie 'Born Broke' and it was rock-tas-tic. Also, there were an inordinate number of cover songs performed on this night:
  • Nebula: 'I Need Somebody' (Stooges), 'Suffragette City' (Bowie)
  • Hellacopters: 'Rock & Roll Is Dead' (The Rubinoos), 'Kick Out The Jams' (MC5)
Discuss amongst yourselves.

Music Geek Note: As far as I know, The Hellacopters are the only band to have recorded covers of songs by Venom ('Angel Dust'), the Rolling Stones ('Gimme Shelter'), the New York Dolls ('It's Too Late'), and the Misfits ('Bullet') as bonus tracks over the years. If you can prove me wrong, please do.

After the show Timo and I continued our tradition of a post-gig meal, this time at the classy 24-Hour eatery Sparkey's on Church St.. I had the Umlaut Classic (a 2-egg combo breakfast and a beer). As we drove through The Castro, Rock Radio 107.7 appropriately played Judas Priest ('You Got Another Thing Coming').

If you bought one of every Hellacopters merch item you would have paid $193. All of the Nebula merch would have set you back $49. On the way back to the car, some pimply-faced teenagers called us fags. For the 2nd time in 3 days I was out 'til almost Bar Time. I still got it.