Saturday, July 15, 2006

Girlschool Are Mightier Than The Sword

The Sword
Slim's, San Francisco
July 12, 2006

Yes, The Sword stole most of their riffs from Sleep. I know there's a backlash amongst Old School Rockers towards "Hipster Metal" bands like The Sword... but I like The Sword.

Sidebar: Do you remember when Sleep were called "Melvins Jr." when their first album came out?? I do. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Earlier in the day I was listening to Sepultura's Beneath The Remains on the iPod and then switched over to The Sword's Age Of Winters, and damn if the guitar tone wasn't exactly the same (I forget what Sword song it was..)! Let's just say that The Sword seems to have a decent album collection and leave it at that. I'm also a sucker for their cheesy swords 'n sorcery album art.

As a homage to Sleep, I wore my vintage 1992 shirt with the glow in the dark 'Stoner Astronaut' design to the show. After all these years it STILL glows in the dark! Try finding *that* on Ebay (you won't). Unfortunately, no one made a comment about it the entire night. Posers.

As Timo and I walked into the club the opening band was just leaving the stage and the DJ played this exact sequence of songs over the PA: Iron Maiden ('The Trooper') > Slayer ('Raining Blood') > Thin Lizzy ('Jailbreak') > Motörhead ('Dead Men Tell No Tales').

Halfway through the Sword's set I ran into the lovely John & Robin in the crowd ("McBain!!"). As Timo said afterwards, The Sword were "good but not great". IMO they were a bit lazy onstage and when the drummer broke his kick drum pedal I thought they were going to either (1) leave the stage or (2) call the drummer's mom and asked to be picked up out front.

Part of me wants to believe The Sword creates their own D&D adventures based on the Rush song 'By-Tor & The Snow Dog'... Part of me knows that The Sword are as much a product of timely marketing to the MySpace crowd as they are to any allegiance they have to the Rock Godz.

Note to The Sword: Do NOT wash your newly grown-out hair right before going onstage. A Stoner Rock band should have long greasy hair, not long shiny clean hair. At least use some products to keep the flyaway hair under control, for dog's sake!

That being said, I do like The Sword; I'd rather see a band like them getting hyped than some pussy Indie Rock Singer / Songwriter.

"Iron ships sailing on seas of blood, black winds fill their silver sails..."

Iron Maiden shirts seen = 1. If you bought one of every Sword merch item you would have paid around $100; I left my pen in the car and couldn't take notes. On the way back to the car, some pimply-faced teenagers called us fags. Yes, I can remember exactly what sequence of songs the club's DJ played over the PA, but I can't do simple math in my head.

Ray Davies
The Warfield, San Francisco
July 13, 2006

From the Umlaut Archives

The kids in the 'hood used to marvel at how many times 2Pac was shot and survived (before he was finally shot dead of course). Ray Davies has been shot AND he wrote The Village Green Preservation Society album!

"God save strawberry jam and all the different varieties..."

It's been 10 years since I last saw Ray. The last time was when he did a 2 week run at a tiny downtown S.F. theater. I sat in the 2nd row completely gobsmacked as I watched him perform a magical set from less than 10 feet away.

Fast forward to the 21st Century, and my date for this evening was the lovely Joey Acid King. It was strictly platonic, but he could have at least combed his hair... but at least he drove.

I went into the show expecting to be completely enamored with the performance. I'll cut to the chase and say I was very disappointed. It's admirable that Ray is able to create new music at 62 years of age. It's unfortunate for ME (because I'm selfish that way) that he denied so many of his legendary songs in favor of the new material... I didn't want to hear 4-5 new songs in a row (because I'm selfish that way). The introspective old man new songs simply do not hold a candle to his extroverted young man old songs.

The thing was, when Ray strapped on his Strat and went electric with the old Kinks numbers it was like 20-30 years were lifted from his body language. With the Strat on he had that legendary swagger again. When he played the opening 3 chords of 'Till The End Of The Day' my inner Music Geek screamed like a little school girl... and 'I'm Not Like Everybody Else' and 'All Day And All Of The Night' sounded just as good too.

After each old song I said to myself "Please keep the Strat on... Please keep the Strat on.." but he'd return to the acoustic guitar and the old man stuff. If he just kept the Strat on and FRONTED the band (instead of playing WITH the band) he would be the Grandfather of Punk again... but I suppose that's not what he wants. He's in the singer /songwriter phase, which is unfortunate for ME (because I'm selfish that way).

Thinking about it now, I don't think I've been this disappointed by a concert in a long time, but it's only because I'm such a Music Geek. Sadly for ME (because I'm selfish that way), there was no 'Victoria', 'Misfits', or 'Waterloo Sunset'. That being said, The Kinks are still mightier than The Sword.

If you bought one of every Ray Davies merch item you would have paid $165. On the way back to the car, some pimply-faced teenagers called us fags. The next morning at work I was talking to a co-worker about the show and someone else overheard our conversation and asked "Who did you see?" and when I said "Ray Davies.." the response was "What kind of music does he play?" (cue chirping crickets)

The Geeks shall inherit The Earth but no one else will care.

POSTSCRIPT: As this week drew to a close I was a bit bummed because The Sword and Ray Davies hadn't lived up to my expectations. Then the Rock Godz sent the following my way and I smiled again. From 1981:

I bought the Motörhead/Girlschool 10" EP hot off the import rack when it came out (and I still have it) but I've NEVER seen this footage before! What Metal Fanboy didn't have a Rock Star Crush on Kelly Johnson and / or Kim McAuliffe back then?! Girlschool circa 1979-83 were a FOOKIN' GLEAT band.

The Old Waldorf, San Francisco - April 23, 1982

(Pic by Umlaut)

Six dollars.. and fifty cents!