Thursday, July 27, 2006

Seasons In The Abyss

The lackluster sequel to South Of Heaven.

Yes, I attended the Comi-Con Geek Fest down in San Diego. Yes, I had a fun time. Yes, I'm glad I went. No, I'm not really motivated to write about it. Truth be told, my mood at Comi-Con was affected by the dark cloud that's been hanging over Casa de Umlaut all year and which is never far from my mind these days...

Anyway, for the newbies, Comi-Con is the largest annual gathering of Sci-Fi / Comic / Movie Geeks in the world; 100,000 people attended the 4-day event this year. One... hundred... thousand... people. Many... of... them... in.... costume.

I arrived the day before Comi-Con and I hit the ground.... uhhh... drinking. While walking around Mission Beach with Drunk Ted and Amy, some shirtless jocks saw my Motörhead shirt and one of them yelled "Motörhead is THE best band EVER!!" and pointed at me. I didn't know how to respond, so I simply raised my fist and said nothing. You know it's "over" when jocks like the same bands as you.

My introduction to Mission Beach was highlighted by an early dinner and beers at The Liars Club, which has a GREAT jukebox. I fed it money and punched up the likes of the Ramones, Replacements, Flamin' Groovies, Dead Boys, The Dragons, and The Germs among others. No bar in S.F. has a jukebox that good.

Later that night Drunk Ted took me to Livewire, where his buddies Rocket From The Crypt used to warm the barstools. Again, another excellent jukebox... and the bartender, after appreciating our selections, gave us money from the till to play some more tunes. Very cool of him! So we punched up the likes of Black Flag, Cheap Trick, Radio Birdman, The Bronx, Johnny Thunders, and the Supersuckers among others. No bar in S.F. has a jukebox that good.

To tell you the truth, although I'm still a Geek about some Sci-Fi / Pop Culture stuff, I'm more burned out on that crap than anything else these days. I do geek out over Lord Of The Rings and the new Battlestar Galactica, but I'm violently indifferent about Star Wars. I'm only slightly nostalgic about Star Trek, and I'm not really into comic books anymore. I also can't remember the last time I read a Sci-Fi or Swords 'n Sorcery novel. I know, I know... Hope I die before I get old... I blame George Lucas.

That being said, I DID have a good time before I reached overload with the nerds and dorks. Meeting Elvira (both with and without makeup) was very cool. The Battlestar Galactica panel was entertaining. Stalking Walter "Chekov" Koenig in the Exhibitors Hall was good sport. However, watching all of the fanboys taking pictures of the various booth girls (and girls in general) was creepy. Anyway, to make a long story short, here are my 3 favorite pics pulled from my trusty Canon SD600:

Glenn Danzig (aka Comic Book Guy). I dared Drunk Ted to ask him for his autograph and request that it be made out to his "Muuuthhhah!!"

Dorks Practicing. An Indiana Jones Dork with his whip. Jedi Dorks with their light sabers.

The Guy Who Played The Gorn in the Star Trek episode 'Arena'. "An incredible fortune in stones.. Yet I would trade them all for a hand phaser, or a good solid club..."

Thankfully the Rock Godz arranged things so that my Comi-Con trip had some much needed balance:

Sports Arena, San Diego, CA
August 20, 2006

This show was originally scheduled for June 6th ('06!) but was postponed due to Tom Araya's surgery (to implant more evil into his heart I think). The Rock Godz work in mysterious ways and the show was rescheduled to coincide with my visit to San Diego. METAL!

We geared up for the show in the bar of the Black Angus (METAL!) next door to the Sports Arena. Unfortunately, the bartender didn't know how to draw a proper pint of Guinness. I couldn't help but note that 28 of the 32 people in the bar were obvious Slayer fans.

The Sports Arena is so Old School I felt like I was in a time warp. From it's drab and dated interior, to the poor ventilation, to the pull-out side bleachers, to the lack of any luxury boxes.. It was like being in an arena circa 1979 again.

Trivia: Scenes from the movie Almost Famous were filmed in and around the arena, and Umlaut is a HUGE geek about that movie. I took pics of the backstage loading ramp that was featured in the movie. "Don't do drugs!"

The Men's Room was hardcore during Lamb Of God's set. A sink was COVERED in puke and the room was filled with smoke and the thick, acrid smell from a smoke bomb. I couldn't remember the last time I was at a show where a punter set off fireworks inside the venue. After we exited that little bit of Hell, Drunk Ted said "THAT was Old School!"

On the flipside, I've been seeing Slayer since 1983 and this was the first Slayer show I can remember where there was NO Slayer call-and-response in the parking lot or lobby! NONE. I was flabbergasted, and it wasn't for lack of trying on our part. As we walked up a crowded stairwell Drunk Ted yelled "SLAAYYAHHH!!!" and the only response came from ONE dude who responded with a lame "Yeeaaahh!"


WRONG WRONG WRONG!! Note: When someone yells "SLAAYYAHHH!!!" at a show you, and everyone in the vicinity, are morally obligated to respond with "SLAAYYAHHH!!!" Also, DO NOT yell "Slayer" in a sentence at a show!! Do not attempt to say something like "Slayer fucking blah blah blah rules!!" and then expect a response from those around you. You're only identifying yourself as a poser worthy of having your ass kicked. K.I.S.S. (keep it simple stupid)!

Anyway, despite San Diego's lack of Slayer protocol, the crowd was still your typical Slayer crowd once the houselights went down. It was GREAT to see an old fashioned general admission Metal show in an arena again. It's been a very long time since I've seen steam coming off the crowd packed on the floor during a concert. The steam and the crowd looked medieval bathed in the blood red lights from the stage. Twas so Metal.

My inner Old Metalhead couldn't help but notice that at least 1/4 of the crowd was female (back in The Day it would have been 1% female). I suppose it was only a matter of time until a love song like 'Dead Skin Mask' would appeal to chicks. Awww, that's really sweet...

SLAYER RULES. Their backline featured two sets of 11 Marshall cabinets hanging from the ceiling on either side of the drum riser. The cabs were hung to form a pair of upside down crosses!!! Brilliant. NONE. NONE MORE METAL!!

The biggest "DOH" moment of the evening came when Tom Araya dedicated a song to the troops serving in Iraq. In a military town like San Diego you would think it would be 'War Ensemble'.. but, nope, he dedicated 'Mandatory Suicide' to them! Discuss amongst yourselves how that plays in Red States vs. Blue States.

During 'Chemical Warfare' there were no less than 5 pits going at once; a pentagram of Metal Mayhem! As always, the pit action during 'Seasons In The Abyss' was sublime; a ballet of sweat and bruises... and the unholy trinity of 'Hell Awaits' > 'Antichrist' >'Angel Of Death' as the encore was pretty gosh darn good. Gosh darn it!

If you bought one of every Slayer merch item you would have paid $586. On the way back to the car, some pimply-faced teenagers called us fags. The next day at Comi-Con, Slayer shirts ruled the school and clashed nicely with the dorks dressed as Star Wars Stormtroopers.

The most amazing event of my Comi-Con 2006 experience happened when fucking United Airlines cancelled my flight home at the last minute and rebooked me on a flight 6 hours later. Rather than spending all day trying to fly standby, I was unexpectedly able to return to the Con. Once there I had a COMPLETELY random meeting with Mary and Ted (yes, the "other" Ted) in the Exhibitors Hall! It was so completely random and unexpected that the odds of it still boggles my mind.

Captain's Log, Stardate 54666.5: I think Comi-Con can best be described in the words of Slayer: "Chaos rampant, an age of distrust. Confrontations, impulsive habitat... On and on, south of Heaven..."

The Geeks shall inherit The Earth, but Slayer will always rule.

Captain's Log, Supplemental: A HUGE THANKS to Drunk Ted and Amy for showing me a good time and for the hospitality! Drunk Ted and I have been friends since back in The Grunge Days and it's cool we're still friends in the 21st Century. For the newbies, click HERE and HERE for some Old School Drunk Ted moments. Grunge lives in our hearts... where no man has gone before.