Monday, August 28, 2006

Live Like An Angel (Yawn Like A Devil)

Venom / High On Fire / Goatwhore
The Fillmore, San Francisco
August 27, 2006

A friend recently told me that she reads this space regularly, but usually not the "Metal stuff"… which means she actually doesn’t read this space very often (HA HA).

This was Venom's first visit to San Francisco in (DOH!) 21 YEARS (Hope I die before I get old!). Truth be told this was 1/3 of Venom since only Cronos remains from the original lineup. However, it was appropriate that this show was literally around the corner from where the 1985 show took place (For the S.F. Newbies: The Kabuki movie theater used to be a concert venue).. I even parked in the same parking garage that I did 21 years ago, but that was as far as the nostalgia went for me on this night.

(From the Umlaut Archives)

Of course, the irony about Venom is how The Kidz today consider them to be "legends", but the Old School knows what a big sham they were back in The Day. Yeah, yeah Umlaut ran out and bought Welcome To Hell and Black Metal when they first came out. Hell (pun intended) I even had the Venom Black Metal logo sewn on the back of my denim jacket circa 1985... and Hell (pun), Umlaut's Metal ‘zine from back in The Day is even pictured in the booklet of the recent Venom box set. However, all of that changed after I saw them live on their debut U.S. Tour. Click HERE to read about that debacle. So yeah, yeah Venom blah legendary blah blah.

Umlaut was expecting to have a routine night at home in front of the t.v., so THANKS to Todd for inviting me to be his All Access date for the gig. Also THANKS to Dema and Skychick for not being threatened by our strictly platonic male relationship.

During Goatwhore's set Todd and I sipped our drink tickets in the balcony like old men and tried to count the number of girls down on the main floor.. The count ended at 10 out of around 400 punters, which is probably a higher Chicks-To-Dudes ratio than in 1985.

Goatwhore is one hilarious (in a bad way) band name. They played a new song the singer introduced as 'Haunted Curse' and my inner English Lit Major thought "Isn't that the same thing??" It's sorta like calling a song 'Steel Metal'. Discuss amongst yourselves.

To keep myself amused, I sent text messages to Tour Manager Doug (TMD) and he responded all the way from Europe. I felt like CNN when I sent TMD a bulletin that Cronos had just brushed past me backstage. Technology Rules! Cronos was in full stage costume and his bald spot almost blinded me.

High On Fire were pretty darn molten; I’'ve seen ‘em too many times to remember, but I thought this set was really incendiary... and they didn’t even play ’'10,000 Years’'. I'm sure it was because they were jacked to be playing The Fillmore for the first time. Nicely done, lads. Horns, etc. etc.

Venom's opening salvo of ‘Black Metal’ > ‘Welcome To Hell’ > ‘Bloodlust’ > ‘In Nomine Satanas’ was entertaining, but I laughed out loud when Cronos said “"San Francisco! We FINALLY made it back!!"” Indeed, after 21 years Venom had finally made it back to S.F... but sadly a good bit of Cronos' hair hadn’'t.

Cronos (aka Conrad) still plays bass like a high school Lemmy wannabe, but it was hilarious watching him in between songs ("You are Venom's legions!", "This band will NEVER stop!!" etc. etc. etc.). The old songs all sounded a step slower than the original versions (I call that the "Lars Ulrich Syndrome") and his supporting cast didn't help things.

Guitarist Mykvs (aka Mike) introduced a song and he had, like, a TOTAL SoCal accent!! WTF?! NOT very Newcastle at all! I laughed out loud when Cronos shouted "MYKVS!" instead of "MANTAS!" at the start of 'Bloodlust'. Mykvs is Fake Mantas in the same way KISS have Fake Ace now; he looks and dresses like Mantas circa-1985 onstage down to the silly boots with chains. Oh, here's a direct quote from his page on the official Venom web site:

"PEAVEY: The Peavey 6505 is my amplifier of choice for the heaviest tones and reliability needed for the power of Venom."

Backstage I watched drummer Antton (who I believe is also Cronos' brother, the "out of the same womb" type..) warmup by sitting on a drum stool while holding his sticks in one hand and checking his cell phone messages with the other. Here's a direct quote from his page on the official Venom web site:

"HANSENFUTZ: I use these practice pedals to warm up before a show. They are light, strong and compact, and no hassle."

I had a total sense of deja vu as the houselights went down and the amped crowd began chanting "Venom! Venom!".... but just like in 1985, as the show progressed, the crowd's energy level got more and more tepid as the truth about how incredibly average Venom are onstage revealed itself. I was right there with them.

Venom played a new song called ‘Antichrist’ and I thought to myself "“Wait one darn minute... ‘'Antichrist’'??! SLAYER already did that!!"” Then I remembered that Slayer’'s song is ‘'THE Antichrist’'… Ahh, semantics. During the bloated epic that still is ‘'The 7 Gates Of Hell'’ I saw a kid down at the front yawn; I was right there with him.

It got to the point where The Pit was literally an open space on the floor with a lone sweaty XXL White Boy (and not even a jock... but a fat dork) walking around in a circle by himself shoving anyone who was near him... and no one challenged him. Finally, sweaty XXL White Boy just stopped walking. I was right there with him.

Now, I realize The Kidz in the crowd paid 30 bucks to be there and I skated in gratis via The List, but after an hour I'd had enough and I walked out during '‘Countess Bathory'’ and headed home. After 21 years it was reassuring that Venom still sucks and the legend of how much they sucked still rings true. On another note, I did begin the evening by entering The Fillmore via the backstage door, which I'’d never done before. Lock ‘'N Loll!

What time was dinner served?

Iron Maiden shirts seen = 1 (ONLY ONE!!). If you bought one of every Venom merch item you would have paid an astonishingly low $27!! Venom had only ONE t-shirt for sale and word backstage was they only had them in size Large, which was bad news for the numerous sweaty XXL White Boys in the house. On the way back to the car some pimply-faced teenagers called me a fag. All I gotta say in closing is "SLAYER!!".... just like I did in '85.


Sent by Old Metal Steven:

Before the VENOM show in '85 me, Brad and Quintana (Andy Anderson and other assorted punters were there too) went and saw the REALLY cool show that evening; Raw Power at the Mabuhay Gardens! Arguably the greatest 80's era Euro hardcore band.

We arrived to the Venom show late and feeling very punk-rock obnoxious. we proceeded to chant "We saw Raw Power, We saw Raw Power!..." throughout Venom's set along with other silly taunts. I remember other people actually spitting at them and Cronos threatening to bring the lighting rig down on everyone's head!

We just laughed even more...the back of my head appears in a photo of Raw Power (from same gig) on the back of their debut album Screams From the Gutter. Immortality!!

Raw Power still rocks, Venom still sucks (after 1983 anyway).