Saturday, June 09, 2007

Shut Up And Dance

Slim's, San Francisco
June 7, 2007

I have no nostalgia about The Mabuhay Gardens; as Saint Vitus said "I was born too late..." According to the Umlaut Archives, I saw 4 shows at The Mab between 1982-84 (including 2 Metallica gigs), but the place was pretty much *over* by the time I started roaming the streets of S.F. in search of music.

However, the club was historic to S.F. Music History and it's cool a public celebration of Dirk Dirksen was arranged in his memory. It's so ironic that S.F.'s "Pope Of Punk" passed away 2 months before the death of Wes Robinson, who was the icon of the East Bay Punk and Metal scenes in the 80's. R.I.P. both of you.

It was kind of a trippy show for me, because there were people there from several phases of my life: People who I've known for over 20 years > Former co-workers > People I recognized from the various S.F. music scenes that I've been around dating back to when I was 18-years old. Like I said: Trippy.

The Sea Hags were the only act on the bill who were from any of *my* scenes. For the newbies: Back in the 80's the Sea Hags seemed destined to be S.F.'s answer to Motley Crue and they got early help from the likes of Metallica's Kirk Hammett and The Cult's Ian Astbury. A major label deal followed but, alas, it was not to be. The infamous words of their manager are still haunting: "There's only so far you can get with 3 junkies and 1 alcoholic."

What could have been circa 1989:

Fast forward to the 21st Century and it's kinda cool to see a version of the Sea Hags gigging again. Sea Hags '07 were good, but rough; you got the sense they could implode at any moment, which was so Lock 'N Loll. Ron Q. and I kept trying to guess which band member was going to fall over first, but thankfully none of them did.

They opened with Cheap Trick's 'Hello There' and closed with CT's 'Goodnight Now'.. I was down front and during 'Goodnight' I flashed Ron Yokum the Cheap Trick shirt I was wearing and his eyes went wide as he sang. Of course he was kinda "speedy" so maybe that had something to with it too......

I must admit I haven't owned the Sea Hags album in years, but it's funny how you can quickly remember songs as soon as you hear them again. The next day I scored the CD online for $6 (including postage).

Some quick notes: The Lewd and The Rubber City Rebels were Punk fun; wish I'd seen them back in The Day. Hey, wasn't that Ginger Coyote onstage with The Lewd? Ironically I was standing next to one of the former guitarists of the White Trash Debutantes when that happened (Hey Brian!). I saw the Toiling Midgets at several points in the past, but I must have been really drunk back then 'cause I'm not in the right headspace to appreciate them now.

So around 4 years ago I started a new job and I shared an office area with another person. One day I walked into the room just as another colleague was in midsentence saying "... we were going to open for Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers but we broke up." The Music Geek light went off in my head and I butted in with "What band were you in?" Enter Peter Bilt into Umlaut's world.

Pearl Harbor & the Explosions (PHATS) were local legends in the late-70's / early-80's.. Now, I was never *in* to them (METAL!) but you couldn't listen to the local radio back then and not hear them. So, it was still trippy to discover I was working with their guitarist.

Autographed 7" Single (From the Umlaut Archives)

Fast forward and PHATS hit the again stage for only the second time in 25 years! The highlight of my evening was when I introduced Umlaut friend Teri (an old school PHATS fan from back in The Day) to her long ago idol Peter Bilt as a birthday present! Awesome. Of course, I had left the fucking camera at home. Sorry Teri.

To give my props to Peter I made sure I was against the stage before they started playing. He leaned down to chat and I asked him where the Marshall Stack was and he made a musician gearhead reference to Zoso... Then the New Wave hit.

Like, it was a totally fun set. Great energy. The band sounded and looked great... and it was weird how I recognized alot of their songs from back in my radio listening teen years. Like, totally rad fun, dude.

As I said earlier, I wasn't part of The Mab scene in its heyday, but I'm thankful I was able to experience the place on some level. For me, this night wasn't so much about Dirk Dirksen but about the history and legacy of the San Francisco Music Scene over the decades. Thank dog I wasn't born and raised anywhere else. NINERS!

S.F. Punk Royalty sightings = Jello Biafra and Penelope Houston. I didn't do a merch audit, but there was stuff for sale. On the way back to the car, some pimply-faced teenagers called us fags. The next night I was sitting in a bar in The Mission with Umlaut's brutha Joey as old Metallica came over the jukebox and the cool bartender bought us a round... Umlaut's life has taken some profound turns since music caused me to start hanging out on the streets of San Francisco 25 years ago... and some of you know just how profound those turns have been recently.

"What do I love about music? To begin with: Everything.."