Sunday, July 29, 2007

Grind Her Man

The newbies can click HERE for Umlaut's earlier Music Geek rant in anticipation of these shows and click HERE for Umlaut's Fanboy rant about Nick Cave. Despite the anti-scalping measures put into place, tickets were still going for up to $150 each on Craigslist for these sold out shows.

Great American Music Hall, San Franfuckincisco
July 26, 2007

Of course, an event of this magnitude brought the Umlaut Nation out in force.. Night #1: A shout out to Timo, Dema, Todd, Ted, The Sheriff, Raymond, Bob, Ref and I also ran into someone who I hadn't seen in years (Hey Kathy H.). Rock Star sightings: Henry Rollins, the singer from AFI, the singer from Death Angel.

The anticipated Will Call-only ticket clusterfuck didn't happen; kudos to the club's staff. I must say that it was a good looking, intelligent, and well-groomed audience in the GAMH. This was the type of show where people weren't looking around at "who" was there; all eyes were focused on the stage in anticipation of the band. It's the way a gig should be: About the MUSIC.

I dare you to find better song lyrics this year than Grinderman's 'Honey Bee (Let's Fly To Mars)':

"Mad mullahs and dirty bombs,
Alert the Coastal Command,

Ack Ack positions everyone,

She's my honey bee... and here she comes.."

Just when I had gotten jaded about following Nick Cave, he creates something that blows my mind all over again. Grinderman are like The Birthday Party revisited and seeing Cave front a band armed with a guitar was... an epiphany. It was weird seeing Cave tuning a guitar onstage in between songs like a common musician, dyaknowwhatimean? It was infectious seeing Cave obviously having fun and laughing onstage; the dude has lived a life and he's still here.. Thank Dog.

The entire Grinderman album was played, albeit not in order.. which was cool. As expected, the songs were even more mind melting and incredible in person. Every song was, like, woah.. Warren Ellis and his latest Mountain Man look is kind of frightening... and I gained a completely new appreciation for the rhythm section of Martyn Casey and Jim Sclavunos watching them play in Grinderman's stripped down lineup compared to the Bad Seeds. I've always thought that if I could be in any band it would be the Bad Seeds (either them or Iron Maiden).

The encores consisted of low-fi versions of Bad Seeds songs... Fucking... Epic... 'Red Right Hand', 'Deanna', 'The Weeping Song' (with surprise guest Blixa Bargeld providing his trademark vocals), 'The Ship Song', and 'Jack The Ripper'. 'The Ship Song' took on an Alt-Country feel with Cave on Stratocaster and the version was a revelation to me. WOW... For the Music Geeks: I'm pretty sure it's been 4 years since Blixa and Nick last shared the stage. Cool. Very cool.

Bad day at work beer count = 1. If you bought one of every Grinderman merch item you would have paid nothing, 'cause they weren't selling anything. On the way back to the car, some pimply-faced teenagers called us fags.

Slim's, San Franfuckincisco
July 27, 2007

Of course, an event of this magnitude brought the Umlaut Nation out in force.. Night #2: A shout out to Timo, R.J, The Sheriff, Ted, Ray, Teri, Joey, Brian, Ruth, Raymond and I also saw people who I hadn't seen in years (Hey Frank and Andrea).

The anticipated Will Call-only ticket clusterfuck didn't happen; kudos to the Slim's staff. Once again, every song from the Grinderman album were played to mindblowing effect... However, most of the crowd tonight didn't seem to have even heard the Grinderman album... Aside from the fans down front, the response from the rest of the house was rather lackluster most of the time.. Posers in the house.. Although, maybe it was because Slim's was its usual sweatbox self... Either way, WEIRD because I thought the band performed better (if that was possible) than the previous night.. AND this was probably the final time the United States will ever see Grinderman perform.. A 4-show U.S. Tour and 2 of the shows were in San Franfuckincisco?? I still can't believe it.

Once again the encores were fucking epic low-fi versions of Bad Seeds songs... 'Henry Lee', 'Red Right Hand', 'Lucy' (!), 'The Weeping Song' (sans Blixa this time), 'The Ship Song', and 'Tupelo' (!!)... After a break when some of the crowd headed for the exit, the band returned for a rollicking version of 'Deanna' featuring Henry Rollins and Jello Biafra onstage providing backup singing. WOW.. Cool. Very cool.

As I've whined in this space previously, Umlaut's 2007 has been dominated by some profound jaggedness... Bad things have happened. Stupid things have happened. Things have happened.. and just when I thought things were smoothing out I was blindsided by the type of week that just transpired. There's no need to go into details, but sometimes a paycheck can take a pound of your flesh and suck some of your soul.

During the encores, Cave responded to an audience member's request by saying "We can't leave San Francisco without playing 'Tupelo'??.... Actually, we'd have to leave San Francisco if we played 'Tupelo'..".. and then the band launched into what might have been the most profound version of the song I've ever heard. All of the jaggedness from the past 48 hours was crystallized in the lyrics and the fury of the song; the healing power of music tried to work its magic on me. I'm not sure if it worked, but it helped. "The Beast it cometh, Tupelo bound..."

On the other hand, this show also featured the magic of the Rock Godz as we were able to help a new friend who we'd met in front of the Great American the previous night get into sold out Slim's (Hey John). Long story short, his tale involved having missed every opportunity he's had to see Nick Cave dating back to 1994, him leaving L.A. on Interstate 5 earlier in the day to finally see Cave, him having a tire blow out on I-5, him arriving in S.F. late and missing the Great American show, and then our chance meeting on the sidewalk. The Rock Godz work in mysterious ways. Dude, stay in touch!

Bad day at work beer count = 3. Grinderman shirts = 1 (mine). People who asked where I got it = 4. As with the previous night, if you bought one of every Grinderman merch item you would have gone home with a full wallet 'cause there was none. On the way back to the car, some pimply-faced teenagers called us fags.

Losing myself in the Grinderman / Nick Cave live experience made me forget life's day-to-day bullshit and made me happy to be alive. What do I love about music? To begin with: everything... These were my 22nd and 23rd gigs so far this year; I'm more a Music Junkie than a Music Geek... Twisted and evil.

"He'll rekindle all those dreams it took you a lifetime to destroy..."

Click HERE to see Janey Moffat's great Grinderman - Slim's Flickr set!