Saturday, October 06, 2007

To Be Real

Heaven And Hell / Alice Cooper / Queensryche
Sleep Train Pavilion, Concord, CA
September 30, 2007

A couple of months back I saw Rodrigo y Gabriela and I hated the show. Not because of the performers (who are amazing musicians), but because of the crowd! My hatred was triggered by a group of drunk Marina types standing in front of us, who did the "Caucasian Dance" all night (dancing only with the shoulders and not moving the hips) and who talked loudly to one another during practically every song. Since the show was sold out and packed there was no where else to move; it was ANNOYING as FUCK... They were casual music fans whose attitude towards the music and performers was casual. Casual music fans annoy me.

Even after all these years, I still love attending Metal shows because the crowds are not casual about their music. That attitude makes Metal shows, like... REAL, man. REAL! That Techno music you listen to is gutless!

Anyway, long story short, while I listen to a lot of different music (like Rodrigo y Gabriela yuppie music), my heart is still molten Metal. As a result of my DNA code, I drove to Concord for the first time in 4 years for this gig. On this trek I was accompanied by Umlaut friends Teri and Raygun in The Shuttle.. and we met up with Timo at the venue exactly as planned. Surgical precision.

After exiting off the freeway in Concord, I temporarily docked The Shuttle and thought I'd be Star Trek and use The Shuttle's GPS system to find the nearest Chili's (Hey, for a chain restaurant Chili's is alright; we just needed pre-gig food and not a “dining experience”...). After struggling with the coordinates for some minutes, the course was set and I launched The Shuttle onto its new course... only to feel like a total lame ass when we saw a Chili's literally only a block away (the address I'd entered in the GPS was for another location). Nicely done, technology.. Nicely done.

Our random pre-show conversation included Teri revealing how she once went on a date with Vinnie Appice in 1983 (!) and Raygun's reference to paraquat, which is a word and a reference I haven't heard in probably, like, 20 years.. If you didn't grow up in the 70's you probably have no idea what I'm talking about.. and in another nice touch of nostalgia THE CAVEMAN was at the show! He’s been at Bay Area concerts since the 70’s… but what the hell does he do for a living?? Not that it matters, ‘cause The Caveman’s front row seat showed he obviously has the Lock ‘N Loll hookup. Nicely done, Caveman.. Nicely done. I also ran into a gaggle of Old Metalheads... Sorry, dudes I can't remember everyone who was there to give namechecks.. but you know who you are, bruthas.

Queensryche: There was a guy around my age several rows in front of us who held aloft a vintage Operation Mindcrime (1988) shirt during the entire set like a lovestruck teenybopper at a New Kids On The Block show. There but for the grace of Dog go I.

You couldn't help but notice the saxophone propped onstage... even as the band played its hits like 'Jet City Woman', that saxophone sat onstage like The Grim Reaper waiting to kill the set... and then it did.

Queensryche have been around for how many albums?? They have quite a few radio hits... and instead they opted to play a cover of Pink Floyd's 'Welcome To The Machine' with Geoff Tate "playing" the saxophone!? Egads... Dude, didn't Rush cover that song already?? Plus, it's a Pink Floyd song that's on FM Rock radio, like, every 10 minutes.. You might as well cover 'Stairway To Heaven' if you're trying to show just how irrelevant your band has become.. But thank Dog they didn't play 'Silent Lucidity'.... and 'Eyes Of A Stranger' is still a good song... but they shoulda busted out 'Queen Of The Reich'.

Alice Cooper: Alice pretty much stole the show IMO.. In Junior High my best friend (John Lutkinhouse) and I would go over to his house after school and listen to his older brother's albums.. Our two favorites were KISS - Alive! and Alice Cooper - Welcome To My Nightmare. Fast forward 30 years (I'M OLD!) and Alice came roaring onstage with a great swaggering young gun band led by drummer Eric Singer (KISS).. They opened with 'No More Mr. Nice Guy' > 'Under My Wheels' > 'Eighteen'. WOW. Alice and Iggy Pop are the Immortals of Rock: They both defy time.. There MUST be something in the water in Michigan, right? As Timo says "ROCK LEGEND Alice Cooper.." I couldn’t help but smile as Alice twirled his cane in his trademark manner.

The decidedly un-PC theatrical performances of 'Only Women Bleed' > 'Dead Babies' included Alice beating a woman (portrayed by his real-life daughter) and then impaling her baby on a wooden stake and holding it aloft… which led to my favorite song of the set: 'Ballad Of Dwight Fry' with Alice singing in a straight jacket and which climaxed with a gallows being wheeled onstage and Alice being hung for his crimes during 'I Love The Dead'... and then defying his onstage death by returning to close the set with 'School's Out'.. WOW. The encore that included 'Billion Dollar Babies' and 'Elected' was perfect. "I'm your top prime cut of meat, I'm your choice, I wanna be elected!"

Heaven And Hell: Man, the band’s mix sucked as they stormed onstage with ‘The Mob Rules’; Geezer’s bass smothered Tony’s guitar like a rough palm over your mouth... but it improved after a song or two. Dio was working the stage like nobody’s business and I couldn’t help but smile as he twirled the mic stand in his trademark manner.

Things were fantastic until REAL life intervened... and Raygun passed out during 'Falling Off The Edge Of The World'... I'm not kidding.. Irony! No, he wasn’t wasted.. and, thankfully, 15 minutes later he was fine and it was like nothing had happened… but we took the opportunity to bail out a bit early to beat the parking lot crush since I didn’t feel right about staying to the end given the real world scare. Glad you’re okay, Raygun!

If you bought one of every Heaven And Hell merch item you would have paid around $685. On the way back to the car, some pimply-faced teenagers called us fags. I would bet money that there were more people in The House from Heaven And Hell's merch company than there were from Alice Cooper's. Keepin' it real, man... Keepin' it real.

Oh, then there's this bit of REAL:
Socializing feral kittens at Casa de Umlaut - Oct. 5, 2007