Sunday, January 20, 2008


High On Fire
The Blank Club, San Jose, CA
January 18, 2008

For the first time in around 15 years, the legendary band Sleep played in the Bay Area... Albeit not together. OM, featuring 2/3 of Sleep, played in San Francisco.... High On Fire, featuring 1/3 of Sleep, played in Sleep's hometown of San Jose.. Although Umlaut has a history with Sleep, I must admit that I like High On Fire more. Sorry Al.

It had been 3 years and 5 months (!) since the last time I saw a show at The Blank Club. My week had been long and bludgeoning with that thing you humans call "work". I almost bailed on going, but thankfully I didn't give into the voices of reason. Instead the night turned out to be a classic surgically precise concert event.

At around 10:00PM Umlaut, Johnny, Todd, and Timo met at the bar of the legendary Original Joe's in downtown S.J. for a late pre-show dinner; High On Fire weren't set to go on until 11:45PM. Original Joe's opened in 1956 and I hadn't been there since I lived in Downtown San Jose back in the years when Papa Bush was raping and pillaging.

Although the restaurant is in the tail end of a renovation, thankfully it still has that Old School ambiance and the retro booths are still in place. Also, the clientele is still on the "Old School" side and I got stares from a couple of old timers at the bar as I ordered drinks.. Guess they don't like long-haired Chinamen.. or maybe they were drunk and thought I was a Good Time Girl... Me love you long time, motherfucker.

Anyway, given my long and bludgeoning work week, I ended up ordering the prime rib... There's something primal about finishing a long and bludgeoning work week with a dead animal in front of you that screams "TGIF" sometimes... not often.. but sometimes.. like this time. Apologies to Umlaut's vegan friends, but that's the kind of week I had.

Over dinner Todd ran off the support acts, and I was bummed to hear that as I was eating the dead animal, Saviours were onstage. Dammit! I had just read Raymond's rave review about them that very day. Dammit! However, after our late night meal, a consolation prize was I found parking for the Prius just around the corner from the club, which was a small miracle given the late hour and limited parking situation in that part of Downtown S.J.. After docking the Prius it was time to do the Lock 'N Loll thing.

There's something appealing and appalling about seeing a Metal show in my old stomping grounds of San Jose. Having seen High On Fire 3 months ago in S.F. (aka The Big City) on the 1st leg of their U.S. Tour, the vibe in the 'burbs was more drunken and meaner... which was a fine vibe as Matt & The Boys launched into the opening song 'Turk'. The atmosphere was only heightened by The Blank Club's tiny stage that's only knee-high, which allowed punters to hop onstage and be idiots and also push the mic stand and accidentally punch Matt in the face with it.. which pissed him off. Legitimate issue or Rock Star rant? You decide, but if anything it seemed to push him to more powerful guitar antics.

You know you're in San Jose when an XXL dude wearing a Down shirt does a stage dive and the crowd parts so he lands face first on the floor. He then got up and staggered towards the nearest wall to lean against to hide his pain and embarrassment. Of course, what made it even funnier was he was diving off a knee-high stage.. so it was like he was jumping off a futon... and he still hurt himself. Do you know the way to San Jose?

Another nice touch to the show was that a decent fight broke out in front of the stage and plowed itself back towards the bar; a tall blonde dude who's at all the High On Fire shows was involved. Silly boyz. I decided to see just how big of a Sausage Fest the show really was... I counted around 20 women in the club out of a crowd of around 250.. Which, according to my unscientific analysis, means around 10% of High On Fire's fanbase are chicks. Order your girlie shirts accordingly, band merch person.

If you bought one of every High On Fire merch item you would have paid around $275. On the way back to the car, some pimply-faced teenagers called us fags. When I got home Bugger The Kitten ran around the house, taking leaps off the couch and the bed; he could have taught that San Jose dude about stage diving.