Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Biafra Five-O

Jello Biafra / The Melvins / Drunk Injuns / Los Olvidados
Great American Music Hall, San Francisco

June 16, 2008

This was the first night of a two night stand to celebrate Jello's 50th Birthday... Twas also a classic "only in San Francisco" show... It was also a classic example of how Umlaut sometimes feels schizophrenic when it comes to his Music Geek side; just the other day I was ranting and raving about Robert Plant & Alison Krauss. Now I have to report that I had the same level of reaction (images, really... feelings) to this performance. I guess it just reinforces that quote attributed to Louis Armstrong: "There are only two types of music.. Good and Bad." Discuss amongst yourselves.

The Umlaut Nation was out in force with Timo, Teri, Johnny, Any, and Raymond watching my back. It's a good thing too because I cannot remember the last time I was so TIRED at a show; I was still trying to shake off my stint in the EST last week.. Man, there were a couple of times when I thought I was gonna fall asleep and plant my face on the lovely wooden floor of the GAMH... but I sucked it up.

It's been years since I've seen the GAMH floor open up into a pit as big as the one started early in the evening.. Remember Jesus Lizard at the GAMH? Me too... Umlaut is old.... BUT it was reassuring being at a show where most of the crowd was around my age... AND it was cool to see THE KIDS at the show.. and I mean KIDS... like no older than 8-years old sitting on the shoulders of their cool parents. Those kids are gonna be alright.

You know how life takes twists and turns.. Back in the xeroxed Umlaut 'zine days, the Melvins were basically Umlaut's official band... I was absolutely fanatical about them and followed them all over this great land of our's... But things happened and things changed (I don't mean that in a good or a bad way... things just changed...)... Fast forward to the 21st Century and it's been 9 years (!) since I last saw the band live. Wow.. Time flies when, etc. etc.

In typical goofy, but inspired, fashion the Melvins opened the evening by playing in (sort of) a recreation of their original 1983 Punk lineup featuring Buzz on guitar, Dale on bass (in lieu of Matt "Mudhoney" Lukin), and original drummer Mike Dillard... with a set featuring songs from their Mangled Demos including the classic 'Set Me Straight'. Unique... Fun... All of the above.

Hot on the heels of that, Los Olvidados and Drunk Injuns delivered nice old school style Punk sets... and while Drunk Injuns had the advantage of wearing cool masks onstage, I have to say I liked Los Olvidados a bit more 'cause they closed their set with a cover of the Dead Boys' 'What Love Is' which is, like, one of Umlaut's fave songs... Trivia: Los Olvidados and Drunk Injuns have the same members.

Back in The Day when Umlaut was a xeroxed 'zine, Jello was Umlaut's stalker for a month... Click HERE to relive those magical times. Umlaut also obtained a definitive interview with Jello back then as well:

From Umlaut Issue 10 - Fall 1994

Prior to her son taking the stage, it was announced that Jello's mom had flown in from Colorado and was sitting in the balcony. Awww..... Jello finally took the stage with his new band, The Axis of Evildoers, featuring local boys Billy Gould (Faith No More) on bass, Ralph Spight (Victim's Family) on guitar, and Jon Weiss (Sharkbait) on drums. Jello was a ball of furious 50-year old energy and I'm sure his mom was proud. After running through 40 minutes of new songs, the new band gave way to the Melvins and special guest guitarist Adam Jones from Tool (!).

Jello really hit his 50-year old stride with the Melvins set and it was great to see him getting into his onstage fury as the set progressed. Somebody correct me if I'm wrong, but I'm pretty sure they opened with 'Plethysmograph' and played most of the other songs off the Never Breath What You Can't See and Sieg Howdy albums, including my commute theme song 'Yuppie Cadillac'.. I have to admit that after 9 years it was good to see Dale and Buzz live again.. They're still the Dynamic Duo of Volume.

The updated version of 'California Über Alles' really got the floor going... as did the rip-roaring 'Holiday In Cambodia' that closed out the festivities... and I'm sure 'Holiday' will be remembered as one of Umlaut's musical highlights of 2008... As soon as the intro started EVERYONE in the room knew what was coming, so when the song kicked in, the entire room went OFF. It was beautiful.. It's the MUSIC, man... It's the fucking MUSIC. "Pol Pot... Pol Pot... Pol Pot..."

Maybe someday Hayne will write about her experience of being Jello's chauffeur for a night back in The Day (hint hint)... but until then I won't harsh the overall respect the guy has... As I commented earlier, this was an "only in San Francisco" event and it lived up to that. I'm thankful that the S.F. Bay Area is where I was born and raised and where I grew up to be a Music Geek. He may be San Francisco's version of Bono, but Dog bless Jello Biafra.... goddamit.

Number of Necros shirts = 1. I didn't do a merch audit because there was WAY too much stuff for sale; the merch table was like an Alternative Tentacles garage sale... BUT t-shirts and CDs were only 10 bucks! I bought one of each. On the way back to the car, some pimply-faced teenagers called us fags. At $22 for 4 hours of entertainment we were all abuzz afterwards over what good value for money the evening had been... It's nice to find a bargain in these hard economic times... cue Noam Chomsky... or Jello... definitely not Rollins.

Click HERE to see Raymond's pics from the event!