Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Another Rocktober

Rocktober... THE most wonderful time of the year.

The Sword / Black Cobra / Bison b.c.
Slim's, San Francisco
October 10. 2008

Up until around 6:00PM, Umlaut was going to skip this show (Showtime = 9:00PM)... but then I decided to take Johnny up on his +1... The tiebreaker was the fact that Umlaut friend Lori was gonna be in the house and she was leaving for Istanbul (!) the next day, so seeing her was the real headline event of the night (Awww..). The Umlaut Nation was nicely represented by Timo, Lori, Dave, Joey, and Rich... as well as Rafa and Jason onstage as Black Cobra of course.

Black Cobra are the definitive Rock Road Dogs; Rafa and Jason are ALWAYS on tour.. For those who aren't aware, The Sword have taken Black Cobra out as their direct support act on three U.S. and European tours over the past year and a half... Because of this, I was curious how Black Cobra would go over on this bill, because the two bands seem like an odd pairing to me. However, to my surprise, Rafa and Jason went over quite well with the crowd.

The young kid in front of me wearing the denim jacket and doo rag initially seemed confused by Black Cobra's wall of sound and their lack of traditional song structures... Plus the fact that it was only 2 musicians onstage... but after a couple of songs the kid was nodding his head in time to every chord that Jason struck and every beat that Rafa hit.. That kid is gonna be alright.

It's been interesting following The Sword over the past 2 years as they went from a rookie band on their debut tour to a seasoned act opening stadium shows for Metallica in Europe... However, no one can say success was given to them; The Sword have toured their asses off and this was their 6th time through San Francisco... Also, two years on and the band has developed an almost Southern Rock swing to their sound. Remember when they covered ZZ Top's 'Nasty Dogs & Funky Kings' in their set? Me too.

That being said, I have to say that I'm over The Sword now; I am done. All of that touring may have given the band confidence onstage, but it's also made them a slick Rock band... and I don't mean that in a good way... Although only 4 months have passed since I last saw The Sword and liked the performance, in that time the band's live sound has become really clean and safe.

Much to my dismay, even their signature song 'Freya' lacked the teeth that made me love it in the first place... but I suppose that will happen when you become Lars Ulrich's favorite new band and learn from The Master how to appeal to a more mass market Rock N' Roll audience. I mean, more power to the Austin lads, ya know? I'm just gonna get off this train here, okay? I can say I saw The Sword 5x and it was a fun ride while it lasted, but now I can wear my Sword shirt while I'm painting the house and not worry about ruining it. I also couldn't help but notice the sizeable Jock element that kept bumping past me with their beers.

Best Quote: "When Jocks start coming to your shows you're making money, but then you start leaving friends off the guest list." - Umlaut

Scorecard: According to the Umlaut Archives, this was my 57th visit to Slim's dating back to when it opened in 1988. Yes, I keep score... it's on an Excel spreadsheet... I think it's about 90% accurate documenting every concert I've attended since losing my gig cherry in 1978. The Geeks shall inherit The Earth.

Bootleg Motörhead hoodies = 1. If you bought one of every Sword merch item you would have paid $170. However, I FINALLY scored the "Eagle / Cthulhu" Black Cobra shirt for a mere $12. On the way back to the car, some pimply-faced teenagers called us fags. Black Cobra won't be home from tour until December, so if they're playing in your town and you like your music LOUD check 'em out and tell them Umlaut sent you.

DNA Lounge, San Francisco, CA

October 12, 2008

This show was originally scheduled for The Metro in West Oakland and because of that I was going to pass on it.. Not because of the distance, but because I'm in fucking West Oakland every work day. Maybe when I'm not visiting The Ghetto on a daily basis I might feel differently, but only time will tell. However, The Rock Godz work in mysterious ways and the show was moved to the DNA, which made attendance mandatory since I could go from driveway to venue in no more than 20 minutes.

Prior to the show Timo, The Coal Miner's Son, and Umlaut used the show as an excuse to eat dinner at The Irish Bank. It must be noted that my eyes were bigger than my stomach on this evening.

Apologies to Wolves In The Throne Room, Nachtmystium (say that 3 times fast!), and Embers, but the only band on the bill I wanted to see was Saros. The band's 35-40 minute set consisted of all new songs from their upcoming album Acrid Plains. The new songs were, like, GREAT and leaned more towards the band's Progressive Rock side (hence Tim's Rush shirt onstage, natch!), with intricate melodies guiding the hammer of volume.

One thing that I realized while watching Saros this time was how much they remind me of bands from the early-80's San Francisco Metal Scene (aka Umlaut's Salad Days). Back then, most S.F. bands were not concerned about image; bands from L.A. cared about that bullshit.. Most of the best S.F. bands back then simply got onstage armed with musicianship and well crafted songs; it was about the music, man. Yes, loud aggressive dark music... but when you looked past the volume you'd hear musicianship of the highest order... and that's what Saros' art is all about too.

Note: The new Saros album was produced by the man, the myth, the legend Billy Anderson and will be out on Profound Lore Records in early 2009. Start saving your pennies now, kids!

I spaced on doing a merch audit, but the Saros decal / button package was only $1 (ONE DOLLAR). On the way back to the car, some pimply-faced teenagers called us fags. After Saros were done, we said our goodbyes and were out the door and headed home. A surgically precise evening fo' sho'.

On another note: Based on the urging of a best selling music journalist friend, Umlaut got a copy of the book All Known Metal Bands that was published by San Francisco's own McSweeney's in May.

The names of 50,000 Metal bands were collected in a beautiful hardbound book done with that attention to quality that makes McSweeney's my favorite publisher... Also, at least 9 bands that Umlaut knows are listed, so kudos to the "author" for that... Although I can't really call Dan Nelson an "author" since he probably stole the name list from The Metal Archives web site, but who am I to say, right?

Whatever the case, I like how the book is presented as a pseudo-religious text for future generations to examine and to "read in it a fallen civilization". Would a similar book about Indie Rock be as fun? Nope.

Oh... Before I forget, it was THIS news that made my Music Geek Week:

Out on DVD on November 18th is The Who at Kilburn 1977, otherwise known as Keith Moon's final full concert with the band (!). The Who when Townshend still threw himself and his Les Paul around the stage with disregard for his own safety and Keith Moon sat behind the kit.

Also included in the set is a 1969 London Coliseum show from the 'Tommy' Tour.. DOH! Umlaut has always said that if he could go back in time to see one band, it would be The Who circa 1969 when they were at the top of their creative game.

Time Travel is cool.