Friday, December 19, 2008

Fury Whipped

High On Fire / Drunk Horse
Great American Music Hall, San Francisco
December 18, 2008

This was the quintessential Umlaut show featuring two of my favorite local bands on a tight all killer, no filler bill... But before heading to the Great American, Lori took Rafa and I to the Holiday party hosted by Obscura Digital at their studio in SoMa. When we arrived the man with the clipboard at the door said those dreaded words: "You're NOT on The List.."


However, he was quickly convinced that Lori had been invited by one of Obscura's bigwigs, so he allowed us entry... I mean, who would troll SoMa on a cold Thursday night trying to crash company parties? Anyway, long story short: There were interesting examples of Obscura's visual works on display (including a cool dome projection that required 3D glasses to view properly), excellent free food, and an open bar... Gawk, chat, eat, drink and then we were out of there. Dine N' Dash, baby!

Before heading to the Great American (again), there was a rallying of the troops at Edinburgh Castle for a quick pint... Then we few, we happy few, marched around the corner to gather our tickets at Will Call (THANKS to RSE for my +1). The Umlaut Nation was out in force, so a shout out to Lori, Timo, Johnny, Joey, Teri, Rafa, Jenn, Richard, Ray, Tom, Sven, Tim, and Billy.

Drunk Horse has been on hiatus of late (with Cyrus playing bass in those other local Rock Gods Saviours), but I find it hard to believe that I haven't seen them perform since 2006 (?!). It's been such a long time... and it was fookin' gleat to see their heavy groove, boogie, dueling Les Paul fire magic onstage again, with 'Reformed Asshole' sounding especially awesome.

It's funny to me that I've been following High On Fire long enough to have done the Music Geek "love 'em > bored with 'em > love 'em again" cycle as their career steams along. When the band launched back in 1999 I was pretty fanatical about 'em since they were the first thing to rise out of the ashes of Sleep. Fast forward a couple of years and I was at the point where I'd leave their shows as soon as they played '10,000 Years' since that song encapsulated everything they did into one song. Fast forward again to 2008 and the band's latest album is by far their most crushing and they don't even play '10,000 Years' anymore. What goes around, etc. etc.

It's not often that I've seen a band 4x on a tour, but I was driven to that by High On Fire over the past year+. This was around the 12th time I've seen High On Fire since their debut album, and I have to say it was probably their best performance to ever spank my ears to date. Being on the road for over a year has sharpened the band to a finely honed volume machine.

Holy fuck, dude (and I actually said "Holy fuck!" out loud a couple of times during the set)... Matt and his custom 9-string axe were one flaming decibel-spewing beast and Des and Jeff held everything south of Heaven down with their massive hammer of volume. What gives this trio such power? Could it be... SATAN??! On a serious High On Fire connoisseur's note: I liked how they opened with 'Fury Whip' at the start of the tour and on this, the final date of the tour, they closed with 'Fury Whip'... which I consider a good song for these times: "Sin, sex, bad intent, making sure the money's spent... Watching as your dollars turn to dimes.."

IMO, High On Fire are the rightful heirs to Motörhead's kingdom... and I'm convinced that at some point in the future Lemmy will take Matt to the top of his castle and say "One day lad, all this will be your's.." I just hope Matt doesn't respond with "What, the curtains?"

If you bought one of every High On Fire merch item you would have paid $115. On the way back to the car, some pimply-faced teenagers called us fags... Also on the way back to the car, Lori and I agreed that we preferred the homeless dudes in The Mission vs. the ones in The Tenderloin; the ones in The 'Loin tend to follow you while singing a Ray Charles song directed at your booty.

Click HERE to see Taija's High On Fire photos from the show!