Sunday, March 08, 2009

Saturday Night

El Rio, San Francisco
March 7, 2009

This show had those 3 magic words attached to it: "Album Release Show". I had not been to a show at El Rio in 3 years so, unlike most Umlaut gigs, this was not a surgically precise affair. Although I didn't roll out of Casa de Umlaut until after 10:00PM, Timo and I were still able to kill some time down the block at Cancun with burritos instead of catching the first band. Across town, Tom Jones was at The Warfield inspiring old ladies to throw their panties onstage.

As I type this I'm listening to the new Saros CD (Acrid Plains) and the songs are... elegant.. I can't say that Saros are brutal... but they are... elegant... The songs are finely crafted.. like jewelry hammered out by Elven artisans with silver mined by Dwarves many centuries ago but left in the cauldron a bit too long so that it's tougher and harder than other delicate things of beauty..... Errr.... or something like that. Anyway, for whatever reason, "elegant" was the first word that popped into my head.. so I'm running with it.

No offense to the El Rio staff... El Rio is a good bar... I like the patio area.. but the live music space is too narrow and "Rec Room" for Umlaut.. Yes it's Punk Rock, but Umlaut isn't Punk. Oh well.. guess I won't be showing my face at El Rio again anytime soon.. Free speech, dude!

The Rec Room was pretty full as Saros began playing at 12:19AM and burned their way through about an hour on the tiny, cramped stage. Although I've seen the band several times, I still get caught up in what great, seasoned musicians they all are.. The rhythm section of Tim (bass) and Blood Eagle (drums) bolts the music down beyond solid and Leila and Ben are a timeless guitar duo; melodic playing tempered with cool dynamics, but also heavy... and throw Leila's vocals on top of that, which flows back and forth between beautiful singing and METAL growling, and Saros easily sucks me into their dark world.

I have to admit that one of my favorite moments when seeing Saros is when Leila first steps to the mic and does her mic check by saying "Check" in her normal voice.. and she repeats "Check" as she works her way up to her METAL voice.. "CHHEEECCK!".. I don't know why I like it, but I do..

As I've said before in this space, I'm struck by how Saros reminds me of the great local Bay Area Metal bands that I saw in the early-80's during my youth... The local bands who didn't go on to become international Metal Godz like Metallica, but who weren't concerned about world domination anyway; they simply wanted to play their music... their METAL music.

Now for something completely different: Lori pointed out that I must be getting old because I looked for a proper place to put my empty beer can instead of merely throwing it on the floor like The Kidz, and she was correct in doing so. Getting old is a bitch, right? Oh, and as with any show involving METAL, the Umlaut Nation was out in force, so a shout out to Timo, Lori, Joey, Dave, Sven, Larry, and Billy.

I didn't to do a merch audit because Saros' merch table was in a pitch black corner of the patio; their merch guy used his iPhone to illuminate the table for me (HaHa!). No audit, but copies of the brand new CD were $12 and I got a free sticker.. On the way back to the car, some pimply-faced teenagers called us fags. The next morning Teri shot me a text about how great the Tom Jones show at The Warfield was; I don't doubt that it was great, but I stand by my decision to spend $7 on Saros vs. $70 for the Welsh Sex God... and no old ladies tossed their panties onstage at El Rio.