Monday, April 13, 2009

Metal On Metal

For the record, Umlaut is having an amazing Music Geek month of April so far...

Slim's, San Francisco
Easter Sunday 2009

The story of Anvil dates back to the early-80's and all of us Metalheads who were into Metallica and Slayer back then were also into Anvil. Unfortunately, they were one of those bands who never made it out of the underground and, to be honest, I haven't thought about the band since around 1985... Nevertheless, the band's core members Lips (guitar / vocals ) and Robb Reiner (drums) have never stopped playing, even when some Metalheads grew up and forgot about them (guilty.. sorry guys..).

Fast forward to the 21st Century and Anvil is now the subject of a highly acclaimed documentary that has sparked new interest in the band. This resurrection has included the band being signed by Slayer's management and getting a proper merchandise company behind them. METAL!

This event was part of a 6-city tour featuring a screening of the film followed by a performance by Anvil themselves. Due to the obligatory Zombie Jesus Sunday family obligation, I missed half of the film that proceeded the band's performance. I ducked into a darkened and nicely packed Slim's and joined Tour Manager Doug as the film was projected on the screen lowered in front of the stage.

A couple of Old Metal friends had already seen the film and raved about it, and what I saw supported their enthusiastic reviews. It's everything that Some Kind Of Monster wasn't: The film portrays a band still hungry after years (decades!) of toiling in the shit of the music industry but, despite the fact they have little to nothing to show for their hardships, they can't let it go because playing Metal is their passion.

As soon as the credits were finished, the screen rose and Anvil roared onstage for a 40 minute set that included '666', the instrumental 'March Of The Crabs', and closed with 'Metal On Metal' and a curtain call of 'Mothra'. Dude, I have not thought about those songs in so long! Also, Lips talking to the audience through the pickup of his guitar was straight up old school showmanship... but, for better or worse, he didn't break out a vibrator for his guitar solo ala 1983.

Seeing Anvil rejuvenated after all these years was cool, but THE coolest thing about the night was all of the Old Metalheads who were in attendance... and there were alot of us there, including Tour Manager Doug making a rare hometown area appearance:

The Old Men Of Metal: Umlaut, Ron, Doug, John

After Anvil's set ended the band hung out at the front of the stage and at the merch table talking to fans. At the same time, the Old Metalheads hung around for a good 30 minutes chatting with each other, just like we used to do after shows back in The Day. A week ago a couple of us had been in Cleveland, so it was a nice continuation of that Old Metal vibe.

Poser Hipsters will see the Anvil movie and compare it to This Is Spinal Tap; I've already read about people who think the movie is a mockumentary and Anvil isn't a real band. Fuck the Poser Hipsters! For this Old Metalhead, it's cool to know that sometimes Old Metal doesn't rust and fade away; sometimes it might just be indestructible like Anvil.

It must be noted that Tour Manager Doug (TMD) bought the latest Anvil album off the band's website BEFORE there was a movie about them... which is why TMD is more Metal than Umlaut. I forgot to do a merch audit, but TMD reported if you bought one of every Anvil merch item you would have paid around $80. Also, it's funny how Anvil brand blank shirts were used for Anvil's shirts. Anvil's merch company is pretty badass, man! On the way back to the car, some pimply-faced teenagers called me a fag. This was as close to 1983 as you could possibly get without an old denim vest. Time travel does exist.

"Metal on Metal... It's the only way.."

Kerrang! #43 - June 1983
(From the Umlaut Archives)