Friday, May 08, 2009


For the second time this year Umlaut pulled a gig doubleheader in one night. A month ago it was Leonard Cohen > Green Day in the same evening and tonight it was a potent Power Pop > Japanese Death Metal combination!

Cheap Trick
May Fairgrounds, Dixon, CA
May 7, 2009

A couple of years ago, Cheap Trick were the subject of Umlaut's biggest music geek moment ever.. It was a magic moment that I still get warm and fuzzy about... and if you really want to know how deep my Cheap Trick geekdom runs click HERE. Rockford's Finest has been one of my favorite bands since I was 14-years old, man.

Fast forward to 2009: Photo Ray and I travelled to The Fairgrounds in Dixon to see Rockford's Finest under the open sky and with the smell of livestock in the air. Dixon seems like it should be a thousand miles from San Francisco, but it's actually only about 60 clicks away. Umlaut had been to The Fairgrounds a couple of years ago for the annual Pin-A-Go-Go pinball show (Geek!), and there's nothing better than seeing Cheap Trick at a county fair!

I can't remember the last time the stubs were actually torn off my ticket at a concert, but that's exactly what The Dixon Fairgrounds does to tally attendance; one side for fair admission, the other side for concert admission. Old School! At around 7:15PM, Rockford's Finest hit the stage with a classic triple punch of 'Hello There' > 'Big Eyes' > 'California Man'.. NICE. Over the next 65 minutes they played a solid set with Rick playing a different guitar for practically each song (as usual); I counted 15 different guitars for 16 songs.. The band performed great and sounded excellent (as usual) and, while my favorite song of the set was the pop power of 'She's Tight', the end sprint of 'Surrender' into the encore of 'Dream Police' > 'Auf Wiedersehen' made everything perfect. The night was also a Full Moon! Like I said: Perfect.

As the saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words... so here are 2,000 words on Cheap Trick in lovely Dixon, California:

Folding chairs in a field.
(Pic by Umlaut)

Cell phone in one hand > Cigarette in the other.
(Pic by South Bay Bret)

According to South Bay Bret: "Ms. Fair Dancer was sharing smokes with her mom and had these painted on eyebrows and a Hard Rock Cafe Cheap Trick shirt that Rick pointed out, so she somehow had *it* going on. She and mom were also getting down to 'Don't Be Cruel' - as were all the fair goers."

Indeed, most of the fairground audience seemed to go the most nuts when the band played their cover of the Elvis song 'Don't Be Cruel'.. which I found a little odd, but good times in Small Town America!

It's funny when I run into readers of this space and they greet me with "Umlaut!", especially at a county fair (a shout out to Mr. King). Also, THANKS to South Bay Bret for scoring me one of Rick's guitar picks. After Cheap Trick finished, we wandered around a bit to soak up some the old fashioned county fair vibe:

(Video by Umlaut)

(Video by Umlaut)

If you bought one of every Cheap Trick merch item you would have paid close to $200; I liked how the shirts were simply displayed behind a folding table on the chain link fence to the right of the stage. Nuthin' fancy! On the way back to the car, some pimply-faced teenagers called us fags. Once we were back on the road, Photo Ray and I made a pit stop in lovely Vacaville, California for food... then we continued back West on Highway 80 towards The Big City and:

Coffins / Stormcrow
Annie's Social Club, San Francisco, CA
May 7, 2009

Man, what a night! A mere 2 hours after The Dream Police got inside of our heads, Photo Ray and I entered the sweaty and packed / sold out Annie's in time to catch the last part of Stormcrow's great set. Given the magnitude of this show, the Umlaut Nation was nicely represented.. so a shout out to Photo Ray, Lori, Dave, Rich, and Rafa.

Next up were the headliners: The legendary Coffins from Japan! Evidently this was the first time the band had ever played in S.F.. which was amazing. The anticipation in the club was thick enough to cut with a knife, as was the humidity and sweat; it reminded me of the Amebix show earlier this year. The contrast between Cheap Trick playing in a grass field under a full moon earlier in the night and the Coffins setting up on the tiny, sweaty stage at Annie's was dramatic to say the least.

Preparing for Death Metal.
(Pic by Umlaut)

"We are Coffins from Jahpon!" As soon as Coffins lurched into their set I was instantly caught up in how different this gig was from the one I had been at only a few hours earlier. At Cheap Trick, hearing my favorite songs was the most important thing. In contrast, during the Coffins set I fed off the volume and energy coming from the band and the audience rather than any specific songs. At several times during the set I thought my cell phone was vibrating in my pocket, but it was simply my clothes moving from the sound waves coming out of the PA.. METAL! Cheap Trick was great entertainment; Coffins was all consuming and the experience more cerebral. Good times in The Big City!

As the saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words... so here are 1,000 words on Coffins' debut in San Franfuckincisco:

(Pic by Umlaut)

Click HERE for Taija's awesome photo session with Coffins and Stormcrow!

I didn't do a merch audit, but the Merch Girl got confused by basic mathematics; I made it easier for her by adding a CD to my shirt purchase so she wouldn't pull a brain muscle. On the way back to the car, some pimply-faced teenagers called me a fag. It was an epic night: I love Cheap Trick and I love Metal... Thank dog my brain allows me to appreciate both. Music: Is there anything it can't do?!