Saturday, June 06, 2009

The 'Burbs

Death Angel
Voodoo Lounge, San Jose, CA
June 5, 2009

A year ago almost to the day, Death Angel played an epic homecoming show at Slim's that ranked as one of the best gigs I saw last year. Fast forward to now and things have changed dramatically for the band. First, there was the departure of original bassist Dennis Pepa earlier this year... but the band soldiered on with Sam Diosdado holding down the bottom end and they played a great set with Carcass in March. However, a couple of weeks ago another change was announced as original drummer Andy Galeon departed the band.

I'll be completely honest and say this latest news really took the wind out of my sails for Death Angel; Andy is one of favorite Metal drummers and it also magnified the fact that DA now only has 2 original members. Of course, bands change lineups and soldier on all the time, but DA's lineup has always been special because they were that gang of Filipino kids who were literally bonded by blood (For the newbies: All of the original DA members were cousins). The idea of seeing DA with 2 white guys in the lineup seemed.... odd.

According to the city's web site, San Jose's motto is now "The Fun Never Stops".. My response to that statement would be "When did "The Fun" begin??".. Discuss amongst yourselves. Given Death Angel's recent lineup change, I wasn't really looking forward to traveling back down to my old stomping grounds for this gig... and I was still haunted by the memories of my last visit to San Jose for a concert...

Prior to the show, Timo, Photo Ray, and I settled down at Gordon Biersch for a great pre-show hangout session... Then we few, we happy few, walked around the corner to the show. I'd never been to the Voodoo Lounge before and it was a pleasant surprise to discover it's a pretty cool venue. I was expecting a hole in the wall, but it's actually a large space with a nice bar and a good size stage and sound system... in San Jose!? Who woulda thunk?! Besides the impressive venue it was also nice to see a large crowd out for The Metal on this night as well.

I'll cut to the chase: I was wrong to doubt the band's ability to make the best of their recent changes; Death Angel still rules. The new lineup was TIGHT and they pulled out some old songs they haven't played since reforming. New drummer Will Carroll (Old Grandad, Scarecrow) was appropriately pounding and for the Old Metalheads: His playing reminded me of Nigel Glockler for some unexplained reason... and I haven't even thought about Nigel Glockler in years! One of the club's bartenders was wearing a Scarecrow shirt and he kinda went a little nuts when DA launched into 'Dethroned'... which was the best song of the set IMO... but the set closing classic ' Kill As One' (which the band launched into at 1:04AM) never fails to make me happy.

Metalheads in The Big City can be such snobs (guilty!), so this show was a nice reality check for Umlaut... Sometimes seeing a Metal show in The 'Burbs is the perfect thing since it's where most of the authentic Metalheads call home. It was also cool that besides Timo and Photo Ray there were other members of the Umlaut Nation in attendance like Metal CPA and Nikki Blakk; Nikki revealed that 107.7 The Bone Metal Zone is done with "magic" (!)...

There was an unusually large number of Motörhead shirts in the crowd. I didn't do a thorough merch audit, but I think it's safe to say that if you spent $140 you would have gone home with every Death Angel merch item. On the way back to the car, some pimply-faced teenagers called us fags. Do you know the way to San Jose? Sometimes the road is paved with Metal..