Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Isis Redux

The exciting sequel to Isis!

Great American Music Hall, San Francisco
June 23, 2009

It's been awhile since Umlaut has gone to a gig solo... and it's been awhile since I've seen a band on back-to-back nights in different cities as well. I don't really know why I felt compelled to see Isis twice in 48 hours; I like them, but I can't call myself a fanatic. It just felt like something I needed to do for some reason.

The set Isis played in San Jose the night before was brilliant, but performed in a venue that is only 1/3 the size of the Great American (GAMH). I was interested to see how the band's performances might differ because of the stage they found themselves on each night: one night they were basically in a garage... the next night at one of the great historic venues on the West Coast.

I entered the GAMH as Helms Alee were onstage and it was a different vibe than the previous night right away.. The crowd wasn't as "Metal" as the San Jose crowd and there were more "normal" looking people in the crowd.. which was fine of course since they were all there for Isis.. but I found that contrast interesting.... 'cause I'm a Geek about crap like that. Also, I was sort of mentally prepared to be anonymous at the gig since I was flying solo, but I ended up running into people who I knew.. which was fine of course: I talked Rock Biz with Alan and Justin of Secret Serpents and it was nice that HRC was there keeping things real.

The set itself had a different vibe for me as well.. Before they started playing, Aaron announced that the set was dedicated to their Tour Manager, who was going through a rough time at the moment. You gotta love a band who looks after their crew! From there they set sail with 'Hall Of The Dead' and for the next 90 minutes it was another soul cleansing Isis experience.

I stood towards the back in order to be near the "sweet spot" for the sound.. because with Isis for me it's all about how their sound streams out of a PA in profound textures. Watching Isis in their element on the regal stage of the GAMH was in stark contrast to their San Jose show the previous night on the tiny stage at The Blank Club. In S.F. each member had his own space on the bigger stage and their focused ferocity was allowed to really blaze. Another difference was the band returned for an encore and laid waste to S.F. with a great, but abbreviated, version of 'Celestial'... which ended abruptly when Aaron's amp crapped out. Ferocity comes with a price.

If you bought one of every Isis merch item you would have paid >$200. On the way back to the car, some pimply-faced teenagers called me a fag. It must be noted that Isis shirts were $3 more in S.F. than they were in San Jose the previous night. Everything is more expensive in The Big City! Discuss amongst yourselves.