Thursday, June 04, 2009


DNA Lounge, San Francisco
June 3, 2009

On the morning of this show I woke up in Las Vegas. However, I traveled back home on the Black Wings of Hell and was able to make it to the DNA in surgically precise fashion.

I don't know about bands in other genres, but it seems like underground European Metal bands have the most problems obtaining the proper visas to enter the United States of America. I don't know if it's due to poor document management on the band side or discrimination by the State Department, but it seems to happen quite often. The latest example is Swedish Metal legends Marduk, who were supposed to be on this tour but who never arrived in the States... a bummer since I believe the Swedes haven't visited this country in 8 years.

This year marks the 25th Anniversary of Mayhem. For the newbies: Mayhem are probably THE most infamous Metal band ever... It's funny that normal people would probably cite Marilyn Manson as a terrifying example of the evil of Metal, but Brian Warner's claim to darkness cannot compare to these moments in Mayhem's history (the following was stolen from Wiki since I'm too lazy to write it up myself right now):

On 8 April 1991, Dead committed suicide in the house owned by the band. He was found by Euronymous with slit wrists and a shotgun round to the head. Dead's suicide note read "Excuse all the blood" and included an apology for firing the weapon indoors. Instead of calling the police, Euronymous went to a nearby store and bought a disposable camera to photograph the corpse, after re-arranging some items.

On 10 August 1993, Varg Vikernes murdered guitarist Euronymous. On that night, Vikernes and Snorre Ruch travelled from Bergen to Euronymous’s apartment in Oslo. Upon their arrival a confrontation began, which ended when Vikernes fatally stabbed Euronymous. His body was found outside the apartment with twenty-three cut wounds – two to the head, five to the neck, and sixteen to the back. Vikernes claims that Euronymous had plotted to torture him to death and videotape the event – using a meeting about an unsigned contract as a pretext. On the night of the murder, Vikernes claims he intended to hand Euronymous the signed contract and "tell him to fuck off", but that Euronymous attacked him first. Additionally, Vikernes defends that most of Euronymous’s cut wounds were caused by broken glass he had fallen on during the struggle. Regardless of the circumstances, Vikernes was arrested within days, and a few months later he was sentenced to 21 years in prison for both the murder and church arsons.

Band suicide, murder, church burnings; Marilyn Manson is a pussy compared to the original members of Mayhem! You can laugh, but those original Mayhem dudes were the real deal when it came to their chosen music and lifestyle. For the newbies, you really should read the book Lords Of Chaos.

Fast forward to the 21st Century, and Necrobutcher (bass) is the only original member of Mayhem left, but the band's legacy is still a solid draw. There's an aura around Mayhem that few, if any, bands can match: At one time a murder victim AND his killer were in the band at the same time. How METAL is that!? This was Mayhem's first visit to S.F. in almost 10 years and the DNA was packed solid.

The anticipation before Mayhem hit the stage was thick enough to cut with a knife, so anticlimactic is an understatement when the band lurched into its first song and the volume level seemed to be on, like, "5" instead of "11".. It was so quiet I had a brief conversation with the person next to me and we could easily hear each other. I suspect the volume being less than 11 was due to the ongoing battle the DNA has been fighting with "regulation" authorities; this was the type of show where my clothes should have been vibrating from the volume.. Seriously... especially since legendary producer Billy Anderson is doing Mayhem's sound on this tour (Hail Billy!).

I'll cut to the chase and say that it took me at least 30 minutes to get into Mayhem's set... and after 90 minutes I was ready to go home. I could not get into Attila's frontman antics at all; at past shows on the tour he's performed in standard Black Metal makeup and in a badass retro SS uniform.. but in S.F. his stage attire was mainly centered around a noose that he used as a prop.... AND I usually have a hard time not laughing out loud when a Black Metal singer doesn't break character and talks to the crowd in his "METAL" voice.. Yes, I did laugh out loud when Attila addressed the crowd... a couple of times.

Is Umlaut a poser when it comes to Black Metal? Yes. When it comes down to it, I'm a product of a different generation of Metal... BUT I saw Venom and Mercyful Fate on their first visits to the States so my Metal Cred is too legit to quit.

It's always funny when there are hardcore Christian protesters at a Nine Inch Nails show, but when a band comes to town whose history includes actual warfare against Christianity (church burnings, outspoken blasphemy, etc.) there is not a Christian protesting anywhere. Discuss amongst yourselves.

THANKS to Photo Ray for sorting me as his +1 for the show. Rock Star sightings: Dave of Neurosis and Leila of Saros... and Jello stood within 3 feet of me at a show for the 5th time this year; he was also two-fisting his drinks tonight. Metal.

When I checked the merch table prior to their set, Mayhem only had dudes' shirts in SMALL and MEDIUM for sale!! WTF... They lost out on serious $$ of merch sales in S.F.; running out of XL shirts at a testosterone fueled Metal show like this!? In Nomine Satanas, that's ridiculous! On the way back to the car, some pimply-faced teenagers called me a fag. Whoever is doing Mayhem's merch really should be slaughtered in a ritual sacrifice... I'm just saying.

Click HERE to see Taija's great photos from Mayhem's Orlando show.