Sunday, October 25, 2009

Time Travel

I didn't think it was possible, but for one magical night it was 1992 in San Francisco again. The city was transported back to a time before the Dotcom Boom brought clueless Hipsters and sky high rents and housing prices to town... a time when S.F.'s music scene was magical and there were at least twice as many venues and warehouse spaces where bands could play. For one magical night it felt like The Scene when I first moved to S.F., when GOOD music and EDGY art intertwined with like-minded people who Umlaut could relate to... a time when I met souls who became some of my dearest friends. Time Travel does exist... sometimes.

Ufomammut / Acid King
Varnish Gallery, San Francisco
October 24, 2009

I arrived at Varnish early so that I could hang out with Acid King (because 2/3 of the band are like family to me) and also to meet Ufomammut and watch their soundcheck. They were visiting all the way from Italy for the first time and this was 1 of only 2 Stateside shows they were playing. Without geeking out too much, it was an extremely cool scene with poster art on display from the Italian artist collective Malleus (which includes 2 of Ufomammut's members) and Umlaut friends Secret Serpents.

This will definitely go down as one of my favorite nights of the year! So many friends from different eras of my life were in the house; journalist friends, band friends, music scene friends, and some of my best friends. Everyone gathered together with other like minded people for loud music and art appreciation. DJ's Justin and Heather pulled off some amazing transitions in their spins prior to the bands playing... Arthur Brown's 'Fire' into Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow 'Stargazer'... and then playing all of Side 1 of Slayer's South Of Heaven after an obscure Folk Rock song. Brilliant.... AND Dust was also in the mix!

Dust - Hard Attack album!

Their spins definitely set the tone and the mood for the rest of my evening.

According to the Umlaut Archives this was at least my 27th (!) time seeing Acid King dating back to the very beginning in 1993... Amazing.. AND this was only their 2nd hometown show in 3 years. What's up with that? Despite the downsized sound system due to the small space, The King got into an insane GROOVE right away and it was one of those sets where I found myself closing my eyes and getting swept away on their volume wave. The King have been one of those bands who I've followed since Day 1 and it's really cool how their sound and style has developed over the years to become what it is right now. Magic flying carpets do exist... at least this one woven out of volume and weaved by Lori, Joey, and Mark. Wuv you guys! Awww...

Ufomammut had me hooked during their soundcheck... when my first reaction was "Holy fuck... listen to Poia's guitar TONE"... Crushing. Besides dealing volume with their band, Poia (guitar) and Urlo (bass/vox) are also members of the Malleus artist collective whose work was on display. Their presence tonight was a really inspiring combination of their music and graphic art. Despite playing on borrowed equipment, the Italians laid down a road that was paved with volume and my head was immediately immersed in their GROOVE.. and their brand of Doom Metal is simply on another level from other bands in the genre like Sunn O))) IMO. My head was blown, dude.

Ufomammut Soundcheck

Unfortunately, I had to make one of those tough life decisions halfway through Ufomammut's set because I had a ticket for the WAY sold out Mummies reunion show across town at Bottom Of The Hill. I was so torn... but the Mummies are one of my all-time favorite bands.. and as I looked at my watch and it was nearing 11:30pm and friends who were at the Mummies texted me they were about to go onstage, I sucked it up and quickly left the gallery.. with the Italians' volume following me down the street and I imagined volume fingers trying to grab my shoulders and pull me back to their show.. Seriously.

Ufomammut CDs were 2 for only $20 (including a CD / DVD set!)... What a bargain!! On the way back to the car, some pimply-faced teenagers called me a fag. Unfortunately, the amazing vibe of the event was tempered by the knowledge that the space Varnish occupies, as well as the entire block of buildings around it, will be demolished by next June to make way for the new Transbay Bus Terminal; the anti-eminent domain protest sign at the gallery's entrance said it all. So much for a revitilization of S.F.'s soul... but for one night all was right in the world on Natoma Street.

I ran 2 red lights on Potrero Avenue after coming off the freeway in my mad dash to get to the Mummies. HOWEVER, I made sure no one was coming in either direction of course... I simply treated the red lights like stop signs. Whew... I feel better admitting that... and about 20
minutes later I was walking into...

The Mummies
Bottom Of The Hill, San Francisco
October 24, 2009

Hell officially froze over on Potrero Hill tonight: The Mummies played again!! Un-be-lievable... For the newbies: The Mummies were a fixture on the S.F. Music Scene in the early-90's and have been one of Umlaut's favorite bands seemingly forever. Last year they played their first shows in 15 years (!) in New York and on a brief European Tour, but they also squeezed in a secret show in Oakland as a warm up... which Umlaut heard about AFTERWARDS. I was beyond bummed.

Fast forward to just over a month ago and I noticed a casual announcement that the Mummies would be headlining this year's Budget Rock Festival in S.F.. DOH!!! Advance tickets to this show sold out literally within hours and they eventually added an early show for this same night down the street at Thee Parkside so the band could simply walk over to Bottom Of The Hill for the late show.

I rolled into Bottom Of The Hill and went straight to the bar... and asked for a water. Amazingly, I had driven across town in time to catch most of The Mummies set and was able to be there for my favorite songs... especially the double shot of 'Stronger Than Dirt' > '(You Must Fight To Live) On The Planet Of The Apes'!! FUN! Amazing!

Pic by Miatomic

It was like no time had passed since The Old Dayz and it was trippy seeing Tina from The Trashwomen in the house since they, along with the Mummies, were a band that helped to define the crazy, eclectic nature of the S.F. Music Scene 15-18 years ago. Time flies, man.... time flies. The Mummies sounded great, played great, were damn funny... and damn ROCKING at a level in that loose Garage Rock way that bands today can't seem to fully attain; despite their gimmicky image The Mummies have never seemed forced.. It's always been like they were from another planet (Well.. Daly City... same thing I guess..). I can't understate what a feeling of amazing deja vu I felt all night... From the awesome and engaging evening at Varnish Gallery to seeing the fucking MUMMIES again! Maybe there is hope to save San Franfuckingcisco from the Hipsters after all... Maybe.

Mummies shirts were $15 and came with one of the best hang tags ever. On the way back to the car, some pimply-faced teenagers called me a fag. After the show I had to sit in the Prius for a minute or so to collect my thoughts and clear my head... I then said a silent prayer to my long departed Festiva, which had served me so well back in The Old Dayz, and then hit the Start button on the Prius here in the 21st Century and headed back to Casa de Umlaut.

The Mummies Shirt Tag..