Sunday, November 22, 2009

First And Last

Dethklok / Mastodon / Converge / High On Fire
San Jose State Event Center, San Jose, CA
November 21, 2009

Earlier in the week, Umlaut found himself riding in a limousine through Hollywood on my way to a business meeting... when I spotted this billboard on Sunset Boulevard:

Since I was seeing the Dethklok / Mastodon tour again 3 days later I thought it was *funny*... Sometimes when you're riding in the back of a limo through Hollywood mundane things seem interesting I guess... but I just noticed that the speed limit sign is upside down... *Funny*. Anyway... I can't remember off hand the last time I saw the first show of a tour and the final show of the same tour. Over a month ago, Umlaut was in Portland and caught opening night of this package tour... and now 50 days later I arrived at the San Jose State gymnasium (for a mind boggling 3rd time this year..) to witness the final night of this trek.

Photo Ray and I arrived early so we could catch High On Fire... but at Will Call those dreaded 4 words stopped us in our tracks: "NOT ON THE LIST!". Goddamnfucksonofabitchfuck! Evidently there was a fuck up with the guest lists and almost nobody had anything waiting for them, press and band guests alike. So for the next hour or so I stood around in the chilly San Jose night with press friends and various photographers waiting for something to happen. Unfortunately at that point I went into Lock 'N Loll survival mode and basically abandoned my friends in order to sort out my situation (SORRY Photo Ray, Hard Rock Chick, and Photo Alan...). Thankfully, Mastodon / High On Fire's manager is a stand up guy and, although he was at home in L.A. and it was a Saturday night, he responded to my text message and put me directly in touch with his tour manager backstage... who got my tickets and passes sorted (THANKS Nick and Dave!).

Since I didn't need the extra ticket, I handed it to a random kid who was walking past me with him Mom.. My Metal good deed for the day. However, even this good deed couldn't make up for completely missing High On Fire's set. Goddamnfucksonofabitchfuck!

Once inside, Umlaut encountered the same scenario as in Portland: A VIP pass that was basically useless. I don't mean to look a gift horse in the mouth (or maybe I do...), but it was annoying that a VIP pass tonight only allowed access to a backstage foyer area next to doors that led outside, but not into any of the adjoining areas or hallways. For comparison, a VIP pass at the recent Slipknot show in the same venue allowed me to mooch food in Catering and watch the Rock Stars up close in their natural habitat. The pass tonight also granted access to a taped off VIP area in the stands at stage left, which was gratuitous at best since "civilians" kept jumping the tape and after awhile security stopped policing the section seriously. I know I'm being a spoiled bitch about this, but generally "VIP" means something more at big Lock 'N Loll shows. It really does... but the Will Call drama had set the tone for my night and I was getting annoyed by alot of things by then. ANYWAY... sorry to be a whiny bitch.. but I'm better now.

I'm not that familiar with Converge, but they reminded me of Gallows in some respects... I was most impressed by the fact that a good portion of the nearly sold out crowd booed them in between songs. I haven't heard a crowd boo a support act in a LONG time and this made me like the band even more. Fuck this mainstream suburban crowd! During their set, I wandered backstage with Wexford Girl and The Bassist and we happened to be standing in the backstage foyer area as Converge came offstage. As the singer passed me I tapped his arm and said "GOOD SET" (which I genuinely meant..) and he actually GRUNTED at me in response! WTF.. The Bassist and I looked at each other and started cracking up. Oh, Rock Stars.. During the break in between bands a beer vendor bonded with a customer over how "AWESOME" High On Fire had been, which featured the beer vendor air guitaring.

Prior to this show I was hesitant about seeing Mastodon again because I was afraid I was burned out on them; this would be the 4th time Umlaut has seen them on this tour, where they have been playing the entire Crack The Skye album. It's one of my favorite albums of the year, but did I really need to see it played in its entirety for the 4th time in 7 months? However, as their set time neared I found myself standing behind Mastodon for the 2nd time in 3 months as they prepared to go onstage. This is what it looked like back in August:

Golden Gate Park, S.F.

As I mentioned / bitched about earlier, the Will Call drama put me in kind of a foul mood and I found myself not being into watching Mastodon at all after awhile. As they started to play 'The Czar' (Track 4 on Crack The Skye...) Wexford Girl and I scampered upstairs to the merch table to check out the product and to get another beer. At the merch table we were shocked to find out that Dethklok had basically sold out of merch already except for a few Small size shirts. Impressive! Never underestimate the power of a band backed by corporate cable television marketing. So... as much as I genuinely love Mastodon... I spent most of their set chatting with people, drinking a beer, and geeking out over a poster for a show I saw at the Event Center a thousand years ago.

Sorry Mastodon... I've been following you a long time dating back to your club days, dudes... and I'll still support you... but my head just wasn't *there* for you tonight. During the break between bands I saw a guy who I had seen earlier who was sporting a black eye and a Slayer shirt. METAL!

I tried to go into the show with an open mind about Dethklok, especially since I had a bad attitude about them in Portland... Also, the new season of Metalocalypse has been fucking genius and LAUGH OUT LOUD hilarious so I wanted to like Dethklok tonight. I really did.. However, my opinion wasn't swayed. Yes, the musicianship is good... but come on. This is a Metal band geared for kids and casual Metal fans... There, I said it... and I LOVE the t.v. show.. but those are cartoon characters.. and the acid test for me is if you take away the animation and t.v. show context would the music stand on its own. IMO: Nope. However, it was impressive watching 7,000 cable television viewers going bonkers.

San Jose screams for its cream..

Anyway, it was a jagged night that my head wasn't really into 100% but it was still fun.. and that's all that matters, right? Photo Ray and I bailed after Dethklok played 'Murmaider' (a song about mermaid murder...) in order to grab food and beer at Gordon Biersch.... which was funny because it was the exact same moment that I bailed out of the Portland show. I have to admit, the lobster tacos and pint of Pilsner at Gordon Biersch were THE most brutally excellent things of the evening for me... During the meal I traded text messages with a friend in NYC about a Slaughter video... WTF. Up all night.. sleep all day.

Most band shirts in the crowd = SLAYER. If you bought one of every Mastodon merch item you would have paid around $200. On the way back to the car, some pimply-faced teenagers called us fags. I just read what I've typed here and, man, am I really that spoiled and jaded!? Wow..... I'm looking at the man in the mirror... This morning I woke up to a news report that Michael Jackson's trademark glove sold for over $350,000.. WTF.