Friday, January 29, 2010

Back To The Future

Swashbuckle / White Wizzard
January 28, 2010
Thee Parkside, San Francisco

The current "New Wave Of Traditional Metal" movement (aka NWOTHM) kind of freaks me out; are these kidz taking the piss out of Old Metal (aka MY Generation of Metal) or are they legitmate believers?? They mirror the same cheesy lyrics and good musicianship of the original New Wave Of British Heavy Metal (NWOBHM) bands, and even copy the same low-fi sounding mixes of the old recordings. However, it's weird for me to hear bands trying to recreate the low-fi Metal sound of the bands from my youth because that sound was a result of the old bands not being able to afford anything better. I've gone back and forth with the genre, but out of all the NWOTHM bands White Wizzard has won me over. As one friend said, they are more NWOBHM than alot of the original NWOBHM bands were..

Trivia: The art on White Wizzard's latest t-shirt was done by legendary artist Derek Riggs (For the newbies: Riggs did ALL of Iron Maiden's iconic artwork back in The Day). Also, the cover art for their upcoming new album Over The Top was done by the guy who does the art for Guitar Hero; I like how the band understands how to brand itself with strong art.

Art by Derek Riggs

When I arrived at Thee Parkside a line was wrapped around the corner and I met up with Montana Chris, who happened to be in town for work. Unfortunately, there was Will Call drama when my name wasn't on the White Wizzard guest list like it was supposed to be... but shit happens and we made it inside eventhough we had to listen to the set opener 'Over The Top' from outside...

I was very curious to see how this younger crowd would respond to White Wizzard's vintage style of Metal (aka harmonies... actual singing)... but I had nothing to worry about as the packed room felt like being in a time machine back to The Old Metal Days of the early-80's; the kidz *got it*... I was impressed how the band displayed the musicianship onstage that I was expecting, with the retro twin axe attack of Chad and Erik ringing like something being channeled from the past. It's true that most of White Wizzard's songs are variations of the "Iron Maiden gallop" (bass and drums pounding in unison like charging horses) but I don't have a problem with it. Good songs are good songs.. and as their set closed with 'White Wizzard' I could feel that the buzz about the band had been planted in San Francisco.

After the band's set we chatted with Jon (bass) at the merch table and I said that I, like, totally dig the new Over The Top CD... and he got a funny look on his face and said "You've heard it??"... DOH! Then I realized that the new disc hasn't been released yet (a February release date) and their label (Earache) had sent me an advance copy. Awkward... Dude! I didn't illegally download it!

I was not intending to stay for Swashbuckle's entire set, nor was I even expecting to remotely like them. I'd seen pictures of them and thought "WTF?! A Metal band from New Jersey who dress like fucking Pirates and who sing songs about being Pirates?? Fucking LAME..."... but, you know what, the schtick totally works live!

Onstage their sense of humor reminded me of BlöödHag in how the schtick and jokes are razor sharp and on target but they don't overdo it... and the crowd action in the packed room fed off the band's brand of old style Thrash Metal impressively; the Pirates obviously have a decent fanbase. The kidz in the crowd gave me a reality check during Swashbuckle's set and reminded me how FUN it could be seeing a band. The set's highlight featured two of the band's guests jumping onstage wearing parrot and shark costumes as they led the crowd in the song's chorus of "Yo Ho Ho!" and Admiral Nobeard (vox / bass), in keeping with the band's nautical theme, directed the crowd to form a "Wave of Death" (HaHa!) which they did despite the small space. I know, it sounds lame, but it totally worked. Pirate Metal... who woulda thunk? I'll gladly see Swashbuckle again if only to laugh... not at them.. but with them.

Also on the bill tonight was Tyr and Korpiklaani. Something I didn't mention earlier was the number of kidz in the house who were wearing chainmail, leather armor, and generally looking like they were at a D&D dress up party... I assumed they were there to see these two bands.. one who plays Viking Metal and the other Folk Metal. Okay, I'll admit Pirate Metal wasn't so bad... and I probably should have watched Tyr because I do like quite a bit of the Viking Metal stuff.. but my Old Metal soul simply can't abide Folk Metal... so after spending most of Tyr's set chatting with friends on the patio, and being introduced to Chad of White Wizzard, I made a early exit and rolled back into Casa de Umlaut at a decent hour.

Umlaut > Chad White Wizzard > Montana Chris

I meant to do a merch audit but ended up forgetting about it. On the way back to the car, some pimply-faced teenagers called me a fag. Metal is SO serious sometimes... and Umlaut does prefer his Metal SERIOUS and DARK.. but this show reminded me that, when I was a kid, Metal was also FUN... and it's cool to have fun even if you're an Old Fart Metalhead.. isn't it?