Sunday, January 03, 2010

New Year + Old Volume

Great American Music Hall, San Francisco
January 2, 2010

Poster image courtesy of Secret Serpents

Umlaut's first show of the New Year / Decade! Prior to the show we stopped for German food and German beer at the awesome Schmidt's. Then we few, we happy few, made our way to The Big Rock Show. Umlaut's Inner Music Geek remembered that almost 18 years ago to the day I was at:


VERY good times... Longtime friends know that Umlaut has a lot of history with the Melvins but I hadn't hung out with a pass at one of their shows in over 10 years. It was nice to hang out backstage before the show and catch up with Dale... realize that Buzz still remembers me... and also reconnect with other Old School Melvins friends like Ben (Hey Ben!). It was also cool to chat with Meg of Totimoshi and get the update about her great band (FYI: They're on tour with Mastodon in Europe in February and then a Summer U.S. Tour with the Melvins...). However, despite the excellent company, the backstage food left something to be desired... but it was offset by the cool photo of Robert Plant taken in that same dressing room! It was snapped when he made an unannounced appearance with Buddy Miller last October.



Anyway... After the socializing it was time for the Melvins to begin their "An Evening With" performance and they were scheduled to play 2 sets with a short intermission in between. No support acts... All Killer, No Filler.... or as Dale said "All Filler, No Killer"... Either way I was looking forward to it as we acquired fresh beers and settled in to watch the show from stage right.

Umlaut's first concert of the New Year / Decade opened with the OLD SCHOOL double shot of 'The Ballad Of Bright Fry' > 'It's Shoved'.. HOLY SHIT... I was seriously knocked sideways mentally by this song selection and my head was immediately transported back to those HEAVY days of the early-90's. Also, Coady Willis' drum kit was empty for the first part of Set #1 so it was a "classic" configuration of the Melvins (Buzz > Dale > bass) onstage at the beginning. My Old School head trip was heightened even more by the fact that the band's former bassist Lori Black was standing next to us... and I hadn't seen her since probably 1993.. Crazy.

(Vid by Umlaut)

The second set was highlighted by another Old School hammering with 'Anaconda', an extended and scathing rendition of 'Night Goat', and also a great version of 'The Bit'.. which is probably the Melvins' most well known song thanks to Mastodon's cover version.

However, despite all of my Music Geek nostalgia over the old songs, I was equally blown away by the newer material. Back when I first heard about the merging of the Melvins and Big Business into one band I was all, like, WTF?? The Melvins with TWO drummers? WTF? However, now that I've seen the lineup a couple of times I can say that I'm completely into it... From Day 1 the Melvins were always a band who did things their own way. Dale and Buzz always went against what people thought they were about and always strived to be the opposite of any creative expectations that others had... and over the years they've pretty much always found new (but still HEAVY and COMPELLING) ways to make their brand of music. While watching them over the course of the 2+ hours on this night I was very aware how caught up I was in their set and how easy it was for me to be a FAN of the band's creativity again... and that does not happen very often for Umlaut. Usually I'm a jaded mofo.

Halfway through the show deja vu hit me like a Doc Marten to the face AGAIN when I remembered that Skychick and I had watched the Melvins from the exact same spot at The Great American just over 16 years ago (!):

December 5, 1993
(Pic by Skychick)

Crazy, right? It's amazing and inspiring the kind of perspective life gives you as you get older. Age IS only a number! It was cool to reconnect with the Melvins after all this time, both personally and as a fan.. and the Umlaut Nation was out in force tonight as well... so a shout out to Joey, Johnny, Photo Ray, Wexford Girl, The Bassist, Cuevas, Lisawiz / Trent, and Photo Alan.

If you bought one of every Melvins merch item you would have paid NOTHING because they weren't selling any! Evidently since this was a one-off show they didn't bring any merch... which struck me as very odd... but Secret Serpents did have an awesome show poster for $25 which I think pretty much sold out. On the way back to the car, some pimply-faced teenagers called us fags. My New Year will be filled with some "interesting" adventures very early on in the next several weeks... some of which I'll rant about in this space... some that I won't... but at least Umlaut's 2010 got off to a very nice VOLUME fueled start!

Dale with The Old School Dudes

Umlaut's Theme Song as this New Year kicks off: 'Roadbull' -Melvins... and click HERE for some of Photo Ray's shots from the show!