Saturday, January 09, 2010

Plan B

Devildriver / Suffocation / Goatwhore
Slim's, San Francisco
January 8, 2010

I was supposed to be on a plane to London while this show raged, but the brutal winter weather forecast for Albion this weekend changed those travel plans... which fucked up Umlaut's Metal plans, but when the Rock Godz (and work) beckons you can't deny them. Anyway, this show ended up being my Plan B... and long story short I was on The List so off I went to Slim's for the first time this year / decade. According to the Umlaut Archives this was at least my 65th visit to Slim's dating back to when it opened in 1988.

I've become a legit Goatwhore fan since their metalmorphosis last year into a 21st Century version of Celtic Frost with the release of the Carving Out The Eyes Of God album. Unfortunately, the neighborhood volume restriction that Slim's operates under really hamstrings Metal shows they host most of the time. Goatwhore's volume should have had my clothes vibrating from the decibels, but instead I could have had a conversation while they played; it's not right! Evidence of how low the volume was can be heard in how relatively clean the audio is on Umlaut's video... usually the mic on my aging SD600 Point & Shoot screams in agony and can't handle concert decibels, but not last night:

'Carving Out The Eyes Of God'

Anyway, this was the 3rd time I've seen the boyz from NoLa on this tour... and their focused, 3rd-band-on-the-bill setlist was as tight as an unshucked Gulf oyster with the version of 'The All-Destroying' being particularly great tonight. The set was tighter than the last time they played S.F. 4 months ago and I appreciated how the set was weighted even more towards the new songs. It's too bad they had to close with the searing 'Apocalyptic Havoc' because a void was created when they left the stage after that. "Who needs a God, when you've got Satan.." Word.

Before Suffocation I wanted to see just what a "VIP" pass would do for me at Slim's tonight, so we went outside. We walked down the street and around the corner to the alley that runs behind Slim's. There was a security kid perched on a stool but he barely glanced at us as we marched past him, weaved our way past Goatwhore's gear as they did their load out, and returned inside via the back door. Note to Slim's: Tighten up that alley security! If I had been an Al-Qaeda "boxer or briefs" bomber you could have had problems, dudes. Anyway... my between set wanderlust was satisfied and we settled into another beer and Suffocation.

I can't say I've ever been a big Suffocation fan since they arrived in the wave of Metal that came along after my original stint in The Metal Army... That was when Umlaut was listening to music that dealt with subjects other than Satan, etc. (Hail Bob Dylan!); Suffocation are a band who I learned about after the fact... However, Umlaut is an Old Metal fart and it goes without saying that it warms when my heart when a band that's been around as long as Suffocation can still *bring it* live. Musicianship and attitude can't be taught, it has to be crafted over years, and the boyz from Long Island have done the work and paid their dues... and, to quote Photo Ray, they're like a poor man's Meshuggah, without all of the tech behind their blast beats. Although Frank's rant about guns could have been filled by another song... Sorry, just saying.. I would try to write some witty text here involving Long Island / New York slang... but I can't pull it off.. so insert your own. The most charming part of Suffocation's set was standing next to 1/2 of Machine Head as they geeked out over the performance. CUTE!

After Suffocation, we FINALLY met up with Wexford Girl and The Bassist.. and I joked that I wanted a cheeseburger. Fast forward a couple of songs into Devildriver's set and I turned to be greeted by this sight:

A CHEESEBURGER and FRIES delivered to me at stage left as the headliners roared onstage.. Not bad, right? Was it Poser for me to enjoy a cheeseburger and a beer while several hundred kidz got all sweaty and bruised in The Pit 20 feet in front of me on the other side of the barrier? Probably.. but I didn't give a fuck.

Devildriver weren't bad, but my appreciation of them is because Dez is such a charismatic, down to Earth front man. He's one of those old school style guys who understands how to connect with his audience without bullshit. Yeah, Devildriver's music treads a road that's been driven countless times by other bands, but 'Back With A Vengeance' is the best song Slipknot should have written; I think that's a compliment... sort of.. I guess. One thing that I was reminded about while watching Devildriver and their crowd was that every band is someone's favorite band, even when I'm a jaded "been there, done that" mofo. Respect.

I have to admit the best part of Devildriver's set was when Dez pointed at The Bassist and gave him a shout out... Stoners! Which led to an example of how to use an All Access laminate to your advantage: The Bassist made his way past security by flashing the plastic until he got to the backline and then he spiked the night's fun with a little crowd action of his own. Watch carefully or you'll miss his dive > mid air flip > dismount:

As a judge I would give it a 3.4 for style and a 4.1 for difficulty. Sorry, dude.

After the final song we wandered downstairs to the dressing rooms to squeeze out what little Rock Star action could be found... which was basically Umlaut being introduced to Terrance of Suffocation (Thanks Stacy!) and Matt Pike sans shirt.. but that's nothing new, right? This was followed by chatting with friends and new acquaintances at the bar before Last Call.. Then standing outside of Devildriver's bus waiting to be allowed on board to socialize.. but after about 15 minutes of standing on the cold sidewalk I got that "been here, done that" feeling and I said my good night. I mean, it wasn't the Metallica bus we were waiting for, right?

I know, there are some of you reading this saying "What the fuck?? This review is BULLSHIT!! He's barely writing about the bands!" All I can say is, I'm NOT a "journalist" and I write for myself and not you; I write for FUN. Oh, speaking of fun... THANKS to Hard Rock Chick for presenting me with this bit of San Francisco history at the show: A replica of a vintage S.F. brothel token! Slim's Palace at Slim's!

"Cold Beer - Hot Ladies - One Screw".. On the back it says "Good For All Night".. The "Good 'Ol Days" were so, like, METAL. History Geeks Rule!

I didn't do a merch audit... Although I should have since 1/4 of what was for sale affects Umlaut directly. On the way back to the car, some pimply-faced teenagers called me a fag. So at this time next week Umlaut should be back in his beloved England.. but at the cost of missing some shows that might have been highlights of my 2010. Oh well, sometimes The Rock Godz ask you to make sacrifices and I must abide by their wishes; I can only trust that I will be rewarded later. Amen.