Sunday, February 07, 2010

Anvil Redux

Anvil / Attitude Adjustment
The Fillmore, San Francisco

February 6, 2010

Yes, this was a show geared for Umlaut's generation of Metalheads. The kidz who wear Meshuggah shirts wouldn't appreciate it, but that's fine; it's a generational thing. The Anvil story has been well documented practically everywhere so I'm not going to repeat it... For Umlaut's history with Anvil click HERE (Slim's), HERE (Umlaut meets Sacha Gervasi), and HERE (The Bridge Theater).

On this cold night, of course there was drama at Will Call... "NOT ON THE LIST.." While this put me in a really bad mood initially, it turned out to be a classic example of the Umlaut Nation proving its worth. After trading a couple of phone calls and text messages trying to get in touch with the band's management, I veered off that standard Lock 'N Loll path. I called Umlaut Nation friend Paula in TORONTO who has worked with Anvil for 20 years (Hi Paula!)... Paula in turn sent some messages of her own and, long story short, she gave me Rob Reiner's cell number... so I called the drummer direct! I explained who I was and why I was there and we had a pretty funny conversation that ended with him saying he'd get his tour manager to sort me right away. Right after this, Photo Ray sent me the tour manager's cell so I called him as well... and he informed me he had already sent my tickets to Will Call (Thanks John!). Brilliant networking Umlaut Nation! I'm still shaking my head that someone in TORONTO sorted me in real time as I stood outside in the cold San Francisco night... That would NOT have gone as well back in the 20th Century using a payphone! Thank dog for iPhones.

We got inside in time to see Umlaut friend Nikki Blakk introduce local boyz Attitude Adjustment to the stage. Trivia: 3/4 of the "classic" 1986 lineup of Attitude Adjustment were with Umlaut at Metallica's first ever show in San Franfuckincisco. The band has been playing shows again recently, but without my 3 old friends, and I have to say it was odd to have a hardcore Punk band opening for Anvil. However, from a Bay Area perspective, it was a nice nod to the old local music scene.. but I have to admit the high point of their set was when they brought out 1986-era guitarist, and one of Umlaut's oldest friends, Scaparro for a nostalgic rendition of the song 'Johnny'. It was nice to see Scaparro under the stage lights again... now he needs to get a Two Bit Thief reunion happening!

After the opening set, I noticed that The Fillmore had filled up respectably and I was surprised there were so few Hipsters in attendance given the movie's popularity. This was the 3rd time I'd seen Anvil since their resurrection... However, aside from the pair of Anvil: The Movie performances last year at Slim's and The Bridge Theater, this was Anvil's first proper show in The City By The Bay in maybe 13 years. Their 13-song set kicked off strong with 'March Of The Crabs' > '666' > 'School Love''; it was like being in a time machine and my Inner 16-year old Metalhead was smiling.

A perfect example of how Metal can transcend generations was symbolized by Umlaut's old Metal brother Hans and his teenage son. The kid was wearing his dad's vintage teenage Metalhead denim vest; I documented HERE how that vest reunited Hans and Umlaut after over 20 years. It was funny having Hans' son tell me his grandmother sewed the patches on for his dad and saying "That wasn't very Metal.. having your mom do that.." HAHA! That kid is gonna be alright.

Denim & Leather... Son and Dad

Anyway, back to the show: Jimmy Page has his violin bow... Lips has his vibrator. He pulled the accessory out of his back pocket during an epic extended version of 'Mothra' and utilized the devices' variable speeds admirably. Note to guitarists: The old school plastic vibrators create a better tone than the modern rubber ones.

It was hard not to get caught up in Lips' excitement over playing The Fillmore (on the same stage where the likes of Led Zeppelin and Jimi Hendrix performed)... and because of that positive energy the non-politically correct moments of the set, like Lips making Oriental eyes with his fingers during 'Mothra' and detailing a groupie offering him a sloppy seconds blowjob to intro 'Jackhammer', were endearing rather than causing the typical San Francisco Ultra-Liberal PC reaction ("Ohmygoddidyouhearwhathejustsaid!?").. It was straight up 80's... It was Metal.

Anvil were my Metal Heroes back in the 20th Century, but here in the 21st Century I've moved on; while alot of people my age tend to listen to the same old bands I'm still seeking out new bands that will engage me. During Anvil's set I struggled with how much I was really enjoying the show... My Inner 16-year old Metalhead was smiling, but my current 21st Century Metal self got lost a couple times during the band's mid-tempo songs. In the end, it's Anvil's story that makes them relevant to me and not really their music at this point in my life. Indeed, I bought their first albums when they first came out back in The Day and I still basically know all the lyrics to the Metal On Metal album (I wish they had played 'Tease Me, Please Me'..)... but, as I think I've said in this space before, it's just cool to see an example of how you CAN grow old on your own terms.. and the kidz who belittle Anvil and their story will know what I'm talking about in, like, 10-15 years... or at least I hope they have that realization. Hope I die before I get old.

If you bought one of every Anvil merch item you would have paid $130.. On the way back to the car, some pimply-faced teenagers called us fags. Yeah, Metal on Metal is still the only way... I just see it from a different point of view... Tangled up in "Blew".. and with that random Bob Dylan reference, I am out of here.