Monday, March 22, 2010

Deep In The Heart Of Metal - Part 1

The stars at night are big and bright...

Umlaut had never been to South By Southwest. Hard to believe, but true. Ironically, although I've gone through phases of being really into the standard SxSW genres of music (Indie... Rock...), in recent years I've gravitated back towards my center: METAL. Long story short, The Rock Godz enabled me to attend this year and although the V-Neck Tee Hipster Indie Rock element was more than annoying, it was perfect that I was able to attend on behalf of METAL.

Stubb's, Austin, Texas
March 16, 2010

After getting settled at my hotel I drove down Congress Avenue towards downtown for a dinner meeting with an associate. Although I was breaking my Austin cherry, I was surprised how many landmarks I recognized (like the Hey Cupcake! trailer and the Austin Motel) from photos and movies that I've seen over the years. After the dinner appointment, we arrived at Stubb's and found Will Call.... got the envelope with my name on it... and entered the outdoor earthen floor confines of Stubb's. Thank dog it had stopped raining earlier in the day.

We made our way up to the VIP balcony above stage left but, due to the early set times, we had completely missed The Sword. I was bummed about that since I had been looking forward to seeing them on their home turf and probably hearing a new song or two... Oh well! The balcony was crowded with drunk VIPs and various important people... like members of The Sword... and a good number of people who had little to no idea about Motörhead... which annoyed me. However, it was primarily a festival event so I had to roll with it... and I was able to meet up with the rest of my business guests and made sure they were taken care of, so it was all good.

At around 8:45pm Lemmy, Phil, and Mikkey Dee sauntered onstage. Lemmy said how it was nice to be back in Austin and with no other fanfare my heroes launched into 'Iron Fist' to get things going. From there it was straight into 'Stay Clean' and they sounded GREAT. However, despite how *on* the band was below us, the VIP balcony was REALLY annoying me as the drunks attempted to elbow to the rail for a view of the stage. After the first couple of songs I decided to explore downstairs and see where the plastic around my neck would get me.

I ended up standing at stage left next to the mixing board and realized I could probably go a bit further. So I cheekily stepped onto the stage as a song ended (I think it was 'Over The Top')... and almost ran into Phil Campbell as he went to talk to one of the band's techs. DOH! However, it was all good and, after walking about 10 feet, I turned around to find myself standing next to Lemmy's backline and looking out at the 2,500 people in the audience. WOW... It was nice that Motörhead's stage manager Dan took a second to greet me and shake my hand to make me feel welcome... and this only amplified my realization I was living out my Inner Teen Metalhead dream of watching Motörhead from the stage.

(Pic by Umlaut)

The band basically played the same set as the one from last year's U.S. Tour (with at least one song either dropped or replaced... No 'Bomber' tonight..) and Lemmy's son Paul joined the band onstage to play guitar on 'Killed By Death' as he had at the L.A. show I saw last Fall. I'll admit that I got chills down my spine as the crowd chanted "Motörhead!! Motörhead!" before the encores. When the band launched into 'Ace Of Spades' and then the show closing 'Overkill' my Inner Teen Metalhead lost it. If you had told me when I was a kid that I'd be standing onstage next to Lemmy's backline during a Motörhead concert I would have called bullshit. UNBELIEVABLE... and this was the exact moment when my life came full circle (again):

'Ace Of Spades' from onstage at Stubb's
(Vid by Umlaut)

I was seriously tripping out to be so close to Lemmy while he was onstage; I've met him several times over the years but this was the first time I'd seen him "at work" so intimately. It tripped me out when we made eye contact as he came offstage to change basses. It tripped me out watching him during Mikkey's drum solo as he took a smoke break behind his backline and air drummed certain parts of the solo. Lemmy... air drumming... right!? It tripped me out to feel the energy of 2,500 fans directed towards this legendary band and its leader.

A pretty amazing evening with the only Rock Star who really matters to me. Although I've been seeing Motörhead for over half of my life now (!), and this was around my 15th time seeing them, I can say this was easily my favorite Motörhead show ever. As always THANKS to Adam and Dan of The Road Crew for sorting my All Access and THANKS to Tine for keeping it real.

If you bought one of every Motörhead merch item you would have paid around $160. On the way back to the car, some pimply-faced teenagers called me a fag. Fun Trivia: Lemmy's 2 bass amp heads are labeled on the back: one is labeled "Suck" and the other "Balls". CUTE!

.... deep in the heart of Texas.