Monday, March 08, 2010

Shrinebuilder Redux

Shrinebuilder / Harvestman
The Independent, San Francisco
March 7, 2010

The exciting sequel to Shrinebuilder!

The final night of the supergroup's 3 nights in the Bay Area (Although, Shrinebuilder were also scheduled to play a Nike corporate party in S.F. the next day as well.... SHHH..). I passed on the Saturday show in Oakland even though it was the spiritual highpoint of the band's Bay Area shows; I'm sure the East Bay Crusties were out in full force. However, it was more appropriate for Umlaut to see the band at The Independent. For the newbies: Back in the early-90's xerox Umlaut 'zine days the space was called The Kennel Club and Neurosis, Sleep, AND the Melvins played there dozens of times. There were more than a few shows where they shared the bill, and those nights were life defining times for me, man...

Grotus / Neurosis / Sleep @ The Kennel Club
May 1992

Remember when the Melvins played unannounced as the surprise support band for Neurosis at The Kennel on May 7, 1993 to break in a new bassist named Dave Sahajik (Trivia: He was in the Melvins for ONE brief U.S. Tour before being replaced by Mark Deutrom)? Me too... and the mighty Buzzov-en were the first band on that night as well... Epic.

Speaking of epic: This night will go down as one of Umlaut's favorite nights of the year. The tone was set as we nervously drove down Divisadero at 9:20pm on a Sunday night expecting to spend the next 20-30 minutes looking for parking. Instead we immediately found a spot only 1/2 block away from The Independent! Amazing! Parking karma was in full effect... and the night only got better from there.

Steve Von Till.... errr.... I mean Harvestman was already onstage when we entered and his solo assault sounded even better compared to the San Jose show a couple of nights before. It was also good seeing Steve... I mean Harvestman... on *that* stage again where Neurosis laid down the law so many times. I'm sure there were a good number of ghosts in the room from The Old Days who would agree.

Everything I felt about Shrinebuilder's San Jose set was magnified at least 10x tonight. The sound and lighting at The Independent made a huge difference, and it was obvious from the band's body language onstage that they were in "The Zone", especially Al and Wino. I saw Sleep at least a dozen times and it's cool seeing Al playing with a full band again. He looks comfortable not being the center of attention onstage as he is with OM and it's just great seeing him rocking out once more.

It's beyond cool to see Wino so active (with the Saint Vitus reunion and Shrinebuilder) after the starts and stops he had with The Hidden Hand and Spirit Caravan in recent years. The man is a legend who deserves WAY more than he's gotten to this point. Wino and Lemmy = The only real Rock Stars left IMO. Onstage in San Franfuckincisco you could tell Wino felt things were in "The Zone" as he raised his arms in triumph at least a couple of times after songs and gazed out at the raised fists and hands in front of him. Awesome.

Also, I was in "The Zone" for Shrinebuilder alot more than I had been at the San Jose show. The fact they went on 2 hours earlier at The Independent than they had at The Voodoo Lounge was probably the main reason; yeah, I'm old. Also, I had listened to the Shrinebuilder album 2x again and was much more in tune with the songs. I have to say the weakest part of their set tonight was the Joy Division - 'Twenty Four Hours' cover; an inspired choice for a cover song... but it doesn't really work for me. On the flipside, the set closing 'Pyramid Of The Moon' with it's Drone Doom mantra REALLY sucked me. Can I have my brain back please? WOW.

It's so easy for people to be jaded about Shrinebuilder and debate the "quality" of Shrinebuilder's material, but those people are missing the point IMO. Seeing these 4 iconic musicians onstage together is what makes the band so compelling. They're kindred spirits and that translates onto the stage... You don't see this kind of timeless, legitimate Rock Brotherhood that often, man.

The After Show hang was nostalgic with old friends mingling with band friends. Dale offered us band beers... Al offered us band pizza. Portal live videos on YouTube were watched on an iBook and discussed... and I had an inspiring conversation about Iron Maiden with the drummer of one of my favorite local bands. Steve Von Till.... errr... I mean Harvestman used his mom's car to drive himself and his gear to the show. Good times.

If you bought one of every Shrinebuilder merch item you would have paid around $100. On the way back to the car, some pimply-faced teenagers called us fags. A really great night... and it's cool how you can have a history with a concert space and spending time in that venue can remind you what it felt like to be in your 20's again. Hope I die before I get old.