Thursday, March 25, 2010

There's No Place Like Home

Pentagram / Ludicra / Slough Feg / Orchid
DNA Lounge, San Francisco
March 24, 2010

After having seen my last 8 shows in Ohio and Austin, it was nice getting back into the routine and see a show on my home turf again. Not long after getting into the Will Call line we ran into Bob, who used to work at the legendary Record Vault back in The Day. It was nice going to a show and see alot of familiar faces and Umlaut Nation friends.... The Scene... Home.

Once inside I had a flashback to a conversation I had last week in Austin at SxSW with someone about Orchid. We were sitting on a curb in Austin, killing time, and my friend was saying how they should have chosen another Black Sabbath song title for their name since there are, like, a dozen other bands named Orchid. He had a point. I'll cut *this* Orchid slack because I DO like them and I dig their new CD... but, man, they do cop ALOT of Black Sabbath circa 1970-71... The Orange amps... The Red SG. Their song 'Into The Sun' is the riff from 'Symptom Of The Universe'... The riff in their song 'Eastern Woman'... err.. "pays homage" to the riff from 'Children Of The Grave'. Their song 'No One Makes A Sound' is a bastard child of 'Supernaut'... but at least the bassist doesn't play a Rickenbacker. Sorry, Umlaut is a massive Sabbath geek... and anyone who's listened to their first 4 albums as intimately as me knows what I'm talking about. However, I don't mean to harsh on Orchid.... Hopefully they will bring something of their own to the Sabbath template in the future, like how Sleep used the Sabbath template but brought their own shit to the mix. I dig Orchid... and if I smoked weed they'd be playing during my nod time.

During Orchid's set there was some unnecessary drama with security over me accidently spilling some of my beer on a lady. Dudes, I was NOT drunk... sometimes gravity and an awkward move causes beer to spill... and I apologized to the lady and she accepted. No harm, no foul.. No need to go Jock on me.

Slough Feg has they've been around S.F. FOREVER. Back in the early-90's, when Umlaut was a xeroxed 'zine, the 'zine buyer at a now defunct comic store on Haight Street was an Umlaut fan and he always carried my issues... and he was the bassist in Slough Feg at the time (I forget his name). Fast forward to the 21st Century and I know people revere Slough Feg's brand of retro Metal and their longevity... but I've never connected with this band. As with Orchid, I understand why the kidz like it... but my old Thin Lizzy and Iron Maiden albums still hold up for me.

LUDICRA... NOW we're talking! They were the main reason why I was at the DNA tonight; THE undisputed headliners of The Bay Area Metal Scene! Having just seen Ludicra at Scion Fest in a basement I was beyond psyched to see them play a full set on a proper stage with a proper sound system behind them. Umlaut had some quality hang time with Ludicra in Ohio... and prior to their set I had some Ohio deja vu moments as I touched bases with Aesop at the merch table, Photo Ray and I chatted with Laurie about her Scion Fest experience... and I watched some of Slough Feg with Cobbett. The Scene. Home. As Ludicra were setting up their gear somebody came up to the stage and gave Cobbett a copy of George Benson's Weekend In L.A. live album.... and Cobbett played the riff from Benson's 'On Broadway' on his Les Paul. HILARIOUS! Music Geeks in The House!

According to The Umlaut Archives this was my 10th time seeing Ludicra. It's not often that I feel compelled to be against the stage for a band, but Ludicra are one of those bands who I've always been right up front for... They opened with a double shot of the new songs 'Stagnant Pond' > 'In Stable' and I was immediately sucked into the Ludicra universe as I've always been since the first time I saw them.

Ludicra's diabolical mix of Metal and Prog Rock is a force of unholy nature whose fury always catches me off guard when they play live. No matter how many times I've seen them, I'm never prepared for the intensity of their onslaught. The band is one of the most compelling and undeniable live bands I've ever seen. Ludicra create a wall of darkness and volume that is simply impenetrable.

During their set, as I have in the past, I've simply closed my eyes and let the band's music get into my head. Yeah, that's probably kinda Hippie Shit... but it's the reaction I have. Ludicra on this night was a religious experience... and I don't mean a "God" experience... I mean their songs and fury took me to a different place. The complexity of Ludicra's music (the interweaving guitars, melodies, vocals, heaviness, dynamics) is something that seems to translate BETTER onstage than on their recordings, which is the opposite of alot of bands. The new songs are just mindblowing and as brutal as Ludicra are I find their volume strangely and profoundly calming. Inner peace through mayhem. HAIL!!

I missed Pentagram last year when they played S.F. because I was out of town. Oh, man... Pentagram 2010... or aka The Bobby Leibling Band as a friend described it. Seeing Pentagram was in stark contrast to the Saint Vitus show a couple of months ago. Saint Vitus, another resurrected band from the past, were in top form musically and sounded completely relevant.... 2010's version of Pentagram not so much. Alot of it was probably due to the fact that the band's guitarist quit a week ago the day before the current U.S. Tour was scheduled to start... and evidently the new guitarist was hired within 6 HOURS. As we were waiting in the Will Call line, an old friend told me that during soundcheck Bobby told him their set would run 5 songs plus a "jam session". Uh-oh..... "Jam session".....

As Pentagram took the stage I knew what was coming. Whereas Ludicra came onstage as a unit, Pentagram looked like "The Bobby Leibling Band": The singer with some musicians. They didn't look like "a band"... and during the first song Bobby stood behind the new guitarist and I don't know if it was to coach him through the song... but it started getting a bit too homoerotic to me and I started feeling uncomfortable watching it... Not that there's anything wrong with that. I just prefer my Rockers to ROCK and not RUB. Just saying...

Anyway, I was just hoping they'd play the one song I wanted to hear earlier rather than later... and, thankfully, the 2nd song of the set was 'Forever My Queen'... and so we hit the exit. From what I heard later, I'm glad we made an early retreat before the 20 minute train wreck jam session...

I didn't do a merch audit, but before heading back to Casa de Umlaut we stopped for a midnight burrito in The Mission. Perfect. On the way back to the car, some pimply-faced teenagers called us fags. As I said earlier, it was nice to be seeing a local show again... The Scene. Home.