Thursday, April 15, 2010

Midlife Crisis

Faith No More / El Camino High School Cheerleaders / White Trash Debutantes
The Warfield, San Francisco

April 14, 2010

Yeah, Faith No More are another legendary band from the San Franfuckincisco Bay Area and personally Umlaut was obsessed with their Angel Dust album when it came out. However, I hadn't seen Faith No More in almost 18 years (!) and I'd never seen them without Jim Martin in the band. The last time I saw FNM:

Angel Dust Tour
(From the Umlaut Archives)

Fast forward to the 21st Century and I have to say that in the years since the Angel Dust album and Martin's departure I've been way more interested in Mike Patton's solo projects (Yes, Fantômas, but especially Mr. Bungle and Tomahawk). On the flipside, Billy Gould has been known to attend events at Casa de Umlaut:

Case de Umlaut Holiday Party ~ 2000

This was the final night of FNM's triumphant 3 night stand in their hometown, which were also their 1st U.S. shows in 12 years. Kinda cool, right? Tickets for the shows sold out immediately and were going for around 3x face online. However, people were dumping extra tics for ½ face value out front before the show. Lesson: Greed doesn’t pay, dude. So, I guess there are still alot of folks who still give a shit about FNM and alot of folks traveled from out of state (Hi Umlaut friends Val, Tim, and Jessica from the 480!).

All of the old bands coming back from the dead is eerie. However, unlike Alice In Chains who have breathed new life into their legacy or Saint Vitus who validated their legendary status, FNM's resurrection seems more about cashing in on nostalgia than anything else. Sorry, just being honest. This is fine, but FNM nostalgia isn't something I'm invested in so I went into the show feeling like I was about to see someone I knew 18 years ago and hadn't thought about in years.

Each night of FNM's Warfield stand was hosted by the perfectly inappropriate Neil Hamburger and featured different eclectic opening acts. If you haven't experienced Hamburger's act I won't go into it here, but when he opened for Tenacious D. in S.F. several years back he was pelted with coins, etc. thrown by the crowd. Tonight's other acts were the White Trash Debutantes and the El Camino High School cheerleading squad (!). Yep, a band fronted by a tranny and cheerleaders! Only in San Franfuckincisco. The White Trash Debutantes (or at least Ginger Coyote on vocals) have been around FOREVER and Umlaut has worked with at least 2 former members. It was a bit sad that no one around me seemed to recognize their covers of 'Time Warp' from Rocky Horror or L7's 'Shitlist'... and, uh, yeah... they were followed by around 20 high school cheerleaders who did their cheerleading thang. I didn't envy the press photographers as they struggled with the moral implications of how to photograph underage girls like that... of course they didn’t have to be taking photos at all…. Just saying.

Faith No More... It’s still kinda weird to me that they've become so revered over the decade+ they've been inactive; I suppose alot of people have seen the video for 'Epic' over and over on VH1 Classic in that time. Of course, all of FNM are solid musicians but as far as a live entity it's all about Mike Patton onstage. Whether it’s a clever schtick or not, their ironic cover versions of pop songs probably seem edgy to the masses who are used to more formulaic setlists. Peaches & Herb's 'Reunited' opened the set and launched straight into 'From Out Of Nowhere', which I’ve always liked as a FNM set opener. The song also featured Patton tossing his mic stand into the crowd old school style and diving into the crowd. It was a good start to a 2 hour set that ultimately lost steam for me as the night progressed. The opening of 'Epic' emerged from a wall of feedback and noise, which was promising... but the band's biggest hit sounded tepid and anything but epic. Heavy S.F. rotation in the 80's was 'Lights' by Journey... Heavy S.F. rotation in the 90's was 'Epic' by Faith No More... but at least they played 'Midlife Crisis' (my fave track off Angel Dust).

In all honesty this was the perfect show to display just how much of a jaded mofo Umlaut can be now. When Patton climbed onto the speakers at stage right and dramatically leaped into the crowd it was cool... but I couldn't help thinking back on an epic Mr. Bungle show on New Year's Eve 1992 (with the Melvins supporting) when someone gave Patton a rose and he dropped his pants and stuck the rose up his ass stem first, thorns and all. I couldn't help imagining how that stunt would have gone over here in 2010 in front of a nostalgic FNM crowd. Probably not as well as Patton landing on their heads and sweating on them.

The high point of the night came as the encores started and original singer Chuck Mosley casually wandered onstage with the band for the first time in over 20 years. It was the perfect hometown thing to do, even if it teetered on being a train wreck with Mosley struggling with both singing and the lyrics. However, the band managed to hold it together for 4 songs from the 1st album. Most of the crowd around me didn't seem to know FNM had an original singer, except for a guy next to me who just about shit his pants when Chuck walked out and he immediately screamed like a little school girl (LITERALLY) and left his girlfriend without a word and bolted towards the stage. His girlfriend ordered a beer from a passing waitress and didn't seem to mind. Nice. The show closed with ‘Introduce Yourself’ featuring both Mosley and Patton on vocals and it was funny how they still said “JIM!” in the song.

The Bay Area vibe was thick in air of course and the Umlaut Nation was nicely represented (Quick shout outs to Timo, Photo Ray, Paschke, Secret Serpents, Wexford Girl, The Bassist, HRC, Nikki Blakk, Billy, Taylor, and the 480 Crue..) . When I was standing in the lobby in between acts 2 different guys walked up to me and shook my hand like they knew me but I couldn't place them. SORRY, guys... If you're reading this shoot me an e-mail.

Number of Ludicra shirts = 1 (mine). If you bought one of every FNM merch item you would have paid around $235. On the way back to the car, some pimply-faced teenagers called me a fag. Yeah, I don’t know man. All of these 90’s bands coming back to life… Next up: Soundgarden. Thankfully Nirvana is safely buried, but I’m still holding out for L7 or at least Tad.