Monday, April 19, 2010

Overkill... Literally..

Overkill / Vader / God Dethroned / Warbringer / Evile
The Regency, San Francisco

April 18, 2010

This was a weird concert lineup for Umlaut. Although the headliner is from *my* generation of Metal, I can't say that I've ever been a fan of Overkill. Full disclosure: When Overkill were starting up my head was starting to get out of Metal. Sad but true, but that's what happened to Umlaut. For around a 5 year period I turned my back on Metal and listened to alot of other Music. Of course, those years made Umlaut a MUCH more educated Music Geek; I can quote Bob Dylan AND Slayer lyrics at the drop of a hat equally well. However, once my Music Geek education was advanced enough, The Rock Godz led me back to METAL, but that's a story for another time. So, in hindsight, I have no regrets that I didn't see Overkill at The Stone in 1986 or whenever.

This was also one of those Metal package tours that are the industry standard now.. Which generally means too many bands playing sets that are too short. Tonight it was 5 bands with the first 4 allotted a paltry 30 minutes onstage while the headliner got 90 minutes. I know it's about economics, but I miss having 3 quality bands on a bill playing decent sets versus the talent show / battle of the bands lineups. Another thing these package tours take away is the Music Geek tradition of geeking out over the bands' equipment as they switch over between sets since everyone (except the headliner) uses the same backline. Although Umlaut friend Dave and I managed to make the best of it (noting the pentagram grill on the Peavey cabinets, etc. etc.) I had to be the buzz kill and tell him that ALL the support bands were using the same backline. Sorry, Dave. Anyway..........

Evile (England): To be honest, I don't know much about Evile other than their debut album was produced by Flemming Rasmussen and their bassist had passed away suddenly 6 months ago. They play solid retro Thrash Metal, but to be honest after 3 songs I was done and went to the lobby for a beer and meet up with some friends. For the newbies: You will find that Umlaut can be a very jaded Metalhead and I won't sugar coat that; sometimes I'm just not into watching a band after a certain point. It doesn't mean I think the band sucks (and I'd say so if I did), it's just how I keep my sanity by not forcing myself to watch something that I'm not engaged in. Sorry Evile, just being honest.

Warbringer (Southern California): Ironically, Warbringer were the band I wanted to see the most on the bill. Umlaut isn't really into Thrash Metal anymore (I'm more of a Doom / Death guy now..) because it sounds dated to me most of the time; it makes jaded Umlaut say "been there, done that". I have a hard time getting into the new bands who are recreating that sound, but Warbringer and a couple of other new bands (specifically 3 Inches Of Blood) do the retro thing well and I do dig them. Umlaut has listened to the their latest Waking Into Nightmares CD quite a bit and I keep hearing Death Angel in it, which is a good thing of course. Before Warbringer came out they inexplicably played 'Maggie's Farm' by Bob Fuckin' Dylan over the PA... Come on! Throw the horns with me! Anyway, Warbringer brought a strong set and the band has obviously watched all the right old Metal videos which translates into how they work a stage. At first I was getting annoyed by John's front man posing and the fact drummer Nic was using a click track via headphones to keep time... but I reminded myself these were just kidz onstage and I was watching them through jaded Umlaut eyes. Once I made that attitude adjustment it was all good. 'Prey For Death' absolutely killed live and at the end of their set, guitarist John jumped down into the photo pit to rage with the front row and vocalist John dove into the crowd:

Nicely done, lads. OH! During Warbringer's set a pair of skinny, probably 14-year old boys were standing next to me at the edge of The Pit gawking at the crowd action. One of them wanted to join The Pit so bad but he couldn't get his timing right to join in the mosh. Kid, you can't "wait" for The Pit to let you in! You just have to fucking GO!! At one point he turned to his buddy and I could see he was frustrated, but his buddy was a pussy and wasn't going to join him. When the kid turned back towards The Pit a 200 pound dude slammed into him. CUTE! Poor kid... don't take drugs.

God Dethroned (Holland): I was hanging in the lobby with friends when the Dutch took the stage.. They had already played a song and I was about to head back in to watch them when Photo Ray returned from the photo pit and said "One of the dudes is wearing a polo shirt..." That was reason enough for Umlaut to stay in the lobby with a beer and his friends. Sorry God Dethroned. One of the things Umlaut can't abide is a Metal band wearing polo shirts onstage.

Vader (Poland): As much as I like Vader, I've always been dubious about a band naming themselves after a Star Wars character, especially such an obvious one. Maybe Sarlaac was already taken?? However, I cut Vader slack because they have delivered the appropriate darkness that behooves that name. The Poles took the stage and their Eastern European Death Metal was EXACTLY what I wanted here in the 21st Century. Vader's most recent album Necropolis was in rotation on Umlaut's playlist after its release last Summer. Vader reminded me why, despite my wider Music Geek base, I will ultimately always bleed Metal. Dense and bludgeoning riffs speak straight to my soul. Vader are one of those bands who have been around so long that, aside from Peter, they've had too many members for Umlaut to keep track of and I'm not even going to try at this point. Anyway, with Peter leading the band as always, I think the lead guitarist on this tour is a dude named Marco and he brought the volume in a very workmanlike way. It was also nice to see the drummer (who I assume was Paul) bringing the thunder without the use of a click track like the youngster in Warbringer. During their set security shut a guy down for lighting up a bowl down front... and THEN THEY KICKED HIM OUT!!? WTF Regency Security!? I thought this was San Franfuckincisco!?? Way to harsh The Metal, man. We're NOT fuckin' Hippies! Anyway, despite the buzz kill, Vader owned the stage and wiped the floor with the rest of the bill. How do you say "buzz kill" in Polish?

Overkill (New Jersey): As I said earlier, by the time Overkill were hitting The Metal Scene in the mid-80's I was just starting my hiatus from Metal and was more likely to be found at a Jesus & Mary Chain show. Before they came on, Umlaut was back in the lobby when Dave came up and said "You gotta see this...." We followed him back into the venue and The Jersey Boyz had a rather silly stage that was a bit much for The Regency: ramps, stairs, strobe towers. I don't mean to be a dick because I understand this is the band's 25th Anniversary Tour, but if you took away some of props you might have been able to knock a couple of bucks off the ticket price and gotten a bigger crowd in the house. Just saying. Anyway, when the lights went down and the smoke machine kicked in it was the 80's all over again. The veteran band did sound and perform good... but I have to be honest and say vintage Thrash Metal sounds so dated to Umlaut and, in all honesty, it makes me feel old. It really does. Aside from a couple of key Thrash albums from that era, I feel no nostalgia for it...

Anyway, after 4 songs I headed out the door and back into the 21st Century. Evidently the final song of Overkill's set was.... their cover of.... 'Overkill' by Motörhead. Cheeky.

Over the past month, the Metal shows on Umlaut's calendar have featured some pretty great hang sessions with friends. In the past Umlaut has been more surgically precise with shows and the social aspect has been minimal. This evening turned out to be ALOT more fun than I thought it was going to be because it was a perfect balance of a couple of bands who I genuinely like and having members of the Umlaut Nation in the house to shoot the shit with... So a quick shout out to Timo, Dave, Photo Ray, Nikki Blakk, Sven, HRC, Taylor, and Alan.

Warbringer had 4 shirts for sale but only had them in size SMALL... Ooops. (Merch 101: Metal bands should ALWAYS have plenty of size XL in stock... 'cause alot of BIG BOYZ listen to Metal..). If you bought one of every Overkill merch item you would have paid $253 and if you bought one of every Vader merch item you would have paid $105. On the way back to the car, some pimply-faced teenagers called me a fag. The next morning Alan told me that Jeff Walker of Carcass had been at the show! WTF!? He was stranded in the U.S. after his brief tour with Brujeria because of the Icelandic volcano eruption. That whole volcano thing is pretty METAL, right?