Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Among The Living

Red Devil Lounge, San Francisco

May 11, 2010

I had been thinking about going to see the local Metal band Embers over at Thee Parkside when I got a message from Paschke. His friend Scott was in town playing guitar in his wife's band and he told me if I wasn't doing anything I should join him at the show. I said "Sure, why not..." For the newbies: His friend "Scott" is Scott Ian of Anthrax and his wife "Pearl" is singer Pearl Aday, daughter of Meat Loaf.

The last time I'd seen a show at The Red Devil Lounge was The Plimsouls back in 2006; that's the oldest story in the world. As I was pulling out my wallet at the door to pay the cover charge, one of Paschke's crew happened to come outside and informed the door guy that I was on the list. NICE! I wish all shows were this easy.

According to the Umlaut Archives, I'd seen Pearl perform before back in 1994 when she was a back up singer in her father's band (Shoreline Amphitheater - 8/17/94: Meat Loaf with Cheap Trick supporting). For the Metalheads: Pearl's album was released on Megaforce Records (!). On this tour she is being backed by Mother Superior (who have served as 3/4 of the Rollins Band in recent years) and Scott Ian on guitar. Interesting, right?

It was nice being at a show that was not Metal for once, but it was trippy waiting around with only 15 other people in the club as Scott's "NOT" Jackson sat in a guitar stand onstage.

The band was due to take the stage at 10:00pm and as the hour neared more people arrived so there were maybe 40 people in the club as the band took the stage. Yeah, a small audience but one that was surprisingly enthusiastic with a good number down front who knew the songs from Pearl's album. Pearl's music is rooted in Classic Rock and the obvious comparison would be to Janis Joplin and Tina Turner. I forgot that 3/5 of the band have served as The Rollins Band in recent years because they were a solid Lock 'N Loll band fueling Pearl's honestly dynamic vocals. I'm not bullshitting when I say the performance was really good, with Pearl displaying undeniable charisma and talent and the band playing at a level that held my interest. No, it wasn't my usual *thing* but it was a good performance nonetheless.

Pics courtesy of Photo Ray

I don't know if it was because of the odd configuration of the club's stage (shoved in a corner with a pole in the middle of it), but it was funny how Scott was set off in his own "Corner of Metal" with all his gear while the rest of the band were basically on the other side of the stage. I halfway hoped he would do a solo reenactment of 'Caught In A Mosh' on the small stage...

He didn't.... Which one of these words don't you understand?

As the hour or so set unfolded I kept thinking that Pearl would make a good support act for a band like The Black Crowes. The set closed with a credible cover of Tina Turner's 'Nutbush City Limits' that put everything into context. Maybe it was because I was out of my element, but during the set my beer slipped from my hand and the pint glass shattered on the floor... and I got kind of a disgusted look from the well dressed young woman standing next to me... Ooooops. I honestly can't remember the last time I made that kind of rookie mistake. Wow... EMBARRASSING.

Umlaut's shattered pint...

After the set, Scott came out to see Paschke as his wife mingled with other fans / friends in the audience. I was surprised that he knew me by name since we've only met maybe 2x since 1984, most recently in Cleveland last year. Ironically, the street that Red Devil Lounge is on (Polk Street) was the location of both incarnations of the legendary Metal record store The Record Vault. I was impressed that Scott remembered that and he asked exactly where The Vault had been in relation to the club. There was some more random chit chat, we got some insider gossip about Joey Belladona rejoining Anthrax for The Big 4 shows in Europe this Summer, had a brief mutual geek out over Iron Maiden, and then out of the blue Scott asked me "How many of the guys who were at The Kabuki are still around??"

(For the newbies: The Kabuki was where Anthrax played their 1st show in S.F. on July 7, 1984 supporting Raven. Exodus were also on the bill..)

I joked that if Anthrax ever did a reunion with Neil Turbin there would be people in S.F. who would show up... but in all seriousness I told him that, aside from a couple of people who have passed away, alot of us original Bay Area Metalheads are still around AND we're in touch thanks to The Internets. It was a cool Old Metal exchange on an otherwise non-Metal night.

Old Metalheads: Umlaut, Photo Ray, NOT

Naturally, there were a couple of other Anthrax / S.O.D. fans there... including a tourist couple from Holland who told Scott they'd met him 20 years ago at a show in their homeland. Caught in a mosh... caught in a mosh. THANKS to Paschke for the heads up about this show, because normally the Red Devil Lounge's schedule is off of Umlaut's radar screen.

Anthrax shirts = 1. On the way back to the car, some pimply-faced teenagers called me a fag. It was a fun and easy Tuesday night. It was also a nice way to clear my head for a couple of hours and for me not (NOT) to be so serious and intense about music for a couple of hours. Okay, now back to The Real World and its persistence of time.