Wednesday, June 30, 2010

15 Hours

Landmine Marathon
The Blvd, Los Angeles, CA

June 29, 2010

I was in L.A. for 15 hours... and it went something like this.

For those keeping score, this was Umlaut's 8th Landmine Marathon show and I've had to take a plane to see 7 of those shows.... WTF. Anyway, this road trip was also the perfect excuse for Umlaut to hang out with Old Metal brother Cuevas. Prior to the show my hosts Cuevas and Judy took me to their excellent local English pub The Royal Falconer for libations and food. Cuevas has been to the pub dozens of times and has NEVER heard them play Old Metal over the stereo... until tonight when Iron Maiden came out of the pub's speakers! THE POWER OF UMLAUT.

Following the pub stop we made the drive from Riverside to Boyle Heights and the infamous Blvd. Umlaut had heard and read about this venue and it lived up to the hype in the best way. Located in a sketchy area, the space features all the elements of a perfect Umlaut venue: Good bar area with decent beers, nice sized stage area with a good sound system, a bathroom that wasn't disgusting, and an outdoor patio... all wrapped in a nice dive bar reality. Bay Area locals: It's like Thee Parkside only bigger.

Upon arriving at the venue we eventually met up with Landmine... and Invisible Oranges and Umlaut FINALLY met. I think this meeting caused a minor earthquake in the area... and I think it's safe to say that we both know how to use chopsticks because of our genetics. Gung hay fat METAL.

Unfortunately Vöetsek were delayed getting to the club in time for their scheduled set, which was a bummer because I'd been looking forward to seeing the S.F. locals again. I don't think anything sums up Summer better than sitting in a band's sweaty van drinking cold PBR before they go on. Then it was around 10:20pm and the heat blast from Arizona announced itself with the eviscerating intro to 'Exist' that was followed by a blast furnace version of 'Red Days'... The aural heat was appropriately unbearable but I was once again caught up in the Landmine maelstrom.

Umlaut needs a new camera. The iPhone camera is shit for this.

Landmine can certainly handle a big venue, but a divey space like The Blvd is their preferred killing zone. I think that I go out of my way to see this band because part of me still can't believe a band can be so charismatic and intense so consistently. No matter what pre-show drama might have occurred out on The Road to the show, when Landmine steps onstage it's like a switch is flicked and all Hell breaks loose. Whatever shit that affected their day is channeled into the PA and the bloodletting begins... and it's funny that at most of the Landmine shows that I've seen the crowd leaves a space between themselves and the band. Something keeps them from getting too close to the stage during a Landmine set... and I think that "something" is FEAR... and FEAR is good. Into that space of cowardice leaps Grace who shoves, punches and grabs those in the crowd who dare make eye contact with her. SAY MAO, BITCH!

As their singer stalked back and forth from the stage to the floor, the band laid down their carpet of fury and volume that Grace used to rage against whatever was in front of her. The word that comes to mind whenever I watch Landmine is "transformation" because that's exactly what the band does when they're in their full rage and fury zone onstage.

As for the setlist, it was a good selection from the band's catalog... with the likes of 'Crisscross Thoughts'... 'Shadows Fed To Tyrants'... 'Skin From Skull'... and 'Bile Towers' spanking ears. The band had to abbreviate their set by a couple of songs, but chose to include their new blistering cover of the Born Against song 'Mary and Child' which only solidifies the fact that the band's soul is Hardcore Punk; Landmine are like the cannibalistic kindred spirit of the 80's Crossover bands. The evening's abbreviated beating ended with the band's favored set-closer 'Rise With The Tide'... and the rush towards the band's merch table commenced.

While it's always a buzzkill leaving a Landmine show, Cuevas and I said hasty goodbyes to the band and Invisible Oranges and jumped back in the car and headed towards Hollywood in hopes of pulling off an epic Lock 'N Loll doubleheader. Around 20 minutes later we found ourselves at...

Saint Vitus
The Viper Room, Hollywood, CA
June 29, 2010

I honestly didn't think we'd make it from The Blvd to Sunset Blvd. in time to catch Saint Vitus. However, as we walked up to The Viper Room after parking I could hear Vitus' volume seeping out of the club... and when we walked inside the band was already onstage and we were greeted by the full-on roar of 'White Stallions'! YES!! What a perfect song to symbolize this late, long, and loud night. "White stallions in my vein..."

The Rock Godz work in mysterious ways... and sometimes they send inspiration when you most need it. Just this past Sunday I had seen Saint Vitus in S.F. and had left the show somewhat dispirited because of the light attendance. However, my faith was restored inside the confines of The Viper Room. It was crowded but not uncomfortable. The sound was great. The band were more relaxed than I'd seen them before but their volume was just as ferocious... Actually, it was probably even more ferocious because The Viper Room only holds 250 people and this show felt very intimate.

Pic courtesy of Cuevas

I was actually dazed for a song or so because I had expected The Viper Room to be bigger but Saint Vitus were RIGHT THERE. Actually, it was so intimate that Dave Chandler jumped offstage during 'Born Too Late' (that echoed Wino's stage dive in San Francisco the previous Sunday) to play amongst the people... and when he was back onstage he took off his SG and raked the neck and strings of the guitar against the heads of audience members as Mark and Henry kept the beat and bottom end thundering. Meanwhile, Wino lorded over the room like The Rock God that he is... and once again 'Dying Inside' was the song that riveted the room with its tale of inner demons. It was ironic watching the drunk and skinny Hollywood Rocker kid holding his beer aloft as he teetered along to the song; Old Man take a look at my life, I'm a lot like you were...

Trivia: The space where The Viper Room is located was used for the club where The Plimsouls played in the movie Valley Girl... One of Umlaut's favorite movies. "That Techno Rock you guys listen to is gutless!" Yes, I genuinely love that move.

For those keeping score, according to the Umlaut Archives this was my 40th gig of the year which is 5 ahead of my 2009 pace. On the way back to San Francisco, some pimply-faced teenagers called me a fag... which makes sense I guess. So there you go... I was in L.A. for 15 hours and that's the way it was.. The next morning I was on the first flight back North with 3 hours of sleep and I went straight into work. Lock 'N Loll, motherfuckers.