Thursday, June 24, 2010

The Big Four

Remember when the AC/DC concert movie Let There Be Rock was originally shown in theaters? Me too.

"Exclusive San Francisco Engagement" - 1982

Yes, besides Let There Be Rock Umlaut saw other concert films at midnight movies when he was a teenager... The Song Remains The Same... The Kids Are Alright... However, that was back in ancient times before there was a 46" Hi-Def television and Blu-Ray player in my home... but the announcement that one of The Big Four concerts featuring Metallica / Slayer / Megadeth / Anthrax was going to be "simulcast" to theaters worldwide sounded intriguing.

The Big Four "Simulcast"
Century 9 Theater, San Francisco
June 22, 2010

Forty-eight hours after seeing one of my favorite bands live again, Umlaut found himself at the Century 9 Theater in the Westfield Mall in Downtown San Francisco for the "simulcast" of The Big 4 concert from Sofia, Bulgaria. Tickets to this event were $18 each, which was a lot cheaper than traveling to Bulgaria... and sitting in a comfortable movie theater in downtown San Francisco seemed a lot better than wallowing in the cold and rain of Bulgaria as well.

Anyway, it was misleading to bill The Big Four event as a "simulcast" since Bulgaria is 10 hours ahead of S.F. and the footage onscreen was not only tape delayed but also edited. This event was also another example of how The Internets has destroyed the element of surprise. Details of the show (including the "historic" finale) were posted online hours before the S.F. screening's 7:30pm start time... was "spoiler alert" even part of the English language 25 years ago??

To be honest, although The Big Four are from Umlaut's generation of Metal, I don't think of these bands in that awestruck way... "The Big Four" is a convenient phrase that a younger generation of Metal fans and The Media created to personify a time in Metal history. I mean, for Umlaut "The Big Four" is Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden, Motörhead, and Thin Lizzy. I'm just saying... Anyway, priorities being what they are, before the screening I met up with members of The Umlaut Nation for some quality bar time first...

Before and after the screening I got into a somewhat heated debate with an Old Metal friend about my indifference towards The Big Four... which caused me to ponder why I felt this way. Hmmm... Cue swirly, introspective sound effect and graphic.....

The truth is The Big Four aren't iconic to me because I saw all of these bands in their infancy when they were pimply-faced teenagers; I even got to know a couple of them as friends before any of us could buy alcohol legally. So, while these bands did go on to change Metal, I'm not in awe of them. Yes, I'm a fan... but I don't worship them because I remember when we were all on the same denim & leather wearing level.

Anthrax: I got a promo copy of their 1st album Fistful Of Metal and it was alright. I also saw them on their 1st tour supporting Raven when Neil Turbin was on vocals. They were alright.

Megadeth: At the request of Dave Mustaine, I ran Megadeth's fan club out of my bedroom in my parents' house from their demo up until their debut album came out. Click HERE for more insight into my history with Megadeth.

Slayer: The first time I met Tom Araya was before Slayer even put out an album; he was visiting S.F. with a mutual friend. My first impression of Tom was that he was wearing a tweed blazer to a Metallica show at The Stone and listening to a Santana tape in his Camaro.

Metallica: This story is well documented already, but for the newbies click HERE and HERE for some insight into my history with the biggest Metal band on the planet.

What? Oh yeah... as far as "the simulcast" went:

Anthrax: We arrived late from the bar in time to only see them play 'I Am The Law' and say their thanks and goodbyes to the Bulgarians.

Megadeth: We watched the first two songs ('Holy Wars' > 'Hanger 18') and then decided the gourmet food court in the basement of the mall beckoned. Sorry Dave... Food over Megadeth.

For those keeping score, the meals our group ordered broke down Internationally as American > Japanese > Mexican food.

Slayer: The food and conversation got the best of us and we scampered back into the theater late but in time to see Slayer destroy Bulgaria with:
  • 'Hate Worldwide'
  • 'Angel Of Death'
  • 'Dead Skin Mask'
  • 'Disciple'
  • 'South Of Heaven'
  • 'Raining Blood'
It was cool that Tom was wearing a Chilean soccer jersey onstage to show support for his World Cup team.

The audience members in the movie theater singing along to 'Angel Of Death' was a nice moment... and a couple of kidz got up and tried to start a pit in the area under the screen. Cute.

In between bands they showed interview segments with various Big Four band members. As Lars appeared onscreen a dude yelled "FAGGOT!"... and then when Mustaine appeared onscreen the same guy yelled "FAGGOT!!" However, the guy did not call Umlaut a fag on the way back to the car.

Metallica: It was cool to see the local heroes take the stage in Bulgaria with 'Creeping Death' and owning the crowd of 90,000. Robert wore his standard "Metallica - San Francisco' basketball jersey onstage and I dare any local not to feel some level of hometown pride. If anything, the "simulcast" gave a perspective of just how hugely popular the band is around the globe. From the streets of S.F. to a muddy stadium in Bulgaria. I slouched down in the comfy theater chair and enjoyed performances of the following:
  • 'Creeping Death'
  • 'For Whom The Bell Tolls'
  • 'Fuel'
  • 'Harvester Of Sorrow'
  • 'Fade To Black'
  • 'Cyanide'
During Kirk's brief guitar solo he threw in a snippet of UFO's 'Rock Bottom'... Nice. Then I suddenly decided I was done with The Big Four... I can't sit still for 4 hours in front of a movie screen and watching a concert on a movie screen made me sleepy. I know, I know... I'm being flippant and disrespectful and NO I didn't have to pay for the screening (THANKS Nikki!)... but I'm just being honest here. I got bored.

Yes, I missed the "historic finale" that came during Metallica's encore when they were joined by members of the other Big Four bands on a version of 'Am I Evil'... but I'll see it on Blu-Ray when it comes out... or I'm sure it's on YouTube... and it is of course:

Wait... they didn't even play the entire song! I'm sure we'll see this spectacle repeated when they bring The Big Four to The States next year. Anyway, this has been my half ass reaction to what many have called The Metal Event of The Year... and if this was 1990 I would agree. Just saying...

While we're on the subject, Umlaut's *other* Big Four would be Kyuss, Melvins, Neurosis, Sleep... and while the Old Metal guard mulls over Joey Belladona rejoining Anthrax AGAIN, Umlaut is more intrigued by the collaboration between Boris and Ian Astbury that includes a version of The Doors' 'The End' combined with an original composition called 'Magickal Child'... What the what??

Boris / Ian Astbury - Live in Australia - May 2010