Monday, August 30, 2010

Under The Covers

Slash / Taking Dawn
The Warfield, San Francisco
August 29, 2010

The last time Slash and Umlaut were in The Warfield at the same time was just over 6 years ago when Velvet Revolver played there the day before the band's 1st album was released. It was a weird show because, outside of a couple of Guns 'N Roses and Stone Temple Pilots tunes, the audience had never heard any of the songs before. However, it was a surprisingly good show and it was MUCH better than the Velvet Revolver show I saw a year later at the Bill Graham Civic that was profoundly underwhelming. Fast forward to 2010 and Velvet Revolver has imploded and Slash is doing his solo thing again.

Prior to the show, Skychick and I had a nice, easy dinner at Out The Door. The Rock Godz work in mysterious ways and I found myself attending this event for professional reasons with Skychick coming along despite her doubts about the show. Long story short, upon arrival at The Warfield I became annoyed by a situation... but instead of throwing my toys out of the pram and going home we found a spot on the main floor where I could chill and have a beer.

Taking Dawn are a new band who cop everything from 80's Cock Rock. They have the right look, the right poses, the right lame stage banter, the right sneers and bare chests; Taking Dawn has everything except songs. Do you remember when Grunge eviscerated Hair Metal and left it for dead in a ditch? Taking Dawn made me want that to happen all over again. The final straw came when the band said they were going to go "Old School" and I would have cut them some slack if they'd busted out a cover by The Cult or Skid Row... but they went "Old School" with a cover of..... Fleetwood Mac's 'The Chain'??! I am not kidding... To top it off they butchered it. Now don't get me wrong, 'The Chain' is a good song, but Sleepy Sun has already done an awesome cover of it, and Taking Dawn are out of their league with it. Smells like teen spirit...

Skychick really didn't want to be at this show but she stuck it out like a trooper for me. Slash hit the stage with his new band right on time at 9:15pm and the set caught fire on the 3rd song with 'Nightrain'. Oddly enough, even though Velvet Revolver had 3/5 of GNR in the lineup, I have to say that the old GNR songs sound better when performed by Slash's new band. This band plays looser than Velvet Revolver did, which lends itself to the old GNR classics. However, on the flipside, when Slash and his new band played Velvet Revolver songs they sounded like a cover band playing cover songs by another cover band for some reason; it just sounded weird.

The singer, Myles Kennedy, was in Alter Bridge, which was basically Creed without their singer Scott Stapp, and he was rumored to have been considered to replace Robert Plant in a "new" version of Led Zeppelin... which makes Kennedy, like, the King of Cover Band singers these days: Creed, GNR, Velvet Revolver, and (maybe) Zeppelin. Kudos to him for finding his niche... I guess.

Slash's new songs actually sounded alright live and whenever he launched into a solo during any song it sounded GREAT. Slash is one of those guitarists who has a tone and sound that's completely his own and I respect him for that. However, I could sense Skychick's impatience with the show and also the crowd. The couple directly in front of us represented the core demographic tonight: 30-ish Affliction douchbag muscle dude and his tiny blond girl. THE most annoying thing about them was Affliction dude "danced" the entire time in that douchbag way: Thrusting his hips into his tiny blond girlfriend in front of him and doing a motion with his 'roid arms that was a combination of flapping his arms like wings and punching the air with his fists. He also slapped his girlfriend on the ass during EVERY SONG; I am not exaggerating... EVERY SONG. At one point I said to Skychick "This is why I go to so many Death Metal shows..." True.

Our evening spiked when Slash and the band launched into the Guns 'N Roses double shot of 'Civil War' > 'Rocket Queen'... which was the best part of the night for me... but as they started another Velvet Revolver cover I could tell Skychick was done. As we exited The Warfield, Skychick stated her point perfectly: "It was too much like a cover band... I need to hear new stuff.." and in the Prius on the drive back to Casa de Umlaut she played The Dead Weather LOUD. You can't argue with Skychick because she saw Led Zeppelin (5/19/77 - LSU Assembly Center, Baton Rouge, Louisiana); cred like that trumps everything.

I didn't do a merch audit, but Slash's merch company did a good job... whoever that might be. On the way back to the car, some pimply-faced teenagers called us fags. I was kind of bummed that we left before Slash and his band played their cover of his signature song 'Sweet Child 'O Mine'... but I'll get over it.