Thursday, September 16, 2010

Cat House

The Head Cat
The Uptown, Oakland, California
September 15, 2010

For the newbies: The Head Cat is a cover band featuring Lemmy on bass / vox, Slim Jim Phantom (Stray Cats) on drums, and Danny Harvey on guitar. The band plays vintage Rock and Country songs and is active whenever Lemmy’s other band is on a break from touring; Lemmy is like a shark and must keep moving. Normally a cover band is Umlaut’s mortal enemy; I can’t stand them (Sorry to all of Umlaut’s friends who are in cover bands, but I'm just being honest..). However, I accept The Head Cat because it’s LEMMY’S cover band. I saw The Head Cat a couple of years ago and it was a revelation seeing Lemmy performing songs that he obviously loves and that inspired him in his Salad Days; with The Head Cat Lemmy is basically being a Music Geek onstage.

The Uptown was crowded but not packed... WTF!? It was LEMMY playing A BAR in OAKLAND. When was the last time Lemmy even set foot in the heart of Raider Nation?! My guess is 1988… seriously. Most of those in attendance were tattooed Rockabilly types supporting The Head Cat because of their fandom of Slim Jim and Danny. If the passing of Ronnie James Dio taught us anything it's that Metalheads need to see their old heroes at every possible opportunity. It was shameful that Old Metalheads didn’t show up en masse to support Lemmy! This is someone who many Old Metalheads claim is one of their “Metal Gods” and yet most of the local Metal types stayed away from this gig. Shameful! Lemmy not getting Metal support in The East Bay of all places was pathetic... There, I said it. However, at least the Umlaut Nation was nicely represented… so a shout out to Photo Ray, DeVito, The Talent, Scapparo, Stacy, Wexford Girl, and The Bassist.

Lemmy and the guys casually walked onstage at around 11:10pm and took off with ‘Good Rockin’ Tonight’ and for the next 75 minutes or so it was pure F-U-N. The setlist was basically a mirror of the one I saw in 2008 with songs by Eddie Cochran ('Somethin' Else'), Buddy Holly ('Not Fade Away'), CCR ('Suzie Q'), Johnny Cash ('Big River'), and Johnny Kidd & The Pirates ('Shakin' All Over') among others. If you can't recognize the connection that these vintage songs have with the roots of Lemmy and Motörhead then you shouldn't wear a Motörhead shirt… and because of the stripped down format (vocals, bass, guitar, 2 half stacks, snare drum / tom tom / kick drum / cymbals), Lemmy’s Bass God status was on display like a punch to the sternum.

Photo courtesy of Photo Ray

As with the show I saw in 2008, the highlight of the set was The Head Cat's version of the Stray Cats' mega hit 'Rock This Town' with Slim Jim on vocals. There were certainly a lot of drunk chicks and dudes in the crowd, especially for a Wednesday night. Those Rockabilly kidz sure know how to have a good time with their alcohol; the crowd action was more drunk dancing than thrashing. At one point one of the drunk Rockabilly chicks grabbed my hand and twirled me around a couple of times before she spun staggered back towards the stage. Cute.

Lemmy's onstage demeanor is so different when fronting The Head Cat vs. Motörhead. He looks happier and more relaxed. He smiles onstage and talks more to the crowd. He wears Creepers instead of cowboy boots. He wears a comfortable looking cowboy hat instead of a black military-style calvary hat. Seeing Lemmy be that way up close and personal should be a revelation for anybody who claims to be a Motörhead fan; it's as close to seeing "the real" Lemmy as you'll ever get. He’s a Lock ‘N Loll God, but he’s also a fan of Lock ‘N Loll.

Photo courtesy of Photo Ray

Number of Motörhead shirts = 2 (ONLY TWO). If you you bought one of every Head Cat merch item you would have paid $40; whoever does their merch did a fine job I must say. On the way back to the car, some pimply-faced teenagers called us fags..... Dude, LEMMY played A BAR in OAKLAND and the Metalheads were outnumbered in the crowd. Bay Area Metalheads, sometimes I feel like I don't even know you. Those who fail to learn from History are destined to listen to crap music. The Head Cat can be explained by this simple progression:

Vintage Motown original > Motörhead cover version > The Head Cat

Click HERE to see Photo Ray's shots from the night.