Thursday, November 18, 2010

No Veggie Option

Watain / Goatwhore / Black Anvil
DNA Lounge, San Francisco

November 17, 2010

It had been 19 days since my last gig, which I think is the longest break I’ve had all year between seeing bands. Those of you who know what I do to pay my mortgage know that even when I’m not seeing bands I’m still *around* bands… So, yeah, my life pretty much revolves around bands 24/7… for better or worse. I had been looking forward to this show ever since this tour was announced in the wake of the Behemoth / Watain tour being cancelled. However, I’ll just cut to the chase and say sometimes anticipation and reality don’t always live up to the hype in my head... but sometimes life is like that, man.

I *think* I saw a bit of Black Anvil's set back in March at the Scion Rock Fest in Ohio. I liked what their guitarist was doing tonight... but couldn't figure out if his sound was supposed to be that way or if it was because the sound mix was fucked up; I think it was probably a combination. I like Black Anvil’s New Yawk City take on “Black Metal”; Metal with a touch of Hardcore and they perform it well. Unfortunately, as much as I like the DNA, this was one of those DNA shows where the sound was not dialed in the way it should have been. Satan needs a new sound guy.

By my count this was Goatwhore's 5th or 6th Bay Area show on this album cycle; Umlaut always appreciates Road Dogs. However, while I respect their Road Dog ways this was one of the weakest Goatwhore sets I’ve seen. Maybe it was the smallish crowd during their set or their sound that was on the wrong side of shitty, but the set was simply routine to me. Gauntlet…fist… point… scream… guitar solo. Repeat. I hate to knock the boyz from N’awlins… but I’m not going to lie... I wasn't feeling 'em tonight. Gauntlet…fist… point… scream… guitar solo. Man, I would love an oyster po’boy right now.

Evidently Vancouver has been the only city so far on this tour that Watain has been allowed to use all of their stage props (pyro, a dozen or so rotting pigs heads, and pigs blood). I was hoping S.F. would live up to its liberal stereotype and be just as open minded as the Canadians... but, alas, the local health and fire codes reduced the Swedes to simply smearing pigs blood on themselves and their stage clothes. I guess having tofu impaled onstage would not have had the same effect as the pigs heads... and given the sanitized nature of the show it was funny to still see the stage monitors wrapped in plastic to protect them.

Come to think of it, I suppose it's probably not the healthiest thing to be in the front row for Watain and have pigs blood mixed with Swedish sweat splashed on you during a show... but Watain fans are certainly more hardcore than those pussies at a GWAR concert who simply get sprayed with colored water.

Watain annoints San Francisco with blood and sweat... literally.
(Photo courtesy of Sensory Abuse

Opening with the new song ‘Malfeitor’, Watain were still visually effective despite being denied their usual staging. The banners and metal tritons and upside down crosses set the tone even before the band came onstage... Although the tritons would have been more impressively Black Metal with pigs heads affixed to them. The initial attack provided by the band's Dean guitar endorsement was compelling at first... but I quickly started thinking again that Satan needs a new sound guy; the sound was muddy at best.

I've liked Watain's recorded works and their latest Lawless Darkness CD has been in heavy rotation for me since its release. However, as with other Black Metal bands in their class, Watain's live sound frustrates me. The genre’s elite tend to have thin guitar tones that are meant to blend with the rest of the band to create one engulfing Black Metal cloud. While this works in the studio, it generally means a shitty live sound in most cases (at least to my ears). The sound is like a carcass with no meat on the bone; there’s nothing to chew on. There's no TONE... Sinking your teeth into a mass of meat (or wheat gluton for my vegetarian / vegan friends) is infinitely more satisfying than gnawing on a bone… at least that’s the way I like it. That being said, Watain do legitimately fly the Black Metal flag under the stage lights... but some pyro and the stench and sight of animal carcasses onstage would have distracted me from the shitty sound.

(Photo courtesy of Sensory Abuse)

Anyway, I wasn’t inspired by this show at all; I know, not very Metal of me. It was nice to get out on a Wednesday night… It was nice to see some bands… It was nice to see some friends… but it was one of those nights where the show didn’t live up to the hype in my head. It was the complete opposite of my recent Triptykon experience.

If you bought one of every Watain merch item you would have paid around $220. On the way back to the car, some pimply-faced teenagers called us fags. The next morning I saw Neal Schon's Porsche in the parking lot at work; I think it's safe to say Neal In The Sky has never played with a pig's head impaled onstage.

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