Hemlock Tavern, San Francisco
Rocktober 29, 2010
I met up with Photo Ray and Sensory Abuse in the Lower Haight where we had to dodge the hipster idiots in order to enjoy a pre-show Rosamunde / Toronado combo... but it was all good especially with Slayer playing on Toronado's jukebox. Then we few, we happy few, made our way in the rain across town to Polk Street for The Rock Show.
Acid King recently returned from their debut tour of Australia... but this show was the band's first hometown show in almost exactly a year. However, given the band's infrequent hometown appearances (2 shows in 4 years...) it was cool to see the hype the show was given by the local press, including the SF Bay Guardian who said:
"Imagine this mythical union: L7 and Sleep joined in holy heavy matrimony, spitting out a bell-bottomed babe with a book titled Say You Love Satan in hand. Overlay this with indigo, fog, fuzz, a killer Hawkwind cover (the first song ever, it is said, to feature the word "parallelogram"), and dreamy female vocals dripping with distortion and demonic dew and doom. D-d-duhhh! This show is a no-brainer: formed back in 1993, Acid King is seminal SF stoner metal." - SF Bay Guardian
It's bizarre how Acid King has been virtually ignored by the local music press over the past 17 (SEVENTEEN!) years... but better late than never, mofos! Remember when Acid King shared a bill with L7 at Slim's? Me too.
In the past the Hemlock has been one of my least favorite local venues because the bar attracts a certain drunk hipster clientele and the space where the bands play is smaller than my living room (capacity 80)... but tonight the Hemlock was the perfect place to spend a pre-Halloween Friday night.
I've been wanting to see Christian Mistress for awhile... and they were alright... but they were so NWOBHM-ish that my head kept clicking on "cover band" during most of their songs. I mean, it's cool that a whole new generation has "discovered" NWOBHM again but since I had the Jaguar demo on cassette I can't get past hearing the riffs of my youth in these new bands. Just being old fart honest.
"To Brian"... Just saying. Anyway...
Indeed, it had been exactly 1 year and 4 days since Acid King last played in their hometown. I won't mince words: This band is family to me (AWWW...) and their music is part of the soundtrack to my life. I've known this band since before they were a band... since before The Internets... and when people talk about the longevity of bands I always think of Acid King. They are not out to crush the world... or change the world... or be the next band that hipsters like and Tweet and Facebook about. Acid King are one of those bands who exist outside of time and space and, while their sound can be labeled "retro", to me it's timeless... and loud... very loud.
It was cool that only 6 days after seeing Tommy G. Warrior and his TONE that I was in the same room as Lori and her TONE again. The Hemlock's back room was a little oversold packed, hot, and sweaty and made perfect when the band lurched into the opening song and the 2 people to my left both lit up joints. Contact high was in full effect, dude.
The moments of the night that completely caught me off guard was when Acid King played 2 new songs (tentatively titled 'Red River' and 'Coming Down From Outer Space'). Dude, the songs were HUGE!! MONSTROUS! Over the years Acid King has developed into an unreal volume beast that lays down a groove like few other bands... Rather than taking a club to bash you over the head, they put your head in a vice and slowly tighten it. It's a slow, low gear volume burn that I find more compelling than almost anything else involving Marshall stacks. It's pretty great that after all these years Acid King are spiking creatively again with a lineup that is beyond solid at this point. When the band is at full roar it's rare to witness a band operating as a single unit as profoundly as Lori, Joey (drums), and Mark (bass) do. HUGE. The 40 minute session closed with the hypnotic 'Sunshine And Sorrow' which is a song that could go on forever; I imagine it's what immortality sounds like.
Apologies to Thrones, but after squeezing out of the Hemlock's sweaty back room I spent the rest of the night chatting and catching up with numerous Umlaut Nation friends... including Black Cobra and members of Ludicra and Saviours. 'Twas a really great hang session that lasted until bar time. Good times.
According to the Umlaut Archives I've seen Acid King 28x (that is not a typo) dating back to their very first show in November 1993 (!); my car was broken into while they played. Remember when Acid King were on that bill with Hawkwind and Sleep in '94? Me too.
If you bought one of every Acid King merch item you would have paid $130. On the way back to the car, some pimply-faced teenagers called us fags. This was one of those surgically precise, fun, and easy nights that makes me appreciate being in San Francisco... Orange & Black, mofos!
Click HERE to see Photo Ray's shots from the night!