Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Contact High

The Black Crowes - "The Final Show"
The Fillmore, San Francisco

December 19, 2010

It still bums me out a little how The Black Crowes evolved over the years from a great American version of the Rolling Stones (when they were cocky and fucked up), Humble Pie and The Faces (Yes, Umlaut's Classic Rock Roots are showing..) into a Hippie Jam Band headliner. I'm not afraid to say that I think the first 3 Crowes albums are good... but then they took off the Keef Richards t-shirt and started wearing one with Jerry Garcia on it. I can't argue that it wasn't a good career move since there are alot of people who still wear patchouli here in the 21st Century. Anyway, I was surprised when the Umlaut Archives told me this would be the 5th time I've seen the Black Crowes... 'cause I don't really remember any of the other shows after 1991.

The First Tour
(From the Umlaut Archives)

This was the last night of a 6-night Fillmore run, the last show of the band's 2010 tour, AND evidently it was also their "FINAL SHOW" before going on an "indefinite hiatus". The band has gone on "hiatus" before (in 2002-05), so I'd take the "FINAL SHOW" thing with a grain of salt. However, I figured I should see the Black Crowes one more time and at least it would be one of those special, only-in-San Francisco Fillmore shows. Plus, as I've said in this space recently, I'm bored with most Metal bands right now so a change of scenery might do me some good.

It was pleasant seeing the inside of The Fillmore decked out in Christmas decorations, but it was overshadowed by the amount of pot smoke clouding the space. The houselights went down at around 8:15pm and the 9 (NINE) members of the Black Crowes live unit walked onstage and toked straight into a semi-acoustic version of 'Remedy' and for the next hour the band played a bong worthy semi-acoustic songs.

As my head started to get hazy from the contact high from all weed in the air, I couldn't help but compare the Black Crowes' Hippie crowd with Sleep's Stoner Rock crowd (click HERE for my 48 hours of Sleep back in September). A Stoner Rock crowd is drawn to the volume darkness and the thundering bottom end while inhaling. A Hippie crowd is drawn into the belief that "the jams" and rainbows will make everything alright while inhaling. In reality, both Hippies and Stoner Rock fans are coming from the same WEED place, but Hippies believe in *the light* and Stoner Rock follows *the dark*. To quote the mighty Saint Vitus: "I bleed black".

After a short break the 9 (NINE) members of the Crowes' live unit returned to the stage for an hour or so long electric set. I enjoyed the 'My Morning Song' / 'Stare It Cold' medley... but then a 10+ minute drum / percussion solo harshed my Inner Metalhead. I spent alot of the set watching the crowd and wondering why I couldn't be as in love with this band and this performance as they all were, especially since I genuinely still like this band's first 2 or 3 albums. Of course, the obvious reason was I wasn't stoned... The guy standing next to me sang along to every song and looked up at the ceiling with his eyes closed and arms held aloft like he was at a Southern Baptist revival meeting... I felt like putting my hand on his forehead and pushing him into a river... but he was taller than me.

Over the course of this Fillmore residency the Crowes had a "tradition" of ending the night as a cover band for whatever reasons. Two nights earlier they closed with cover versions of songs by The Band... and the night before they had closed with a set of Neil Young covers. On this final night of their tour, the final night of their San Francisco stay, and possibly the final night of their career the band from Georgia ended things with 5 consecutive Rolling Stones covers: 'Midnight Rambler' > 'Torn And Frayed' > 'I Just Want To See His Face' > ' Can't You Hear Me Knocking' > 'The Last Time'.

With my recent experience amid Classic Rock Zombies at Jason Bonham' Led Zeppelin Experience still fresh in my mind, I thought ending this way was a total cop out by the Crowes. Now, I don't want to harsh everyone's buzz (especially my friends who are Crowes fans...) but I still can't understand how eager and willing the crowd was to eat up a half hour of cover songs instead of hearing their favorite band play their own songs. However this seems to be accepted behavior with Hippie bands dating back to the Grateful Dead (some of their most beloved songs were covers) to Phish (who became legendary with their fans for playing cover versions of entire albums on Halloween). If a big time headlining Stoner Rock band came out and played a set of Black Sabbath cover songs people would leave and never come back... Just saying. Anyway, given "THE FINAL SHOW" hype of the evening the ending was downright anti-climatic.

Bye Bye Hippies

Anyway, after the show my head was hazy from the at least a half dozen varieties of herb that I had inhaled second hand. For those keeping score, according to the Umlaut Archives this was my 75th gig this year... and I hate to harsh everyone's mellow with my bad trip on the Crowes... but at least I was in good company and saw some members of the Umlaut Nation. A shout out to The Sheriff, Sin, The Talent, and Whitney.

If you bought one of every Black Crowes merch item you would have paid around $350. On the way back to the car, some pimply-faced teenagers called us fags. The next day my head was still leaden from my Crowes contact high... Yeah, I'm a lightweight. I need to see a Metal show.