Thursday, February 03, 2011

Groundhog Day

The Warfield, San Francisco
February 2, 2011

Not only was today Groundhog Day, but it was also the 9th Anniversary of the passing of the incomparable Paul Baloff. Bonded By Blood!

(Photo by Umlaut)

Because of this sad Metal anniversary, it was beyond appropriate that Motörhead were playing in The Bay Area tonight. Without going into details, this show was as much about work for Umlaut as it was being a Metalhead. At one point it felt like I was trying to herd cats through a stampede of cattle... but it got better after that... and it was made even better when I was given a meal ticket to eat dinner from the backstage catering... because I was STARVING at that point.

This show was like high school reunion both in the lobby and backstage. There were A TON of Old School Bay Area Metalheads in attendance. A TON... many who I have known for 20+ years. However, sadly I only saw most of them for, like, 10 seconds each because I was usually in the middle of doing something "work-related". Sorry, guys... It was also a "Who's Who" of Bay Area bands who are in Umlaut's record collection with various members of Black Cobra, High On Fire, Machine Head, Metallica, Rancid, and Saviours all being in attendance. I was also introduced to legendary pro skater and recording artist Tommy Guerrero... and there were quite a few of Hell's Angels in the audience as well. Hide the pool cues!

At approximately 10:00pm the houselights went down and the legendary headliners simply walked onstage with zero fanfare and kicked things off with the combination of 'We Are Motörhead' > 'Stay Clean'. According to the Umlaut Archives this was my 14th Motörhead show and part of what I like about seeing them now is that it feels so comfortable. It's comfortable in the same way as when I order my favorite beer at a bar: I know what to expect, I know what I'm getting, it's completely comforting, and it's exactly what I need. Seeing Motörhead live is one of life's reassuring things for me at this point.

Eventually we found ourselves standing at stage left and it was cool to share the experience of being onstage with Motörhead with a couple of friends. Standing onstage with the band is what I imagine standing in front of a jet engine might feel like before you're sucked into it and minced to pieces by the spinning turbines. Dude, even their backline is LOUD.

At one point I found myself standing in between Lars of Rancid and Lars of Metallica as part of a "Lars Sandwich"... and Robb of Machine Head was standing in front of me like the garnish. Anyway...

Dude, the band's new and more recent songs sound so good live! That being said, my Inner Old Fart Motörhead fan was a tiny bit bummed that the older songs they played were mostly the same ones they played on the last tour ('Stay Clean'... 'Over The Top'... 'I Got Mine'... 'Killed By Death'). However, none of that mattered when they launched into 'The Chase Is Better Than The Catch'... which I hadn't witnessed live in awhile... and it was cute standing behind The Drummer of Metallica as he geeked out on the song too.

All good things must come to an end... and the standard final duo of 'Ace Of Spades' and the 'Overkill' encore still work for me. Witnessing Motörhead perform those two songs is sacred shit to me as they are 2 songs that definitely changed my life. When I was an awkward, geeky teenager seeking some kind of individuality and something that I could identify with, Lemmy and Motörhead were there to help fill that void in my young life.

I don't have a whole lot more to say about the night... NOT because it wasn't an awesome night. On the contrary it was one of those nights when my whole life to this point seemed to come together... From the band, to the people who were around me, to just the entire vibe of the night. I guess I'm at a loss for words because Motörhead have been part of my life for so long that I don't have a lot of perspective on them anymore... If that makes any kind of sense?

Oh shit! THE best moment of the night was when Umlaut's old friend Ron Quintana and a copy of Issue #13 of his legendary Metal Mania from 1983 (with a Lemmy cover!) had some quality time with Mr. Kilmister and a Sharpie.

This photo shows the exact moment when the value of Issue #13 spiked.

If you bought one of each Motörhead merch item you would have paid around $500. On the way back to the car, some pimply-faced teenagers called me a fag. I can't remember the last time I started a year off with concerts by 3 of my all-time favorite bands consecutively: Melvins then Neurosis and now Motörhead. Sometimes life is just too good, man (knock on wood).

Click HERE to see Sensory Abuse's shots from the night!