Monday, May 30, 2011

Über Alles

Rammstein / Combichrist
Oracle Arena, Oakland, California
May 18, 2011

In an ironic twist of Teutonic fate, I woke up in Frankfurt, Germany the day before this show... Long story short: Umlaut was on his way back from vacation in Europe. Anyway, as my jet lag and fried brain and body made its way to Oracle Arena, I hoped my Deutschland Week wouldn't end with me in a bunker and the Soviet Army closing in on me...

Row 13 in First Class, mofos!

Oakland was one of only 9 cities on Rammstein's brief North American Tour, their first trip to these shores in 10 years (!). The Germans were the #1 band I've been wanting to see since I've missed their past visits. I'm not the biggest Industrial fan... and I tend to find Trent Reznor more annoying than not... but I've come to be a big fan of these Germans mainly because they've managed to meld Industrial heaviness with a sense of humor.

Man, I was DRAGGING by the time I arrived at the venue; I had been home from Europe less than 24 hours, got only 4 hours of sleep, and had gone to the show straight from work. I was borderline exhausted and teetering on passing out... Anyway, after getting felt up for the second time in 24 hours by a large security guard (the Frankfurt airport security dude had a softer touch than the Oracle security dude) we found a table in the Club Level... and ordered what turned out to be one of the worst veggie burgers I've ever had. Who the fuck puts barbecue sauce on a veggie burger that hasn't been cooked outdoors on a fucking barbeque?! Oracle Arena does, that's who.

The night could only get better after the awful veggie burger, and Combichrist were good... but I was still hungry; I probably should have gotten some fries. Anyway, onstage Combichrist exudes a Nine Inch Nails Pretty Hate Machine vibe; I liked how the lads took their opening slot by the throat and treated the stage as their own.

To be honest, I started writing this rant around 2 weeks ago... and I lost steam. Jet lag cracked my skull for several days... and catching up with work... and then my 103 year old grandmother passed away... so basically there are only so many minutes and hours in the day... and this rant lost out as time passed and my motivation to finish it waned.

Anyway, like the Roger Waters - The Wall show, I was having trouble putting the Rammstein experience into words because it was so fucking visual. INSANELY VISUAL but with so much dark humor it made The Wall look like a stage show for old people... which I guess it was when you think about it. Everyone knows that Rammstein have a shitload of pyro and flames in the stage show, including FLAMETHROWER MASKS (look vids up on YouTube).

The bombastic and mindblowing set consisted of 18 songs with only 1 of them sung in English ('Pussy'). Despite the language barrier I was surprised how many of the 10,000 fans in attendance knew all of the songs... and I was not threatened at all by the trio of young blond boys to my right who sang along to every song in German. However, it was the subtle and sublime parts of the stage show that blew me away more than all the pyro... but I'm seriously not into trying to finish this piece since it was, like, 2 weeks ago now and alot has happened in my life since this gig. All I will say is that Rammstein were probably the greatest arena show I've ever seen; Rammstein are KISS for adults. Seriously... and sorry I'm not motivated now to back this claim up with fancy adjectives and such.

Leiderhosen = 1. On the way back to the car, some pimply-faced teenagers called us fags. While exiting the arena, the girl walking behind me was singing in German... and I didn't feel threatened by it. Anyway, this was 2 weeks ago and Ghost are playing San Francisco in October!