Friday, June 10, 2011

June Doom Swoon

Madhouse @ Club Cocomo, San Francisco
June 3, 2011

My Brain and my Inner Writer Muse Thing are not working well together these days. I'm having a hard time ranting about shows right now... but that's not your problem, right?

Anyway, I didn't decide to go to this show until around 10:30pm... or 2 1/2 hours after the doors opened. Oh well... better late than never. It was a rainy night in San Francisco but I'd been wanting to check out the Madhouse shows being held at Club Cocomo. What a GREAT venue! A huge outdoor patio area in front and the space inside has a large stage with an excellent sound system; evidently the space is mainly used for salsa dancing. It's a shame more concert events can't happen here, because it's one of the nicest spaces in S.F..

Anyway, my late arrival prevented me from seeing the opening bands. However, Orchid was the reason why I left the house when most people my age had already tucked themselves in for the night. It was cool to see the band on a large stage where they were allowed to spread their leathery wings and include some atmospheric staging elements in their show. Orchid are a band that bleeds atmosphere and this was the first time I've seen them where I felt they were completely in their element.

Anyway, I've come to admire Orchid incrementally over the past year. When I first heard them I wrote them off as just another band sucking on the teet of Sabbath... Then I saw them a couple of times and I was struck that, while they do borrow heavily from the Sabbath vibe, they have their own thing going on if you are paying attention. I had even more of a fan epiphany seeing them tonight as the band took full advantage of playing in a quality venue by laying down a volume carpet that was as heavy and thick as a 70's shag carpet warmed by a roaring fireplace.

(Photo courtesy of Photo Ray)

Anyway, the volume was unleashed with 'Down Into The Earth' as the set opener... and I like how the dudes in Orchid are not kids; they're seasoned musicians with history in alot of the same Rock and Metal that I was weened on. The rhythm section of Keith (bass) and Carter (drums) is tight but loose, like the foundation of skyscrapers in Tokyo that sway in a groove as the ground around them shakes. The best bands who are Children of Iommi understand that you have to lay down a groove for the volume to slide into... and that's what Orchid does so well. Theo's ghostly vocals do echo Ozzy circa-1971 but in a way that's haunting rather than obvious... and Mark is simply The King of TONE on the SG. All of these elements really came together on this rainy night in San Francisco during the band's 7-song set... which featured 2 new songs ('Mouths of Madness' and 'Saviours of The Blind') that bode well for the band's next album.

(Photo courtesy of Photo Ray)

Anyway, the random awkward moment of the night happened as I was exiting the Men's Room after Orchid's set. A long haired Metalhead kid stopped me and said "Excuse me.. I think I recognize you from the old pictures of Metallica.." WTF... The kid happened to be visiting California on vacation from his home in Italy (Hey Igor!) and had made a pilgrimage to The Bay Area to pay homage to his Metal heroes like Cliff Burton. I chatted with him for a bit, bought him a beer... and then I slipped out into the rainy San Francisco night and made my way back to Casa de Umlaut.

Anyway, I didn't do a merch audit but Orchid have the merch thing down; thumbs up for discharge printing! On the way back to the car, some pimply-faced teenagers called me a fag. Then 4 days later it was...

Orange Goblin / The Gates Of Slumber
Bottom of the Hill, San Francisco
June 7, 2011

I didn't decide to go to this show until that morning and I didn't roll out of Casa de Umlaut until around 9:30pm... and I'm glad I pulled the trigger.

Anyway, The Gates Of Slumber brought the Doom to this Tuesday night. These 3 ancient souls from Indianapolis brought their Midwest Doom into San Francisco... and I have to be honest and say the were just "okay" for me but not great. The standard Doom groove was there but Karl's guitar solos didn't follow that groove and ventured into Guitar Center-ish noodly solos... which were not that compelling. However, an invisible shovel seemed to come down late in the set and widen the Doom groove and thankfully for the last 2 songs of the set the trio's sound was finally all in the same volume trench and they stepped it up to my jaded ears.

The Gates Of Slumber
(Photo courtesy of Sensory Abuse)

Anyway, in between bands I chatted with friends... and The Bottom of the Hill was nicely crowded including members of Black Cobra, Saviours, High On Fire, and Slough Feg mixing in with the Tuesday night audience. Oh, The Scene... although the chick wearing the Yob shirt who sat alone in the back seating area crossed legged with eyes shut and meditating wasn't very Lock 'N Loll. Fuck that Hippie Shit. Later during Orange Goblin's set I noticed her wandering around aimlessly amongst the crowd. Don't take the brown acid...

Anyway, tonight's show was part of Orange Goblin' 15th Anniversary U.S. Tour and the band's first visit to San Francisco in 7 years. When one of England's finest bands hit the stage it was like the back wall of Bottom of the Hill suddenly slid forward to slam into me as they galloped into 'The Ballad of Solomon Eagle' ... and I knew it was going to be exactly the type of set I needed and wanted to see: No bullshit and all high voltage Lock 'N Loll.

Orange Goblin
(Photo courtesy of Sensory Abuse)

Anyway, Joe is one of my favorite guitarists with his wah-wah-a-go-go tone and his first solo of the night during the opening song made me say "Fuck Yeah!" out loud to no one in particular. I love when a band hits the stage and it's immediately obvious they are the voice of experience when it comes to kicking ass. Orange Goblin are that type of band... Charging into battle for Queen and Country... For Jäger and Glory! Speaking of Jäger: The band gave out free Jäger sponsored shots cups at the merch table.

Swag makes the world go 'round.

Anyway, Ben is the quintessential type of front man to lead such a volume charge; never venturing far from the lip of the stage as he keeps the crowd engaged. Also, kudos to Martyn on bass for wearing a bootleg Slayer tee. On another note, there was an unusually large number of Yob t-shirts in the venue tonight as well. Weird.. Discuss amongst yourselves. All in all it was a grand Tuesday night... and the closing one-two encore of ' Time Travelling Blues' into the full tilt boogie of 'Scorpionica' was enough to make me take a second look at the band's merch table.

Anyway, number of vintage Girlschool "Lock Up Your Sons '82" Tour tees = 1 (worn by a dude who was way too young to have seen that tour!).. On the way back to the car, some pimply-faced teenagers called me a fag. This month is the slowest month I've had in a long time for gigs... Hopefully this break will allow my brain to get back together with my Inner Writer Muse Thing... 'cause even writing this "rant" was a struggle.


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