Sunday, August 28, 2011

Home Cooking

High On Fire / Black Cobra / Embers
The Uptown, Oakland, California

August 27, 2011

Home cooking is the best and this show was the volume equivalent of that with 3 of the Bay Area's best hometown bands on the bill. After going to Will Call to make sure I was on the guest list, Photo Ray and I walked over to Luka's for pre-show grub and libations. We then returned to The Uptown just as Matt Pike arrived in the passenger seat of a Honda. You know you're seeing a show in Oakland when Matt Pike gets out of a Honda and picks up a No Parking cone and throws it across the sidewalk into a building so his friend can park the car.

We arrived as Embers were already well into their set and while they sounded great I opted to go back to the bar to get a pint. It was going to be that kind of show. Black Cobra detonated onstage at 10:00pm and, as at the recent Eyehategod show, I was once again glad to experience one of my favorite bands in front of an enthusiastic alcohol-fueled East Bay crowd. I don't think I've ever seen a legitimate pit going during a Black Cobra show, but tonight featured a lively drunken one. The action included beer cups being thrown at the stage and bodies hitting the floor during practically every song...

Those crazy kidz... Truth be told, I've been a bad friend and the last time I'd seen Jason and Rafa onstage was 9 months ago (!). Sorry, guys... Despite having recently completed a new album (Invernal... out on Southern Lord this Fall..), no new songs were played and Black Cobra kept the set to an excellent cross section from all of their current releases... and for 40 minutes the boys whipped up a long haired thrash fest that made my 9 month absence from their shows melt away.

Photo courtesy of Photo Ray

More so than at other Black Cobra shows that I've seen, the crowd was in mayhem mode from the very first note of 'Negative Reversal'. This was the band's first Oakland show in awhile, and the best part about seeing shows in the East Bay is that the hipster element is outnumbered by the drunken crusty element... and that means more fun for your volume and more bodies flying around the room as the band works it onstage. My favorite salvos of the night were the groove monsters 'Frozen Night' and 'Chronomega'... but the entire set was absolutely ferocious on every level. As Rafa hit the final beat to close 'Swords For Teeth' and held his sticks aloft like the severed head of a defeated foe, I felt the performance, combined with the crowd action, was probably the best Black Cobra set I've seen since I started following them in 2006. For what it's worth Black Cobra's symphony of destruction went like this:
  • Negative Reversal
  • Machine
  • Red Tide
  • Storm Shadow
  • Five Daggers
  • Frozen Night
  • Omniscient
  • The Cry Of Melora
  • The Sapphire Falcon
  • Chronosphere
  • Swords For Teeth
By the end of Black Cobra's set the room was crowded, hot, and sweaty so we retired to the bar until we heard the thunder of High On Fire starting up. Alas, the hallway to get back into the main area was jammed with humans and I was not in the mood to fight my way back to the stage. After listening to the opening salvo of 'Frost Hammer' into 'Blood From Zion' into 'Waste Of Tiamat' I was done with not being able to see the stage and being oppressed by the heat and sweat of the space... So, since this was already my 5th High On Fire show since the release of Snakes Of Divine last year, we cut our loses and beat an early retreat back across The Bay Bridge.

Yeah, it wasn't really a complete night of Rock but it was sufficient for Umlaut. Black Cobra were my priority because it had been awhile since I'd seen Jason and Rafa in full roar and that was worth the trip to the 510 alone. Also, hearing High On Fire thunder while looking at the backs of people standing on chairs who are trying to see the stage is still better than being down front for most other bands... but since I'm an Old Fart I wasn't in the mood to experience an entire show that way.

Anyway, I didn't do a merch audit. On the way back to the car, some pimply-faced teenagers called us fags. There was a nerd wearing his 1999 Metallica fan club t-shirt but I'm sure he was down front for High On Fire and I wasn't... so who's the poser?

Click HERE to see Photo Ray's combat shots from the night!