Sunday, September 18, 2011

Inkblot Test

Rorschach / Brainoil / No Statik / Needles
924 Gilman, Berkeley, California
September 16, 2011

I left for the show straight from work and, as I drove down San Pablo Avenue towards Gilman, 'A Lesson In Violence' by Exodus blasted from the iPod on shuffle. For the past year my head has been completely immersed in the book project that I'm involved with and it's been hard for me to disengage from memories of the Old Metal Days. Suddenly it was Berkeley circa-1985 in my car and Baloff was my co-pilot for a moment. I met up with Sensory Abuse and Photo Ray across the street from Gilman at the NOT Punk Pyramid Ale for food, libations, and conversation before we walked over to the holy place of Bay Area Punk.

Once again, I forgot to bring my Gilman membership card and had to pay the extra $2 to get another one (For the newbies: A $2 Gilman membership card is required for admission into shows along with a ticket with the $2 going towards the club's upkeep.. at least that's always been the explanation..). Umlaut is not a Punk and I've never pretended to be one... and as a consenting adult I would rather pay $5 for a beer at a venue than $2 for a membership card... but I understand what Gilman is about. Having Pyramid Alehouse across the street is so awesome because here in the 21st Century you don't have to go down to that corner liquor store on San Pablo Avenue and drink in a car before or during a Gilman show... which would be pathetic for someone my age.

Apologies to Needles, but I'm not Punk. Apologies to No Statik, but for your set we returned across the street to Pyramid for another round of pints. We noticed members of Brainoil hanging out too.... and it's always nice when the band(s) you're there to see are hanging out in the same bar so you know when they're going on because they leave.

Here in the 21st Century it's funny to see Metal bands playing at Gilman. Remember when Neurosis were "Punk" and now they're considered "Metal"? One day they could play Gilman, then they couldn't. Brainoil are a dirty, sludgy Metal band but they belong at Gilman because their music bleeds the East Bay / Oakland as much, or more, than most local Punk bands. Just saying.

(Photo courtesy of Sensory Abuse)

The band's performance started kind of *off* to me... but by the last part of their set they were in full Brainoil roar and the Gilman kids had some decent crowd action going for them. I wasn't blown away by the band's set as I had been last month when they supported Eyehategod but they're still the top of my bill of Bay Area Metal bands. However, even at Gilman, there's a guy in a Pantera shirt being the dick of The Pit. Why is that?

I admit I didn't know a lot about Rorschach other than they are "influential". They stormed the underground Metal and Hardcore scenes in the early-90's at a time when I was more interested in Nick Cave than I was about new bands from those genres... so I missed a lot. A Metal friend who I respect told me that Rorschach are the band that got him interested in Hardcore back then.. To my ears Rorschach should bitch slap bands like Converge and Dillinger Escape Plan for copping their sound... but maybe they don't care. Tonight in Berkeley was one of four shows on Rorschach's brief visit to the West Coast this month. The men from New Jersey (which featured guitarist Keith wearing a shirt of Umlaut's kindred spirit band Landmine Marathon) set up on the Gilman stage and kicked things off with the songs 'Mandible' into 'In Ruins' and all Hell was unleashed.

(Photo courtesy of Sensory Abuse)

Best quote: "Hi! We're from 1993..." - Charles of Rorschach.

The band's crossover Metal Hardcore fury was perfect to witness inside Gilman... but the crowd action for the first part of the set was distracted by a couple of assholes in The Pit. One of them was around 6'5" tall who threatened to punch people around him at every turn, including a girl or two. What. A. Dick. Things finally erupted into a near brawl and Rorschach stopped their set, the houselights were turned on, and the pair of assholes were shown the exit.

No fighting!

Once that silly behavior was stopped, Rorschach started the fury back up again. They finished off their 17-18 song set without a body count but with plenty of worthy crowd action. The night ended with a blazing cover of Black Flag's 'My War' with the band's roadie sharing vocals. Nice.

I didn't do a merch audit.. but I find it adorable that you can buy shit like candy and an organic bean burrito for $1.75 at Gilman. On the way back to the car, some pimply-faced kids called me a fag. If I took the Rorschach Test at this moment I'd think that pattern looks like an organic bean burrito riding a bat.

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