Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Street Of Metal

Warbringer / Lazarus A.D. / Landmine Marathon
The Key Club, Hollywood, California
October 3, 2011

As fate would have it I was in Hollywood for some work business on the same day as Sunset Boulevard was invaded by this Metal package tour. Prior to showtime Umlaut was able to have a summit meeting with a friend who used to live in S.F.; it was almost like the "old days" at Thee Parkside and DNA Lounge again. Then we few, we happy few, made our way to Sunset Boulevard and The Key Club.

Tonight was the first date of this 31-date package tour that ends on November 7th in San Francisco. The pre-show activities included witnessing an encounter between my friend and the gross lecherous father / manager of the local support band in front of the venue. I imaged the guy had prowled Sunset Boulevard back in the 80’s when he was maybe 50 pounds lighter and had hair. I’m sure it was hard for 80’s Hair Metal guys to age… Bummer, dude. No more Cherry Pie for you.

It had been 10 months since I last saw my kindred spirit band friends Landmine Marathon. Their new album (Gallows on Prosthetic Records) really captures the live fury of the current lineup and it's their best since 2006's Wounded IMO. Landmine are rooted in the Hardcore Punk scene and I wondered how they would fare on this bill featuring two bands from the current retro Metal thing. I was also reminded how problem-ridden the first night of a tour can be and the band’s 40 minute performance was somewhat affected by these distractions. This included the house monitor guy rudely walking onstage in the middle of the set to switch out Grace’s mic even though there didn’t seem to be any problem with the one she was using.

Despite the bumps, the setlist was a good mix of songs with 3 off the new album; opening with ‘Three Snake Leaves’ and closing with the old standard ‘Red Days’. It was also good to see Landmine fill a big stage again since the last time I'd seen them in a "major" venue was at Scion Rock Fest 2010 in Ohio over a year and a half ago. Since I had missed Landmine's last visit to San Francisco back in August, it's always a win-win when I can see and hang out with one of my favorite bands.. even on a less than perfect night.

The Key Club is one of those soulless venues whose interior looks more like a bad suburban strip club than a concert venue. However, one advantage of seeing a show there is that the legendary Rainbow is only a half a block away. It’s so easy to escape The Key Club and go to The Rainbow for a drink and hang out in between bands... which we did... twice. Unfortunately, Lemmy was not in the house tonight.

I’ve probably seen Lazarus A.D. before but they annoyed me a whole lot tonight. Lazarus A.D. are from Wisconsin (dontcha know..) and their choreographed headbanging (which included the drummer!) made me laugh out loud. It really did… which is a shame because the Midwestern kids have decent chops on their respective instruments. Still, it’s a fine line between being Metal and being silly looking. I also couldn't help wondering what hair products the band uses on the road to give it that silky smooth sheen.

Warbringer means well and I think their Metal heart is in the right place. It was cute how the band members lined up at the front of the stage during songs and their shirts looked like a page from the Rockabilia catalog: Discharge (guitar), Bathory (vocals), Carnivore (bass). Left out of the mix was the 2nd guitarist at stage left; he looked out of place with his short hair and non-band plain black tee. Note to 2nd guitarist: Grow out your hair and stop at Hot Topic and buy a Slayer shirt to wear onstage so you look like you belong at the party, ‘kay? The singer is also one of those vocalists who talks in a growling “Metal“ voice. It was cute how he sometimes slipped out of character and used his “normal” voice. Dude, if you just use your normal voice when talking to an audience it will make it easier for everyone.. Just saying. Still, I don’t want to bag on Warbringer too much because, out of all the current retro Metal bands going today, I do think they are one of the better ones. It's just that I've seen it before... in 1983.

All in all, my night on Sunset Boulevard was more about seeing friends and band friends than anything else. Thanks to Matt Landmine for letting me say I was in the band to the venue staff so we could get food inside the venue before the doors opened... 'cause food is where it's at..

I didn’t do a merch audit… but I did finally have a burger from Grill ‘Em All (a "Waste 'Em All" burger) and it was awesome. On the way back to The Bay Area, some pimply-faced teenagers called me a fag. The next morning I flew back home and went straight into the office and put in a full 8 hours. No Sleep 'Til Casa de Umlaut.