Saturday, February 25, 2012

The 7 Days Of Murder

Every once in awhile a week like this happens in this magical land called The Bay Area. This week was like a Murder In The Front Row live showcase with the only bands missing being Metallica and Exodus... although members of Exodus did make an appearance.. as you will see. The Metal Godz work in mysterious ways, man.

Machine Head
The Warfield, San Francisco
Saturday - February 18, 2012

Whitney Houston's funeral was earlier in the day... I believe that children are the future.. Teach them well and let them lead the way.. in Metal. According to the Umlaut Archives tonight was the 85th time I'd visited The Warfield for a concert. Tonight was also the final night of Machine Head's U.S. Tour and it's always cool when a band can end a trek at home, right?

In my opinion, one of the greatest things about having the proper pass at a show is the ability to leave a no-ins-and-outs venue anytime you want, walk across the street, order a cheeseburger and onion rings, enjoy it properly over good conversation with a friend (who also has the proper pass to the show), then walking back across the street and reentering the venue with no hassles. Kidz, that's what Rock 'N Roll is about! The sex and drugs are for the amateurs..

The only "Rock Star" of note who wasn't onstage in the house tonight was... Jello Biafra? Odd.. but kudos to Jello for showing up... I guess. To be honest, whenever I see Machine Head live I find myself watching their audience almost more than the band. Their most fanatical fans are the type that make me wish I could be that passionate about any band again.

I kind of got mesmerized watching 4 or 5 dudes at the front of the balcony who sang along to every song as if they were screaming along with Robb Flynn at Hell itself. Impressive. "Headbang motherfucker!"

Then 24 hours later it was...

The Avalon, Santa Clara, California
Sunday - February 19, 2012

Four years ago on this date Umlaut was seeing Iron Maiden indoors at The Forum in Los Angeles. Today was also the 32nd Anniversary of the death of Bon Scott. Respect. It's always weird to see a Metal show at a venue that's literally 15 minutes from where I grew up, because there were never Metal shows this close to home when I was a kid. Trivia: The Avalon space was a Bullwinkle's Pizza Parlor back in The Day; the area where the stage is now was a dancing waters show. Tonight was also the final night of the Testament tour and it's always cool when a band can end a trek at home, right?

A sold out show on a holiday weekend Sunday night is always a good thing... and it was also a "who's who" of Bay Area Metal guitarists tonight with Gary Of Exodus, Phil of Machine Head, and Ted of Death Angel all in the house; cue standard Thrash Metal riff. Testament took the stage and destroyed my old 'hood... Absolutely destroyed it.

(Photo courtesy of Photo Ray)

Besides their already formidable lineup, Testament also had the legend that is Gene Hoglan on drums for this tour... and Alex Skolnick was unbelievably on fire with his Guitar God work tonight.. even more so than usual... and the crowd action was unusually excellent for the 'burbs as well. The original Bay Area Metal bands have been on this cool trend of inviting former members onstage. It started with Metallica at The Fillmore in December... Then Exodus earlier this month... and tonight Testament brought up Steve "Zetro" Souza to perform the Legacy era song 'Alone In The Dark'. Nice.

On the way back to the car this happened...

Mr. & Mrs. Gary Holt

The first time I saw that guy onstage was when we were both 18 years old. Then 4 days later it was...

Gigantour 2012
Megadeth / Motörhead / Volbeat / Lacuna Coil
San Jose State Event Center, San Jose, California
Thursday - February 23, 2012

For the first time since 1984, Lemmy and Phil Campbell shared a Bay Area stage with Hank Shermann (who was playing with Volbeat). The last time was on this epic night in San Francisco:

Why doesn't the History Channel report this stuff?? According to the Umlaut Archives tonight was the 18th time I've seen Lemmy onstage... and... WTF... it was the 2nd time in 4 days that I found myself down in my old 'burbs for a Metal show. Since Megadeth were headlining I wore a Slayer shirt to the show to offer the opposing viewpoint... and on the drive to the show I also listened to the opposing viewpoint in honor of Hank Shermann:

"Howl like a wolf and a witch will open the door"..

Hank Shermann warmed up before Volbeat's set in their dressing room by playing Thin Lizzy riffs; seeing him onstage again was pretty damn awesome! Long story short... as Volbeat were onstage I happened to be walking down a hallway backstage and one thing led to another and this happened:

... and then this happened:

I drank beers with this guy on my 19th Birthday... but I'm happy to report that our religious and political differences did not ruin our quality time; it was all about the Old Metal Days. Just like the Pied Piper led rats through the streets.

After a brief air raid siren intro tape, Motörhead unloaded all barrels into the face of San Jose with 'Bomber' and Lemmy, Phil, and Mikkey played one of my favorite sets in recent years. The set was short and, while the song selection was basically the same as the past 2 tours, they switched the order around a bit that made their performance as tight as the Maginot Line was supposed to have been in 1940. The only way to feel the noise is when it's good and loud... Amen.

Megadeth landed onstage with 'Trust' while I was checking out the merch... and during their set I wandered around a bit... and ended up on the GA floor to watch most of their performance. To be honest, my head was still buzzing from my quality time with Dave and Dave Jr. (it had been YEARS since I'd had face time with them) and I have to admit that made me enjoy Megadeth's set more than I have in recent years. However, I was distracted by how many boys and girls were dancing during their set... not dancing together.. but just dancing alone to the Megadeth beat. Not very Metal.

Then 24 hours later it was...

Death Angel / Hammers Of Misfortune / Anvil Chorus
Slim's, San Francisco
Friday - February 24, 2012

According to the Umlaut Archives tonight was the 72nd time I'd visited Slim's for a concert. Out of all the shows of the week this one was the most special. Death Angel headlining at home with locals Hammers Of Misfortune and that blast from the past Anvil Chorus supporting. I arrived late and only caught the last 2 songs of Anvil Chorus, but at least it included the set closing 'Deadly Weapons' and it was cool to see them with original guitarist Doug Piercy onstage again. The current lineup of Hammers includes members of two of Umlaut's favorite R.I.P. Bay Area Metal bands (Ludicra and Saros) and if Hammers were from Sweden instead of The Mission District they'd probably be huge.

Death Angel had set expectations high for the night by announcing they'd be playing an extra long set AND that original guitarist Gus Pepa would be joining them onstage for the first time since 1990. That kind of hype combined with it being a Friday night meant that Slim's was packed and filled with a huge number of old familiar faces. I'm not really exaggerating when I say literally half of the people pictured or thanked in Murder In The Front Row were in the house... and this happened:
Murder authors with Tom Hunting of the mighty Exodus

Best Quote: "Tonight is like a high school reunion!"

Death Angel killed it in their big hometown revue... I got my fix of 'Seemingly Endless Time' (one of my favorite songs, like, ever..)... but I have to admit that this old man hit a wall at 1:00am as the band still raged onstage.. and I snuck out down the street to get a slice of pizza to reload. I guess that makes me a poser... Guilty. This made 4 shows in 7 days and I'm out of gig shape these days (this isn't 2009 after all).

Tank shirts = 3. I didn't do a merch audit at any of the shows, but Machine Head, Motörhead, and Volbeat had the coolest gear during the week; their merch company rules. On the way back to a mellow weekend after the 7 Days Of Murder, some pimply-faced teenagers called me a fag. At this point, Umlaut doesn't have another gig scheduled for around a month... Hope I die before I get old.