Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Blast Beat Sunday

Meshuggah / Baroness / Decapitated
The Fillmore, San Francisco
May 6, 2012

The fact that this was a rare Metal show at the historic Fillmore was enough to get me out of Casa de Umlaut on a Sunday night. Prior to the show Photo Ray, Sensory Abuse, and I met at Toronado to have a pint with food from Rosamunde next door. Despite having to overhear a conversation some nerdy hipsters were having about how their ideal woman is Liz Lemon, it was otherwise the perfect way to prepare for blast beats. I'm not making up that conversation.

The Pre-Blast Beat Beer 'n Feast

The show's multi-national bill featured representatives from Poland, the United States, and Sweden. It was kind of a reminder that, like, we're all one planet and people, etc. hippie shit etc. hippie shit etc.. However, people were being turned away at the door since the show was completely sold out. Along those lines, I was not on the guest list as planned. However, THANKS to Cecilia of The Fillmore who made that extra effort on my behalf and got me sorted anyway! HAIL!

Decapitated were the 2nd band from Poland to come through San Francisco within the past 2 weeks. The Poles play that kind of samey Metal that reminds me how disturbingly much Pantera has influenced a couple of generations of bands... for better and worse. If I had a dime (pun!) for every guitarist who I've seen onstage wielding a Dimebag Dean axe I could buy something nice for myself. How do you say "Fucking Hostile" in Polish? That being said, I thought Decapitated were great, not really because of their music, but because it was obvious they were just happy to be playing in San Francisco in front of a large and enthusiastic crowd. It beats a day job back in Poland, dude!

Baroness are part of the new breed of Southern Rock that includes Umlaut favorites Mastodon and Kylesa. The last time I saw Baroness was 2 years ago and I was not into them at all, but I've mellowed since then. I've gotten back in touch with my sensitive inner Music Geek who appreciates Jazzy melodies again. Also, having the cerebral Baroness sandwiched between the blast beat bookends of Decapitated and Meshuggah was a brilliant piece of tour packaging.

As Baroness walked onstage, a guy wearing a Tool shirt standing next to me passed out and hit the floor hard. Tool... HAHA! Baroness brought a different, thoughtful heavy groove to the night that I think the hallowed walls of The Fillmore probably appreciated more than the European volume bludgeoning. I also think the ghosts of dead hippies in the hall appreciated the obvious clouds of pot smoke that suddenly erupted from the crowd as people lit up during the set. Like I said, I was way more into Baroness this time around... and the song 'A Horse Called Golgotha' was downright epic.

As Baroness' great set ended, I walked through the lobby on the way to the Men's Room and a healthy number of bored Meshuggah fans were hanging out and waiting for the "shitty band" onstage to finish. Diversity is a meal best served cold... I guess. Also, for the newbies who don't know, Baroness guitarist John Baizley is also one of THE shit-hot, most sought after graphic artists in Metal today. Needless to say, the Baroness merch won the Gold Medal tonight.

One highlight of the night was how Rod Stewart's 'Do You Think I'm Sexy' played over the PA during the changeover before Meshuggah for at least 16 minutes solid. At first I thought it was the sound guy having fun... but the song kept playing... and playing... and then finally the joke dawned on me as Rod sang the line "Come on sugah let me know.." Say it 3 or 4 times fast. HAHAHA! Who said Metal bands don't have a sense of humor!?

Some of Umlaut's favorite European bands happen to be Swedish at this point in my life (Ghost, Watain, Amon Amarth, General Surgery...). My how times flies: It's been over 2 years since Meshuggah last sandblasted San Francisco. Seeing Meshuggah live is like being put through a nuclear powered Easy Bake Oven and it's profound how supernatually heavy the Swedes are live.

San Francisco gets Meshuggahed

Meshuggah's performance felt like a full-on sensory cleansing via their Metal meets Industrial intensity. The thing I liked the most about the night was how the crowd wasn't particularly "Metal". It was a more diverse mix of people that went from your standard Metalheads with denim vests to shockingly "normal" looking folks. However, the common bond was obvious once Meshuggah kicked their set off with the new song 'Demiurge' and seemingly the entire room was fully engaged with the performance from the first volume blast; seemingly every person around me was banging their head in unison and the crowd action down front was impressive. It was rather medieval.

The volume hammer of Meshuggah onstage is something that's hard to articulate; I'm weird and I find it cathartic and mentally cleansing. I don't mean to sound all hippie shit on you, but it's almost a spiritual thing. The Meshuggah live experience is like having your soul beaten for its own good by the band's mantra-like volume hammer and your mind sandblasted clean back to reset by their fury. Besides the sound, the performance was fully enhanced by one of the best light shows I've ever seen at The Fillmore; a quality light show and production is easy to take for granted. The Swedes nailed it and the epic show-closing version of 'Dancers To A Discordant System' was the perfect way to bring the entire theme and vibe of the night to a bludgeoning end.

If you bought one of every Meshuggah merch item you would have paid around $300... and one of every Baroness merch item would have set you back around $200. On the way back to the car, some pimply-faced teenagers called me a fag. Tonight was quite possibly my favorite Metal show at The Fillmore since the 2006 Celtic Frost / Sun O))) (featuring Attila of Mayhem on vocals) / Goatwhore / 1349 gig... and to top it off tonight's poster was done by Umlaut's old friend Mark DeVito! HAIL!

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