Thursday, August 09, 2012


Redd Kross
Great American Music Hall, San Francisco
August 8, 2012

It's been a special week for Umlaut, with 3 of my all time favorite bands visiting The Bay Area within a week of each other. First it was Iron Maiden and Cheap Trick last weekend and then on a Wednesday night it was Redd Kross! Amazingly this was Redd Kross' first show in S.F. in 5 years and I think 1 of only 8 shows the band is playing this Summer.

Warning: Umlaut is in a Non-Metal frame of mind; I've simply burned out on seeing most mid-level Metal bands these days. I need a break from the same-old vocal style and the same old guitar tone and the same old drumming style. Yawn... It will be interesting to see what shows I actually make it out of Casa de Umlaut for in the coming months. I'll come back to The Metal at some point (I always do), but right now Metal is that good friend who's become annoying because we've spent way too much time together. Sorry, Metal... It's not you, it's me.

Anyway, Redd Kross are a very sentimental favorite for Umlaut dating back to the late-80's. After I burned out on Metal the first time back then (TRUE!), they were a band I discovered through an old roommate via their Teen Babes From Monsanto EP and Neurotica album. They reminded me of Cheap Trick and, for the newbies, although they were from L.A. Redd Kross were a big influence on the Seattle Scene that begat Grunge. Fast forward to 2012 and original guitarist Robert Hecker plays on the band's brand new album, but is not touring with them like he did in 2007... which was a bummer.

Anyway, at this point I've seen Redd Kross double digit times and seeing or hearing them is like running into an old friend. The McDonald brothers and their supporting cast of Jason Shapiro on lead guitar and Roy McDonald (no relation.. I think..) on drums walked onstage a bit late at around 10:15pm and flipped the switch on a musical time machine that lasted for a good 80 minutes. As I said earlier, Redd Kross had not visited San Francisco in 5 years and tonight was also only the band's 2nd show here in 15 years (!). It's crazy how time flies, man... but Steve and Jeff McDonald have not aged at all.

[Photo courtesy of Sensory Abuse]

The set was a nice cross section of the band's history. It featured ancient favorites like 'Blow You A Kiss In The Wind', 'Annie's Gone', 'Annette's Got The Hits', and 'Frosted Flake' and also nuggets from the early-90's with 'Lady In The Front Row' and 'Pretty Please Me'. The songs from the band's brand new album Researching The Blues translated great to the stage and, of course, Steve used At Budokan-isms to introduce them ("This is the 1st song off our new album, etc etc"). The more things change, the more they stay the same!

Just as they did the last time they played San Francisco, Jeff and Steve gave a shout out to the city for being "the first" to accept Redd Kross a million years ago. This was followed by their cover of the song 'Crazy World' by the underground 80's S.F. band Frightwig. They also namechecked some of the clubs here like The On Broadway; ironically that space is hosting live events again here in the 21st Century. Nice touch, guys.

Later in the set Jeff's teenage daughter came out for lead vocals on a new non-album song called 'Pop Show' and it was interesting to watch the offspring of Power Pop Royalty (her parents being Jeff and Charlotte Caffey of the Go-Go's) perform. The set also highlighted a of bunch of early Born Innocent-era songs which was also interesting considering that Steve has been resurrecting old L.A. Punk ghosts with OFF! recently.

It was very much a time machine night; I hope someone bootlegged it! On the way back to the car, some pimply-faced teenagers called me a fag. By the way, Redd Kross have a direct connection to my catchphrase "On the way back to the car, some pimply-faced teenagers called me a fag.".. For those who are interested, the story began with this show review from the very first issue of the original Umlaut xeroxed fanzine in 1992:

From Umlaut - Issue #1 (The debut Umlaut review...)
Metallica - Arco Arena, Sacramento - 1/11/92
We were supposed to be on the guest list. We weren't. We were pissed. On the way back to the car, some pimply-faced teenagers called us fags. We drove 300+ miles, halfway across the fuckin' state for nothing. Metallica probably cleared $200,000 that night. Corporate rock sucks.

Those pimply-faced teenagers were partying in the back of a pickup truck as we walked back to Big Wayne's car. What that original review didn't say was how Big Wayne and I drove like crazy all the way back to downtown San Jose from Sacramento in time to catch REDD KROSS at the Cactus Club (R.I.P.)! Redd Kross were greater than Metallica in 1992. So there you go and now you know.

"Laughing at all the assholes at The Rainbow.."