Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Rock 'N Vhöl

Vhöl / Bosse De Nage / Lawless
Elbo Room, San Francisco
December 7, 2012

Yes, yes today was Pearl Harbor Day... The anniversary of when the Germans bombed Hawaii or something, right?   More importantly it was exactly a year to the day that Mercyful Fate reunited onstage across town at The Fillmore during the 2nd night of Metallica's 30th Anniversary celebration.  That was the last time I almost cried in public from happiness.. Fast forward a year and tonight would be the San Francisco debut of the "super group" Vhöl featuring members of Ludicra, Yob, and Hammers Of Misfortune.  Crazy, man.

First up tonight was Lawless featuring Kyle, who is also the grinding axe slinger for one of my favorite Bay Area Metal bands Acephalix, along with Luca (bass / vox) and Dave on drums.  This was only the 2nd gig that Lawless has played and I'll just say right now that they were my favorite band of the night.  They spewed forth a tone heavy soupy milkshake of sludgy Death Metal that I'm a sucker for and the tag team vocals between Kyle and Luca really works well.  Ironically, I was wearing a Celtic Frost tee and the spirit of Tom G. Warrior's fingers were definitely haunting the stage as Lawless brought their grind to the night.  Thumbs up, dudes!

[Photo courtesy of Sensory Abuse]

I'm not in the mood to be too much of a ranting and jaded old Metal guy, so all I will say is that the best part of Bosse De Nage's set was when Photo Ray and I took advantage of the in-and-out policy and went down to the corner taqueria.  Bosse De Nage are self-described Black Metal that doesn't convince this old man at all... but that's all I'm gonna say because I don't want to be a jaded asshole anymore than I have to be.  However, I am happy to report that the damn good tacos at the taqueria were a nice substitute middle of the bill for me tonight.

Not Tacos
[Photo courtesy of Sensory Abuse]

Then came the moment so many people seemed to be primed and waiting for:  The San Francisco debut of Vhöl. For the newbies, Vhöl features Mike of Yob on vocals (!),  Aesop (Ludica!! Agalloch!) on drums,  Sigrid (Hammers of Misfortune) on bass, and John (Ludicra!  Hammers of Misfortune) on the axe.  As with Lawless, tonight was also Vhöl's 2nd ever show.  Having 2/5 of Ludicra together again onstage was a big deal for me and this combination of musicians made it even more intriguing. So, as these musicians picked up their instruments and us civilians filled in the space in front of the stage, I'm sure almost everyone was ready for a welcoming curtain of dark and brooding volume to be dropped on our heads... I was prepared to welcome a hybrid viral beast similar to the other bands that these musicians represented... I was ready to have the darkness fill my head... but...that didn't happen.

Vhöl launched into a set that was downright... PUNK and THRASH (!) with only the slightest undertone of what most of us had expected.   I think it's safe to say most of those in attendance were surprised; I know I was..  I think the biggest revelation was watching Mike sing in a way that was the complete opposite of what he does with Yob and not only because he was sans guitar.  He was Punk instead of Doom and... it was fun to watch.  The same goes for Sigrid holding it down on bass instead of behind her Hammers of Misfortune keyboards.  In contrast, seeing Aesop swinging his sticks and John bringing the riffs was familiar to me since I lived and breathed Ludicra shows for years.  Life is full of surprises.

[Photo courtesy of Sensory Abuse]

I will be completely honest and say I'm not sure if I'm completely engaged by Vhöl yet... but with their debut album coming early in the New Year on Profound Lore my ears and head are waiting to be convinced.  As I left the Elbo Room and headed back to the Prius, I walked down a side street that I remembered from 20 (!) years ago when I lived in The Mission.  Back in The Day the block used to be sort of junkie and hooker-like... but here in the 20th Century it  was downright nice and cheery:

New perspectives on things whether from a new band doing the unexpected or an old familiar street being nicer than its past is a reality check.  Discuss amongst yourselves.  If you bought one of every Vhöl merch item you would have paid $10; I dig their logo alot. On the way back to the car, some pimply-faced teenagers called me a fag.  It's already the middle of December.. where the fuck did this year go?!