Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Haze Over Umlaut

The Regency, San Francisco
April 25, 2013

Ghost have come a long way since the first time I saw them over a year ago.  It's been great to follow a band from obscurity to popularity again, but with Ghost it's felt more special because they don't fit the mold.  Making Satanism F-U-N via catchy songs is not a standard genre that a major label like Universal Music usually embraces especially here in the 21st Century... but the Rock Godz work in mysterious ways.  Before tonight's ritual I met up with some good friends at Tommy's Joynt where the conversation included way too much chat about KISS and Ace Frehley.  Then we few, we happy few, made our way down Van Ness Avenue to The Regency.

I have a love / hate thing with The Regency.  I hate going there because the parking in the neighborhood sucks.  However, I love The Regency because the lobby at a Metal show is generally a great gathering place to see friends both old and new... and tonight was no exception.  In fact, I decided not to check out Ides Of Gemini because I was having such a good time socializing.  Sorry Ides Of Gemini... but I was to catch up with them 48 hours later.

It's pretty amazing that Ghost went from headlining the small Bottom of the Hill to the somewhat prestigious hall that is The Regency in just over a year.   Some would say it's because of "The Hype" but in Ghost's case I think it's simply a good band finding its audience quickly.  All of you bitter old Metal fans can mumble in disagreement and outrage until you pass out.  I pity you all for missing out on all of the F-U-N... because Ghost are F-U-N.. and what's wrong with that?

The anticipation for Ghost's arrival was thick enough to cut with an imaginary knife as the house lights dimmed.  It became even thicker as the Nameless Ghouls marched onstage to begin tonight's ceremony with the opening tracks of the new album.  The instrumental 'Infestissumam' led into 'Per Aspera Ad Inferi' that heralded the arrival of Papa Emeritus II onto the San Francisco stage... and all Hell broke loose for the next 70 minutes.

Photo courtesy of Photo Ray

Judging from the crowd reaction, I realized that the majority of the 1,000+ in attendance probably had not seen Ghost live before.  Songs from the debut album garnered the biggest response, but the new songs worked even better live.  The new song 'Year Zero' really put into focus how far Ghost have come.  It has that huge epic intro chant that melts into an 80's style electro underbeat that makes it as much of a Dance anthem as a Rock anthem as a Satanic anthem. When unleashed onto a big crowd the song is as infectious as all Hell.

The band and their new staging looked absolutely magnificent on the big stage of The Regency. 'Ritual' is one of those rare songs that instantly became a classic and the response to it was almost 'Freebird'-like.. except it's a song about human sacrifice.  A year ago, after seeing Ghost for the first time, I said in this space that I'll never see any of the band's songs performed in exactly the same way again... because the next times they come around the crowds will be bigger and the shows will be bigger... and that's exactly what has happened.  Hail Satan.

Appropriately, San Francisco was the 6th time I've seen Ghost... so to quote them I say "6.. 6.. 6.. evoke the King of Hell."  On the way back to the car, some pimply-faced teenagers called me a fag. Tonight Ghost proved they belong on a big stage, but as I left the show I felt nostalgic about seeing them at least one more time in an intimate setting like on their debut U.S. Tour.  Be careful what you wish for...

Click HERE to see Photo Ray's awesome photos from the evening!

Then 48 hours later it was...

Ghost / Ides Of Gemini
The Showbox, Seattle, Washington
April 27, 2013

One thing led to another and I found myself in the Emerald City again for the first time since my Slaycation awhile back.  It felt good to see a show outside of my Bay Area zone and the Seattle crowd had a similar vibe but perhaps were not as jaded as San Francisco can be.  Sorry hometown, I love you, but sometimes you're a bit too serious. As I entered the venue I was completely surprised how intimate the Showbox feels and the crowd ended up being just over half the size of the S.F. show.  It was going to be a special night.

Umlaut had not watched Ides Of Gemini in San Francisco but I was interested in checking them out since they're on the Neurot Records roster.   I liked them and they fit the foggy surreal feeling that I had been having all day in Jet City.  Yes, I will buy their music.  Yes, I will see them again.

After so many years as a Music Geek, at this point when I've seen a band multiple times I start tripping on the little things during their performances.  Besides the smell of incense that was blowing from the stage, tonight I was tripping on the uncapped water bottles onstage, each with a straw in them.  So THAT'S how Papa and the Ghouls stay hydrated onstage!  Number of times Papa glided back to his water bottles for hydration during the set = 4.  Yes, the Geeks shall inherit the Earth.

[Photo courtesy of Cable Car]

The reason why Ghost are my current favorite band is because they sing about Satan.. and evil.. but they do it in a F-U-N way.   Seeing them live isn't like seeing the standard "Satanic" band and being engulfed by anger, and nihilism, and growling.  Ghost offer Satan in a catchy, retro horror package laced with humor and amazing melodies that make their message even more effective.  People are smiling and laughing during a Ghost show... and what's wrong with that?!  We're laughing with Satan not at Satan... Although I don't really consider Ghost a "Metal" band anymore, when I was a kid I got into Metal bands like Iron Maiden because their songs and lyrics offered an escape from reality.  Ghost have hit that nerve for me here in the 21st Century.  People need to lighten up and stop over thinking what Ghost are supposed to "mean" for "Metal"; the band is simply F-U-N... and if you can't relate to that you can go back to your Hatebreed MP3s.  Y-A-W-N.

[Photo courtesy of Cable Car]

I (and many others) literally laughed out loud when Papa introduced 'Elizabeth' by saying "This one's for the ladies..." and introducing the main set closing 'Ritual' with "How do you say it.. Let's wrap this shit up.." in his spooky old man voice.  F-U-N in the name of S-A-T-A-N.  A kid at the rail in a wheelchair was an inspiration to me.  After 'Ritual' he grabbed onto the rail to raise himself up to flash the horns to the band.  For a second I thought Papa was healing him so he could walk again.

As 'Monstrance Clock' ended Ghoul Guitarist at stage right (White Gibson) flicked his pick into the crowd in my general direction.  Those around me looked for it but it seemed to have disappeared into the ether.  Then I looked down and this was basically on my right foot:

That never happens to me at home.  Hail Satan!

Number of people at the show besides me who had Metallica's 1st demo tape in 1982 = 2 (Hail K.J. and Cable Car!).  If you bought one of every Ghost merch item on this tour you would have paid $325.  Yeah, the merch looked great.  On the way back to the hotel, some pimply-faced teenagers called me a fag.  The next day was Sunday and on the way back to the Sea-Tac we stopped to pay homage to some dead idols.  First stop was the Jimi Hendrix Memorial and gravesite where people have left lipstick traces on Jimi:

Then it was a profound visit to the final resting place of The Dragon and The Crow:

Visiting the graves of such icons long gone reminded me that life is too short... and it's too short to worry about reasons not to like a band or rationalize why they're "not Metal".  I don't give a shit what the haters think about Ghost; I love 'em.  To quote from the new album "Come together.. together as a one.. Come together.. for Lucifer’s son.."