Back in the 20th Century, ümlaut was a xeroxed fanzine that existed from 1992-95. Despite limited distribution, loyal readers ranged from coast to coast and included Rock Stars of various credibility, including Neurosis, Sonic Youth, Melvins, and Metallica. This 21st Century version of ümlaut has been ranting since 2004 and is also the co-author of the book Murder In The Front Row.
Before the show Umlaut found himself inside the friendly confines of AT&T Park watching my beloved Giants defeat division rivals Arizona 2-0. Unfortunately, the Umlaut Archives fail to document the last time I pulled off a Giants game / concert doubleheader. Disappointing.
After the final out we few, we happy few, made our way over to Slim's just in time for Orchid. Apologies to the guys in Hell Fire for missing their set. Although this was Orchid's biggest hometown show so far (to celebrate the release of their latest masterpiece The Mouths Of Madness) the vibe of the crowd was different than past shows. There wasn't the overt communal atmosphere of past Orchid shows where the majority of the crowd were band friends and family. Tonight Slim's drew a more anonymous group of fans which gave the night a more raucous reaction. This was manifested by the energetic pit action that broke out midway through the set and continued until the final encore note evaporated. Opening with 'Heretic' and then going into the new and already immortal song 'Mouths Of Madness' the local lads were on fire and obviously still sharp from their recent European Tour. 'Eastern Woman' seduced as always but it was 'Black Funeral' and 'He Who Walks Alone' that really stood out for me tonight. Epic renditions. Epic. Orchid are Kings of Tone and while their live sound inhales '71 Sabbath it exhales something that is their own.
Orchid also raised the bar tonight by having an impressive array of special stage lighting that included arena rock style strobes and pretty colored things. However, the amount of pot smoke filling Slim's was downright alarming... and actually the amount of doobage exhaust seriously started to fuck with my lungs and throat... and I'm still dealing with the effects (cough..) days later. Nope, Umlaut is not a Stoner. Mark (guitar) told me later that at one point he thought his amp was on fire because someone was smoking pot that smelled like burning plastic. Lock 'N Loll! (cough)
The band closed out the celebration with a great encore double shot of the new song 'Wizard Of War' and 'Saviours Of The Blind'. It's hard to believe that Orchid are the biggest new Bay Area Metal band right now. They've come a long way in the last couple of years and Europe in particular has embraced them. They're getting a high profile push from their label Nuclear Blast and are set to return to Europe again in November. After the show it was cool to see the Orchid guys being the nice dudes that they are to their fans and also taking the time to chat with a fan like Umlaut (HAHA). Evidently some Orchid fans traveled from as far away as Calgary (Yes, CANADA) and Reno (Yes, Nevada) for the show. Great band and great dudes. Needless to say I'm beyond happy for Orchid! Support the locals! Always.
I also have to mention that I can't remember the last time I've seen so many Slim's staff members getting into a band. A couple of the red shirted staff were overtly enjoying the volume, which was cool. Also kudos to the staffer who noticed I was drinking a cup of water and who then went behind the bar and handed me a bottle of H2O. According to the Umlaut Archives tonight was my 82nd visit to Slim's dating back to when it first opened in 1988. Support the locals!
Number of Ghost tees: At least 3. If you bought one of every Orchid merch item you would have paid around $240; it warmed my heart to see a healthy Orchid merch line after the show. On the way back to the car, some pimply-faced teenagers called us fags. All in all it was a classic San Francisco night.
Click HERE to see more of Photo Ray's shots from the night!