Saturday, January 04, 2014

Auld Lang Syne

Sorry, guys... but December 2013 was my "lost" month as far as this blog goes.  For various reasons I didn't post show rants... but for the record these were the shows I attended:

12/11 - High On Fire / Kvelertak / Windhand - The Regency, San Francisco
12/11 - Fates Warning - DNA Lounge, San Francisco
12/18 - Megadeth - The Warfield, San Francisco
12/27 - The Oath - The Garage, London, England

Yeah, I've been sort of busy and distracted... blah blah blah.  In short:
  • Windhand were great even if they channel Acid King a good bit IMO.  Kvelertak were awesome as usual (one of my fave live bands) and High On Fire were more thunderous than ever but I think I've seen them too many times and need a break, 
  • Fates Warning was a nice face time reunion with old friend bassist Joey Vera (Armored Saint) and although I don't know anything about Fates Warning (aka I'm a poser) their Prog Metal was really good.
  • Yes, 12/11 was a doubleheader night for Umlaut.  The last one was back in April 2012.
  • Megadeth was another nice face time reunion with old friends Mr. Mustaine and Mr. Ellefson.  The band played basically the same set as I saw in September with Iron Maiden.
  • The Oath were a nice cherry on the top of a great return Christmas visit to my spiritual home city of London (according to my passports it was my 15th visit to the birthplace of NWOBHM since 1995.. crazy how time flies..).  The Oath recently supported Ghost in Germany.  I'm glad I saw the band before their debut album, which is due out later this year on Rise Above Records.

This new year of 2014 marks the 10th Anniversary (TEN... YEARS) of this blog / rant space and at the moment I'm burned out on it.  Honesty is my only excuse.  We'll see if I can get inspired again in the near future.. Fingers crossed.  TEN.. YEARS.  Anyway, Umlaut's 2013 ended with..

Melvins / Redd Kross / Frightwig
Great American Music Hall, San Francisco
New Year's Eve 2013

This was a very special bill for Umlaut because the Melvins and Redd Kross were THE two bands I gravitated to the most after I fell out of love with Metal in the mid to late 80's.   These bands specifically helped me to regain an innocent love of bands and music again. I had burned out on Metal and was disillusioned as "my" bands (specifically Metallica) had suddenly become popular with the types of people (specifically jocks) who had previously belittled and marginalized me.  These were the types of people who had made me feel isolated in the world... and music became my best friend... and via this music I suddenly found kindred souls who became my friends.  Then that scene was "gone" in my eyes... and again I felt isolated... but thankfully I was introduced to bands like the Melvins and Redd Kross by roommates and friends and I became obsessed with bands all over again... for the first time.  The Melvins and Redd Kross are as sacred to me as Mercyful Fate and Motörhead; they represent another phase in my life.  Anyway...

Prior to the show I met friends, some of whom I've known for 20 years, for a nice pre-show Thai dinner at Lers Ros Thai... and then we few, we happy few, waded through the human detritus of The Tenderloin and around the corner to the venue.  Sadly, while we were having dinner a 6-year old girl was killed and her mom and younger brother critically injured by an SUV as they crossed the street just around the corner from us.  Awful.

I only watched Frightwig for a couple of songs before going downstairs to say "Hi" to the headliners. Frightwig had Eric Drew Feldman (Captain Beefheart, PJ Harvey) playing keyboards!?  Interesting.

According to the Umlaut Archives this was around the 10th time I've seen Redd Kross. They played the perfect setlist that had a song or so from their latest album Researching The Blues and a slew of their most beloved songs like 'Annie's Gone', 'I Hate My School', 'Frosted Flake', 'Pretty Please Me', and 'Jimmy's Fantasy'. When they careened into 'Annie's Gone' I had a profound sense of deja vu back to my late 80's days in San Jose when I was first introduced to Redd Kross by an old roommate in a house we rented on 3rd Street.  Good times.. ain't we lucky we got 'em.  Things came full circle 20 years after the fact when they brought Frightwig onstage to perform 'Crazy World' with them; Redd Kross covered the song back in 1993.   They then closed with a roaring version of 'Deuce' complete with Jeff / Steve recreating the Gene / Ace stage moves just like the old days.

According to the Umlaut Archives this was around the 37th time I've seen the Melvins. Tonight it was the bedrock Melvins / Big Business version of the band performing.  I absolutely love how the Melvins (aka Buzz and Dale) have 2 or 3 different versions of the band that tour and record now; eclectic versatility that keeps their output and performances interesting.  The Melvins (aka Buzz and Dale) have found a way to adapt and change; they are like the cockroach.

Instead of taking to the stage in 2013 and then stopping their set for the obligatory midnight countdown, the Melvins waited until the stroke of midnight and walked onstage in 2014. They were accompanied by a vintage recording of 'Auld Lang Syne' that segued into a loop of the coughing intro from Sabbath's 'Sweet Leaf' as the obligatory balloons fell from the ceiling. Perfect!

I thought it was a nice touch for them to open with the crushing epic 'Hag Me' since 2013 had marked the 20th Anniversary (!!) of the Houdini album.. and 75 minutes or so later the show ended with 'Hung Bunny' / 'Roman Dog Bird' from the Lysol record.  In between those vintage bookends the 4 Horsemen of the Rockalypse played their usual enchanting mix of newer songs (like 'A Growing Disgust'.. 'City Dump'..) as well as more ancient songs that old fans like Umlaut still geek out over (like 'Sweet Willy Rollbar'... 'Your Blessened'..).  The cadence call and response classic that is 'The Water Glass' was a perfect New Year's song. 

As I've probably said before in this space, at this point in my life a Melvins show in San Francisco is as much of a reunion as a concert.  There are at least a couple of old friends from back in The Day who I only see at their shows now... and after being around the band for 20+ years it's nice just to be able to casually chat with the Melvins (aka Buzz and Dale) about different shit now.  It's not like that with some other bands who I've know for that long or even longer.  Anyway...

Footnote:  I can't remember the last time I didn't drink alcohol at the stroke of midnight on New Year's Eve.  It wasn't by choice but because I didn't want to lose my cushy stage right spot and deal with the bar.  Priorities for 2014 have now been set.

I didn't do a merch audit.  On the way back to the car, some pimply-faced teenagers called us fags.  Then 48 hours later, one thing led to another, and I was at a San Jose Sharks game with this perspective:

[Pic courtesy of Old Man Moss]

Then this happened:

[Video courtesy of Umlaut's iPhone]

'Honeybucket' on Ice!  The song was selected by Sharks #22 Dan Boyle who is a big Melvins fan.  Pretty cool, right?   Also a damn fine way to start the New Year which, as I said at the start of this, is the 10th year of me doing this "blog".   Let's see what happens... THANKS for the support.