Friday, March 07, 2014

Sign Of The Wolf

Pentagram / Radio Moscow / Kings Destroy / Bedrücken
DNA Lounge, San Francisco
February 25, 2014

Okay, this rant is just under 2 weeks after the event so I appear to be getting caught up with this space.  I'll cut to the chase and say this was the SHOW OF THE YEAR so far for Umlaut.  I was surprised it was sold out and the space was packed with young hipster and metal types... and also hipster metal types.  This surge in Pentagram love has to be a result of the Last Days Here documentary, right?  Makes sense, right?   Prior to leaving Casa de Umlaut this happened: 

Coffee after 6:00pm can only mean one thing:  Gig.

I walked into the DNA as the first band of the night was finishing up and I was surprised to see Umlaut friend Ami Lawless onstage fronting the band Bedrücken.  I had no idea!  I'll have to pay closer attention to the bill next time.  Apologies to Kings Destroy but I spent most of their set catching up with friends outside where it was easier to chat.  Good times. 

Radio Moscow were a very pleasant surprise!  My friends and I were bagging on their name while chatting outside, but when the band landed onstage with their Blue Cheer-like virtuosity and groove I was hooked.  It was also a pleasant surprise to watch the young hipster and metal types... and also the hipster metal types.. get behind Radio Moscow's retro volume curtain that was driven by guitarist Parker Grigg's magical right hand holding the plectrum.  It's not very often that my jaded head is impressed by a band sight unseen... but thankfully Radio Moscow hit me upside my noggin tonight and made me appreciate leaving Casa de Umlaut early enough to see them.  How do you say thank you in Russian with a Cali-San Diego accent by way of Iowa?  Evidently the band is originally from Iowa but now plants their feet in San Diego, which makes perfect sense.

Having original guitarist Victor Griffin teamed with Bobby Leibling is the key to Pentagram being a relevant band again instead of merely an oldies act.  Griffin's tone isn't thick but it's distinctive.  Having that tone in place onstage next to Leibling's sorcerer aura takes Pentagram to that ethereal level that few bands ever achieve.  The explosion of energy that the opening riff of the first song 'The Deist' set off in the room scorched me.

[Photo courtesy of Photo Ray]

'Forever My Queen' was dropped as the 2nd song of the set and launched the night into a magical and mystical level where it was masterfully maintained for the entirety of the 16-song set..  The crowd taking over the vocals for 'All Your Sins' was pure uncut awesome ("You can never win... Pay for all your sins..").  Then the sublime crowd action that broke out during 'Sign Of The Wolf' combined with the downright crushing performance made my month.  The bond between the band onstage and the sweaty crowd of hipster and metal types... and hipster metal types.. was profound and gave me hope for the future here in the 21st Century.  There was more crowd action and stage diving during Pentagram tonight than at all of the Metallica shows I've seen in the past 20 years combined.  I am being completely serious.  It obviously says a lot about the charisma and power of Bobby Leibling & Co. to elicit such a fevered response out of a Tuesday night audience.

The fantastic evening closed with a stomping version of '20 Buck Spin' and I kind of staggered out of the DNA.  Pentagram here in the 21st Century are still the real fucking deal. Amen and hallelujah!

I didn't do a merch audit because Pentagram didn't have the prices posted.  Odd.  On the way back to the car, some pimply-faced teenagers called us fags... but at least we didn't suffer the same fate as 2 of the bands on the bill who had their vans broken into and stuff stolen during the show.  Bummer.  However, I would like to think those bad vibes were leveled out by us ending the night at Taqueria Cancun for a celebratory midnight burrito.  I've been going to this Cancun location for over 20 years now and every time I'm there I remember that night circa 1992 when a guy came in trying to sell a chainsaw.  True story.

"Stories unfold but they've all been told when he sold his soul to the Pentagram..."