Great American Music Hall, San Francisco
June 15, 2014
This space has been both the bane of my existence and my "creative" outlet for 10 years now. Right now it's a grind for me to put words together. It feels like homework and that's not good. So, with this in mind, I'm trying to hit reset and basically took a month off from ranting about shows in this space. For those who care here's where I was during that time:
- May 15th - Sammy Hagar with James Hetfield & Friends - Acoustic-4-A-Cure Benefit - The Fillmore, San Francisco. Hetfield sang a Beatles song... Yeah. It was definitely one of those "only in San Francisco" nights and it was for a good cause. Oddly tickets were going for up to $500 via StubHub but Umlaut has a good friend who bought a ticket at face value only the week before via Ticketbastard. Hmm...
- May 17th - Scion Rock Fest 2014, Pomona, California. I had a TON of FUN and it was cool hanging with friends. I finally saw Midnight but was disappointingly underwhelmed; they had a large crowd but would have been better in a smaller space IMO. Orchid's first show ever in Southern California and they owned. Saw King Buzzo solo for the first time and I was impressed. Then I walked the streets of Pomona with him for a bit which was entertaining. I missed Coffins but Windhand were my favorite band of the fest.
- May 22nd - Black Cobra / The Cutthroat 9 - Slim's, San Francisco. A satisfying evening of massive volume with my bros Jason and Rafa with support from Cutthroat 9 who feature Chris Spencer on guitar from the legendary Unsane and Will Carroll on drums from Death Angel.
- June 4th - The Damned - Slim's, San Francisco. The band were great. The hits were played.. but old Punk crowds are WAY more uptight than old Metal crowds. Lighten up, Punks Not Dead.
The opening singer / songwriter was named Field who evidently is also the drummer for the guy who sings for System Of A Down when he does his solo thing. Field did exactly what you would expect from an evening of "acoustic" music. He sat on a stool with an acoustic guitar and sang as if the ghost of Nick Drake would anoint him simply for sitting on a stool with a guitar and singing. Field's time onstage made me ponder that if Nick Drake had lived 'Pink Moon' likely would have disappeared into obscurity and never been used to sell Volkswagen. Discuss amongst yourselves.. Anyway, before the show this happened downstairs:
Half of 7 Year Bitch were also downstairs, which was a nice surprise since I hadn't seen them in a long time. Then Buzz went upstairs and set up his own gear.
I had seen the Buzz acoustic machine play an abbreviated set last month at Scion Rock Fest 2014 and it was an epiphany. Seeing Buzz solo was like seeing the Melvins for the first time; I thought I knew what to expect but the reality was something different... and great.. and made me appreciate music in a different slanted way. Buzz did exactly the opposite of what you would expect from an evening of "acoustic" music. He still brought the volume.
Buzz smartly opened his solo set with 'Boris' into 'The Ballad Of Bright Fry'. These are songs that Melvins fans know well so they were old friends.. but the solo arrangements and interpretations made them new and engaging. Alone on stage Buzz's guitar thunders and his voice booms. Unlike with the Melvins, the words were as crushing as the chords. It was a revelation after having only known Buzz with an electric guitar in tandom with obliterating drums and bass all these years. Buzz solo onstage was like having Thor slam the stage with his mighty hammer. He also chatted with the crowd and told amusing anecdotes in between songs. Buzz was downright charming.
The songs off his brand new This Machine Kills Artist album work great in a live setting with 'Drunken Baby' being my fave of the night. Halfway through the set I moved to the back of the room to get another perspective. I was struck by how completely Buzz filled the room with his voice and presence in a different way than his band does. I've seen the Melvins more than a few times at the Great American and it was funny seeing only Buzz's hair onstage, but it worked. It completely worked. A very inspired and great version of the Melvins classic 'Revolve' closed out the 70 minutes and then it was Thankyouandgoodnight.
I didn't do a merch audit but there was a shit ton of Buzz merch for sale, only 2 of which were t-shirts. On the way back to the car, some pimply-faced teenagers called me a fag. It's very, very cool that an artist who I've followed for so long can still engage me and remove my jaded view of things and crush it under his shoe. King Buzzo does that.