Saturday, August 02, 2014

Back To The Future

Kirk Von Hammett's Fear FestEvil After Party
Exodus and Special Guests  
San Diego, California
July 25, 2014

One thing led to another and Umlaut found himself landing in San Diego on a warm Friday morning.  In less than an hour this happened:

Motörhead.. "Professional"..  

If you've never been to San Diego Comi-Con (SDCC) I won't mince words:  It's a massive clusterfuck.   WAY too many people jammed into a facility that is too small; a square peg of 150,000 people trying to fit into a round hole of a convention center.  I have no idea how members of the general public have a good time at this event.  On paper it looks like a mindblowing event.  However, when you're onsite and in the belly of the beast and see the humanity strewn around the center and the surrounding streets it literally looks like the zombie apocalypse. 

Anyway, after attending to some business and watching our favorite Lead Guitarist sign a couple hundred autographs at the Nuclear Blast booth, Photo Ray and I ended up at the fantastic brew pub called Monkey Paw; we ended up there more than once over the weekend. Umlaut cannot recommend the place enough; great beer and food, a nice space, and a great jukebox (Maiden.. Motörhead..etc.).  I wish San Francisco had more places like Monkey Paw.

Then in the early evening on this warm Friday night we found ourselves back in the Gaslight District hanging out in front of a dubious looking club called F6IX with members of Exodus shooting the shit for a bit.  Evidently the club had never hosted a live band before and a proper Lock 'N Loll PA system and extensions to the stage had been brought in.  The show was a Scion sponsored event with free admission to those who submitted an online RSVP.  I was expecting it to be sweat box packed and possibly not having a good time given the fact the space was not normally a live venue.  However, the Metal Godz work in mysterious ways and tonight ended up being amazing on several levels.

After getting something to eat I hung out with some friends at a bar next door and waited for the doors to open.  Upon entering the venue I was pleasantly surprised that (1) it wasn't a dive and (2) the space was comfortably filled with mostly Metal people and not industry types.  Also, luminaries like Kerry King were casually hanging out by the bar and talking with and posing for selfies with random Metal kidz.  Pretty cool.  One thing soon led to another and I found myself behind the VIP curtain at stage left.  I must give a shout out to the security guy who was watching the VIP area because he was cool to me all night.  Thanks, bro!

Exodus Catering

Holt Awaits:  Warming up playing along to 'Seek And Destroy' on the PA

Behind the curtain, the quality hang time sitting on a comfy couch with these old friends was something I hadn't expected.  I've known at least 5 of the people who were there since before any of us could buy alcohol legally.  The Metal Godz work in mysterious ways, man.

Not long after 10:00pm Exodus stomped onto the small stage and began their first North American show with Zetro back in the band on vocals.  The lads wasted no time and immediately opened with 'Bonded By Blood' and my head left my body for a good hour.  I'm sure it's because of all of the events over the past 3 years, but hearing 'Bonded By Blood' and watching Exodus perform it again is as close to a time machine as I think I'll ever experience.  It's very magical and after 'Scar Spangled Banner' they returned to the ancient Ruthie's Inn days with 'And Then There Were None'.  Seeing Exodus in a space that was around the same size as Ruthie's Inn only magnified the Metal.

It was pretty surreal seeing Zetro back with Exodus on a Friday night in San Diego at a Comi-Con event of all places.  No offense to Rob Dukes, but I'd forgotten how important the East Bay vibe was to Exodus and how it's been missing all these years. That 510 attitude and even the way you talk to a crowd. That vibe is back and it was awesome.  

The mid-set blast of 'A Lesson In Violence' and 'Blacklist' was made even better since I was standing next to one of my oldest friends who now happens to be Mrs. Gary Holt.  Full circle...  and then the moment I'd been waiting for happened.  Anticipation was thick in the air and I know many were wondering how the moment would go as Zetro reclaimed the Exodus song that is truly his:  'Toxic Waltz' was as violent as you could hope here in the 21st Century.  Back to the future, man.. Back to the future.  "You used to do The Monkey but now it's not cool!"

The set closed traditionally with 'Strike Of The Beast' and then the encore that followed was one for the ages:  Exodus were joined by Marc Osegueda of Death Angel and the host (KRK) jamming through nice covers of 'Grinder' by Priest... then into 'Low Rider' by War (!).. then into 'Godzilla' by B.O.C... then Rob of Metallica hopped onstage for 'Seek And Destroy'.  Crazy, man. 

 [All live photos courtesy of Photo Ray]
If this had been any other night things would have ended there... but KRK had other plans and the night continued to rage as Exodus left the stage and his Special Guests joined him to keep the party going. Admittedly, the guests seemed like a random collection of band guys, but once they were onstage and plugged in things fired off nicely.  There was Marc of Death Angel, KRK, Gary Holt, Robert Trujillo, the bass player guy from King's X (?), Steve Perkins from Jane's Addiction (?), and Richard Christy from Charred Walls Of The Damned (and of course Death.. and the Howard Stern Show).  It was a very loose set of cover songs that included 'Am I Evil', 'The Real Me' (The Who), 'Diary Of A Madman', 'Trapped Under Ice', and 'Purple Haze'.  However, the most unexpectedly great song from this portion of the night was a version of 'Mountain Song' with Osegueda making everyone forget who Perry Farrell is...  As I told Marc afterwards:  "You sang Diamond Head, The Who, Priest, AND Jane's Addiction tonight?!" to which he replied "Yes I did!"  After the dust had settled on the stage this happened:

Osegueda, Umlaut, KRK
[Photo courtesy of Photo Ray]

I was actually rather giddy from all the old school energy that had just enveloped San Diego.   I had nice post gig chats with Zetro, Trujillo, and KRK and then it was back out into the warm night in search of a late night snack.  Who would have guessed that one of the greatest Bay Area Metal shows in recent memory would happen in San Diego at Comi-Con!? AMAZING..

The next day included a field trip with two of my favorite photographers, a return to the madness of the Comi-Con convention site, and another excellent session at Monkey Paw.   This happened as well:

Evil vs. Good on the Streets of San Diego

I didn't do a Kirk Von Hammet merch audit.  On the way back to the Bay Area, some pimply-faced teenagers called us fags.  We will see if I return to Comi-Con any time soon, but Exodus jumping into the DeLorean and going back to the future to get their groove back was better than any Sci-Fi, man.  Also, this was the most Comi-Con moment of the weekend:

My old friend Flipside Ted deciding his drink with D&D dice. The Geeks shall inherit The Earth.  THANKS to Lance Boom and Toby for getting me sorted for the weekend and to Slagel for the drink tickets.

Click HERE to see more of Photo Ray's epic shots from the night!