Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Black Magic Nights

Slayer / Suicidal Tendencies / Exodus
The Fox Theater, Oakland, California
November 11, 2014

Yeah, these shows were almost 2 weeks ago... but better late than never in the name of this "blog".  Anyway... This year is closing out with a tidal wave of great heavy shows here in The Bay Area (Melvins, Satan, King Diamond) but I have to admit I had been looking forward to this event most of all.  It's not often that a big Metal show rolls into town at a proper venue featuring a bill of this historic caliber... and when was the last time there were 2 sold out nights of Metal in a large indoor venue here... and it wasn't a lame 15 band bill in the local amphitheater and its parking lot.  Impressive.  I will also be honest and admit I got emo thinking about how it's been 30 years since the last time these same 3 bands shared a Bay Area stage at the legendary Day In The Dirt show back in August 1984:

[From the Umlaut Archives]

Of course, getting to the show on a Tuesday meant driving into the teeth of Bay Area rush hour traffic... and it sucked... but it didn't kill me so that's all that matters.  I should come clean and say that I used the commuter lane to get onto The Bay Bridge eventhough I didn't qualify to use it and risked a hefty fine... but I didn't get caught and it probably saved me 45 minutes getting over to the 510.  To quote the headliner:  "Blasting our way through the boundaries of Hell!"   Upon arriving I was pleasantly surprised that, despite it being the first night of the tour, there was zero Will Call drama.  If only all shows were this easy:

Since I arrived later than expected I quickly made my way downstairs to give my regards to the hometown heroes and old friends Exodus before they went onstage... and then watched from stage right as they hit the stage before moving out front.  For the newbies:  Although it might seem cool to watch a band from the side of the stage the sound sucks.  

Anyway, 6 songs was criminally too short of a hometown set for Exodus.  After opening with 2 songs off the new album the local boyz sprinted home with a solid punch of 'Blacklist' into 'Bonded By Blood' into 'Toxic Waltz' and closing with the old warhorse 'Strike Of The Beast'.   Exodus with Zetro back is great too. No more instructing a crowd to do a Wall Of Death but just letting the crowd action happen naturally.  As I said back in July, no disrespect to Dukes, but Zetro brings the East Bay vibe back to Exo that had been missing. The way he talks to a crowd, etc.. 

I guess I'm not a Suicidal For Life because I spent their set downstairs catching up with and chatting with old friends from near and far.   However, for the newbies: Backstage isn't as exciting as you might think.  Tom Araya used the dressing room blender and made a fruit smoothie while chatting.  Metal.

Back upstairs later:  Slayer pulled out an excellent setlist that was a cross section of their catalog but, since I'm having writer's block and still recovering from a flu thing, I think this photo courtesy of Umlaut's iPhone sums up the night accurately:

This dude standing in front of me took his shirt off because Slayer started playing 'Dead Skin Mask'.  SLAAAYEER!

As good as the show was performance wise I was a bit put off by how many hipster types were in the house... I mean the types who wear fashion correct denim vests with "the right" vintage looking band patches but who drunk dance to SLAAAYEER.  Anyway, who am I to judge... It was still a great show.  Then 24 hours later it was... 

Slayer / Suicidal Tendencies / Exodus
The Fox Theater, Oakland, California
November 12, 2014

Tonight I stepped up my game and arrived earlier and was able to watch some of Suicidal's soundcheck.  In the end, they were fucking with me subliminally.

War. Inside. My. Head.

After this I popped back outside to the civilization of downtown Oakland and met some friends for a pre-show dinner at the supernaturally convenient Rudy's Can't Fail.   The vibe at tonight's show was definitely cranked up a couple of notches from the previous evening as the crowd was more Metal, a little more liquored up, and a little more East Bay in general.  It was obvious that the bands picked up on this as well.  The set Exodus played, while again criminally brief, was one of my favorite sets by them in years.

Strike. Of. The. Beast.
[Photo courtesy of Photo Ray]

Again, I proved that I wasn't a Suicidal For Life as I managed to not watch their set.  Homies can bitch slap me and call me a poser the next time you see me, 'kay?  Suicidal still wanted a Pepsi but all this guy wanted was a beer... and I got one.. as well as good hang time with some old friends from near and far again.

Yes, Slayer played a different setlist tonight which was awesome. I took advantage and watched the set from different spots in the venue.

South. Of. Heaven.

Obviously, Slayer 2014 is different than the "classic" version but, as I've said before in this rant space, this lineup is so rooted in history it's profound. Both Gary and Bostaph are from the orig Bay Area Metal scene of the early 80's so the fact OG Bay Area and L.A. have joined together is profoundly full circle. More importantly this lineup has completely jelled and has a vibe that's better than you should hope for post Hanneman and Lombardo. Haters will always hate and complain because that seems to be what Metal fans do best now. Whatever.. The past is the past. Slayer 2014 is fucking great.

 Seasons. In. The. Abyss.

If you bought one of every Slayer merch item you would have paid around $500 I think.  On both nights on the way back to the car, some pimply-faced teenagers called me a fag. All in all, a very great pair of nights in beautiful downtown Oakland amongst old friends and old bands.  Hope I die before I get old.

"Cursed... Black magic night.. We've been struck down.."