Tuesday, August 04, 2015


High On Fire / Pallbearer / Lucifer
The Regency, San Francisco
August 1, 2015

I didn't see any bands play live in July.  I can't remember the last time I've gone that long without standing in a room with a band and a PA system.  However, sometimes life throws a web of stress at you so thick it's hard to untangle yourself from it.  I'm still entangled but I guess when life gives you lemons.. make lemonade.. or in Umlaut's case get back to seeing bands.  If anything they're a distraction from "real life".

An early evening family commitment had me an hour south and I wasn't sure I would be able to make it to the show at all.  Thankfully the Rock Godz work in mysterious ways, as did the Traffic and Parking Godz, so I made it into the city and found a parking spot only 2 blocks from the venue.  This was amazing considering it was a Summer Tourist Season Saturday night!  Given this good fortune I breezed into The Regency just as Lucifer were starting their set.

I was dubious when I heard Lucifer had risen so quickly out of the ashes of The Oath even though the new band was a collaboration between Johanna of The Oath on vocals and Garry Jennings of Cathedral (!) on guitars.   I liked The Oath and saw them live in London in December 2013 at a Rise Above Records show (headlined by Uncle Acid & the Deadbeats.. natch!).  Unfortunately, The Oath seemed off that night and I was disappointed.  Fast forward to tonight in San Francisco and I'm happy to report that Lucifer more than made up for that night in London.  They were fookin' great!

[Photo courtesy of Photo Ray]

Despite my fandom of The Oath, I had only heard the debut Lucifer 7" and had not paid a lot of attention to the debut album that recently dropped.  As I just said.. I was dubious.  So it was perfect that I became a legit fan seeing them live and onstage.  Johanna was much more confident tonight than when I saw her front The Oath and projected a Stevie Nicks-like charisma.. and that's a good thing.  Lucifer's sound is rooted in Classic Metal and Rock which is Umlaut's DNA.  However, unlike other recent new bands who have attempted to conquer this route (i.e. Blue Pills), Lucifer nails it because they bring the essential swagger to the mix.  The moment I became completely in league with Lucifer was when they pounded out the new song 'Abracadabra' with its timeless mid-tempo voodoo stomp.  I was hooked..  "Abracadabra... say the magic word.."

Just tonight I read a new interview with Johanna where she listed her Top 5 albums and this says where Lucifer is coming from perfectly:
  • King Crimson - In the Court of the Crimson King
  • Aphrodite's Child - 666
  • Black Sabbath - Technical Ecstasy
  • Scorpions - In Trance
  • Fleetwood Mac - Rumours
There you go.

During the changeover I grabbed a beer with Photo Ray and also saw several other friends and acquaintances.... which reminded me that one of the things in life that's always kept me sane and grounded is seeing bands I like and experiencing it with like-minded friends.  Reality check.  Noted.

Pallbearer.. Damn.  It's astonishing how great they've become as a live band since their first tour only 2 years ago.  It's not often at this point in my life that I'm able to witness a band go from tentative live band with a great debut album to a seasoned live band with a couple of great albums.  I'm always impressed seeing a band become more confident and polished as a live entity... and with Pallbearer it's more entertaining because 2 years ago it was a novelty they were from Arkansas.. and now they look like they could be from New York City (haircuts!).  I don't mean that as a negative.. I mean it shows that Pallbearer have become more worldly from their travels and it translates to what a potent live machine they are now.

[Photo courtesy of Photo Ray]

Pallbearer.. Damn.  They profoundly crushed the 415.  Someday I will see the band play a full headline set.  This was my 3rd time being in the same room as the boys from Arkansas and the 3rd time I've seen them play no longer than 45 minutes.  No matter.  It was still one of the best sets I'll see all year and I was surprised they dropped their signature song 'Devoid Of Redemption' so early in the set.. but it set the tone.. and tone is what a great band like Pallbearer is all about.

According to the Umlaut Archives this was least the 20th time I've been in the same room as High On Fire and their equipment dating back to one of their first shows.  That being said.. It's not that I don't still care.. but they are a band I know I take for granted these days.  Anyway, by the time their set ended I had been back at Casa de Umlaut for awhile.

I'm out of practice and didn't do a merch audit.  However, Lucifer's merch guy seemed to know me.. I assume from Murder.. which was cool.  For the record I supported Lucifer and Pallbearer with merch purchases.  On the way back to the car, some pimply-faced teenagers called me a fag.  Besides blowing off attending shows last month I've also been blowing off updating this site.  I just haven't been motivated to put words together lately.

For what it's worth:  In June I saw Ides Of Gemini, Whitesnake, Acid King, and the final Mayhem Fest with SLAAAYER and King Diamond.  All were great shows.. but I just didn't feel like writing about them.  However, this amazing moment happened:

"At the sound of the Demon Bell..." 

Anyway, this site is not dead... but after 11 years I guess it's on semi-hiatus.  At least until the writing bug hits me regularly again.  Stay tuned.