Saturday, September 03, 2016

The Golden Ticket

The Regency, San Francisco
September 1, 2016

It was bizarre that Exodus would be on this bill supporting Killswitch Engage, but that was the case as our favorite Thrash band signed on for 3 shows in San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Las Vegas supporting KSE.  However, the bonus was that Gary Holt was back onstage with Exodus for these shows during a break in the Slayer touring schedule.  For the newbies:  Gary has been playing double duty with both Exodus and Slayer for the past several years.. which is both weird and cool depending on how you look at it.  As long as both bands are able to keep it going on their own terms I guess that's all that matters.

The Regency has generally been an easy venue to attend shows at but tonight parking took a bit more effort and I guess the terrorists have won because there were 2 imposing airport style metal detectors scanning punters at the entrance followed by a "should I smoke after this" extreme pat down search.  However, I'm pretty sure no terrorists made it into the building tonight to harsh the Metal so maybe the terrorists haven't won after all.  I guess.

As the middle band this evening (playing after that band Unearth who I know I've seen before in a Mayhem Festival (R.I.P.) parking lot somewhere..) the hometown heroes were allotted a criminally short 8 songs and 45 minutes onstage.  The mid-set 'Blacklist' is always a highlight for me.. but.. yes, I got teary eyed when Exo launched into 'Bonded By Blood'.. which is a song that now resonates for me in a more profound way than it did when I was a pimply-faced teenage Metalhead.  Then they followed it with 'Toxic Waltz' and (cue pathetic old man voice) I suddenly got all nostalgic hearing both of those quintessential Bay Area songs back to back. The hometown heroes closed with the still brutal 'Strike of the Beast' and for a few minutes the ghost of Ruthie's Inn visited us again.. then it was gone.  

It's true the Bay Area Metal scene (such as it is here in 2016) is based on nostalgia to a very large extent.. but what's wrong with that?  Most cities that had scenes saw them wither and disappear whereas it's impressive that the key Bay Area Metal bands (or at least their current 21st Century versions) are still alive and roaming the globe.  Not that I trip on it too much, but in this day and age it's easier for the Internets to ridicule and tear shit down instead of celebrating it.. but whatever.  Exodus.  Metallica.  Death Angel. Testament.  All still creating music.  All still touring.  Dog bless them.

On a personal note, I was completely gobsmacked when Gary Holt came onstage wearing a t-shirt with the cover of my old zine Whiplash on it!

[Photo courtesy of Photo Ray]

It was kind of emotional to be honest.  Thanks to Umlaut's old friend Tom for making the tee.

Sometimes the Rock Godz work in mysterious and ironic ways.  Example:  At Will Call along with my ticket I was given a glittery gold wristband.  When I asked what it was for I was told it was for After Show.. which was fine but I wasn't planning to hang out until the end of the night once Exodus were done.  Anyway, I put the wristband on and headed into the show.

After Exodus I was about to leave when a friend who I'd told about the gold wristband said a mutual friend working the show said that one (1) person had been given a gold wristband and that it granted the bearer All Access to all the magical places of the show tonight.  Evidently the venue's security were informed about this one (1) golden wristband during their pre-show briefing.  My response was "Really??"

So I went to the backstage door and showed the security guy the wristband and his response was "Oh.. YOU'RE the one with the gold wristband.." and he opened the door that allowed me into the magical, sweaty, and cramped backstage of The Regency.  Hilarious, right?  

The Golden Wristband.. There was only one...

Somewhere the ghost of Gene Wilder smiled.  "So shines a good deed in a weary world."

During my Willie Wonka golden ticket / wristband moment I had a nice visit with the Exodus guys on their bus before heading back to Casa de Umlaut.. and was walking up to my front door at just about 10:30pm.  A fun, short night for this old person.

No, I didn't watch a note of Killswitch Engage..  I've seen them around a half dozen times over the years.. and I'm happy for them that the one guitarist no longer wears a cape onstage.. but.. sorry KSE.. it's you not me.

Exodus were selling flip flops.  On the way back to the car, some pimply-faced teenagers called me a fag.  Time is a weird thing and this show was an example.  A band who I've been following since their earliest days still grinding it out 30+ years later and seeming to still enjoy it despite being the middle band on a bill in a less than half full venue.  Dog bless them.

"It's time to run.. or fight.. off the strike.. of The Beast."