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KING DIAMOND SLAYS THE WARFIELD WITH ABIGAIL.

November 9, 2015 Leave a comment

by Mat Weir. 

I know, I know. It’s already been a week. That’s a horrible time to write a concert review because in our up-to-date-by-the-minute society, a week might as well be a year. But if you’ve ever read anything I’ve written here, you know that frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn. Besides, after a week I’m still trying to fully digest the awesomeness that was King Diamond in concert.

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On November 2, 2015 I felt like death. October had been a rough month on my physical and mental state and by November everything had revolted. But, I also had a ticket to King Diamond and Exodus at the Warfield in San Francisco with a couple of fellow Streetlight, metal warriors. With my head in a daze and my legs weak from weeks of constant work, I clearly saw the only thing I could do was dose myself with LSD and make sure my ticket didn’t go to waste. Obviously.

I would write about Exodus since they are a favorite, Bay Area thrash band and one I’ve been wanting to see for a while. However, by the time King Diamond finished, I had almost completely forgotten there was even an opening band. The King and his band were just THAT good.

Exodus

Exodus

With the stage decked out in gargoyles, upside down crosses and a giant second story deck with stairs on either side, King Diamond opened with “Mother’s Getting Weaker” off Them. The 59 year old artist didn’t disappoint with the theatrics and had a female counterpart dressed as an old woman, rolled out on stage. Of course, this was mother.

Mother's Getting Weaker

Mother’s Getting Weaker

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Throughout the next hour Diamond and crew blasted through a bunch of fan favorites like “Eye of the Witch,” and “Halloween” before diving into some Mercyful Fate territory. “Evil” and “Melissa” were personal favorites with a priest burning a witch and a giant, light-up goat-headed pentagram in the background. Oh yeah, and at one point. As Streetlight metal-aficionado, Dayan, pointed out, during “Come to the Sabbath” the female performer was acting out the Satanic ritual Diamond was singing about.

Hail to the King, baby!

Hail to the King, baby!

Burn the witch!

Burn the witch!

I mean, does it get any more METAL than THAT?!?

Then the lights went up and we realized the band hadn’t even started what we all came to see, the complete Abigail album from start to finish.

The classic 1987 album was King Diamond second solo and first concept album. It’s the story of Abigail La’Fey, a stillborn baby “birthed” through the murder of her mother, whose spirit haunts the unborn child of her future relatives. If that doesn’t make you want bang your head with joy, we can’t be friends.

The lights went out in the building and by this point I was completely drenched in the world created before me. Then, the familiar haunting bells and a spotlight appeared on King Diamond standing above a child coffin repeating the words, “We’re gathered here to night to lay to rest, Abigail Avail, who we now know was first born dead on the seventh day of July, 1777. . .”

July 7th, 1777.

July 7th, 1777.

And the crowd. . .well. . .the crowd exploded into a chaos of moshing, cheering and headbanging.

Watching King Diamond mesmerize the audience with his insane voice and high energy made it hard to believe he had a near fatal heart attack only five years ago. The heavy metal legend appeared in full-form, blasting through the classic 1987 album without missing a note and enacting the entire drama of Abigail. At one particularly fun acid moment, I realized we were witnessing the modern evolution of the  musical. Give it one or two more generations and you’ll see King Diamond-inspired sold-out shows on Broadway. I’ll be the old man saying “Back in my day, we had to stand to see musicals. And we called them metal shows back then, dammit!” Could be fun.
At the end of the night, King Diamond and his band came out for a second bow. He even stuck around for 10 minutes or so to shake hands and thank the crowd. I actually saw several metal heads leaning as far over the second story railing to bow and blow kisses at the man. Then again, don’t take my word for it, I was on drugs. Next time he tours your town, make sure you buy a ticket. And for god sake don’t tell your mom, or she might just drag you to church after.

SANTA CRUZ MUSIC FESTIVAL HEAVY METAL SHOWCASE

October 3, 2015 Leave a comment

SCMFMetal

by Mat Weir

Listen up all you hell-raisers, headbangers and long-haired stoner freaks! The Santa Cruz Music Festival  is back for it’s third year and this time they are unleashing the crushing brutality of metal upon historic downtown Santa Cruz. The masterminds backing SCMF–wizard promoters Angelo Shermann and Euphoric Styles–are taking over the 418 Project with spaced out, blood curdling and violent thrashing local metal bands for all your sadistic needs!

Hosted by the most ugly and masked El Pasty Guero, the man your mom blew behind Tampico’s for money, the metal showcase will feature nine, local, heshian and chaos creating acts over 10 hours of extreme mayhem. This ain’t some wimpy-ass festival thrown by a bunch of sold-out rock stars, these musicians are young and thirsty for your blood, sweat and pain!

SATAN’S BLADE – Hailing from the caverns of San Jose, this freshly formed quartet mixes power metal, thrash and a high dose of speed for a set of satanic-fueled fire. Their debut demo, Curse of the Blade, was released in June of this year, but they’ve been slaying audiences throughout the Bay Area for about a year and have done numerous stints in Santa Cruz. Their guitarists slash through notes with technical ease as the rhythm section holds a steady spinal beat and their drummer even sings when they aren’t playing one of their epic instrumental numbers. Satan’s Blade’s music spins tales of death and destruction while riding the wind to the next massacre and they are the perfect openers for this year’s Santa Cruz Music Fest.

http://satansblade.bandcamp.com/releases

DRAIN – Sludge-thrash crossover quartet, Drain, reap credulous youthful minds with a bloody, old school scythe of sound. Their four song demo, recorded at the local Comprehensive Studios and released this past May, is a patchwork of songs as tightly sewn as the band insignias on their jackets. Drain’s music is a violent rush of gritty disarray with buzzing guitar riffs and pulverizing drum beats sounding the call to war or ultimate destruction. After their set, your mind will be–you guessed it–drained.
http://drain831.bandcamp.com/releases

A THOUSAND SHALL FALL – Brutal, uncompromising, relentless and with a sound unlike any other in the local metal scene, A Thousand Shall Fall has been blasting Santa Cruz since 2011. The quintet formed as an answer to all of the cliche “genre bands” in the world. From the start they decided to play the music they wanted, combining elements of death and technical metal with the nihilism of black metal. They even throw in a break down here and there as a nice “fuck you” to anyone who tries to classify their music.Two years after forming, they dropped their first album, In the Shadow of the Mighty, four balls-to-the-wall songs themed around the apocalyptic destruction of a living planet. How fucking metal is that? Last year they released their second recording, Horizon, two of their finest songs yet swimming in the theme of new life birthed from the embers of our own destruction. Their live show is a theater of chaos which words can do no justice. Trust us, you don’t want to miss this one.

STONE SLOTH — Let there be DOOM! Recently formed, Stone Sloth has already made a name for themselves in the local scene. They reign a heavy blanket of audible destruction over the audience with their double guitars, droning bass, hammering drums and guttural vocals. Their presence onstage is intimidating and brooding as they wrench the evil from within and lay it out in front of the unsuspecting audience. They recently released their first recording in July, a 7-minute lesson in Santa Cruz sludge called, Whale Bait, that can be purchased on their bandcamp. After one listen you’ll agree: just because they’re one of the newest bands on this year’s lineup, doesn’t mean Stone Sloth will be ignored.

https://stonesloth.bandcamp.com/releases

LEUCROTA — Gritty and political, Leucrota delivers blackened crust with a crushing blow. Their five song demo, released in February, is a cacophony of sound with layers of bone-rattling goodness. It weaves from serene doom to black metal guitars with disgusting screams slaughter on top.  Just when you think you know what’s happening they suckerpunch you with some sped-up hardcore. This all makes for a live show blasted with sweat, beer and someone else’s blood. You’ll make it out alive, but you’ll never be the same.

WORSHIP— Hailing from the depths of Salinas rides the heavy destruction of Worship. Drawing from hardcore and metal influences like Tragedy, Baroness, Converge and Botch , they add a twist of sludgy goodness for a sound all their own. Throughout the year they’ve played multiple shows around Santa Cruz, with their audience growing quicker than Lemmy’s health problems. Of course their commanding stage show speaks for itself, but it also doesn’t hurt to have an amazing debut like All Too Human under your belt. This is one band you’ll want to keep your eye on in the near future.

MOUNTAIN TAMER — Of course it wouldn’t be a true local lineup without some heavy psyche and that’s just what Mountain Tamer brings to the table. This electrified trio drops dots of mind-erasing interstellar clarity on the ears with spine-crunching gravity. With multiple time changeups all driven by the hairbanging grooves every smoker craves, they’re the type of band you want to listen to while cruising down Highway 1 on your motorcycle. . .or maybe buy a motorcycle, first. One thing’s for sure, this ain’t your daddy’s psychrock.

THE BAD LIGHT — This group believes in three things: the blues, lots of fuzz, and big-ass bass drums. For years the Bad Light has been a local favorite, always drawing a large crowd from all walks of life. This is due to the band’s eclectic sound, combining a Southern, swampy blues with a driving beat and melodic vocals that catch the ear of rockers and metalheads alike. Don’t believe us? Check out their two full-lengths, 2012’s Marrow of Sound, and 2013’s roadhouse oriented, Onward Downward to see just what we mean. And have no fear all you long-time fans, rumor has it The Bad Light is back in the studio cookin’ up some more savory soul food to feed your starving earholes in the near future.

FOUNTAIN OF BILE — Perhaps their Facebook description says it all, “We are Fountain of Bile. FUCK YOU.” This unkempt quartet is a powerhouse of sound drawing influences everywhere from Motorhead and Pantera to Decapitated and even “inappropriately targeted advertisements,” in their own words. Each musician is a testament to his instrument as they serenely control the stage like they were born on stage in sweaty carnage. This is death thrash with enough black metal seduction to pulverize your face in a circle pit of flailing bodies.

PARASITIC EJACULATION— Once you see Parasitic Ejaculation live, it’s hard to look your momma straight in the eye,ever again. Since 2011, these purveyors of puss and gore have been raining Brutal Death metal with technical dynamics as savage as their name. In that time, this local quintet has shared stages with Pathology, Decapitated and Gorgasm, just to name a few. This year saw the release of their sophmore full-length, Echoes of Depravity, but this cataclysmic crew is already back in the studio recording number three. If disgustingly grimey metal is your taste, then prepare to choke-til-you-vomit on some Parasitic Ejaculation.

Scott H. Biram, Nothin’ But Blood and The First Church of the Ultimate Fanaticism

April 22, 2014 Leave a comment

Biram

by Mat Weir

Dubbed “The Dirty Old One Man Band,” Scott H.Biram was born in Lockhart, Texas, graduated from Texas State University with a BA in Fine Arts, and spent his early years playing in a punk band (The Thangs) and two bluegrass ensembles (Bluegrass Drive-by/Scott Biram & the Salt Peter Boys) before branching out on his own. Influenced by artists like Lightnin’ Hopkins, Doc Watson and Leadbelly, Biram created a sound purely his own by combining punk-inspired electric blues with rural country/gospel. He even built his own electric, bass drum kick box which he channels directly into a venue’s sound system.

In 2000 he released his first album, This is Kingsbury, on his independent label, KnuckleSandwich Records. He would release a second album in 2002, before being crushed in a head-on collision with a semi-truck. If there are guardian angels, Biram’s was working overtime (which I’m sure happens often) and the man survived with crushed limbs and feet, internal injuries and an entire FOOT of his lower intestine removed. After such a horrific accident, Biram knew there was only one thing to do.

“I played a show a week after I got out of the hospital in a wheelchair with an IV in my arm just to show everybody I was still gonna do this shit,” he claimed. Then went on to write his Recovery Blues EP.

Why? Because Scott H. Biram is one badass motherfucker. Two more albums later, Bloodshot Records signed him to their label and he’s stayed there since 2005.

I was first introduced to Biram in 2011, through a drinking buddy at the Catalyst. We agreed on plenty of things and were both as interested in any topic that came up the bar’s stairs, plus he could throw back several rounds of shots & beers with a no-fucks-given attitude. However, we always ended up back on music. He was a man whose taste I could trust, an honor earned by few because goddamn it, I have great fucking taste.

So when I was told to check out Scott’s latest that year, Bad Ingredients, I had no problem buying it without bothering to look it up online first. Plus it came on limited, blood red vinyl. As usual, my drinking buddy was spot-on, and we joined the rest of the Catalyst employees in watching Biram play in the Atrium a month later.

BiramBlood

This year, Biram dropped his eighth full-length, Nothin’ But Blood, a title he even admitted to the Austin Chronicle, “is a good name for a really heavy album, which this didn’t turn out to be, so now it’s just a confusing title and I like it.” I think his description is accurate—it’s far less directly heavy as Bad Ingredients, an album filled with distortion and vocals recorded through a bullhorn. Blood’s opening track, “Slow & Easy,” immediately sets the tone of sin and redemption bearing maturity with crisp vocals and clean production. The second song, “Gotta Get to Heaven” continues the trend mixed with contagiously light, southern rock music ala Lynyrd Skynyrd. While track three, “Alcohol Blues,” returns Biram to his electrified blues roots and familiar story telling about drinking to forget a cheatin’ lover, it’s one of the four balls-to-the-wall tracks on the album and still plays cleaner than anything on his previous release.

2014 has been a great year for releases so far and I keep finding myself writing these next words: this is one of my favorite albums so far. While keeping one foot in familiar territory, Nothin’ But Blood finds Biram exploring a wider variety of sound, maturing in his songwriting and revisiting his earliest inspirations. Songs like “Nam Weed” and “Jack of Diamonds” show him wearing his blues heroes on his sleeve and he even covers Howlin’ Wolf’s, “Backdoor Man.”

BiramPatch

On a final note, I’ve seen him perform twice and I’m telling you now, you won’t find another artist you never heard of like him. Whether you know the music or not, his mix of styles and guitars with his friendly, Southern hospitality and bash-you-over-the-head-with-a-bottle-if-you-give-him-shit attitude makes everyone in the audience, EVERYONE, dance, hoot, holler and drink one more round. Always searching for the ultimate Truth, the music is as thick as the air; filled with loose women, heartbreak, alcohol, guilt, redemption and the never-ending search for a little bit of love in all the wrong places. His fan base is known as “The First Church of the Ultimate Fanaticism” for good reason. If ever there was a modern day prophet for the South, Scott H. Biram has been baptized in the blood of this lecherous life; he’s here for your sins and to teach you a couple more.

— Mat Weir
Weird Journalism

Hanni El Khatib Meets Dan Auerbach – Part Three

June 22, 2013 Leave a comment

HEK-

This is the third and final installment discussing Hanni El Khatib’s new album, the influence of Dan Auerbach on it and the wonders of live music. If you need to catch up, check out parts one and two.

by Mat Weir

Khatib was the first on stage, strutting his Greaser look—which looked out of place surrounded by his new band made up of long-haired hippies—said, “Hello” and blasted into the first two songs off the new album: “Head in the Dirt” and “Family.” The bassist more than made up for the electro-dance beat on the recording of the title track and dropped a thunderstorm of rhythm upon the audience that I wasn’t ready for.

With “Family,” Khatib sped up the tempo and continued the show with twice the speed of the album, breathing new life into each track. On songs like “Nobody Move” (an homage to ’77 rock, about armed robbery, complete with reggae beat and a punk chorus) and “Sinking in the Sand,” each band member would terrorize the music, pounding out each note with such ferocity I couldn’t believe they were the same songs I had listened to earlier. These tracks were fresh with rage and Khatib tore through each like a rabid caracal on his first blood high, straight for the jugular with lust in his eyes.

Eighty-five percent of his set was from Head in the Dirt, but the songs he chose to play off Guns were all on my bucket list. “Build. Destroy. Rebuild.” was on my soundtrack last year during a horrible period in my life and I screamed the lyrics so loudly by the time he played “Fuck it, You Win” I could only rasp out the chorus.

Khatib, on the other hand, was screaming to the gods of breakups and heartache, sacrificing himself so that others may learn and live. 50’s bubblegum diddy, “Dead Wrong” filled the ether with a serenade of doo-woppy “Waaaa-oooooo-oo-oooo” and he couldn’t pass up ending the Gun revisit with “Garbage City,” his declaration of love for San Francisco.

Half-way through The Black Angels’ set, when I was trying to figure out where my hallucinations were coming from (remember kids: 2 days of no sleep + weed + psychedelic music = cheap fun!) I passed the joint to my friend, Chelsea—so lost in spacey drone of the band she burned her hand on the marijuana embers without notice. The herbal incense danced around the Fillmore’s alter when I realized this really is what it’s all about.

Live shows are just a metaphor for life: you have to be there to experience it. No recording, book, picture, movie or video game can ever give you the thirst of life. If you don’t go out and DO, you’ll never have the grit of satisfaction under your nails. Life becomes entertainment instead of action, and one’s essence is suffocated underneath the greasy production. Actions baptize us with the fire of living, which burns away the fake bullshit of the world to reveal a raw, fleshy truth–scared and wild, free to run amok and deranged enough to tear apart anyone who tries to stifle it again. I was baptized in this fire, and no longer can I keep my head in the dirt about this record. Instead, I’ll just play it at full volume and anxiously wait for the next congregation with a toothy grin.

Buy the Ticket, Take the Ride: Hanni El Khatib Meets Dan Auerbach – Part Two

June 10, 2013 1 comment

Hanni.2

by Mat Weir

This is part two of a three-part series on Hanni El Khatib, the new album and Dan Auerbach’s influence on Khatib’s sound. Read part one.

Despite Auerbach’s cell-phone commercial friendly production, and Emporer Palpatine ability to drain music of its power (I can see him now, hunched over the soundboard, cackling from behind his hood, “Your feeble skills are no match for the Dark Side!”) Head in the Dirt isn’t completely soulless, but it took seeing the songs performed live for this realization. I had written Head in the Dirt off as just another drop in the ocean of commercial music. I figured the blood drawn on Will the Guns Come Out? as just a first album fluke. The old “underdog writes a gritty debut and follows up with Billboard Top 100 Dance Club Hits.” You know, like Aerosmith, only financially smarter not to drag it out over 30 years and through whatever drug addiction is popular at the time.

When I saw Khatib was opening up for Los Angeles psych-crew, The Black Angels, at the Fillmore, I was as giddy as a schoolgirl and twice as nervous. Seeing two of my favorite bands in one line-up always is an opportunity to jump at, but Dan Auerbach’s laughing eyes from behind the Khatib puppet strings burned in my mind. But fuck it, why not? As the doctor said, “Buy the ticket, take the ride.” Indeed.

Here’s a little reminder for those who don’t know, or do know but are always too drunk to take notice (yes, I’m of the latter). The Filmore is a historic venue in the heart of San Francisco. Made famous by Bill Graham, it became one of the Mecca venues for 1960s psychedelic rock and remains a major venue in the city. Upon entering, you’re met with a long flight of stairs that end in a red corridor covered, from ceiling to carpet, with pictures from the past 50 years of music gods who have anointed the hallowed halls with blood, sweat and booze. The dimly lit 1200 person capacity auditorium is decorated with lavish chandeliers, while Victorian balconies adorn the sides for anyone privileged or dumb enough to pay for a table seat. Sometimes they’ll even pass out posters from the night’s sermon, free of charge, proving once more the eternal truth straight from the Prophet Zappa’s lips, “Music is the only religion that delivers.”

So there I was, standing on the wooden floor in the gut of the temple, stoned from two of the four joints and whiskey I had brought as a sacrificial offering and dazed in delirium from the last 48 hours. Instead of sleeping, I traveled from Los Angeles to Santa Cruz to Davis to San Francisco in order to make the gig, fueled only by nicotine, whiskey and tenacity, Just another devout follower trying to protect my soul, praying Khatib hadn’t completely lost his way in a dark world of radio singles and car jingles. Shit, money talks, right?

Stay tuned for the third and final installment of the Hanni El Khatib/Dan Auerbach saga

Reviewed: Tame Impala at the Fox Theater

June 3, 2013 Leave a comment

TameImpalaFox

by Mari Stauffer

I feel so lucky to have been able to see live music at two of my absolute favorite venues around. Just a couple weeks ago I had the pleasure of seeing Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti in stunning Big Sur at the Henry Miller Memorial Library. The library is one of my very favorite venues, and may even be my favorite outdoor venue!

Now, almost exactly a week after that, I was fortunate enough to get into the sold out Tame Impala show at perhaps my favorite indoor venue, the Fox Theater in Oakland.

The band opened on an epic note, playing one of my favorite tracks (and a popular crowd-pleaser) “Solitude Is Bliss,” from their 2010 album Innerspeaker. By the end of the song, the crowd was hyped and ready for the psychedelic rock Tame Impala delivers so well. I’ve never seen them live and I was looking forward to some trippy, live versions of songs.

They pretty much stuck to songs on the latest album, Lonerism. There were, I’m happy to report, some songs from Innerspeaker, my favorite album of the two, but not quite as many as I’d hoped to hear. Sure, it makes sense that they’d be playing from the latest album, but the earlier songs have a more raw and psychedelic feel to me than their latest effort. Of these newer songs, they did of course play the big hit “Elephant,” to a frenzied reception.

Aside from my minor complaint about wanting to hear more from Innerspeaker, I must say that the band is comprised of very talented musicians. They played very well and on point, accompanied by tripped-out visuals that, coupled with the psychedelic jams and the hotboxed theater, could propel you off the planet and have you wondering what’s in your bottled water.

There were moments where they took some liberties and extended songs into that space jam territory. The band’s stage presence isn’t the most engaging, and it helps to concentrate on the music and visuals to really get the full effect.

The end of the show was a bit anti-climactic, considering the bang they began with at the beginning. All in all, it was a fun show of great songs that were well-executed and sounded true to the albums. Their brand of psychedelic rock also fit perfectly with the sight of the ornate and bizarrely beautiful interior of the Fox Theater.

So, cheers to Tame Impala and may they have a great remainder of their tour.

Concert Review: Ariel Pink meets Henry Miller

May 27, 2013 Leave a comment
Ariel Pink performs at the Henry Miller Library in Big Sur

Ariel Pink performs at the Henry Miller Library in Big Sur

by Mari Stauffer

As we wove our way down Highway 1, the setting sun illuminated the vast and beautiful coastline that is the majesty of Big Sur. Tucked away in a redwood grove along the highway is the Henry Miller Memorial Library which was built by a friend of the late writer and actually occupies this friend’s old residence. It’s a modest wooden cabin with a wraparound deck and grass clearing in the front, which is where they host many types of shows and performances.

This may be my favorite venue. We came to see Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti play here, and then camp and enjoy Big Sur the next couple of nights. After parking the car, we decided to get some food at the fabulous Nepenthe restaurant just up the road, and watch the sunset for a bit on the amazing cliffside deck.

While walking there, who comes ambling down the path in an off-the-shoulder Roxy Music shirt, clutching a beer in one hand? None other than Ariel Pink himself. He was gracious and friendly and indulged us in our “Can we take pictures with you?” fan moment. Finding out, after a quick chat with him, that he and I both studied at UC Santa Cruz at the same time was a fun bonus. After finding out I am a buyer at Streetlight Records, he remarked with a smile that he remembers going in there, and when the store first opened in Santa Cruz.

MAndAriel

At the venue, we were greeted by the always-friendly people at the gate. We got there in time to see a bit of the second opening act, Holy Shit, whose music was reminiscent of the catchy hooks of 1980s synth pop, but with a current edge.

When it came time for Ariel Pink, people filled the lawn in front of the stage in anticipation. By the first note of their first song, Ariel was down among the crowd on the lawn belting out his quirky lyrics while shaking his blonde hair in front of his face, getting into his groove. The whole band had wigs on, and Ariel himself was decked out in a red sweatshirt with a shark graphic, and tight white leggings.

The show was an entertaining mixture of visual and audio delight. There is an odd sincerity in his music, which often has somewhat nonsensical, endearingly ridiculous lyrics. The style of lo-fi, trippy folk-pop music he makes is not only interesting to watch performed live, but fun.

Most of the songs are hard to not dance to, but if dancing isn’t your thing, Ariel and his band’s tripped-out presence onstage and inventive music and lyrics are more than enough to keep you intrigued.

The whole show was great, and the intimate size and nature of the venue allows performers and spectators to mingle comfortably, as we found out when we ended up sitting with Ariel after the show, getting him a beer and chatting under the amazing clear night sky.

A special “Thank You” to Britt Govea at Folkyeah Presents for always booking quality artists and coming through with well-executed shows. Keep on the lookout for future Folkyeah Presents events, you won’t be disappointed.