Day one of the 10th annual Tidal Wave Festival was held today in McLaren Park in San Francisco, and as my first true metal festival experience I can say I was well-pleased with the show. A free metal show is never something to pass up, especially when a band like Ulysses Siren is on the bill, so I headed up to SF today where I met my friend and a few of his buddies to witness Tidal Wave.
First off, I have never in my life seen such a congregation of metalheads in my life. It almost felt like a contest to see who was the ugliest, smelliest, drunkest motherfucker with the most patches of underground metal bands on his denim jacket. All the old schoolers came out of the woodwork, and just about everyone there seemed to know each other and it was just a great very family-like vibe. There was even a guy there that was 60 years old who everybody knew, dude has been goin to shows in the Bay Area since the beginning and he's still out in full leather pants with bullet-belt, the leather jacket, mane of long gray hair, fuckin awesome. I'll admit I was a little creeped though by the skinhead Satanist guys, and the general amount of total degenerates and pretty gross people in general was sometimes a little much, but I will vouch that is this is as true a gathering of real metalheads as there could be. There were more young people than I thought there would be though, especially very young kids who were having a great time clearly, awesome to see. Basically, the place straight reeked of heavy fucking metal.
The only reason for coming was really just to see Ulysses Siren, so I wasn't familiar with most of the other bands. The first band Kaos was one I already knew, and basically they sucked. Pretty weak (though definitely spirited) half-thrash/metalcore stuff, the few poser kids who were there liked it though. I did spot the Gary Holt and Tom Hunting from Exodus hanging out during their set though, and they stayed for the whole fest which was really cool. Gary was gettin into it all day, at first I couldn't believe it was him cuz he looked like such a hobo
Missing teeth, scraggly hair, Venom shirt, downing beers like crazy, classic. I didn't talk to them at all though, didn't feel like bothering them.
After Kaos someone wisely threw on the new Municipal Waste over the PA, which was awesome. Next came a band I had never heard before, Manslaughter. Immediately I was surprised to see a cute girl fronting the band on vocals AND guitar, something that is pretty unheard of despite the amount of female vocalists in metal today. I was even more surprised when the music didn't suck; in fact, it was fucking awesome. On a cold foggy day in SF in the woods, their brand of Opeth-meets-Agalloch-meets-Cryptopsy was perfectly fitting music. Somber and heavy, with great tempo changes anchored by superb drumming, Manslaughter was fantastic. They are brand new out of Los Angeles, just formed in 2006 by said vocalist/guitarists Liz Schall, and I have absolutely no doubt that they will get signed to a big label and that people are gonna start hearing about them. With an attractive front-woman to boot its even more likely that they'll make it, and I wish them the best. I wanted to buy the EP "Through The Eyes Of Insanity" they were selling or maybe even a shirt but stupidly I didn't bring any money (the merch available at the fest was awesome, they had boxes of rare LP's too and a bunch of cool shit). Either way, look out for Manslaughter because they definitely have something great to offer. From what I gather this is what they played: (not in order except for the closer)
Shadows In The Dark
Putrid Is The Sky
Following Manslaughter came seminal SF old schoolers Mercenary, further instilling in me the belief that the most fun that can be had during a live performance is when you've got a band up there firing off vintage heavy metal/thrash and its just like "Yes!!! This is IT". Its a good time seeing these older middle-age dudes rock out, and they can still hand it to bands less than half their age. The classic twin guitar attack was out, the fists were flying, heads banging, even a good pit got started, just an awesome time all around. I'm not familiar with their studio material but I know they did a song called "Set To Destruct" that everyone seemed to know which got a huge response and they ended with a Blitzkrieg cover. Denim and leather motherfuckers.
Exordium came on next and did their sort of melodic death metal/symphonic black metal thing, which wasn't bad but just isn't my thing really. They weren't bad though at all, just nothing much that stuck out in my mind. The keyboardist had a weird hairdo though, and it was pretty funny when the guitars stopped and the keys started in by themselves it was nice and cheesy
They had a couple good black metal riffs in there at times, and the drummer was damn tight. Possibly could go somewhere if they cut the Cradle Of Filth worship and stick to a more blackened sound. No major complaints though.
Finally, the band I came to see, the excellent and perpetually underrated Ulysses Siren. Buried in the "B-list" of the Bay Area thrash explosion of the 1980's, Ulysses Siren only released one official album (the compilation "Above The Ashes") but for me are one of the most awesome Bay Area thrash bands ever, and personally I'll take them over Testament any day. They proved themselves live as well, delivering a phenomenal energetic performance of shitfaced-grin inducing thrash metal. My friend Dom, who has an awesome voice, was doing the high screams with Manuel Lopez all set, and even got up on stage to nail off some. Truth be told he could hold 'em even better than Lopez! God damn it was just ball-busting fun though, the old schoolers were having a ball too, an impossibly metal time all around. God damn even if I couldn't be around for the 80's this was good enough for me; air guitaring like little kids, fuckin awesome mosh pit, fist-pumping and neck-snapping, I can't sum it up any other way except 100% metal. They even did a brand new song called "Justifiable Homicide" which ruled just as hard as the old shit. Guitarist Jon Torres, who has been everywhere from Heathen to Laaz Rockit to Angel Witch, was making some funny faces and like talking to himself while he played, it was pretty weird
Nonetheless he and Kevin Albert (who I was talking with earlier and had no idea who he was
) traded leads and shredded twin harmonies together like pros, beautiful and powerful music. This was the setlist: (partial order, I know the first song and last three are in the right spot).
Lake Of Fire
No Trace Of Shame
Above The Ashes
Due to time constraints since the festival started over an hour late I had to leave before Avenger Of Blood and Mordred played, which was a little disappointing but I still left happy. Can't say I didn't get my money's worth
I'm gonna try to make it back up for tomorrow to see Hatchet, so maybe there will be a review of day two!