TOUR: Black Label Society
SUPPORT: Brand New Sin, Mercy Clinic
VENUE: The Fillmore -- San Francisco, CA
DATE: Sunday, November 20th, 2005
ATTENDED W/: Idolatress
GEAR WORN: GWAR Hoodie & New GWAR Shirt
MERCH PURCHASED: NA
MOSHING REPORT: NA
EDDIES AWARDED: 7.50 (8.50 but with full point penalty)
REVIEWED: December 30th, 2005
3:30 AM... That's about the time I pulled into my driveway from the Vader concert. Never do I go to bed straight away, so I probably crashed an hour later after post-show poking about on the net. Doesn’t everyone check Blabbermouth before they go to bed? Of course they do. Rising well after noon, I got up, grubbed out, showered the prior night's Pound off my body, and climbed back into my truck for a drive back to San Francisco this time to the Fillmore to catch Black Label Society. Lokia via cell phone acted as my own personal TomTom GPS when the MapQuest’s excellent instructions failed me. After all, I couldn’t have missed a turn and tried to get back on track a different way! Nosireebob!
My original battle plan for the weekend had been GWAR with Motorhead_Jeff in the Southland but it all fell through at the last minute to family obligations on my part and professional responsibilities on MJ's. So I actually left home without a ticket, which was a problem because BLS had sold out the Fillmore some time back. Why did I go? With the exception of Ozzfest, I haven’t seen BLS headline an entire normal tour show. Blabbermouth reported that InstantLive would be recording the concert and selling official boots afterwards, and that’s what truly pushed me over the edge. I wanted the boot souvenir. Online, tickets were 3-4x times face, but fortunately it took me all of 30 seconds outside the Fillmore to find a pair at a bit over double, which wasn't bad considering the low initial face.
An hour before doors, the line already stretched the length of a city block and then around a corner. Security began checking IDs for bar stamps and scolding others not to be so damn obvious in drinking on the street or sending them around the corner Taco Bell to finish their whatever. None of this mattered because I was going off to dinner with Idolatress and skipping BLS’s support bands. For some fucked up reason, I thought Meldrum was still providing primary suspect for Zakk, as they had been doing at the beginning of the Mafia tour. Yeah, I screwed the pooch on this one and largely missed two acts I would have liked to see... Mercy Clinic (Patrick Lachman's new band, former vocalist for DamagePlan) and Brand New Sin. My wait turned out to be even longer because I had given Idolatress my MapQuest directions which concluding her trek in the city with a damn near circle-wide path around the Fillmore district, yet again establishing proof that I can make a woman lose herself.
After a brief episode of Parking In The City, we walked about to discover surprising limited options. Most restaurants were either closing up or Asian. While we wanted Italian, we settled on a little place somewhere in-between called Pride Of The Mediterranean. Immediately I ordered a fried goat cheese appetizer which happened to come with pita bread. No one believes me when I tell them that I can order the equivalent of a grilled cheese sandwich anywhere.
Brand New Sin was wrapping up their set as we made into the Fillmore. Instead of listening to them blow BLS on stage, we went to bar for a couple of drinks, a beer for myself and a margarita for Idolatress which turned out to be a glass of tequila with a splash of mix for color. I ordered a second one later for her and I’m pretty sure the bartender didn’t even bother with the mix.
While I've seen Zakk on a handful of occasions during the last two years during Ozzfest, I've seen Black Label Society headline only once. That was at the very beginning of Mafia last January for either the first warm-up gig (or certainly one of the first) at the House Of Blues on the Sunset Strip in Hollywood. (You can read about it here in The Permanent Record.
BLS has dramatically expanded their stage set from the basic core of my last show: a lot more Marshalls on each side for the drums like Slayer; three massive red banner backdrops, the outside one plain red with the larger, middle one reflecting an image of the Mafia album cover; and in front of the drum kit, a large cross of iron with a Pub Open sign near its base. The standards were present too: skull stands, flashing red sirens, and a picture of Dimebag. BLS must be hauling their own light show now, too. They've been playing roughly the same set list for a while now and the light show looked REALLY polished.
The BLS set list in San Francisco:
Fire It Up
Say What You Will
Spread Your Wings
Bleed For Me
Whats In You
In This River (Zakk on Piano)
Spoke in the Wheel (Zakk on Piano)
Been a Long Time
There’s always a song you’d like to hear that didn't make the cut, even if it has been played on every tour since the dawn of time. That BLS song for me is Stoned And Drunk. I also like Doomsday Jesus. Whatever. The introduction remains the GodFather theme followed by Patsy Kline’s Crazy. BLS' set list worked for me well enough that I keep it as an iTunes playlist, although I sneak in a second encore of Stoned And Drunk, Doomsday Jesus, and Woman Don't You Cry.
Idolatress and I spent most of the concert three or four off the center rail, having pushing our way up in the opening melee. Those around us were cool but the crowd was really bad, so tightly packed that it almost fell over on top of itself several times. Holding my ground was a real fight. Idolatress was smashed at one point and was serving as a human armrest because of her height. The result of it all? I just ended up getting pissed at the whole thing and not enjoying the show. My track record of bad BLS concert moments continued. Sometimes you belong in the pit, sometimes you don’t. With a quarter of the show left, I pulled out toward the rear and then left during the first few notes of Stillborn.
Personally, I missed James Lorenzo on bass because I enjoying watching him play the first time I saw BLS at Ozzfest in 2004. He was one of those guys you just expect to be there, but as I have said many times before Black Label Society is all about Zakk. Bassist must be a rotating position, or so the joke goes. John DeServio (who played on a BLS tour in 1999) returned to the fold to replace James.
In Hollywood, Zakk opened up a with a squealing solo and often broke into them. In San Francisco, he displayed a lot more control and the pace of his solos fit the tempo of the concert. Zakk didn’t appear drunk or out of control either; he looked liked he was having fun with his band. He didn’t throw beers into the pit in San Francisco as he has done with almost all prior BLS shows I’ve seen elsewhere. I still have my beer can from Ozzfest 2004. (Ah ... the memory of saving Motorhead_Jeff from death by flying beer can!) I do enjoy Zakk’s vocals, and he’s a hell of a guitar player. You can't take that away from him, even if you hate him and think he is a stupid, fascist, redneck, alcoholic, son-of-a-bitch. (Did I miss anything, Hecho?)
The more I hear Black Label Society, the more I like them. However, BLS will never make it to the upper echelons of PavoLand’s bands hierarchy. Their music in no way speaks to me like Iron Maiden, Edguy, or a half dozen favorites of mine. It’s enough that I enjoy their music when I come across it. Whether it be at Ozzfest or on their own, I’ll catch the next show in my area and I know there is a possibility of a good time. 8.500 Eddies.
Oh yeah! I forget about something.... what about my concert boot? Ya know, the reason that pushed to pay extortion for a pair of a tickets? A day or so after the concert, the BLS camp announced that InstantLive Boots would be unavailable because of contractual obligations related to an upcoming DVD. Fuck you, asswipes. Full point doink and you mother fuckers are lucky that’s all. Get your fucking shit together! 7.5 Eddies.