Let me start off by saying that the Grand Ballroom at San Francisco's Regency Center is both a horrible and excellent place to see metal. The venue is a bit big, and never quite fills up, which can leave the sound a bit wanting. They also place their stacks up high and pointed down at the crowd from the sides of the stage, which means that if you're about forty feet back, you're going to get the best sound. Anyone standing front and center will be sorely disappointed.
The crowd at this show was as you might expect. Near-Juggalos in "corpse paint" and assorted Hot Topic wear lined up outside in the drizzle to catch a glimpse of Danny (Dani? Seriously?) Filth's areolas. There were even girls in the front row with glow-stick headbands on. What the fuck?
Anyway, my friends and I waded our way in through the veritable food court of lameness and took a spot stage right and far enough back for good sound. We had managed to find a kickass parking spot and get in right before the show started. Off to a good start.
Not being a fan of Septic Flesh previous to this show, I didn't really know what to expect from the Grecian Death Metallers. What I got was an absolute treat. You know how every band that plays before your favorite band can't ever quite live up to them? How you spend the opening sets counting songs and wishing they would go by just a bit faster? Not so with Septic Flesh, who managed to come out of the gates swinging, tight and technically spot on for a half an hour of symphonically charged, groove-laden death.
They were, sadly, playing to a tape of some sort, since they lacked a keyboard to accompany them. I was impressed, however, that they managed to stay so perfectly synchronized with the samples throughout the entire set. Not a missed beat to be had here.
The singer, one Spiros Antoniou, seemed to be channeling almost a 1980's hardcore punk vibe, with spastic hand movements and crazed facial expressions between bass riffs. The guitars were a bit low in the mix, and the bass thundered over everything else, when he bothered to stop fingering an invisible vagina in front of his face and play it.
I couldn't really say much about the contents of their set, not being familiar with the band until now. I know they played "Communion", "We The Gods", and some song where everybody chanted "BURN!" a lot. Good shit, though. The guy in the pit who looked just like John Locke from Lost (shirt off and all) seemed to enjoy it. I did, too, and I would happily see them again. It's a rare experience to be surprised by an unknown band, but Septic Flesh earned it.
My friends and I forced our way forward, braving untold amounts of hair extensions, platform boots, and goggles. Not to be denied our Norwegian black metal by a bunch of under-developed, over-fed retards, we managed to get about three people from the front. Satyricon came out to much fanfare and shouting of "MOTHER NORTH!"
"Repined Bastard Nation" is a good fucking way to open a Satyricon set. Satyr looked like some sort of fascist German rocker, all rigid fury and hawk-eyed stares. His trident mic stand looked like it was missing some corpses hanging off of the side, but it was plenty intimidating none the less. Frost is as insane as I imagined, and though Satyricon certainly isn't the best demonstration of his technical abilities, he plays live with a passion other black metal drummers would benefit to imitate.
Satyricon tore through their songs, one after another with barely a break between them. I am old enough now to enjoy a short, sweet live show, and I have no complaints. Their setlist consisted entirely of material from their last three albums, so the more traditional black metal will have to wait until their headlining tour this fall. "Die By My Hand" still doesn't quite grab me, but they seem to love playing it. Playing the opening three tracks from Now, Diabolical, a healthy smattering of their newest material, and a pair of Volcano's better songs gave me plenty of time to throw claws in the air and bang my head like I'm not going bald.
Satyr gives up guitar duty live to engage the crowd a little bit more, and he does so in the standard metal fashion. "HEY!" chants and calls for jumping are so fucking tired, I wish metal would just let that shit go. Save it for Manowar and Amon Amarth, guys, you're supposed to be all grim and frostbitten. Drunk people love to yell and jump around though, so I guess it works.
You can tell that Satyr is a bit remiss over losing his strings to the capable live band. He picks up an axe later in the set for "The Pentagram Burns", but also spends a fair amount of time watching the guitarists longingly (accusingly, too) and playing air guitar to his own riffs.
"Fuel For Hatred" closed Satyricon out strong. This song has long been a favorite of mine from the much-maligned Volcano, and hearing it live only reinforced my love. Satyricon all lined up at the front of the stage and bowed out, making special efforts to thank the crowd. Frost has 300 abs, I swear to you. That dude is cut.
Cradle of Filth
What, you think I stayed for Cradle of Filth? Hahahaha.