Saturday, April 14, 2007

Hollywood Babylon

Los Angeles comes at you fast. It is ground zero for the industry side of American heavy metal, and it is also a place of insular, self congratulating pretentiousness mixed with an utter lack of shame and a desperate craving for debauchery. Even if you are not using drugs, the sheer volume of people and excess will make it seem so. Motley Crue were not exaggerating.

We started the day early, having driven through eye-wreckingly bright Las Vegas and the subsequent wastes of Death Valley the night before. Manson country. Cool. Earlier, we stopped about 45 miles before Las Vegas in the blackness of the unlit interstate and marvelled at the stars covering the vault of the sky. Then Sanguine pointed southward towards the orange glow on the horizon and referred to it as the Mordor-like lights of Vegas. It was fitting indeed. Once we reunited with Goatwhore in Barstow, we then followed them out through Pasadena to visit the Moser Custom Shop. Neal Moser and his wife Earleen cordially received us, and Neal showed us around his workshop and let us ogle the several body blanks he had prepared for production. It wasn't too long before we found ourselves sitting down with Earleen to set up an endorsement for new guitars. We were excited as we had been interested in Mosers for some time and it is also our first proper endorsement ever. Sanguine left with a vicious-looking red and black Bastard V, and I put in an order for an Arachnid bass that will arrive at month's end. L.A. proved to be the land of milk and honey for 1349 and Goatwhore as well, as Sammy Goatwhore came to the evening's show with sharp looking new Coffin Cases and some Framus amplifiers. Archaeon of 1349 went out to the Jackson custom shop and came back with a very nice Jackson V via his artist's discount, and we all stood around congratulating each other and celebrating our spoils of the day.

There was an air of high energy surrounding the show. The Knitting Factory was one block away from Grauman's Chinese Theater and there were throngs of people on the streets. The Carcass and I walked over to look at the theater and I got mistaken for Alexi Laiho (as usual). By the time we had finished milling around there was a long line of black tshirts snaking around the side of the mall. Dozens of people were waiting to see the show, and the word later was that the show had in fact sold out. All the bands were excited at the prospect of a packed house, but Friday the 13th apparently did not wish to let us pass unhindered. When Averse Sefira hit the stage there were several techincal problems including a failure with our intro music, a hideous stage sound, and random things like the stage curtain accidentally being lowered in the middle of a song. By all accounts we did well and the response from the crowd was good, but distractions like that make a set into work and we felt like we could have done much better. It was also maddening to think that Topeka, Kansas, had a superior monitoring system than one at a high-end Los Angeles venue. Past that, the rest of the show was fun, wild and nearly overwhelming in places. There were industry people all over the backstage along with many random and sometimes irritating hangers-on, and we talked to those of interest to us and ignored the rest. Akhenaten of Judas Iscariot made a surprise appearance, and we were glad to see him again. We met a porn starlet named Tera Wray who was eagerly flashing her breasts at everyone and in the interim stopped to tell me that she liked my eyes. Oases of niceties in a desert of iniquity, I suppose. In the meantime Jasmin St. Clair (of Coffin Cases and also of the infamy of having fucked 400 guys in one day on film) got into some kind of altercation with Nathan Goatwhore and ended up slapping him. Things were about to boil over between Goatwhore and the LA contingents but clearer heads finally prevailed, though the twitching in Ben's neck afterwards pointed towards the subverting of considerable anger.

1349 destroyed tonight. They had the audience whipped into a frenzy throughout, and the final bringdown was when they played an encore in true LA fashion. The truth is that they actually forgot to play one song so returned to the stage to peform it, because in point of fact they have been militant about not doing encores. Regardless, it was fitting for the occasion and even I could not resist rushing across the stage and leaping into the crowd to bathe in the chaos.

Three more shows to go. We are in Corona now, I think this one will be a better one for us. I do not know why it seems so, but I have long given up on questioning such things.