Red Fang, The Shrine, Indian Handcrafts
November 30,2013
San Francisco, Ca

Fangs Running Red!
There should be metal programs in school. I feel that today, some metal bands are the equivalent of classical piano ticklers from the days when dudes wore crimped wigs. I suspect that the ways in which we pump our fists while watching some of these guitar wizards is the modern day version of rich virtuosos tapping their canes against the floor or whatever, enthralled as a young Amadeus Van Halen finger-picks his ivory solos. Ever listened to Chopin? That dude’s songs make me feel that in his day they probably somehow had flying-V pianos. These were some thoughts occurring to me while I stood beside Candice and our good friend Mickey at Slim’s one fateful evening. We were marveling at the night’s opening band, Indian Handcrafts. Candice’s closed fist was like a metronome clicking out the tempo while Mickey rocked back and forth like he was having the all too familiar metal-induced seizure. Every once in a while we would note our appreciation to one another through gesture and expression.

Indian Handcrafts is a two-piece dynamo from Canada. They consist of a guitarist and a drummer, both of whom sing, playing off one another vocally like a sonic game of ping pong being rallied in a black hole. They both play their instruments like masters and while watching them I was nudged into believing that they may very well be classically trained, both in the way they handle their instruments (don’t giggle, perv) and the way they manipulated their windpipes. It was a serious thing to witness and their record has been on constant rotation in our house ever since. Each time I listen to it I am met with something I didn’t notice the last time; their music is so layered and masterfully written, like a good story with the ending leading us back to the beginning.


Candice and I have been careful lately to see opening bands, because there have been many-a time when they end up being one of our favorite acts of the night. Tonight’s opening band in particular was not to be missed because, as Candice was careful to note, they are on Sargent House Records, the incredible talent-laden record label that offers such magnanimous acts as And So I Watch You From Afar and Russian Circles. Candice was quick to take note of this label’s signing policy: rooting out all things amazing that may remain hidden in the world of music and exposing them to the fortunate masses. And I have since joined her in making sure we don’t miss anything from them that comes to town, because it’s unexceptionally infused with amazingness.

This is sort of band that leads me to scoff at anyone who claims that good music isn’t being written or played anymore and I feel blessed to live in a city that hasn’t a single arena-rock platform (yet), leaving all shows in the grasp of the more modest and hands-on types of rockers. I can say with surety that Indian Handcrafts, were they born in the Victorian Era, would be swooning any aficionados right on out of their pompous dungarees.


The second band was The Shrine. We saw them once before at Slim’s in the summer and I thought they ruled then, but something hit me a little different with their set on this particular night. Maybe it was simply the fact that they had the misfortune of following one of the most amazing bands I’ve seen in a long-ass time, but they felt more like an acting troop than an actual band. I guess their whole stage presence, from their clothes to the music itself, felt very manufactured. A part of me realized they were awesome, but a bigger part of me couldn’t ignore how insincere it felt. In other words, none of this has anything to do with the caliber of The Shrine as a band, it was just a perfect storm of dissatisfaction for me that night and I was yawning just a tad during their set. I dunno, I encourage you to see them because they’re amazing musicians. I just like seeing some fresh shit sometimes. Anyway…


Next on the night’s agenda was the band of the hour, the night’s headliners, Red Fang. I saw them a couple months after I first moved to the city and they were opening for Hightower at Thee Parkside. I fucking loved them. I bought a shirt and a coozie. I’ve since watched with glee as they’ve risen from such gas-money scrounging days to being the headliners at wonderful shows like the one in question. Oh yeah, and playing on Letterman for fuck’s sake. And although it was common from the beginning, especially when I was skating, I’ve been getting more and more comments and affirming nods when I wear my Red Fang T-shirt. They rule. I’ve seen them a handful of times and it’s always a fist-pumping, head-banging delight. They really tore everyone’s ass off that night too. We lost track of our aforementioned friend Mickey only to later see him leaping from the stage to catch a wave upon the outreached hands of enthusiasts. Red Fang plays the kind of music that transcends stereotypical barriers. When it comes down to it, I believe that everyone to their core loves to rock, and Red Fang is the perfect conveyer of this truth. There were Dread-heads, jocks, punk rockers, Stereotypes A through Z, all united in a choreographed bounding of heads and fists, jumping and dancing. Sure, when the lights came up and everyone shuffled on back to our real lives, we slid ourselves snuggly into whatever social corridor we find most comfortable. But for a couple hours, while the electricity of Red Fang flowed through the night, we all rode the wave together like one big fucked up happy family of equals. Each of us suddenly rich Victorian assholes, nodding our heads to today’s musical muse, in the parlors of our times.

[Take note: This last paragraph was featured in the latest issue of Lowcard Magazine, Issue #50. Get it at your local skate shop! Tis a fine mag.]


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