Pentagrammatically Correct: Featuring Odd Salon, Pentagram and Radio Moscow
San Francisco, Ca
I am a failure at computers. It’s true. I don’t even know what the diarrhea I’m doing right now. Does ignorance necessarily establish failure? Or is it more like, I’m not losing cause I don’t know the rules of the game? Various Failures have shaped the history of mankind, both in their coating and in their removal. One entity that is nowhere near the region of failing is Odd Salon, the recently established group of folks who celebrate the underbellies of various aspects of this human comedy. Odd Salon was doing a presentation on some of the more entertaining examples of Failure on Tuesday –wait. Did you say Tuesday? Well isn’t that bleachy spleen. As in shitty: I had tickets to see Pentagram and Radio Moscow at the DNA Lounge on Tuesday. However! A potential failure of planning would exhume a bounty of good tidings for me myself: Odd Salon’s presentation of Failure was also at the DNA. Upstairs. This would provide an easy transition for my double-billing. I worried however that the rock blastique of amazing hessians such as Pentagram and Radio Moscow would sound-shadow Odd Salon’s dealings. Well shit (thought I) at least they’re talking about failure right? Not quite poetic justice but I think we may be teetering.
So Candice had opted out of attending such a parade as she’s been winning bread like a baker with Tourettes lately and was gracious enough to donate her ticket to our good friend Robb. Which was no small gesture as Radio Moscow is one of her favorite bands to see live and she tries to never allow such an opportunity to pass her by. Both Robb and I were soon to discover similar conceptions. But the two of us had been drawn by the headliner, Pentagram. We had gone to see a documentary about their lead singer Bobby Liebling at the Roxie last year. The film’s called Last Days Here and it is quite an experience. Ya see, Pentagram were trailblazing the horrifically beautiful path of Heavy Metal alongside Black Sabbath in the early 70’s. And they would very possibly have acquired a comparable level of stardom had Bobby not become dangerously found of that cruel mistress, The Crack Pipe. But! He’s apparently not suckin any more glass dick and Pentagram has been touring and busting metal nuts all over this great land of ours. Robb and I were both curious and tickled to see what’s become of these dudes in days of…now.
[Photo provided by Odd Salon]
But first, we had a date to celebrate Failure. I’ve been to two Odd Salon shows so far, as they are a brand new organization formed by three girls who are huge fans of digging to the core of various off-topics. They have a show every other Tuesday at DNA and each one follows a certain topic, which is explored by 6 or so speakers down whatever tributaries they wish to take it. The topics are general enough so you never know quite what to expect. Shit like Rogue, Fake, Lost, and of course, Failure. There is however a common thread that I’ve come to allow myself to anticipate at every single show. This thread is hilarity, weirdness and a shitload of eyebrow-raising enticements that get me wanting to learn more about whatever is being spoken of, like one of those super heroes on an educational program. Only involving awesome shit. Oh, and did I mention my sister Rachel is one of the three founders of this incredible oddity? Yep, weird runs in the blood, and I readily support Odd Salon via the gut-bellowing guffaws I can’t not issue at each show.
So the plan tonight was to stay for Rachel’s presentation then hit it downstairs and watch some quality rockin. Rachel went on second and had us all keeled over with laughter as she talked about various failures in engineering that resulted in fun forms of death and despair. Her topics included the Boston Molasses Disaster, in which a molasses tank containing about 2,300,000 gallons busted ass and sent a twenty-foot high tidal wave of sweet tangy death barreling though the streets at 35 miles per hour; and the bursting of the St. Francis Dam, where said dam broke in Los Angeles, sending about 12 billion gallons of water and giant slabs of debris coursing through town to its home in the Pacific, pretty much leveling anything in its path. Hilarious shit right? Well I guess you should’ve been there. Rachel is an incredible speaker and had us all fascinated and appalled through canyon-esque grins of merriment.
Despite how much I wanted to see the rest of the show, Robb and I had to make our exit as we could hear that shit was in full swing downstairs. We ducked out and hurried on over to the main auditorium of DNA. We happened upon many cohorts with whom I partake boarding of the Skate variety. Lots of denim and flannel. I felt right at home and I could tell it was gonna be a good night. We’d missed the first two bands, Bedrucken and Kings Destroy, but found a sweet vantage point upstairs just before Radio Moscow took the stage.
Let me just go ahead and start off by saying that if you’ve never seen Radio Moscow, do yourself a favor. It soon became apparent to both Robb and I why Candice loves them so much. Three young dudes from Iowa, all of whom wail on their instruments with gusto beyond their years. Parker Griggs, their lead singer and guitar player has a jaw-dropping finesse, fiddling around on that thing like some demonic cat batting around a rabid mouse. They definitely harken to the rock of yesteryear, bringing to mind MC5 or The Sonics, with gnarly-ass solos; their songs would slip into interludes of 70’s-style garage-ey jams that would have everyone tuned in and pumped the fuck up. There was some wammy-bar involved, accented with a few mind-blowing drum solos. They ruled it and Robb and I both took turns verbally acknowledging such truths. It was also expressed in our body language as neither of us stopped banging our heads and/or pumping a fist during the duration of their set.
Next up was the band we waited with bated breath to see. Pentagram. They took the stage to a furious uproar of drunken joy. Bobby Liebling, the colorful vocalist of the band was quite a sight. Robb made a visual comparison to Beetlejuice, which I agreed with, but would asterisk by alluding to a stay in Purgatory’s ICU Ward. He is morbidly thin and moved around on the stage with fluid and constant sexual impulses. He would take turns pantomiming intercourse with the microphone, intercourse with thin air and fellatio with the guitarist. Rad! I will say that the man can sing though, and he duly partook in providing an amazing show. I use the word ‘amazing’ in numerous contexts here, similar to how I might describe seeing a camel with no arms walk upright on a tightrope. Get it? You get it.
Another aspect to Pentagram’s magnanimity was their guitarist, Victor Griffin. He would partake in these epic ballads of fretboard trickery that had the whole mosh pit frothing in gratitude every time. He was also clearly in heated opposition to the concept of stage diving: anytime a jovial metalhead would leap up there with the purpose of projecting his or herself onto the upraised hands of others, Victor would lift a boot and inflict as much force as he possibly could to make said participant regret having bombarded his comfort zone. Although I can understand that having a shitload of drunk idiots stumbling around you while your trying to display your guitar wizardry could get really fucking annoying, I felt the immediacy and tenacity with which he ousted such enthusiasts to be a bit extreme. Maybe it’s been a long tour. Or life. Either way, no one who was on the receiving end of his frustration seemed to mind or even notice terribly, so hey, boot on, Pelé.
I thought they sounded pretty amazing up there and Bobby said some really cool shit to us, making it apparent that he genuinely appreciates his fans. I always find that refreshing in someone who has been playing music as long as he has, especially when seeing him up there on stage it is apparent that that is what truly makes him come alive, just being enmeshed in such glorious metal. Bobby has obviously fought some really difficult battles in his life but to see him up on stage singing his satanic heart out, he seemed more youthful than most of the grumpy assholes you see clawing their way to stardom and hot chicks. It was pretty goddamned endearing and I recommend seeing these guys if they happen upon your town.
We shuffled out of there amongst the strewn enthusiasts, smiling and sweating and bewildered, each of us looking at one another as if to say ‘Yeah. That was weird and ruling and amazing.’ Robb and I had begun our night in Failure, but ended it as supreme victors guided by the reigns of the underworld’s chief. It reminded me of the age-old Metal adage: even when you’re deaf you can still hear ringing in your ears! See you in hell.
[Photos of bands were taken by Robb Grimes]
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