7-Nov-2005 (Mon)
Wherein you lock the target.

Photos are now up of Front 242 and Grayarea. Grayarea were a rock/punk band; they weren't bad, but didn't really grab me.

Front 242 was... well, I enjoyed the show, but I'm highly conflicted.

This is a band who have been one of my favorites for over twenty years. In fact, they were one of the reasons I bought this nightclub. When they came to San Francisco in 1998, they played at the (late, unlamented) Maritime Hall. I absolutely hated that venue: seeing a show there was like seeing a show in a high school gym (upstairs) or a high school cafeteria (downstairs), both with decor and acoustics to match. I was not going to see another one of my favorite bands there and have the experience ruined by that shitty venue yet again, so instead I flew to Seattle to see them play there.

My decision to take that trip was what caused me to finally realize that I should take action: since the club scene here in SF wasn't getting any better on its own, I took leave of my senses and decided to try and fix it myself. That week, I started looking for a nightclub to buy and reanimate, and the rest is history.

We actually tried to talk them into playing on our opening night in 2001, but they weren't interested.

Anyway, about the show...

They played mostly older material: it was very much a "greatest hits" performance. It felt very much like the first time I saw them, back in (I think?) 1989 at The Warfield, which at the time was the best show I had ever seen in my life. This time I was not so impressed, which makes me sad, because it's not that their show has changed, it's that I'm no longer a hyperactive little kid. I enjoyed that first show on the basis of the intensity of the crowd, and didn't much care that the show almost entirely consisted of a pair of MCs jumping around. Both that time and this time, they had a live drummer, and there was some playing of keyboards going on, but it wasn't really a "live show" situation. And these days, I care about that a lot more than I used to.

Another difference is that I've been seeing every fucking "industrial" band in the world rip off Front 242's act for 15+ years now, and none of them are nearly as good. Yeah Grendel, I'm talking to you. You too, E-Craft. You too, Funker Vogt. As a result, that act has lost a lot of its oomph.

So, I enjoyed the show, but I spent a lot of time trying to figure out why I didn't enjoy it more, and the only conclusion I could come to is, "I've gotten old."

(Also I shouldn't have tried to take pictures, I should have just watched the damned show instead.)

I enjoyed the Male or Female show back in 2003 a lot more. (Male or Female are Daniel and Patrick of Front 242.) I suspect that, had this 242 show not been so "greatest hits" oriented, it would have been a lot more like the Male or Female show, since 242's latest releases ("Pulse" and "Still + Raw") are more in that vein: mellower and more emotional.

Do yourself a favor and pick up (at least) "Still + Raw". It came out almost two years ago, and it's incredibly good and nobody has heard of it. And amazingly, they weren't selling any CDs at the merch table! Only t-shirts and their new live DVD. Weird.


There were these three meatheads in the audience who were really making friends. If you've ever been at a show with a mosh pit, you know the type: you'll have a hundred average-sized people bouncing around and having a good time, and then there are these three 6' tall 300 pound football-player-looking skinhead jackasses who came there with apparently no goal other than to demonstrate that, yes, they really are bigger than everyone else. Watch them ram their way in front of short people. Watch them grab girls by the throat. I had one of them thrown out halfway through the first song, and the other two got themselves thrown out eventually, but not before they'd managed to piss off pretty much the whole front third of the room. Thanks, guys. Everyone really appreciated it.

17 Responses:

  1. g_na says:

    Front 242 was 17 May 89 at the Fillmore:

  2. you forgot about the e-tard making sweet, sweet love to your poor defenseless shirt!

    also, you got at least one or two nice shots of the backing video. still think you'd have enjoyed this more if you'd watched that.

    gonna get still & raw now. thanks.

  3. ioerror says:

    What, no mention of the people that threw the bottle? what happened to them?

    • jwz says:

      Oh yeah, that. I forgot.

      I haven't heard from anyone who actually saw a bottle.

      • bneely says:

        The bottle incident seemed fake to me. I was in the back and wouldn't have seen it if it happened. But I didn't see the two singers say a word to the other two guys, who also left the stage after the instrumental. The tour manager's speech also felt phony.

        Hey, are intermissions good for bar sales?

        • jackbrinks says:

          I haven't seen word of anyone who actually saw the bottle either. The whole thing felt like an ego-trip: "my band needs some ego stroking. If you cheer real loud then _maybe_ I can coax them back out." Call the rest of the show an encore. No acknowledgement from R23 or others of the alleged incident or advice not to do it again. Poor aging rock stars, braving it out in these rough American crowds.

          • bdu says:

            No acknowledgement from R23 or others of the alleged incident or advice not to do it again.

            Actually, they did reference it when they came back for the encore, you can hear it on the archive, "Thank you all, but one!"

            ie, thanks everyone, except for one of you.

            Also, when the manager came out and said that someone had thrown a bottle at the band, I saw at least 4 hands go up in the air and point to someone while shouting that it was that person. I couldn't see who it was, nor verify that they weren't just using it as a way to try to get some asshole kicked, but presumably these people saw that person throw the bottle.

  4. pvck says:

    Thanks for the reminder, I'm have to dig out Still+Raw now. It is one of my favorite albums by them.

    As a semi-related side note, have you heard disk 2 of the Combichrist's "Everybody hates you"? It's a lot more mellow, and actually reminds me of a sort of simple-minded Still+Raw, in an anonymous background music sort of way.

  5. dfb says:

    I had one of them thrown out halfway through the first song, and the other two got themselves thrown out eventually, but not before they'd managed to piss off pretty much the whole front third of the room.

    So how do you end up throwing big guys like this out? Are they mature about it, or does it take four bouncers to drag them kicking and screaming?

    • You usually do it by having bouncers that are just as big.

      Then pile four of them on. I've never seen a bouncer who wasn't willing to use group tactics and overwhelming force at the drop of a hat, they don't have time to be nice if you aren't going to cooperate. The more guys you can use, the less likely it is that there will be any fighting at all.

      Sort of a "shock and awe" approach to bouncing, I guess.

    • bdu says:

      I saw one of them being hauled out, one bouncer on the top half, another on the bottom. He wasn't going easily.

  6. holywar says:

    I had the same feeling the last time I saw Clutch. I used to really,
    really love them, and saw them a whole bunch of times in college and
    was always blown away by their shows. Then I saw them a couple of
    years ago and had a good time, but didn't enjoy it nearly as much as
    I used to. It took me a while to realize that it was probably because
    the band and I were both about ten years older. Young whippersnappers
    don't know how good they've got it.

  7. fantasygoat says:

    First the knee and now this.

  8. kyronfive says:

    Your photos are making me morn, yet again, the fact that i'm presently without a D10.