SAMHAIN 30th Anniversary Tour with GOATWHORE, MIDNIGHT, and YDI at the ELectric Factory in Philadelphia, Oct. 29, 2014
In November of 1999, I remember Glenn Danzig doing a tour wherein he performed with both SAMHAIN (a very short, exciting and bloody set), then as DANZIG (an overlong, dull set — he was touring for the 666: Satan’s Child album). This was long before all his Misfits/Samhain/Danzig “Legacy” shows with Doyle, and the like.
Well, some 15 years later and Glenn is back at it with SAMHAIN in a special, 30th anniversary “reunion” (of sorts — Glenn must need money I figure) of their first album INITIUM, comprised of a very limited number of performances (7 in fact, Philly being 3rd from last), and some very interesting opening acts. With this particular lineup of oddball bands, the show was a near perfect treat for the Season of the Dead.
The first band, YDI, I showed up a little bit late for. They were only ok, not a band I had ever heard or heard of before, and easily the weakest of the lot. Their music was sort of a metal-punk/rock hybrid, the perfect thing to walk into and spend time finding my club bearings. Three or four songs and they were done, thankfully, and just the right amount of time for me to find said bearings: right up front against the stage blockade. *(That was not my initial intention — I was going to watch from the bar upstairs, but due to the oddly low turnout I figured “fuggit” and went to the best spot in the house).
The next act, MIDNIGHT, were an incredibly fun, energetic throwback to the classic metal-punk (or punk-metal) era of yore, blasting out a blistering Motorhead and Venom-type sound, with a little very-early Bathory thrown in for good measure. These guys were not just nonstop energy and all over the stage, but even adorned some killer retro attire to complete the visual: all 3 members wore black faceless hoods (think 3 guys that all look like Doug Samson from the old NWOBHM band Samson, to which some crazy-obnoxious drunk broad slurred out “they remind me of the MENTORS, my favorite band!” — yikes — and they were in fact nothing like the Mentors, trust me on that — *but more on her toward the end, heh), the lead vocalist/bass player even donning the ol’ diagonal-across-the-torso bullet-belt over his trashed leather jacket. The guitar player was the most energetic of this power thrash-trash-punk-metal trio, a madman who jumped, rolled around on the floor, and pulled many a bizarre playing stunt, missing nary a note. These guys were pure energy from the start to the finish of their far too short a set. Not only that, but the in between song banter was (thankfully) kept to a minimum; what little was said was fukking hysterical. MIDNIGHT were pure old-school fun, knowing exactly what they were doing and having an obvious blast doing it. It killed me they only played for 25 or 30 minutes, I could’ve easily done another half-hour of their blackened metal-punk (and no YDI altogether, truthfully).
Next up was GOATWHORE, a band formed by Sammy Duet in 1998 or so, after the demise of the classic ACID BATH. Again, another ripping set, flawless in their live musicianship, though it was a fairly standard performance of pummelling blast beats and death-dirge musical breakdowns. This was classic thrash done right, however, I really could’ve just watched MIDNIGHT play for another 35 minutes, maybe even hour (they really stood out to me, their music completely my thing, a genre of which there has never been enough of, but I digress). The band themselves were having an obvious blast as well. *Although, a little note to their vocalist: do not put down Philly fans — I don’t know what Louisiana (their home territory) music fans are like, but we are not the kind of city that takes to that so well. Anyway, after a bit they became too repetitive for me, the constant blast-beats and foolish banter from the singer (Jarred Benoit) just annoying after a bit. So I went outside to go catch a smoke and some cool air *(someone’ll get that). Again, this was another short set (though longer than MIDNIGHT’s, *grumble*), and in no time I was back in my “territory” in the front, eagerly awaiting and anticipating SAMHAIN.
*On another side note, SAMHAIN’s album November-Coming-Fire is without a doubt my second favorite album (my all-time favorite being Raw Power by IGGY AND THE STOOGES), and has been since I was 15 and picked it up the day before Halloween, on some strange intuitive whim. There is no other single album out there to capture the true feeling of the holiday in all it’s tribal, ritualistically sensual and pounding glory. There is no other album produced with such a unique sound, blending the usual standard instruments with chimes, bells, demon howls, arcane lyrics and noises, very oddly-timed tribal beats, not to mention the strangest, most interesting guitar tone I’ve ever come across in all my years of cooking my brain cells away with this shit. Then, of course, one of the greatest album covers ever, N-C-F is THE music for the Season of the Dead. And lyrically, it’s some of Danzig’s finest verse (never mind the seriously bad Latin “werewolf incantation” lyrics of the song “Halloween II”), if not the best album of his long and varied career. Interestingly enough, DANZIG’s 4p album makes a great follow up album to N-C-F, both thematically and musically. They make a great back-to-back Halloween Holiday listen. Again, I digress.
So now on to the headliner themselves, SAMHAIN. They took the stage in complete darkness as a recording of the song “Initium” blared out loud with it’s bizarre spoken-word intro. The stage was empty of any props or trickery, merely a huge background of the N-C-F album cover which slowly began to glow in a slow fade up to vibrant orange, at which point the band took the stage, covered in blood and (a couple of the members, anyway) the classically ghoulish make-up and devilocks they donned back in the day, when there was nothing like this at all.
The set played out in two acts, the first being the entire INITIUM album (during which Glenn Danzig actually played guitar for the song “Archangel,” not without bitching about how much he hates playing guitar live, of course, but that is indeed what makes Glenn, Glenn.) They then briefly left the stage as it grew dark once again.
As the cloth matte N-C-F painting in the background began to again fade up in it’s, glow they soon returned, sluicing in more blood, their disappearance was accompanied with the soundscape piece “Misery Tomb” — actually their song “I Am Misery” but with the bass, vocal-howl and whoa tracks only. *(It’s a hard listen).
Next up, a couple songs from the UNHOLY PASSION ep. The bass player and the drummer for the first act of their performance, actual original members Steve Zing (drums first half, bass second half) and London May (bass first half, drums second half), switched up their instrument duties. And what of Eerie Von, speaking of original members? He and Danzig have not worked together (nor possibly even have spoken) since 1994’s previously mentioned 4p album and subsequent tour. The guitarist was the guy from GOATWHORE (who was having a great time, ear-to-ear grin the entire performance, aside from when Glenn would yell at him, as apparently they were not as well rehearsed as Mr. ‘Zig would’ve preferred, I guess, and, well Glenn just likes to yell and look annoyed at band mates, always to my bemusement). The show was not without a slight series of technical guitar faults early on (bad cord). Hell, Glenn even needed lyrics put out to some of the ancient songs he’d not done in some time, or just never played live (“Kiss Of Steel” in particular). Yes, a roadie would come out “Spinal Tap”-style and tape the lyrics to the monitor, leaving Glenn to bend down on one knee to to sing those tunes (looking almost like some creepy marriage proposal of some kind, but to a thousand people at once).
*Also, just as when I saw the last “final show” back in ‘99, I found it incredibly funny to watch Glenn grow annoyed with the fake blood that kept dripping into his eyes, coagulating and oozing, mixed with the profuse sweat, causing him to rub them profusely and make these hilariously annoyed faces whilst doing so.
The only onstage banter from Glenn came in the form of (surprise — but this is actually one of the reasons I love the guy) complaints. “I hate playin’ da guitar live”; “I promise you this is the fukkin’ LAST fukkin’ time you’ll be fukkin’ seein’ Samhain, I ain’t fukkin’ doin’ this again” (he said that a couple of times, heh); you get the idea, especially if you are in any way familiar with the man or his Legacy, as it were, his classic rude-n-crude control issues and onstage verbal abuse of bandmates, or anyone who pisses him off in some way, really.
However, there was one bit of interesting banter on his end, toward the end of the show. He asked “So whatcha wanna hear, ‘Halloween II’ or ‘Let The Day Begin?’” All one thousand people bellowed out “Let The Day Begin,” myself included, at one synchronous moment. Reminded me fondly of old-school unity, as it once was.
The show ended with the all time classic “Mother Of Mercy,” and that was it. Not a “goodnight,” not a “thanks for comin’,” not even an “I hope you all get killed on the way home” *(originally said by GG ALLIN in 1980, not that that has to do with anything here). Nope, a very unhappy looking Glenn just walked off into the darkness. No encore.
The band members did return one final time to toss bottles of water, guitar picks, drum sticks, set lists, Glenn’s lyric sheets, and sweat-n-fake blood soaked towels into the audience at random. In trying to jump my 40 year old, 5’ 5”, 145 pound frame into the air to catch one of the bloody sweat-towels, I accidentally landed a punch square to the jaw of the annoying aforementioned drunkard MENTORS fan chick, her asshole boyfriend (about a foot taller than me) being the one to knock my fist into her face in the first place, as he grabbed the towel out of my hands from just over my head. Of course, this wretchedly-mannered, alcoholic grotesquerie of a broad curses me out while her boyfriend starts to push me. So I gave him the old Italian Eye of Death and told him to chill the fukk out, it’s a fukking metal-punk show, shit happens, and of course apologized (through gritted teeth, with many a profane word and great degree of self-control, and of course my natural patience with the stupid). Plus, I’m not really the person to start such shenanigans with, I may be small but can hold my own easily against fukkers twice my size, must the ‘need’ for unnecessary violence present itself. Most people are over-reactive dunderheads: this is fact, and I just don’t believe in fighting. It is juvenile, counter-productive. Much like those two cunting idiots I dealt with last night.
Overall, it was a fantastic show, and with but two shows left, you most definitely want to catch this one. I can tell you this, SAMHAIN will not be performing again.
I just wish MIDNIGHT had played a little longer.
Samhain — 2014 Tour Dates
Sept 13 SAT. – CHICAGO, ILLINOIS RIOTFEST
Sept 19 FRI. – L.A., CA. – WILTERN THEATRE
Sept 20 SAT. – S.F., CA. – WARFIELD THEATRE
Oct 26 SUN.- AUSTIN, TX HOUSECORE HORRORFEST
Oct 29 SAT. – PHILA., PA – ELECTRIC FACTORY
Oct 31 SAT. ‘HALLOWEEN’- WASH., DC – HOWARD THEATRE
Nov 1 SAT. ‘SAMHAIN NIGHT’- NYC, N.Y.- BEST BUY THEATRE
Vincent Daemon, writer and rabblerouser, can be followed on FB @ https://www.facebook.com/vincent.daemon.1 , and join his blog The Writings Of A Depraved Mind @http://vincentdaemon.blogspot.com/?zx=e40931ba40511a11