Cue’s Hip Hop Shop, Maritime Hall, SF, Fri., January 8, 1999

Here we go… Happy New Year! Yes, we begin the long celebration that was this year of our Lord… 1999. And what a year it was. Between the steady diet of shows recorded at Maritime Hall, there were more than enough other gigs ushering at The Fillmore and The Warfield, as well as other shows elsewhere, usually as a patron. In grand total, it came to 129 glorious musical adventures for that year, give or take a show. This year is a bit of an enigma as I did so many and I was at the height of my live recording intake, yet my record keeping seemed to have dropped off from my usual meticulousness. I found it challenging to piece together where I had put a lot of the art and clippings from the shows that year and even a couple gigs’ dates were left out completely. But with a little research and determination, I managed to piece it together the best I could and I’m satisfied in the most part with what remains. God knows it’s a lot. Maybe it’s for the best that it’s just slightly incomplete.

Anyway, this, the last year of the millennia would face nitpicking arguments about if that it was or the year 2000 or 2001 was, yadda, yadda, yadda, It was the last year with a 1 in front of the 3 other numbers, that we all could at least agree upon. Things were changing around the world and one could feel the future heading towards us all like a runaway freight train. Europe had just adopted the Euro as its official currency the week before and our beloved president, Bill Clinton, had his trial in the Senate over the whole Monica Lewinski thing begin the day before this show. I would turn 27 years young that July, the fabled and cursed “rock star year” causing me to be extra cautious not to die like so many had at that age. I was single and though I had a few random romantic encounters since my break up with my girlfriend Lisa the year before, I would mostly be up to my neck with all these shows and work. It was a miracle that I slept at all. Only a young person could have kept up with that pace.

The first show I’d have the pleasure of seeing would be this revue of hip hop DJs at the Hall, the first I’d record as well. The bill was being hailed as “Cue’s Hip Hop Shop”, the brainchild of DJ Cue AKA Frank Cuevas, a talented turntabilist in his own right and producer of such wax scratching masterpieces as the “Bullet Proof Scratch Hamsters”, “DMT (Drum Machine Technicians)”, and also as a member of The Space Travelers. He had put together an album of various local talent including Rasco, DJ Apollo, and Vin Roc, all who were there that night with him. Rasco, an abbreviation for Realistic, Ambitious, Serious, Cautious, & Organized, was also a member of the Cali Agents and Planet Asia, both of which would play the Hall in the future. DJ Apollo was a member of the Invisbl Scratch Pickles, a group of scratch artists that I’d seen the year before, wowing the crowd with their skills, opening for the Beastie Boys in Oakland the year before. Along with Vin Roc, they all took turns doing their cuts, transitions, and such for hours, each a master at the skill, mind bending stuff really. It should have been better sold a show, but it also was just after New Year’s and people fizzle out for a couple weeks. Still, it was a golden age for scratch masters like these guys, Mix Master Mike, and Kutmasta Kurt, and I’m bitter thinking about some of the EDM artists around today who make zillions, but have no skills on the ones and twos. But it seemed appropriate that Pete and my last year at the Hall would begin with this one, so casual and free spirited. By November, Pete would leave the Hall over various issues with the boss, Boots, and I would follow him, occasionally substituting for our replacement, Wade, until the Hall finally sank for good in 2001.

Fear Factory, Skinlab, Spineshank, Static X, Maritime Hall, SF, Sat., January 9, 1999

SETLIST : Shock, Zero Signal, Self Bias Resistor, Edgecrusher, Smasher – Devourer, Big God, Scumgrief, Securitron (Police State 2000), Descent, Pisschrist, Resurrection, Demanufacture, Replica, Scapegoat

It had been four long years since I saw Fear Factory open for Megadeth at The Warfield, that fateful day when Jerry Garcia passed away. The memory of singer Burton C. Bell stunning the staff when he yelled, “Fuck Jerry Garcia! I’m glad he’s dead!”, will be seared into my brain till my dying day. But they were back as a headliner this time and let’s just say fate got a little revenge on that band shortly before this show. They had been touring back east when in Philadelphia when their truck got stolen along with all their gear, lights, and merchandise. Still, it was unfair to System Of A Down and Shineshank, who had their stuff with them. The truck would later be found empty and engulfed in flames near the Walt Whitman Bridge. At least Static X didn’t lose their shit. They were on this tour along with Spineshank, but local act Skinlab was there instead of System Of A Down.

Static X had been around since ’94, but their debut release “Wisconsin Death Trip”, (named after the 1973 Michael Lesy book), would not be out until two months later. Their frontman, Wayne Static, was from Chicago and had previously been in a band with Billy Corgan of The Smashing Pumpkins called Deep Blue Dream. Wayne’s look was quite striking, his dark, black hair shellacked to point straight up like he was falling down an elevator shaft and with a braided “chintail” beard. These guys were talented, wrote good songs, and were relatively successful for one of these nu-metal bands. Static X would return to open for Fear Factory again at the Hall in September, but then they would have their own monitor board and I could only get a stereo recording of that night. They would get big enough to headline The Warfield in 2002 with Soulfly opening for them, but that would be the last time I’d see them perform. Poor Wayne would die from a prescription drug overdose in 2014, whether it was accidental or not is still uncertain.

Spineshank had played the Hall opening for Machinehead four months before this show, having just released their “Strictly Diesel” album, and they’d be back just five weeks later there opening for Sepultura. Burton C. Bell would sing on their tune “Stain” for that album. And well Skinlab… They were practically the nu-metal house band, playing three times before at the Maritime, opening for both Machinehead and D.R.I. in ’97, then for Deicide just two months before this gig and would come back the following November opening for S.O.D. Knew those guys’ music well and I had said it before, but it bears repeating, that as the years went by, they got better. Being local, they had their usual allotment of hesher friends and relatives in the house. It was pretty well sold that night, enough to open the balcony.

Fear Factory had released the concept album, “Obsolete” the previous July which had a hit with their bonus track, a cover of “Cars” by Gary Numan, though they didn’t play it that night, sadly. Concept albums are always dodgy, running the risk of being pretentious or downright stupid, but I’m glad to say this one was alright. It told a tale of protagonist Edgecrusher and his dystopian future, encountering Smash – Devour, an egg shaped killer robot, and being captured by the Securitron, a worldwide law enforcement organization of their machine controlled society, and so forth. Furthermore, Fear Factory would go on to release a compilation album of their hits that year called “Messiah”, which would also serve as the soundtrack of the computer video game of the same name.

They had brought their own high tech light array, strobes, and set up (presumably) fake skulls with spinal columns attached to them on their microphone stands and one between the drummer’s tom drums. As expected, there was a fog machine too. We would install the robo-cam system at the Hall the following month, but for that show we still just had the trusty single balcony wide shot camera. There would be a friend of Fear Factory in the Hall that night recording a video bootleg of the show also from the balcony and he’d post it on YouTube years later. Not a great video, but there was a funny bit at the end when he went backstage and the camera had been left on, whether it was intentional or not, I can’t be sure. He didn’t seem to be pointing the camera at anybody deliberately and I doubt he was trying to tape them without their knowledge. There was one great bit for me personally watching it again when he went off exploring the upper decks above the band’s dressing room and found the narrow metal staircases leading to the rafters above the stage. He didn’t stay there long, that area being dark and treacherous.

Fear Factory played a lively set and there was a bit of a mosh pit for a couple songs and the occasional crowd floater. There was one guy on the bootleg video who wasn’t impressed and blurted into the camera’s mic with a pronounced souther accent, “Lamest mosh pit I’ve ever seen!” Just before they played “Self Bias Resistor”, they used the introduction of N.W.A.’s “Straight Outta Compton”, sampling the words, “You’re about to hear the strength of street knowledge”. Fear Factory would also use another hip hop sample after “Edgecrusher”, using Flava Flav’s voice from Public Enemy yelling, “Damn, that shit was dope!”. There was the sound of an alarm at the beginning of the “Securitron (Police State 2000)”, song which I swore was used from the alarm in the movie “Aliens” near the end when Ripley was escaping the exploding atmosphere processor and the recording, “You have (such and such time), to reach minimum safe distance”, was playing.

There was one memorable little snafu at the show about half way through. The folks who posted the setlist online thought the band had stopped because someone threw a shirt at guitarist Dino Cazares, during the song “Descend”, but they were wrong. Dino stopped the band because he was having a bit of a verbal tussle with one of the Hall’s security guards who was up in front of the stage in the barricade. Dino had sprayed the crowd with a water bottle during the song and the guard took offense to it getting wet in the process, even after Dino offered him a towel after to dry off. Dino chastised him, yelling, “Act like your working it, if you can’t handle sweat like the rest of us! I threw him a towel and he’s still crying! It’s just water!” then Burton chimed in saying, “I get spit on, pissed on, shit on every night and you cry over water!?!” The crowd then chanted, “Dino! Dino! Dino!” until they started playing again. At the end of the night, Burton thanked all the opening acts and Dino came up front and shook hands and high fives the fans up front. He tossed them a bunch of guitar pics before doing a quick crowd float, then waved goodbye and exited.

Bad Religion, No Use For A Name, Hate Fuck Trio, Maritime Hall, SF, Sat., January 16, 1999

SETLISTS :

(NO USE FOR A NAME) : (unknown), Don’t Miss The Train, (unknown), Justified Black Eye, Leave It Behind, Redemption Song, Soulmate, Fatal Flu, Straight From The Jacket, The Answer Is Still No, Invincible, On The Outside

(BAD RELIGION) : Against The Grain, Them & Us, The Biggest Killer In American History, American Jesus, Spirit Shine, Turn On The Light, Come Join Us, Dream Of Unity, 21st Century (Digital Boy), No Control, Heaven Is Falling, A Walk, Shades Of Truth, The Happy Killers, Do What You Want, Faith Alone, Sowing The Seeds Of Utopia, Atomic Garden, Along The Way, Change Of Ideas, News From The Front, Hear It, Tomorrow, Generator, Fuck Armageddon… This Is Hell, God Song, Infection, We’re Only Gonna Die

It was a high honor to record Bad Religion that night, particularly since they had no real official live recordings to speak of, at least none that I could find. This would be the fifth time I’d see them though, having caught them twice already at The Warfield in 1994 and 1996, opening for Pearl Jam at the notorious “Hurl Jam” show in Golden Gate Park in 1995, and once more at The Edge in Palo Alto in 1996. Brett Gurewitz had reunited with the band in the studio to record the song “Believe It”, but he wasn’t touring with them still and they didn’t play that song that night. The band was finishing the last show of the Californian leg of the “No Substance” tour that had been going on all the previous year. This would be the third time Bad Religion would play San Francisco in only nine months and they played four songs off that last album that night.

Opening for them were a clever band from Denver called the Hate Fuck Trio, made up of two brothers, Jon & Sam DeStefano. We had the balcony camera set up that night and I think my friend Dan was operating. After them, No Use For A Name was up next. I’d seen them a couple times before, once on the second stage at 105’s B.F.D in 1995 and then opening for my brother’s old band, the Dance Hall Crashers, later that year at The Fillmore. No Use For A Name had just recently lost their guitarist Chris Shiflett who left them abruptly before the beginning of this tour to join the Foo Fighters and was quickly replaced by Dave Nassie. That night, they did a funny, punk rock version of Bob Marley’s “Redemption Song”. I’ve always liked these guys and would be happy to see them once again open for the Crashers at The Fillmore later that year after they released their next album, “More Betterness!” that October.

Bad Religion had been around since 1979 when Greg Graffin was just a wee lad of 15 years old and by this time he and the band seemed like veterans even though they were only in their mid-30’s. They quickly got the crowd worked up and Greg was doing his usual wise cracking between songs. After “Them & Us”, he proclaimed that it was “great to be up here in the land of politics” and congratulated us on “your newly renovated City Hall. It looks magnificent. That is a symbol of California efficiency, isn’t it? Now just get that guy to do something with that fucked up airport and make this first best punk city scene in California”. The City Hall had just been refurbished, yes, sporting the black dome it has today. He later joked that though the band was only allowed to play 30 minutes when they were in town last for the Warped Tour, this night they would be playing 35 minutes.

At the end of the song “Spirit Shine”, one of the Hall’s crew walked across stage and the bassist Jay Bentley playfully scolded him, asking, “Are you with the band?” Greg said something about that their band was increasing in size over the years, leaving folks to wander around the stage aimlessly. Later, Greg introduced the tune “Dream Of Unity”, calling it “a song about the L.A. punk scene which we know is the best. San Francisco is the second best” There was a predictable amount of boos, but Greg immediately followed up, “It’s quickly changing. Things are definitely flowing north” and called that tune “a song of bewilderment and delusion”. Jay later wished Fat Mike from NOFX who was there that night a happy birthday, though Mike’s birthday wasn’t until the 31st, over two weeks later, and got the crowd to sing a truncated version of the birthday song to him. Greg joked, “Jay doesn’t know or care when my birthday is” and introduced the next song “No Control” as some of that “old time Bad Religion”.

He then described “Shades Of Truth” as one of the saddest songs he had ever written and he knows “because I was sad when I wrote it”, though it wasn’t the saddest song they did and promised to play that one later. In the middle of “The Hippie Killers”, he sang the title line from Iron Butterfly’s “Ina Gotta Devita”, an appropriate one to roast there, being the Maritime and in San Francisco. As luck would have it, Iron Butterfly was one of the opening acts for Greg Allman at the Maritime’s grand opening back in 1995. Continuing on the subject of hippies, Greg said “This is the city of love. Philadelphia is the city of brotherly love” and reminded us that this was the 30th anniversary of the Summer Of Love, though technically that happened 32 years before in 1967. He went on commenting on the projections on the side screens, “It’s the psychedelic drugs, oil lights, reminds me of what makes San Francisco so special, their innovation, rather integration into music. Put a flower in your hair and go to San Francisco, man! That was the platform against which the punk scene got started and revolted against. Thank you!” Yes, it was a bit of a jab at his hippie hosts, but it wasn’t entirely untrue.

Greg continued, “I got shit last week from a student of theology”, who “crossed the line and pointed his finger” asking him if he was aware he was “going to hell” and told him to get some “faith in my life”. But he responded, “I got a lot of faith, but faith alone won’t save us” and the band went into the song “Faith Alone”. He also gave a “shout out to the guy at the bar who gave me a coffee. Didn’t even ask questions” and added that the guy did some gesture hitting himself in the chest. Greg then joked, “do me a favor and make a pledge that you’d never do this” and he did that stupid hip hop dance when you pump your open hands in the air, as a comedian I once heard describe it as the “closing the overhead luggage compartment dance”. He added, “you don’t have to follow me, but the world would be a better place” if they didn’t.

After “Change Of Ideas”, he introduced Jay to the crowd calling him, “Jay Bentley – male prostitute”, a reference to the old “Fred Garvin” comedy sketch Dan Ackroyd did years ago on “Saturday Night Live”. Greg then bragged that he was “fluent in two languages, three if you count scientific nomenclature”. Near the end of the set, he kept his promise to do the saddest song they know, “Generator”, also in the “saddest key, sung by the saddest man, Greg Graffin”, but reassured the crowd it was ok to sing along with him. They finished up with “We’re Only Going To Die” a tune they had written “all the way back in 1982”. It was a great experience and I only wish that what I taped could have become a live album as always, but having them there was a privilege enough for me. Though this was the only time they ever played the Hall, I would see them three more times at The Warfield in 2000, 2002, and 2004.

Violent Femmes, El Destroyo, Fill., SF, Thur., January 28, 1999

SETLIST : Rejoice & Be Happy, Look Like That, Country Death Song, Blister In The Sun, Prove My Love, Don’t Talk About My Music (Shut Your Mouth), Candlelight Song, Out The Window, I’m Nothing, Confessions, Faith, I Held Her In My Arms, Good Feeling, Dance Motherfucker Dance!, I’m Bad, Gimme The Car, (unknown), American Music, Black Girl, Gone Daddy Gone, Add It Up

It was great to have the Femmes back at The Fillmore after a couple long years of absence. Indeed, that venue seems like it was made for them. I was well versed in their music by then, having also seen them three different times at The Warfield and once at the first Live 105 B.F.D. at Shoreline. They were still touring with drummer Guy Hoffman of The BoDeans, who had replaced Victor De Lorenzo back in 1993, but this time, they had their famous “Horns Of Delimma” horn section with them to back them up for a few songs. That included the one and only Steve McCay from The Stooges on saxophone, making this not only the first time I’d see Steve play, but the first time I’d see the Femmes with horns. My future friend Kristie had been a member of that crew and would play trumpet with them on other occasions at The Fillmore, but she was there that night as a civilian, watching the show. I would actually not meet her until the following year.

Opening that gig was a local band called El Destroyo, fronted by a fellow named Jimmy Friedman. Their last album actually had bassist Brian Richie from the Femmes playing on it, but Brian didn’t perform with them on that occasion. They were a rather quiet acoustic act for most of their set, but the audience was polite and heard them out. Jimmy admitted that he was suffering from the flu and had to “drag myself out of bed” for the show and “might die mid-set”, though he assured the crowd if he did that they weren’t to blame. He joked that his drummer had just learned all his songs and added jokingly that guitarist had too. I didn’t know their music, but I do know near the end of their set, they played a song called “You’re The One” followed by another called “She Don’t Care”. El Destroyo would return to open for the Femmes again later that year also at The Fillmore, but I’d miss that one.

It was good set for the Femmes, including a couple of frontman Gordon Gano’s more religious tunes, opening for example with “Rejoice & Be Happy”, but he balanced them with darker numbers like “Country Death Song” and “I’m Nothing”. Watching the show, I was annoyed a couple times by a fellow who would whistle along loudly and I did my best to avoid him, but you can hear his high pitched whistle on a couple of the songs on my tapes. Brian would sing a few numbers that night including “Don’t Talk About My Music (Shut Your Mouth)” and “Dance, Motherfucker, Dance!”. Gordon would describe him before playing “Gimme The Car” as the “most underrated, most unexplained bass player in rock & roll today”. Sadly, there was no poster at the end of the night, though the show when the Femmes returned that September got one.