Every once in a while even a Geek ends up with too many out-on-the-town options. Oct. 13, 2010, was one such night.
Choice #1: The final night of the Accept/King's X tour at House of Blues in the latter's hometown.
Choice #2: A one-off screening of homegrown horror phenomenon 'Sweatshop' (featuring Jeremy Sumrall as The Beast), at Alamo Cinema Drafthouse.
Choice #3: One of Houston's two best power pop bands of the past 15 years, dUNETX, live at one of its most venerable (and still indie) concert venues, Fitzgerald's, opening for two exciting touring acts, Electric Six and the Constellations.[NOTE: The other best Houston power pop band of the past 15 years is Ashbury Keys].
I would've been at all three if I could have been, but I haven't quite mastered that trick yet and in the end chose Accept and King's X. I made plans to meet up with a few friends there, and knew a number of others would likely be in attendance. The $7.5o Lone Stars started flowing as freely as such things can, and no longer than it took to exchange a few handshakes and brah-hugs King's X was on stage.
Between having played for a month straight, HoB's massive PA , and the hometown-end-of-tour vibe, the band did not dissappoint, delivering the best set I'd seen from them in years. 'Complain', 'What Is This', 'Pillow', 'Power of Love' and 'Pray' were particular standouts, and their set could have been twice as long without wearing thin.
I really had no idea what to expect from Accept. Novelty perhaps? In any case, hopes were very low. As a fan of metal there was probably only so bad it could be. But still, what if it was worse? It's happened to plenty of well-intentioned great bands over the years, from Skid Row to Anthrax to Nuclear Assault. Some rebounded by the next go round, some continued to muddle along in mediocrity, others were never heard from again.
But holy fu**ing shit, from the moment Accept hit the stage they were pure, perfectly executed, unadulterated, heavy metal. Every song you'd want to hear was played, and even more impressively, the new material sounded instantly familiar, not diverting, diluting, or destroying the set's momentum in any way.
Peter Baltes was out front in classic metal-bass-player-as-second-frontman form, with Wolf Hoffmann and Herman Frank filling each riff and lick with such vitality it became simply impossible to believe some of them were 30 years old. The lynch pin holding it all together, however, was vocalist Mark Tornillo. Udo Dirkschneider had a style all his own and Tornillo does well by not going the copycat route. He comes close enough that you're not jarred by the difference, but still has a style of his own: think the Bon Scott - Brian Johnson transition (albiet on a somewhat smaller scale).
[Metal afficiandos might enjoy a flashback to his orignial '80s outfit, New Jersey metallers TT Quick]
Put briefly, there was nothing remotely retro or hokey about Accept's performance. Seeing Accept removes any shadows of doubt regarding not just the artistic validity of but also the marketplace need for the entire wave of trad/retro-metal hocum that has emerged in their absence (Shadows Fall, Blind Guardian, Hammerfall, etc.). There is none. Of either. I love me some 3 Inches of Blood, but even they are made entirely redundant by Accept circa 2010.
At its best, live music of all types creates a time and space unto itself, taking equal parts musical performance, atmosphere, and community to build something far greater. All are elevated by the experience, be they on the stage and or in the house. The band is a conduit through which the music is brought to life and the circle of transformation initiated. But the forces created are beyond even the musicians. They are divine.
As with any divine experience, the earthbound can occassionally be worked into a transcendant state, revelling in the sensastion of being freed from their ties and, at least for a time, communing with the heavens.
Please bear witness as two of GonzoGeek's finest feel the light in The Church of Rock and Roll. (First, dUg will call the congregation to order).