Friday, August 9, 2013

Fear and Loathing at a Black Sabbath concert...

 Judging by this picture, one may conclude that I had horrible nosebleed seats for Black Sabbath's West Palm Beach gig, but it may surprise you to know that Dirty Harry and I probably had the best seats in the house. First of all, we had a clear line of visibility towards the stage, and although we weren't exactly within balcony view of Ozzy's geriatric shenanigans, we could clearly see the monitor, and that was good enough.
Second, the music carried so well towards this particular spot that you wouldn't have believed it. I shot a one-minute clip on my cellphone and the sound was crystal clear even on my shitty MetroPCS android. (I posted it below, you judge for yourself!)
Also, my associate and I had a very comfortable perimeter around us to stretch our legs. In summary, we had a nice spot where we wouldn't be distracted from worshiping the greatest heavy metal band of all time by assholes walking in and out of the aisle, staggering in and out like a bunch of hobos.

You can call sour grapes on me all you want, but those shit-heads in the front row can have the front row. I'll take the Bob Uecker special any day! A large mass of human bodies pushing the oxygen out of you by pressing you against a metal railing isn't my idea of the ideal concert experience. I'll paint an even better picture... What happens if at sometime during the show, you suddenly feel the abdominal trembles that foretell impending gastrointestinal doom? Then what? Good luck making your way through all of the cattle and out to the port-o-potty in time to save yourself from an explosive burst of self-defecation! Had I have felt the need to make chocolate soup, I would have just had to take a five foot stroll to my left, down a short flight of steps, and from there on out it was open breezeway towards the shitter. If I then encountered a long line of other diarrhea-afflicted concert-goers, well, that's a whole other problem.

Not that being forced to take a shit at a show/concert would ever be an issue with me, because it just doesn't come up anymore since I began taking precautions. Those of you who have been following my hi-jinks since Tales Of Perversion Zine Volume One know that I take special measures before going to shows to avoid from having to succumb to the horrors of taking a shit in a public place. I have a 'survival kit' of sorts that I swear by. I'm not really sure if this utility pack qualifies to be called a kit, having only two items in it, but nevertheless I could never see myself at a show without the following two items...

Imodium A-D
Thank God for Loperamide! This miraculous little opioid has saved my sickly off-white, moderately pimpled ass-cheeks from having to press against urine encrusted toilet seats at countless venues. I began taking Imodium as part of my pre-show ritual around the time I was 18 years old, and you would too if you were ever exposed to the horrors that are the bathrooms at Miami's CBGB doppelganger, Churchill's Pub. Shit, if you think you've seen some brutal water-closet nightmares, come take a peak at what's doing in Churchill's gag inducing latrines. I guarantee that you wouldn't even want to take a leak in there for fear that the viral bacteria that live inside of the porcelain pit of putrefaction could swim upstream like fecal salmon from the depths of the murky brown toilet water, up your urine stream and into your body via your urethra...

 This night would be no different as far as pre-game is concerned. There was just no way that I was going to risk having to rock an oozing wall-puncher in one of these amphitheater  port-o-potties where a few thousand drunks tried their very WORST at getting the stream locked dead center in the bowl.
I know, I know, you're saying "can't you just squat and not sit?"  The answer is NO! My abdominal cramps are soooooo fucking bad that they completely debilitate me to the point where I really need to sit from the fatigue of withstanding stomach pains the likes of which only Sigourney Weaver in the Alien movies could sympathize with!
So, for this reason, I always make a pit stop at a gas-station and cop one of these little 2-packs for about two bucks. Believe me, it's worth it. Two of these bad boys will keep you shit free for at least 10 to 12 hours, no matter how many rancid, salmonella flavored Shish-kabobs you scarf down with a couple of rust-contaminated Bud Lights before the gig...

the other item, of course, is...

This one is a no-brainer... I mean, you don't go to ANY show without a substantial amount of drugs, let alone a Black Sabbath show, a band whom is clearly THE quintessential stoner band... Weed also ties in loosely to the Imodium in that it has calming effects on an upset stomach... Or so I've been told...

At the very least, if you cannot score a varied sampler pack reminiscent of Hunter Thompson's Vegas briefcase, you need a reasonable amount of Marijuana at your disposal. You want to make sure that you bring enough so that you can smoke consistently throughout the headliner's set. For Sabbath, I packed a chunky blunt, one extra long spliff and two joints; and quite honestly, it wasn't enough. It all got smoked within one hour. I had to go smokeless for about three songs! In retrospect, I could have smoked a pound during Sabbath's set, it wouldn't have made a difference. I was so exhilarated by them that the endless smoking of joints didn't slow me down a bit! It was like trying to kill an elephant with 4 thumbtacks. Tony Iommi cranking out the devil's fifth caused my brain to flood with a gushing release of "diablomine" that no other substances could take any considerable hold over me. I would light a joint off of the roach of another, back to back reefers, it was a show of total hemp hedonism. Audience members from my section would watch me with bewilderment from my total herb-lust, but to me, it was just business as usual. In retrospect, I should have tried to cop a windowpane of some even halfway decent acid! Had that been the case, I think I would have blown my psychedelic load all throughout the set; especially during the closing section of Fairies Wear Boots where Ozzy sings "Cause smoking and tripping is all that you do"...
Still, the people sitting around me had clearly never seen anything resembling the likes of my Marijuana appetite. It's almost a funny deja vu, because I remembered an anecdote from my first show ever (coincidentally an amphitheater show as well-Cypress Hill, Rollins Band and the Beastie Boys)...
It was a year before I had started doing drugs and was still rather sheltered and innocent and there were these dudes seated next to me (in the front row, incidentally!) who were smoking up a forest fire, and I just remember looking at these dudes like "oh my god, their totally getting high in front of everybody with no shame". Little did I know that I would one day be their stoner-king, who is not just exponentially more bold than those cats ever could have hoped to be (in terms of shameless public smoking and Marijuana advocacy), but who can also make short work of smoking them (or any challenger) under the bedrock.
                                    It's good to be the king!!!

Rocking the sick fucking Paul Chain patch!!!
My associate and I arrived just as opening act Andrew WK finished his set of whatever the fuck it was he was there for. I have never heard his particular brand of douchery, but my powers of divination tell me that I'd like to keep it that way. As we walked towards our section, posers and verifiable metal maniacs alike opened the up the way for us, instinctively knowing that two elder statesman of metal were coming through.
  Who wouldn't open the way for yours truly, your LORD and FUCKING MASTER, the scourge of the right hand path known to you as Pig Latin the Infernal Ball Breaker?
 Alongside of me was Miami's very own Dirty Harry, a dude who may very well hold the secret of the missing link buried somewhere in his DNA helix. As if the mighty, mighty Dirty One's Bulldog/Gorilla hybrid of a face didn't terrify posers to death as is, his patched denim cut shown above was a sure indication that there was a decorated veteran of Satan's Special Forces coming through! Dirty Harry's war armor was unmatched and second to none among the regalia being flashed around by the capacity crowd. This thing was like the equivalent of General Colin Powell's Class A uniform jacket, only instead of being weighed down by a rainbow mosaic of award ribbons and rank insignia, it's covered in patchwork representing the creme of the crop as far as the finest, most discerning tastes in metal are concerned. The Midnight back-patch alone, in all of its obscure glory, was worthy of receiving sacrificial blood offerings. I don't really want to delve too much on my colleagues impeccable attire, but I do want to point out that only Generals in the Metal Militia wear Paul Chain patches... take note!

 I, on the other hand, wasn't showing my metal dick size through snazzy couture. I went for a casual, non-dirt bag look which actually went horribly wrong, as I ended up looking more like a dirt-bag than I had intended, resembling a cross-pollination of Brian Johnson and Mike Damone from Ridgemont High, if they were spics. I was wearing some sick bell bottoms though, in true 70's acid-rock form... my homage to the quintessence of Sabbath's heyday...
If ever there were a dude who looked liked his balls stink, it's definitely Brian Johnson!

Being spared the torturous ordeal of opener Andrew WK, time was on our side as we arrived at our section promptly after the sounding of the air raid horn that opens up War Pigs, Satan's clarion call  for his little angels to flap their wings to. The wails from the siren ignited the crowd instantly, who went berserk from hearing Ozzy's demonic cackle come over the PA shortly. I was quick to remind myself that this is the single most important concert that I have ever/will ever attend. This is it! This was my first time seeing Sabbath, unfortunately so, and equally as woeful, this is also the last time they will tour. Certainly, 13 will be the last time that they record together. Is this a speculation on my behalf? Maybe/hopefully so! But the tolling of the funeral bell at the end of the album seems to be the ominous omega to their 1969 alpha, giving unspoken closure to the saga.

The most important band in the history of heavy metal music (end of discussion) will more than likely ride off into the blackened sunset after this one. And so to not make the effort to go out and see them on this tour is just criminal, punishable by banishment from Rock and Roll forever. The very least that anyone who has ever made the il cornuto hand gesture can do is go out and pay your respects to the band that fathered everything and anything appealing about heavy music.
Here you have a bunch of guys that have been around since '69, whom against the suggestions of the ill-conceived pen strokes from so-called rock critics produced the definitive groundwork for ALL heavy music and would become the go-to musical influence for any heavy rock/metal band that would come out for the next forty years. That's fucking brilliant... and worthy of all of you cheap fucks to buy a ticket and worship at the altar of metal... the true altar of metal... Black Fucking Sabbath!!!

The devil's triumvirate... Fuck it, 3 out of 4 is not too shabby!
Surely, some could argue that this was Sabbath Lite, a cruel tease, taking into the argument that the great Bill Ward wasn't on this record or tour. I for one had a field day ripping Brad Wilk a new A-hole when I found out that he was going to be the defacto sticks man for the album (especially after having found out that it could have been Cream's Ginger Baker instead!) This would only worsen after hearing the record, since I wasn't exactly choked up about his drum work on it, feeling that he lacked the blues/jazz foundation to mimic Bill Ward's swing. I think that in so many ways Wilk's technique did not fit into the album (and I do love this album, by the way). The prick paid no mind to his goddamn ride cymbal till about track 6, two cuts away from the end of the joint, and by then, it was just too late.

 It's a damn shame that touring drummer Tommy Clufeto wasn't given the nod to be on the record. He definitely has the chops (anyone who watches him destroy "Rat Salad" on this tour can certainly agree.) I formulated the hypothesis that perhaps Bill Ward could not carry the band with the same bombast as Clufeto, who carries the rhythm section like a woolly, bearded metronome!  (Whatever I had to tell myself to distract from an incomplete Sabbath!)

 Ward after all has gotten a bit long in the tooth, and drumming requires a different kind of stamina than guitar or bass, perhaps more stamina than he can muster at this point in time with those gold bones, rusty and desperately needing Glucosamine. That's not a dis to Billy Ward, the guy has always been a brilliant drummer who quite frankly has seldom received due recognition, but Father Time is an unforgiving old bastard, and banging on drums for an hour and a half, night after night for a couple of months, well, that sounds like a job for a younger man. If you want to see just how mean this old prick Father Time can be, take a look at what's doing with Ozzy! Yikes!

I will say the following about this tour, and I do suppose that you can label this a "fair warning". Ozzy is tired! Old and tired! He's all beat up from years of LSD, Coke, Alcohol, the road, dirty women, more Coke, etc. If you're expecting him running around the stage like a madman, the way he's been carrying on until yesterday, than I suggest that you re-calibrate your expectations.

I love Ozzy, but I'm going to level with you, it's almost as if someone had either propped him up on the mic stand, or he was being worked with strings like a marionette from atop the stage. Seriously, it was almost  like Weekend At Bernie's. He still gives you his all, engaging the audience constantly with his charismatic, Sagittarius charm. However, the man that you will see fronting the band (not being able to sing in key mind you) in his black PJs is just a withered gray specter of his former Acid-War-Hippie self. Ozzy's deterioration is inevitable, since the man is no stranger to getting loaded, and this has taken it's inevitable, heavy toll.
We are after all referring to a man who's wife had to hire an entourage just to make sure he doesn't so much as sip a beer, let alone smoke a doobie or snort a rail. The man literally has a 24 hour security detail around him that will not let him out of their sight for fear that he may sneak a buzz in somewhere, somehow. Now that's commitment to the burn-out ethos, and Ozzy shows all signs that he has already begun to pay the piper for his dedication to getting fucked up.

Still, it's Ozzy!!! Our incorrigible prince of darkness who can never do wrong by our black book! Quite honestly, he could have sat there in a rocking chair with a quilt covering his legs, and that still would have been fine by me. The motherfucker is an institution! The Metal Messiah!!!

The band sounded phenomenal! So good!
 I seriously played air guitar to the entire set, something which I had never felt compelled to do at any show I've ever been to. My colleague and I were like two geeky teenagers fawning over their idols. We certainly did not expect to get blown away the way that we did, but they really were that good. They are going out with a bang, a number one record under the waste-band of their Depends adult under-garments and a successful tour to boot. You have to love it! You have to love that they came back from the dead to have their final say, and make a serious point while doing so, remaining as relevant as ever!

As for myself, I was happy to see the mighty Sabbath before one of them became the jackpot in someone's death pool. My bucket list has become one item shorter. Having had the chance to see at least 75% of Black Sabbath playing at 175% efficacy was definitely an important event in the timeline of my regression/early mid-life crisis. It was a coming full circle, giving my personal Ouroboros something nice and juicy to suck on.
I think back to being exposed to Sabbath Bloody Sabbath for the first time in seventh grade by a friend and being both freaked out by it's cover and also mesmerized by the rebellious overtone of that opening riff. I reminisce on having to lock myself in the bathroom of my home to listen to it with headphones on because had my puritanical mother have busted me with a record that sounded and looked like that (with that record cover) it meant getting my room ransacked whenever I stepped out, and any and all "questionable" items would end up in the iron jaws of a horrid beast with the words Miami Dade Waste Services written across it's iron flesh, leaving me with no other options but to go on mad shoplifting sprees to restore my collection (which resulted in some interesting petty larceny stories). I wonder how many kids nowadays are willing to endure such persecution in the name of metal! For that matter, I wonder how many of these assholes at this show would have lasted under that regiment! I lasted; and my karmic reward was being delivered unto me in the form of getting to blaze reefers while rocking out to the Masters.

 Oh, and as for the four joints, yeah, funny thing is that after the show ended, and the adrenaline levels started to even out, the THC in my system said "Here I am, motherfucker!" I must say, the after-buzz of four joints is very groovy. I had a hard time articulating words... it was great! Take that, tolerance levels!

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