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MUNICIPAL WASTE US TOUR DIARY, PART 1: TEARING UP THE WEST COAST
Virginia thrash giants Municipal Waste are just rounding off their tour of the United States with 3 Inches of Blood and Black Tusk, where Terrorizer’s very own Kim Kelly joined them on the road, slinging merch for the Black Tusk guys and partying hard. Read the first part of her tour diary below…
This story starts in the middle. Ever spend a month riding around the country in a scuffed white van with a handful of other people, hauling gear and guzzling beer every night in between sweating your ass off, eating terrible food, and blasting your eardrums with heavy fucking metal? It’s worth doing at least a couple times – or all the time, as I’ve learned. Welcome to summer tour.
By this point, we’d already been out for a good couple of weeks, starting last month with a week’s worth of dates supporting our NOLA brothers in Down and haarp and dropping right into a week with Municipal Waste. The four of us in the Black Tusk camp – Andrew (guitar), Athon (bass), James (drums) and I (merch/roadie/tour mom) – had huffed and puffed our way across the American South, and as May turned into June, the temperature began to climb ever higher. Sleeves were torn off, jeans were sliced up, slip-ons were broken out, and some seriously gnarly farmer’s tans began to develop: yeah, spring tour has ripened into summer tour, and a whole lot of sweat and sunburn figured heavily into our collective future.
After a much-needed day off spent grilling out at our boy Jared from Lace Pickups’ place in Long Beach, we trucked up to Anaheim, CA to meet up with the Richmond dudes and kick off our first show with the tour’s full lineup: us, Canadian heavy metallers 3 Inches of Blood, and, duh, Municipal Waste. The venue, Chain Reaction, was the kind of place that our local friends would often describe in terms of “I dunno, dude…that place kinda blows.” After enduring the stifling, insanely intense humidity that flooded the joint throughout the entire evening and gazing mournfully at the candy- and soda-stocked “bar” (all ages shows = no booze to numb the pain, kids!), I’d personally be inclined to agree. The staff were fine and the kids came out in droves (the place was packed, almost uncomfortably so) but I wasn’t the only one who was stoked to get our gear loaded out into the cool night air and high tail it out of there. However, it was great to meet the 3IOB guys, and see some familiar faces. Black Tusk got a killer reaction from the legions of patched pubescents in attendance, who proceeded to go absolutely apeshit as soon as the Waste hit the stage.. California sure does love to thrash.
Yo. Fuck The Key Club. Anyone who’s played/worked a gig there will know what I mean.
Moving on. As an adopted New Yorker, I’ll admit to some Northeastern bias, but seriously – LA usually sucks. We had a really good time hanging out in the area, thanks to a handful of our awesome friends (and our most gracious hosts, Jared and Crystal) but the city itself leaves a bad taste in my mouth. The attitude is fucked, the traffic is nightmarish, and the whole city is lousy with insincerity. We’d been circling the city for the past few days, doing off dates here and there to kill time during a five-day block of off days (Tony had to fly home for a friend’s wedding) and made time for the boys to visit the KNAC radio studio for an interview (you can find the podcast on www.knac.com). We also got to visit the morbidly fascinating Museum of Death, which was exactly what you’d imagine, except way better and much more unsettling. Jeffrey Dahmer’s paintings shared wall space with suicide notes, stained and death-riddled garments hung limply above an electric chair, accounts of Hollywood hangings and Hitler’s last moments plastered to the walls next to shrunken heads and death cult propaganda, macabre artifacts and taxidermied albino rats huddled in corners, and JFK’s autopsy photos greeted you as you walked into a movie room featuring Faces of Death on an eternal loop. Only death is real.
This was definitely one of the most aggravating gigs of the tour thus far for a whole goddamn cornucopia of reasons. Unbeknownst to anyone on the touring package, the venue had decided to book an extra seven or so local bands and split the whole show between an upstairs and a downstairs stage. That’s a lot of gear, a lot of boring rehashed thrash, and a lot of hassle for everyone, but pay to play is a Sunset Strip institution, so I suppose it was a fitting enough turn of events. On the plus side, the show went well enough. Our homies and black thrashing maniacs Witchaven played, and a few of my fellow Invisible Oranges cohorts showed up to keep me company behind my merch fortress. The bartender knew how to pour a good stiff drink, too, which always helps. At the end of a long, long night, though, we were really stoked to leave and hit up In-N-Out Burger for greasy late-night grub.
Northern California, on the other hand, fucking rules. We’d all been really looking forward to this show. Tons of friends were meant to be coming out to hang, Scotty from Tankcrimes was overseeing the night’s festivities (with Sonny from Saviours managing the stage), Lecherous Gaze and Theories were slated to play, and the overall vibe was refreshingly chilled out and positive. As expected, we had a killer time (and got shithammered). Theories kicked things off with a short sharp shock of filthy, furious grind, Lecherous Gaze swaggered their way across the stage with dirtball rock’n’roll aplomb, and my boys did what they do best: fucking delivered.
3IOB got everyone riled up even further, and by the time the Waste came on, the whole place was set to go off like a powder keg. Oakland is a second home to Tony, Phil, Ryan and Dave, and the crowd made their love more than apparent. After all these years, there’s still nothing quite like seeing a thrash band play in the Bay.
Afterwards, we piled into our friend’s post-apocalyptic motorcycle shop in a weird industrial corner of Berkley and drank whiskey around a bonfire in his backyard until way, way too late.
Hell drive to Seattle. A fourteen hour drive spread out across a day and a half still fucking sucks. The drive times are the only thing that casts a pall over the otherwise thoroughly awesome experience of touring on the West Coast. Pretty sure all we did today was drive, sleep, nurse our hangovers, listen to country (George Jones is a van favorite) and eat the same shitty gas station cuisine that had been (just barely) sustaining us since Day 1. We made it to our target, Portland, in about ten hours, and stayed awake just long enough to say hello to our friend Carly from Starbird Promotions, pet her manically lovestruck pitbull, and sprawl across her sweet little house, dead to the world and utterly drained.
The Northwestern United States, particularly the areas along the coast, offers some of the most breathtaking scenery imaginable, as misty looming mountains shelter lush, unbroken lines of trees in shades of green and blue. The drives up here are long, but so gorgeous that it doesn’t matter. Seattle’s a great city too, and the show tonight was crazy. Neumo’s was stuffed to the gills, everyone was smiling, and all the bands brought their very best efforts to the table. The opening band, Bloodhunger, was actually pretty solid, as well. Local openers are always a hit or miss on national tours like this one, but to my delighted surprise, these death metal young guns even hauled out a gratifyingly heavy cover of “Zombie Ritual,” which had me and the ten other old dudes who recognized those immortal opening notes going nuts. The merch area was tiny and cramped and had me and 3IOB’s merch dude Bryan clambering over boxes like half-drunk spider monkeys all night, which surely provided an added element of entertainment for the hundreds of thrashers that flooded the building and damn near tore it apart that night. I was in a great mood, as Tony and I kept sneaking off for nips of whiskey (another all ages show where the bar’s kept separated from the main venue, where the merch stalls are – foiled again!) and I’d somehow managed to cajole one of my friends into bringing me ice cream from Maggie Moo’s, the best damn ice cream place in the Northwest (salted caramel and dark chocolate, yes!). Everyone ended up stumbling off to some afterparty-turned-barbeque after the show while I bounced to hang with an old college buddy and unexpectedly get sucked into a house party adventure of my own. Thanks for a good time, Seattle.
Keep an eye out for Part Two coming soon and make sure you catch Municipal Waste when they come to the UK next month -
Monday 9th July – Moho, Manchester
Tuesday 10th July – Dingwalls, London