I was supposed to see Turbonegro last year, but the tour was canceled when Euroboy, the guitarist, got sick. He was diagnosed with Hodgkins Disease, and underwent treatment and is currently all better. The show was a last minute sell out. The band was only doing a handful of West Coast shows before their Coachella appearance.
It always puts me in the mood for a show when I have to traverse the fear inducing streets of the Tenderloin to get to the venue. The somewhat warm evening had all the freaks out in full effect. Once safely inside GAMH, I took a spot up front to listen to the last song of opening band Kandi Coded. There was a small barrier in place for this show- an unusual sight for this venue, but an understandable one considering Turbonegro’s notoriety.
During the setup, I overheard some ‘old school’ fans who had apparently followed the band for years talk about the good old days, which is always kind of a downer when you’re about to see a band for the first time. But then the guy behind me mentioned it was his first time, too. Throughout the set, I monitored their reactions- all seemed equally pleased.
Towards the end of the setup, the crowd started shouting their name and singing “Oh-oh-oh, I GOT ERECTION!”, which I can imagine is what many bands assume a warm welcome from San Francisco is like. The smoke pours over the stage, the lights dim, and the band comes out. This was one of those shows where I specifically picked to stand in front of Euroboy, and I didn’t regret it at all. He’s just a very different guitarist to watch- he is so tall and lanky. Unfortunately, he didn’t rock the officer’s hat this time :(.
Hank was the last to hit the stage, dressed in his usual flamboyant ensemble. I wish I could remember everything that Hank said over the course of the evening- but I know he opened with something like “Are you ready for us to enter your Golden Gate?”. I believe the first song was a new one, which eased the crowd into the set. OK, maybe not really, as Hank got a a full cup of something thrown in his face right away. He didn’t even flinch, as more things were thrown on stage, I realized that this is the kind of band where throwing stuff at them is seen as some sort of appreciation (Hank spit and sprayed water right back on them later). There was a lot of photo taking in the front, and Hank was a total ham for the cam. “All My Friends Are Dead’ was second, which is when the crowd started to really go off. The guitar looks so tiny in Euroboy’s hands, as he pulls off these sprawling moves. Man I love the guitar in this song!
They plowed through the set- a mix of old and new- with brief interludes of Hank’s heavy accented remarks about record companies, political bands, homosexuality- basically what you expected and welcomed. Highlights from the main set were ‘Get It On’, ‘Sailorman’, and ‘Chubby Dude’. The crowd got rougher and rougher- one crying girl was pulled out over the barrier- the band looking genuinely concerned about her. Sailor hats were flying in the air, the people up in the balcony were hanging over the edge, arms raised, angrily singing along. It was good to get slammed around a bit- I’ve been to too many mellow shows lately.
They came back for the encore, starting with ‘Age of Pamparius’, and then ‘I Got Erection’. And let me tell ya- there’s nothing like being in a sweaty crowd of dudes singing that line! Some people tried to crowd surf much to the GAMH security’s dismay. Then came the moment I’d been waiting for- the obligatory Jello Biafra appearance- Hank gave homage to him and his punk rock influences, and then launched into a cover of The Stooges’ ‘Search and Destroy’. No Jello. But he was there, somewhere.
I guess they don’t do the Roman Candle trick anymore? I miss out on everything.
It was the kind of show where I couldn’t move for a few minutes after the band left the stage. As I waited for everyone to unpack behind me, I tried unsuccessfully to get a setlist. Why are stagehands being such dicks lately!?
However, they had an amazing poster for the show, which I happily added to my collection. Man Francisco!
Videos from other recent shows:
‘Get It On’/Santa Cruz:
‘All My Friends Are Dead’/Portland:
‘Age of Pamparius’/Portland:
‘Search and Destroy’/Seattle:
Turbonegro performance: 9/10
venue (GAMH): 9.5/10
value ($30.00/ticket): 8.5/10