Living the Dream: Anvil, Attitude Adjustment @ The Fillmore, 2/6/10

The story on Anvil has been inspiring music lovers for a year now. We’ve seen this Cinderella play out in front of our very eyes….from the moment they walk onstage in Japan to a sold out crowd at the end of the film…..to two sold out screenings/appearances at the Bridge Theater…..to now playing at the historic Fillmore. Anvil is the underdog we are all rooting for, and the underdog is seemingly winning.

I rode the 22 Fillmore across town to the tune of Goatwhore….it was fitting somehow to be one with the people before going to the show. I followed the dudes in patched denim vests and Reeboks off the bus.

Once inside, I said hi to all my photo friends and got an awesome gift from Alan– a Nergal guitar pick! THANK YOU! Then I took my usual spot front row left and the show quickly began.

Nikki Blakk from 107.7 The Bone introduced the show….wearing the Slayer shirt I have on in my profile pic that I almost wore that very night. Now THAT would have been awkward. I have the same circus pants she had on as well….must plan wardrobe more carefully now…..

I’d seen Attitude Adjustment at least once before. The San Francisco ‘thrash kings’ came onto the stage almost looking a bit nervous. I find the Fillmore stage an odd fit for a punk band….Slim’s would be better….but they eventually warmed up to it, with the help of supportive words from the crowd that was obviously full of family and friends that they knew. Despite having been around for decades, this must have been the first time for them to play The Fillmore. They seemed humbled and mesmerized by it, which is an interesting attitude to have contrast with intros to songs that begin with ‘this is for the cops’ and titles like ‘Dope Fiend’. Speaking of, an audience member passed a pipe to the vocalist to give to the drummer, and he took a hit and passed it back. No one thought twice about it. San Francisco! Smoke pot but don’t you dare take a picture with a flash. Even though the setting was decidedly un-punk, there was a circle pit with hardcore dancers, and when one girl fell down, the vocalist shouted, ‘help her out!’. I thought it was pretty special that they brought a former member on stage to play guitar with them- including him in their momentous evening was a nice touch.

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Passing the pipe back to the audience member:

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Anvil may have a hit documentary and are playing the Fillmore, but they still soundcheck their own equipment. As soon as Lips and Robb came out on stage, the crowd cheered. While the audience was mostly dominated by metal veterans, I was surprised by the amount of kids around me- the power of a documentary + metal? It’s a beautiful thing. The show began with Lips talking into his guitar. I would say that across the 70 minute set that ‘666’, ‘Mothra’, ‘Thumb Hang’, and of course the anthemic ‘Metal on Metal’ were the highlights, but Lips’ stage banter often outshines the music. This is perhaps fitting, because at one point I asked myself, why are we all here? My hunch is that many of us are in love with the Anvil story more than the music. And Lips makes us feel like we’re part of the story that’s still being written on that very evening. ‘Thank you for helping make my dream come true!’. His remarks throughout the course of the evening were exactly what we expected from the character we saw in the film: ‘peace, love, and marijuana’…..he talked about being away from his wife for too long and going on blind dates, which is a euphemism for masturbation that I’d never been exposed to before……he contorted his face into slanted eyes as an intro to ‘Mothra’….and he told of a blowjob groupie story that inspired ‘Jackhammer’. And then there was playing his flying V with a gold vibrator. I can check that one off my list.

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Robb played a lengthy drum solo, where Lips stood off to the side and air drummed along. He capped off the solo by taking a sip of diet Coke. Anvil possesses a balance of a band who have a certain ease with each other than could only have come from playing together for decades, yet their energy is almost child-like, where everything seems brand new. This is something pretty unique to Anvil, as we watched them revel in the moment of their delayed success.

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Check out Photo Ray’s pics from the show here!

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