Monday, June 4, 2012

Fu Manchu

I recently (Fri Apr 27th, 2012) had the great pleasure of attending a gig here in Wellington (at The San Francisco Bath House) by Southern Californian stoner rock pioneers Fu Manchu.
Fu Manchu originally came to my attention back in 1997 around the release of their “The Action Is Go” LP, which featured Brant Bjork, whom had recently departed from Kyuss. (I’ll also be writing about Kyuss themselves soon).

The LP also gained some extra attention by being produced by Jay Yuenger from White Zombie, who were at their commercial peak around this time. I liked what I heard to an extent but didn’t get into the band at the time.

Looking back, it’s kinda hard to see why – Fu Manchu’s style sits right in between heavy, 70’s referencing stoner rock and early 80’s Cali hardcore (the band actually started life as a hardcore punk band called Virulence), both of which I love.

Anyways, after a great set from NZ’s own Beastwars (the second New Zealand band I actually like, after the folk duo Tiny Ruins whom I first saw supporting Fleet Foxes back in February) and the highly tipped Black Cobra (a two piece, guitar/drums combo whom I’d liken to a doom metal White Stripes), Fu Manchu took the stage at 22.00hrs, looking almost exactly as I remember them looking in 1997, for an expected two hour set.

Frankly, you’d expect a band in their 27th year (albeit with vocalist/guitarist Scott Hill being their only original member) to be pretty tight but I was totally taken aback by how good they are live. The band played a relentless hour and twenty minutes before Scott Hill’s Marshall stack started cutting out. He called the audience to shout out their favorite tune so the band could play it before his valves finally blew. This eventually happened towards the end of their unintended last song.

The band came back out after a short break, with Hill telling the FOH engineer to “crank the volume on the rhythm guitar cos I’m down to one tube on my amp,” before closing with their sing-along version of Blue Öyster Cult’s “Godzilla” to rapturous reaction from the small but boisterous crowd.
All in all a great gig, which due to pretty limited promotion, I only found out about two days before it happened.
Fu Manchu are a real fans band and had a great merch stand. I came away with some really interesting bits and pieces (including the limited edition tour poster at the top of this post):

Cannabis Corpse “Tube of the Resinated” LP – Weed orientated side-project band of Mutant Waste members on attractive mottled green vinyl, which is apparently limited to 200 copies worldwide. One can only assume that the title refers to Cannibal Corpses “Tombs of the Mutilated”. I bought it because it’s bizarre. The cover art really is something else.

Fu Manchu Covers LP – sadly not the silver vinyl version that they made especially for the tour (as advertised on their website). Features the previously mentioned “Godzilla” cover as well as tracks originally recorded by Black Flag, Circle Jerks and others. Interestingly, doesn’t appear to be on a label, so must only be available at their gigs and off of their website. (I’m assuming it’s not 100% legal).
Fu Manchu “The Action Is Go” CD – I was running low on cash and it was $10 less than “In Search Of” on vinyl. Unfortunately, they didn’t have it on LP. Features a picture of Tony Alva (one of the original Dogtown/Z-Boys) skating a pool on the cover. I listened to it for the first time yesterday whilst I alphabetised my girlfriends LP collection (less said about that the better). A fantastic LP.

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