Friday, October 23, 2009

High on Fire

What does High on Fire have to do with Halloween? Funny you should ask. Not much to most, but they certainly played a most vital role in one of my favorite Halloween memories. It was one of those events that will go down as legendary in the annals of East Bay punk history, at least if I have anything to say about it.

High on Fire is undeniably a pretty big name in metal circles these days. But it doesn’t feel like it was very long ago that you had the chance to see them as a strictly underground band at places like Gilman, where they caused a great deal of hearing loss by turning their twin Green Matamp stacks up full blast. Amazing? You bet. Painful? Oh yeah. Did we go up front and see who could last the longest without running for a pair of earplugs? You’re goddamn right we did! So, yeah, this supposed legendary event story…

It was Halloween of 1999, and the punk house on Genoa and 57th Street was hosting another one of their epic parties. Sounded interesting and oh yeah, High on Fire was going to play in the living room. Now, THAT is what I call interesting, and of course I’ll be there. Early in the evening, I was sitting on the front steps shooting the shit with Matt Pike because, well, people can actually do that around here. When I offered the guy who played on an album titled Dopesmoker a hit off the pipe, he blew my mind when he told me that he didn’t actually smoke weed anymore. I conceded when I realized that he’d probably utilized every conceivable method with which to indulge more times than my economical eighth a week ass ever would in my life.

Murder Takes No Holiday (Bryan Ward’s band between Eldopa and One in the Chamber) also played and were as good as we wanted them to be, but we were clamoring to see High on Fire in a goddamned living room. The twin towers of Green were in place, and the living room was rockin’. If I recall, stuff was falling off the walls and shelves because it was so overpoweringly loud and heavy. And then it ended as soon as it started. A bunch of cops showed up to shut down the party due to noise complaints that were probably phoned in the second High on Fire started to play. These cops didn’t appear to be a particularly happy bunch, and they didn’t seem to care that this was probably the one and only time High on Fire would play in somebody’s living room. Cops just don’t know how to party.

So that’s what High on Fire has to do with Halloween, and why they’re the subjects of today’s post. The preceding story always comes to mind whenever I listen to this CD, which was released in a limited quantity later that year. Generally referred to as their demo, this three-song CD was intended more as a promotional disc for future label interest. It wasn’t long before the now-defunct Man’s Ruin label showed interest and released High on Fire’s first album The Art of Self-Defense. You know the rest of the story, I think.

And that’s why I still hold out hope that High on Fire will blow up huge like Mastodon—who went from being their fanboys to headlining over them on tour within five years—someday. I kinda like the idea of seeing a great band like them go from some punk house living room to big arenas and making that kind of an impact. Unlike the punk bands from around here that have done the same thing, at least High on Fire would deserve it.

Get high here.

1 comment:

weenie said...

oakland memories!! it really is an awesome place for bands and people who are into music.