Friday, November 5, 2010

Triptykon Show: Tulsa, Oklahoma, 10/27/2010

Thanks to my odd ability to attract attention to myself, I managed to impress Thomas Warrior (Hellhammer, Celtic Frost, now Triptykon) with my wit and writing enough to be invited as a guest to the show in Tulsa. Even if I hadn't been invited, I'd have made the trip just for the show. It was my second time seeing Tom perform live: the first being a Celtic Frost show in Lawrence, KS a few years ago. A fan for over twenty years, getting to meet the man in person was a dream come true. Here are some photos of the day:

On stage, Tom's vocals are terse and guttural, and he throws the audience sunken-eyed glares that would make a demon flinch. He opened the show with the Celtic Frost classic Procreation of the Wicked, a tri-chord tune as hauntingly unforgettable as it is influential.

In person, Tom was far more amiable. He introduced me to the other members of the band and a few of the other musicians on tour as "writer" and "friend." He made jokes about the venue (a tiny little club in downtown Tulsa that I won't name) and how I stuttered when he introduced me to Frost, drummer for Satyricon and 1349. "It aids communication if you speak in complete sentences," he said with a laugh, "it is difficult for people to understand you if you just say random words." In fairness, I only stuttered because I did not expect to meet Frost. I was expecting to meet Tom, so I was ready for it. Though I knew 1349 was on the tour, and (apparently) had been informed by my brother that this was Frost's other band, I'd forgotten or (more likely) hadn't been paying attention when told.

Frost...also, me.
Tom layered praise on Frost as a drummer, leaving the man almost awe-stricken by the compliment. "I don't consider myself big," Tom told me a few minutes later. He is, in his own words, just a musician complimenting another. He had similar praise for Bruce Lamont, vocalist/saxophone player for tour-mates Yakuza--a band I hadn't heard of but was highly impressed with live. It was fun watching them joke around as they tried to get a picture together. "That's the last time I let you kiss me on the mouth," said Tom, attempting to maintain a serious face for the photo. "No, it isn't," replied Bruce in a deadpan tone, ruining a third (possibly fourth) attempt at an austere pose.

L to R - Vanja, Tom, Bruce
Bruce was a joy to meet as well. Three men of similar political leanings, we stood in the ally behind the show and discussed climate change. Scott mentioned the documentary Who Killed the Electric Car? I learned they both use bikes (not motorcycles, bikes with pedals) as their main transportation in their respective homes: Switzerland for Tom, Chicago for Bruce. I kept quiet and didn't mention that I'd driven four hours for the show in a GMC Sierra. In my defense: I don't drive very often or far. Still, it wouldn't hurt me to walk a little more. For Bruce I recommended a similar documentary, The Yes Men Fix the World, after Tom returned to the venue to do the sound-check. There they are in the picture above: Tom and Bruce discussing music and awkward attempts at photos while the lovely and talented Vanja (bass player for Triptykon) enjoys a soda the post-apocalyptic wasteland of downtown Tulsa.

Tom asked about my book, which isn't out yet or I'd have brought him a signed copy. I'll still get one to him through the mutual friend who introduced us, translator and friend Cordula Abston. I don't know if Tom will enjoy my book, but Cordula tells me he is an avid reader so I'm sure he'll enjoy having an autographed copy for a first edition of my work. Tom is a writer as well, though I wasn't able to get a copy of his book in time for the show.

Despite the limitations of the venue, Tom put on an amazing show. The club's sound-boards and speakers couldn't quite handle the power of the show, resulting in a muddying-effect on the heavily distorted, primal grind of the band and Tom's vocals. He wasn't very happy about this, but the stage presence more than made up for it. You can get a taste of the groups stage presence in the video for the title track of their EP, Shatter 

Before the show, premium ticket buyers were treated to a meet-and-greet with Tom and the rest of the band. I met a nice guy named Dan who had driven in from Springfield, Missouri. I jokes that we should have carpooled: he passed Joplin on his way. Dan, if you're reading this, send me an email. We can work something out next time we both plan on going to a show in Tulsa.

Unfortunately, I wasn't able to stay past the end of Triptykon's set so I missed 1349. I had a very long way to drive and thought I might be able to substitute teach in the morning (I was not--too exhausted...I'm getting old and very lazy) It was a pity: I caught a glimpse of them in their black-metal regalia when I went backstage to thank Tom for inviting me to the show. Tom chuckled about the venue's talent amenities, holding up one of the diminutive wash-rags they'd supplied for the band as towels. It was embarrassing for me as an American to see the kinds of venues in which such influential musicians are forced to play. Harder music hasn't ever really had it's day in the United States. That is part of the fun of it, I guess: that it's underground because most people can't handle it. Still, it wasn't the size of the venue that was the problem: I don't think anyone expects a metal show in Tulsa, Oklahoma to pack an amphitheater. I just think Thomas Warrior (as well was Yakuza and 1349) deserve better. I'm sure they would agree that their fans deserve better as well. Tom, Bruce and Frost: if you're reading this, let me know next time you're planning to tour the US. I'll see what I can do about getting you a better venue in Joplin or Springfield.

I arrived in Tulsa very early and spent most of the day roaming around downtown. Getting to the venue wasn't all that hard. Escaping it...that presented a bit of a challenge. While the one-way street exiting the Crosstown Expressway (North Cincinnati Street) into downtown Tulsa was in service, the opposing one-way street (Detroit Street) led to a section of the exit closed for repairs. This resulted in me wandering around the area just North-East of Hwy 75, searching for an access point for the highway. It was cleverly hidden in the darkness across from a McDonald's at the corner of Pine and Peoria. I'd like to say I found it on my own, but I didn't: a very friendly young woman at a gas station helped me. In my favor, I was less than a block from the exit when I finally stopped for directions and purchased a better map. To hide my embarrassment at getting lost, I did what I always do when unable to find my way in a new city: I imitated a faint accent and pretended to be from another country. Once I got on 75, the rest of the trip home was easy. Below are some more pictures of my day, as well as my meeting the band.

Me before the show in my "fanaticoat"
Tom takes of picture of his custom Ibanez H.R.Geiger-Iceman guitar in the alley behind the venue. He said that he "rarely gets to see it in the daylight."

Tom and me in the venue before the show

Norman Lonhard, drummer
V. Santura, guitar player

Vanja Slajh

Unfortunately, the battery on my iPhone died before I could get more quality live shots