I don’t know if it actually is, but this show probably should be something of a legend. On May 16, 1986, Saint Vitus played the Palm Springs Community Center in — you guessed it — Palm Springs, California. It was their first gig with new vocalist Scott “Wino” Weinrich, still months before that lineup — Wino, guitarist Dave Chandler, bassist Mark Adams and drummer Armando Acosta – would release the pivotal Born too Late, which has arguably become one of the most influential American doom albums released, though they’re anything but shaky. The six-song set reportedly went like this:
Prayer for the (M)asses
Also on the bill was Across the River, whose lineup featured Mario Lalli (of Yawning Man/Fatso Jetson) with Alfredo Hernandez (of Yawning Man) and Scott Reeder (later of The Obsessed and Goatsnake), both of whom would later join Kyuss. It was reportedly also Reeder‘s 21st birthday, but just to have so many crucial figures in doom and desert rock playing one show is mind-boggling. And one better? The dude filming the show was Larry Lalli, who in a few more years would be playing bass in Fatso Jetson. One can only assume a young Brant Bjork was in the crowd somewhere, getting ideas and scratching his teenaged peach-fuzz of a beard.
The whole set is up for streaming, as well as a cut or two from Across the River, should you feel like going searching, but in picking a single track, I decided to go with “Prayer for the (M)asses” precisely because it’s probably not as recognizable as the other stuff they played that night. Hell, I’m pretty sure Vitus is still playing that other stuff on tour. On the other hand, tucked away as the closer of 1985′s Hallow’s Victim, “Prayer for the (M)asses” has hardly had the same kind of reverence paid to it as the rest of the setlist.
Most notable for its lyrics, which I admit are barely audible in the video (hey, it was 1986), “Prayer for the (M)asses” was almost a line-for-line rewrite of Black Sabbath‘s Christian metal precedent-setting “After Forever.” So much so that “Have you ever thought about your soul and can it be saved?” became “Or else with your stupid soul you will have to pay,” and the lines were set to a riff close enough to that of the band’s eponymous song, “Saint Vitus,” that putting the two next to each other in a live setting, one might’ve thought it was simply a different part of the same piece.
Maybe “Prayer for the (M)asses” isn’t one for the greatest hits collection, but at least in the video below, it was part of a pretty special show. Kudos to Larry Lalli for capturing it, since this kind of thing should be in a museum somewhere. At least playing in a bar. I’d have sworn the video of this show came out with the Southern Lord reissue of Vitus‘ aptly-named 1990 live album, Live, but I don’t have the disc on hand to check. In any case, enjoy and have a great Wino Wednesday:
Tags: Across the River, California, Palm Springs, Saint Vitus, Wino, Wino Wednesday