KYUSS LIVES! TOUR
Review by Barretticus
Photos by Peter Ruttan
I like the Commodore a lot; it’s a really good venue and I’ve seen many awesome shows there (three and a half hour Clutch set!). Unfortunately, this time I’ve noticed that it could really use some TLC. The last time I was here was in Dec. 2009 for the Cannibal Corpse show and even then it seemed to be getting a little dingy. This time however, my shoes were sticking to the carpet right away and I could smell the bathroom from the stage. What can you do?
At the Merch table there was some pretty sweet stuff. Not having heard Kyuss’ music before and there for not being a fan, I didn’t feel obligated to buy anything though I liked their style. I made me feel very nostalgic in that I had seen this type of style on vacation/surf/Arizona t-shirts in the 80’s. Retro-cool Merch.
Black Cobra Had a good deal on; buy the t-shirt, get a free CD. A little more than usual for a t-shirt, so how much of the CD is actually free? The coolest thing by far though was their latest album, Invernal, on Vinyl. An actual album... that I am now regretting not having bought. It was only fifteen bucks. I had fifteen in my pocket. Cool art, I had listened to Invernal streaming from their myspace page earlier in the day and liked it, this should have been an easy decision. The biggest disappointment now however was The Sword. I had been looking forward to buying a CD, shirt and/or a hoodie all day but there was nothing but a sign that said:
“Dear Fans of The Sword,
We regret to inform you that The Sword’s merchandise
is currently not available because it has been deemed
...damnit. I do wish the sword had some stuff. I love their vintage 70's rock inspired art.
Apparently, the rumor was Live nations or the Commodore wouldn’t not accept The Sword’s merch and hold it early because they are not the headlining act. In the past they have had some complications with customs or something and this time tried to send it ahead of time to avoid such problems.
On to the show...
I can only describe think of a few words to describe Black Cobra’s set. It was a barrage, it was relentless, and it was an assault. I literally felt like I had been beaten. With the poor, bass heavy sound mix, being in the audience for this set is comparable to being 50ft. under water while getting the E. Honda Hundred-Hand Punch to the guts for 40 minutes. It was fast and there was no time for talking or breaks, except to tell us they were from San Francisco and later a break between songs for 6 seconds.
I think most people were surprised by the band as once they started to play, the floor was continuously filling up, more people coming in for a closer look. It’s only two guys, and their sound is very Mastadon-ian with the music being more aggressive and less technichal and closer that of Plague Bringer. All was good, for the first half anyway. Maybe it went on a little long with the assault and maybe didn’t choose enough of their songs with the slower, more rhythmic elements. I don’t know the reason behind their choices for the set list but the relentlessness of their attack did begin to wain, and the non-fan’s interest did noticeable fade. I don’t think it was entirely their fault. As I said the sound was mixed poorly and didn’t have the clarity that can be heard on their albums. Energetic mastadonian less technical. It was a good performance and the two had lots of energy, but when it was over, you know that feeling when you have been under water too long and you finally break the surface? Everything becomes clear and you can breathe? Pretty much the same.
The Sword! What can I say about The Sword. I love their music, so this might be a little biased. I think these guys are brilliant song-writers. Especially so, now that I have seen them live. Finally, thank god. It’s pretty clear that their songs are written to be very effective on a live crowd. The songs know when to be fast, be slow, pause, crunch, when I think I want to hear more of a certain riff, I get to. They know when to play long and let notes hang. They know when to sing and when not to. The sometimes long periods with a lack of vocals and letting the music just be, is really fantastic.
There is sometimes a thing that happens when a band’s music is so powerful, the musician’s need to do nothing but stand there and play. This is The Sword for the most part, but their performance is bettered when accented by JD Cronise’s cool walking around, Bryan Richie’s grooving and Kyle Shutt’s short sharp, jerky moves and swaying long blonde hair, behind which you can find chubby cheeks, squinted eyes and gritted teeth. Kyle Shutt makes me think of the genius of Ozzy if he played guitar instead sang. I guess Jimmy Vela is their current drummer (according to wikipedia) and his extended drum solo at the end of Ebethron into pseudo-encore was excellent.
Once again however the sound was mixed poorly. Vocals were hard to hear in the beginning and even non existent for a whole song, even though you could clearly see Bryan singing along with JD. The low end was turned up so high that the PA was crackling throughout most of the set. Solos were also lost underneath it all, which is disapointing. That aside, these guys are Rock, the Led Zeppelin of this millenium and I am glad they fall under the Heavy Metal distinction. Seeing them live has only strengthened my love for their music and I was sad when it was over.
Kyuss, for me, was less impressive. They weren’t bad, I’d say I enjoyed their show but maybe I am just not familiar enough with their music yet to fully appreciate what they do and what they are. I have heard of Kyuss but never listened to their music before but while watching the show, I can assume Josh Homme was cool once (I am not a fan of Queens of the Stone Age at all) before Kyuss broke up and he moved on to form Queens.
The sound this time was much better and I was enjoying the music and the band member’s performances and different styles. John Garcia, I felt kind of exudes cool and charisma in the way that he sways back and forth with the music. He has sort of a mike Patton-esque voice live, that quirky falsetto thing happening, but I wasn’t a fan of his “yeahs” and “yips”. He held onto his mike and stand pretty tightly and in a way that made me think he was a little nervous or uncomfortable.
Bruno Fevery had that stand-still cool rock guitarist head-bob going on. The bass player was not the shaved-headed Nick Oliveri, but a shaggy long haired guy who did that bass-player bounce and had some thundering moments on his four string. I think I heard a guy say Scott something and Nick Olivieri can’t cross the border due to some sort of charges. The Wiki says it is in fact Scott Reedus on the bass. The music’s trudging dynamic melodies were cool and contrasted Garcia’s Voice nicely and made me want to go out and listen to their albums to get a better ear for it, because as I said the sound was better but not great.
An incident occured which kind of over shadowed the performance but also made me respect John Garcia quite a bit. People here in Vancouver can often be dicks. One patron had already been eject by security due to his constant need to hock loogies on stage during the set change, getting the Roadies all gooey. So I guess when another fellow felt it was necessary to constantly throw dirty beer-soaked plastic cups, on stage at Kyuss, Garcia had enough. I think it would be enough for a guy to be single out and pointed and yelled at by a rock star to make him stop, but for this patron, it wasn’t and Garcia’s anger escalated. After numerous failed attempts to get the thrower to stop, Garcia quit singing and turned his back. I thought he was going to walk off stage. He did in fact leave the stage but it was to jump off and get at the guy. Security held Garcia back and once on stage Garcia called the guy up with a couple waves of his hand was turned down. If you don’t like the set, you can go to the back of the room and get in line for a beer. You don’t have to be a dick and makes all look bad in the eyes of the performers.
This was a really good night, and if you like any one of these bands, try and get to a show because I think you will be pleasantly surprised by the others. I can’t wait until The Sword returns to Vancouver!