Kyuss Lives End First Leg Of North American Tour In Pomona (Gig Review)
Related: Kyuss Setlist
By Avinash Mittur, October 8th 2011, Fox Theater, Pomona CA: First off, I better answer the most obvious question anyone mildly interested in Kyuss Lives will ask. Yes, Bruno Fevery is doing a fantastic job filling in for Josh Homme. Don't let YouTube videos convince you otherwise, in a live concert setting Fevery resurrects the massive and volcanic riffs and bass-heavy tone that Homme has long laid to rest. Anyone who listened to "Blues for the Red Sun" and became hypnotized with Brant Bjork's non-stop rain of cymbals and toms, John Garcia's macho and gnarly vocals, Josh Homme's gargantuan riffs and Nick Oliveri's thundering bass should absolutely see Kyuss Lives.
The night began with a short, but effective opening set from Atlanta's MonstrO. The band delivered thirty minutes of vintage hard rock with driving riffs taken out of Josh Homme's playbook. The band gave a spirited performance, and had catchy, well-written songs to complement it.
Then the concert began to get strange. The next band, the Chuck Dukowski Sextet, offered a truly odd avant-garde combination of metal, hardcore punk and artsy spoken phrases. The four members (even though they called themselves a sextet?) performed well, with singer Lora Norton frequently waving her arms about with a creepy unflinching smile on her face. Guitarist Milo Gonzales ripped solos with showmanship and bluesy psychedelic style reminiscent of Jimi Hendrix. The group ended their bizarre set with a surprisingly great cover of Black Flag's hardcore punk classic, "My War." The song, one that Chuck had written with the pioneering group as a young man, was given new life (and a kick of speed) from the sextet with Lora channeling the spirit and rage of Henry Rollins better than any other singer I have seen.
Sadly, the show went downhill from The Sword's set onwards. The blame is solely to be laid on the sound. The bass frequencies were cranked so high that many of the riffs and the vocals were drowned out throughout the performance. This was truly too bad, as what I heard sounded spot-on, and the vocals I could hear from J.D. Cronise sounded even better than their studio counterparts. The band offered a small number of classics like "Freya" and "How Heavy This Axe," but mainly focused on their newest release, "Warp Riders." Had we been given better sound, the set would have been far better, but as it stands, I can't say I enjoyed their performance much.
Now it was time for Kyuss Lives, the group made up of three-fourths of the legendary stoner metal band, Kyuss. Once again, the terrible sound reared its ugly head and served as a significant detriment to an otherwise solid set. Kyuss Lives' already naturally bass-heavy sound simply became too much because of the house mix. Unlike The Sword however, John's vocals were perfectly clear and the riffs could be heard with relative ease. The setlist could be easily predicted- for such a legendary band, the quartet only had two truly perfect albums and one somewhat patchy platter. The group ripped through their essential classics along with a few deep cuts. The highlights included "Thumb," with the audience shouting every word together with John, "Odyssey" and a raging set-closing "100 Degrees". The wonderful part about Kyuss was that every member was great at their role, and last night was proof of that. Brant nailed his parts perfectly, recreating every drum fill from his past performances. Nick too turned in a worthy show, providing a rock solid bottom-end that was uncomfortably boosted by either the sound man or the venue acoustics. As I said earlier, Bruno proved that he is a worthy successor to Josh, but it would have been nice to see him stretch out and show us some of his own playing style. Last night, Bruno's performance was so dead-on it may as well have been Homme on stage. But perhaps the true hero of the performance was John Garcia. Despite being the least active in the music scene compared to the other members of Kyuss, he returned to the stage with unexpected confidence and skill. The man sounds better than ever, nailing all his vocal tics from the original albums, and working the mic-stand with classic rock and roll swagger. The set was short for headlining standards (likely due to the last minute addition of the Chuck Dukowski Sextet), clocking in at only 75 minutes, but the band covered what they needed to and then some. It is truly a shame then that the sound just wasn't better; it marred what could have been a great set.
In short, this show was enjoyable. It wasn't the transcendent experience it could have been (as other reports from this tour have claimed it is), but this could be attributed to the truly awful sound from the two main bands, and the shorter setlist. This tour is absolutely worth seeing- the bands proved that with their top notch performances, but perhaps next month's show at the Wiltern here in Los Angeles will provide the complete experience Kyuss fans deserve.
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