Kyuss Lives!, The Sword Warehouse Live September 29, 2011
The reason Aftermath always liked Kyuss was because they sounded sure of themselves, almost arrogant. They weren't timid, but cocksure. Every record we have ever owned from them, all of them, from Wretch, Blues for the Red Sun, Welcome to Sky Valley and ...And the Circus Leaves Town, had balls to them, unlike even most metal bands that would take their cue by the next decade. Plus, they were loud.
You can't review a Kyuss Lives! show without reminding everyone that the most important member, the one who wrote most of the set list, is off doing other things. Looking at last night's set list, which went haywire halfway through in fine fashion and was cut a few songs short, you can tally each song that came from the fingers of guitarist Josh Homme. He of Queens Of The Stone Age, Desert Sessions, Eagles Of Death Metal, and Them Crooked Vultures fame.
The reason for that arrogance on those records is Homme, who was never a shrinking violet; in fact, he's a tall redheaded Viking. He wrote the titanic riffs on all those albums, which Kyuss Lives! tries to faithfully create in 2011, but he is not a part of this tour.
He formed the band in 1988 with vocalist John Garcia and drummer Brant Bjork, who remain in the band today. Bruno Fevery subs for Homme, and bassist Nick Oliveri is there when he is not busy or in jail.
Direct openers The Sword (above) did step up their game for their support slot, pulling out "Freya," "Barael's Blade," "Night City" and "Sea Of Spears" from their 2007 split with Witchcraft, which we have no idea why we do not own. The Austin metal band was quite simply the only band we could think of that is qualified to open for Kyuss Lives!, save maybe Sleep on a double headlining bill.
The uninitiated have never understood the appeal of Garcia's voice, an almost hardcore punk drawl that is incongruous with the rest of the band. It's something that always nagged on us. Kyuss existed in the spaces where Garcia wasn't bellowing, though.
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It was a Homme riff smoldering in the air, it was Brant Bjork's Bonzo-drumming. That desert-burned sound, honed by playing generator parties in the middle of nowhere.
Opening with a snippet of "Spaceship Landing," the last song on their final album, our crowd was doing the metal head nod, the lazy man's head bang, and things were getting lit left and right. For Warehouse Live it was a small crowd, considering the influence of the band.
But then again, maybe purists were denying a Homme-less Kyuss, or couldn't find a sitter on a Thursday night, because they were all at Skrillex across town getting thrown.
Garcia stood back away from the crowd near Bjork for most of set, with only Oliveri getting close to fans. For all his bedevilment he's always been the most personable, flashing smiles. For the duration of the nearly hour and half show, there would be no words with the crowd, save for a few quick thank you's at the end.
Our early standout was "Freedom Run" from Blues For The Red Sun, with that slow crawl, and it's nearly seven-minute squat. For most of the show, it was a jam sesh, with songs divided by Garcia walking offstage to let the instruments do their thing away from him.
It could have looked petulant, but we know it wasn't. No offense to Garcia, but vocals were never Kyuss' selling point, it was the groove that the band made around his words. Drummer Bjork will forever be a beast of a skinsman.
"Thumb" and "Green Machine" still have their mystical vibes surrounding them, and their Cream explosions remain intact. As far as reunion gigs go, Kyuss Lives was satisfying and filling. Even with Homme in the fold, we don't think it would have been much else at this point but a lovely, smoky nostalgia piece.
Personal Bias: Have you ever heard "Demon Cleaner"?
The Crowd: Everyone we see at every other stoner metal show in town. In a word, friends.
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Overheard In the Crowd: On Oliveri: "That dude should play GG Allin in a movie."
Random Notebook Dump: This may have been our tenth time seeing The Sword since the first time at Walter's On Washington February 10, 2006 with Early Man, Priestess, and late great Houston lords God's Temple Of Family Deliverance. This was when Washington Avenue was still "dark" too.