Photo by TOM BECK
What I love about The Eagles of Death Metal is that they’re one of those token cartoonish bands who refuse to take themselves seriously, but still somehow manage to find a way to come together and make kick-ass rock and roll. It’s a style pioneered by The Damned, and difficult to accomplish without coming across as a cheesy, Weird Al wannabe. Few other bands have achieved such a feat, among them The Darkness, Tenacious D, Weezer, Ween, and probably most famously, Nirvana. Some people might put Kiss in this category, but they don’t count. Kiss was just in it for the money.*
The Eagles of Death Metal are in it for the fun. Approximately two hours before EODM was scheduled to go onstage, frontman Jesse Hughes (AKA Boots Electric) was outside taking pictures and cracking jokes with fans in line for the show, even as the trail of people extended far beyond Underground Arts’s stoop, spreading down the 12th street sidewalk. After spotting my camera, Hughes made sure to let me know that there’d be no photo restrictions at the show. No bullshit three song rule? This was proof that anything goes at an EODM show; even the band’s management doesn’t give a fuck. “If anybody gives you a hard time about it, tell them to come see me,” Hughes reassured me.
“Did the Eagles win tonight?!” were the first words shouted from the mustachioed Hughes as he stepped onto the stage, referring to the night’s season opener against the Falcons. “Noooo!” screamed the crowd, who clearly wasn’t overly disappointed. “Well, we’re gonna pretend like they fuckin’ did!” he yelled back before bursting into the opening blues riff of “Bad Dream Mama,” sending the crowd into a garage rock frenzy. In fact, much of the night resembled that of a football game; there was sweat, beer and the thundering roar of fans overpowering a PA system — albeit on a smaller scale.
Performance wise, the setlist was comprised of old favorites, such as “Whorehoppin (Shit, Goddam),” “Cherry Cola” and “I Want You So Hard (Boy’s Bad News),” but mixed in with songs from the new album, Zipper Down, like “The Reverend,” “Complexity,” and “Got a Woman.” The encore, which was nearly as long as the main set, included a solo cover of The Stones’ “Brown Sugar” and two of the band’s most famous songs, the penultimate “I Only Want You,” and the final number, “Speaking In Tongues,” which included a guitar battle between lead guitarist Dave Catching and Hughes, who tried his best to tread water with Catching on his piece-of-shit, no-name guitar, during the middle of the song. But hey, garage rock and roll ain’t about shiny guitars and other fancy equipment. It’s about making the best with what you have, because even the shittiest of guitars can get a roomful of sweaty, beer drinking rock and rollers dancing. — TOM BECK
*It seems like every single time I see Gene Simmons, he’s trying to sell me something. Fuck him and the Kiss he rode in on.