It was befitting that Kyuss played 100 Degrees as part of their set. It was that hot, without the humidity factored in. As was the entire concert featuring Kyuss, Babes in Toyland, Reverend Horton Heat, and White Zombie, at the Merriweather Post Pavillion in Columbia, MD.
Kyuss, the first band to come on, played an incredibly tight set, consisting a lot of songs from Welcome to Sky Valley (including 100 Degrees, Gardenia, and Asteroid), and from their latest release, ...And the Circus Leaves Town. They didn't play anything from Wretch. Vocalist John Garcia announced "we're Kyuss, and we're from the Desert." Kyuss (pronounced chi-us) is the name of a Dungeons and Dragons character. In a Rolling Stone article, guitarist Josh Homme talks about them as being a generator band (plugging into generators in the California desert and playing loud music).
This was the second time I was seeing them and they were better than ever. They mix 70s rock and virtuouso playing in a 90s fashion. There's a hint of spaciness and even glam in their music! The long drawn-out solos showcase Josh Homme's guitar work. He and bassist Scott Reeder play off of each other leading to incredible climaxes. Alfredo Hernandez's minimalistic drumming provided a great background for the guitars. While I think the vocals on the studio releases are quite decent, live I could just enjoy Kyuss playing instrumentals. They definitely put on the best musical performance of the day, and I think they're one of the most underrated bands around.
Babes in Toyland were next and I'm not at all familiar with their music. But my first impression was that they are a female version of Green Day, minus the coloured hair. The guitarist played songs that consisted of 3-4 power chords and screamed in the mike while the bassist and the drummer did their thing. The drummer sang and this always impresses me. Their music is what I'd call power-pop.
I've heard that Reverend Horton Heat do a cover of Deep Purple's Highway Star, and hearing descriptions of their music, I thought this was a bit incongrouous. But after seeing them live, I can completely understand why. They are a mixture of brilliant classical-style guitar riffing and soloing (à la Blackmore), excellent bass work (done on a Cello), and hard-hitting drumming. They sound like a combination of classic progressive rock with country-western and surf. The Reverend (whose real name is Jim Heath) is an amazing guitar player, but is not ordained. While you might not be able to get him to officiate at your wedding, definitely check them out live---they might just manage to convert you to their religion.
"Perhaps you had better start from the beginning" introduced White Zombie, and that's exactly what they did with Electric Head Pt. 1 (The Agony). They were tireless in a performance that combined amazing visual effects, pyrotechnics, cliched-guitar riffing, and industrial noise.
Right from the start, it was evident that their show was going to be mind-blowing. Synchronised fireworks to the intro riff to Electric Head Pt. 1 lead to Rob Zombie running around the stage screaming in the 100 degree heat:
We all go down for the sacrificial moment. Crucifixion nails stain the bed of the holy. Space thing blues diamond studded sugar coated. Well, I am hell a miracle overloading. --White Zombie, Electric Head Pt. 1
I don't know about you, but the lyrics crack me up. Punctuated with Rob Zombie's trademark "yeah!" it just makes it funnier even when sung/played. Throw in cheesy B-movie clips and samples and you have an incredibly entertaining show. Each of the songs they played included a great light show, funny movie clips, and Rob Zombie's antics. However, after a few songs, it was clear that the heat was getting to him. They turned on some sort of a sprinkler system that sprayed water on the crowd, which was quite energetic even in the heat, and Rob Zombie brought out a super-soaker to play with the audience.
They played a charged set that included Super-charger Heaven, Real Solution #9, Electric Head Pt. 2 (the Ecstasy), Grease Paint and Monkey Brains, I Zombie, More Human than Human (which got the best crowd response), Blur the Technicolour, Blood Milk and Sky, Welcome to Planet Motherfucker/Psychoholic Slag and Soul-Crusher. The highlight of their performance was in the encore when they did Children of the Grave, which they cover on Black Sabbath's Nativity in Black tribute album.
One of the things I didn't like about the new album, Astro-Creep: 2000 is the precise production of Terry Date. Live, the sound was loose and more free-flowing. Also, compared to Sexorcisto, this new album takes on more of a pop-industrial sound (à la Nine Inch Nails). But the show was dominated by J.'s aggressive guitar work. The band has come a long way and I think deserve their success. The only problem I had with the show was Rob Zombie's vocals, which clearly does not hold up to the rest of their performance. I also thought they should've blown up the puppets or done something to them! But overall, it was one of the best concerts I've seen this summer. Be sure to check them out if they come your way: their show could give Pink Floyd's a run for their money.
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