Sometimes it feels like it’s getting harder and harder to find a band that doesn’t have a laptop somehow involved in its live production. But have no fear, Jesse Hughes is here.
With a sold-out show at the Great American Music Hall last Monday, Eagles of Death Metal certainly challenged Gene Simmons’ belief that “rock is dead.” Coming to SF for the first time in five years, EODM brought a slightly older, yet no-less enthusiastic crowd with plenty of beards and flannels mixed in.
While EODM has garnered considerable popularity with Queens of the Stone Age frontman Josh Homme on drums, it was clear right from the beginning that their live appeal comes from Hughes, the band’s vocalist and lead guitarist. As EODM took the stage with Pilot’s “Magic” playing over the PA system, Hughes emerged with his trademark suspenders and mustache, exuding more energy than any bandleader could possibly manage.
Without saying much, EODM jumped into “Bad Dream Mama” to the delight of everyone in attendance. Between Dave Catching’s guitar work, Matt McJunkins’ tenor bass and Homme’s machine-like drumming abilities, EODM brings a sound so loud, so in-your-face that you can’t help but bounce around. Quickly moving into “Don’t Speak (I Came to Make a Bang!)”, the crowd was entranced by the band as Hughes guided the quartet through the show.
Sweating enough to go through more than a couple shirts, Hughes brought and maintained an energy unlike anything seen before. In between songs, he talked to the crowd about only the most important topics — the beauty of the women in SF or the drugs he may or may not have ingested prior to the show.
“Tonight is a special night,” the 43-year-old rocker said to his audience. “And ya’ll gon’ hear the litany of it soon. Can you dig it?!?!”
Hughes went on to explain that SF has a special place in his heart, as he once lived in the City and was happy to be back.
Then, like a manic Southern Baptist preacher, he told the crowd, “I love you, and I hope you have a good time tonight. Now let us dispense in the complexities of life and make it simple.”
Just like that, EODM jumped into their most recent single “Complexity”. With most of the group’s tracks coming in at under three minutes in length, the show moved rather quickly from song to song. EODM’s translation of “Whorehoppin’ (Shit, Goddamn)” from their 2004 debut album Peace, Love, Death Metal was particularly great, with Homme providing more cowbell than the most feverish Christopher Walken could possibly desire.
Not every song of EODM’s are just power chords, though. Halfway through the set, Hughes and company changed up the pace with “Already Died”, a heavier, slowed-down track that’s most notably filled with Catching’s fantastic guitar licks. But before the energy got too low, the band transitioned into “Stuck in the Metal” as the crowd went wild and didn’t stop. In the end, EODM’s setlist included more than 20 songs.
After a short set break, Hughes emerged for a solo encore during which he asked the crowd for requests. He played a solo version of “San Berdoo Sunburn” before the rest of the band came out to play a round robin of solos, which was easily the most awkward moment of the night.
EODM have the perfect style as a rock band, one that takes itself just seriously enough. As a whole, they are a hard, fast and tightly-wound production, with their silly lyrics and even sillier frontman bringing a perfect balance to what you want to see at a rock show. Closing with “Speaking in Tongues”, EODM walked off the stage at the Great American Music Hall knowing that they had accomplished what they came to do — to prove that rock ain’t dead.
Bad Dream Mama
Don’t Speak (I Came to Make a Bang!)
Complexity (Boots Electric cover)
Kiss the Devil
Whorehoppin’ (Shit, Goddamn)
Got a Woman (Slight Return)
Stuck in the Metal
Wannabe in L.A.
Save a Prayer (Duran Duran cover)
Anything ‘Cept the Truth
I Got a Feelin (Just Nineteen)
I Like to Move in the Night
I Want You So Hard (Boy’s Bad News)
San Berdoo Sunburn
Got the Power
I Only Want You
Speaking in Tongues