Eagles of Death Metal
While an influential drummer as Brant Bjork was moving to guitar to head his Bros, an even more influential guitarist as Josh Homme, moved to drums to play with the Eagles of Death Metal. Palm Desert musicians look quite versatile, don’t they?
Before you carry on reading there are two errors you need to avoid.
First, and most obvious, don’t confuse Eagles of Death Metal (EODM from now on) for a “death metal” act. They don’t get even close. You fans know, occasional liveon35mm readers may not. EODM are a straight, fast-tempo, garage-rock band coming from the Californian desert.
The second common error is to believe that EODM is a Josh Homme side project. It is not. Despite they were formed, dismantled and formed again by Josh Homme various times since 1998, it is Josh’s schoolmate, Jesse Hughes, who leads the band.
To put it simple, EODM can exist without Josh Homme but they cannot without Jeffe Hughes.
Now, before I review their concert, I want to start a petition to complete a pseudo-scientific investigation. Everyone who has information about meal menus at that Palm Desert School at the end of the eighties is invited to let me know. Use the comment box, please.
Why? A place where Josh Homme, Nick Olivieri, Brant Bjork, Jesse Hughes and John Garcia studied together? What did you pupils use to eat at lunchtime!? Spit it out, tell us about that cactus juice!
Back to the music. If you allow me the comparison, where stoner rock, from Kyuss to Brant Bjork and the Bros, is a pot-driven, medium-tempo, hypnotic and meditative version of hard rock, perfect to watch a Zabrinsky Point sunset; EODM music is a cocaine-driven, hyperexcited and upbeat garage sound, recorded somewhere in the desert but intended to be listened to while driving through that desert heading for a sex, drugs and rock’n’roll night in Vegas.
EODM songs are straight, direct, quick, light, short.
EODM concert is a concentrate of energy, sex allusions and a lot of fun. The setlist sequence is like having 20 tequila shots, drunk one after another.
Jesse Hughes, who seems to emerge straight from the set of a 70s porn movie, spends his entrance kissing and licking all the girls in the first two rows. Then he lifts for a second his Ray Ban sunglasses, time to wink at few more teenagers, combs his hair (and mustaches), grabs his guitar and begins the show.
This time around, with Josh Homme recording the latest Queens of the Stone Age fatigue, drums sticks are on the hands of Gene Trautmann, a drummer appearing in many of the desert line-ups. The rest of the music is supplied by the guitar of Dave Catching, who manages in the impossible role of being at the same time kitsch, with those spectacles and that Gibson kept vertical, and effective with fast slide solos that feed their songs. His CV has some important recordings including a couple of key years in the ever changing Queens’ line-up. Brian O’Connor, long haired, mexican look, is the bass player. He comes from nowhere, stands in the dark but is as excited and effective as Jesse in the spotlight.
With such a charismatic atmosphere, the whole gig rolls by without a break, without a distraction. A blend of testosterone, adrenaline and enthusiastic no-frills garage-punk. Nothing is ever taken seriously, the band as the audience are having a night of pure fun and rock’n’roll.
The audience wants more fun. For the encore Hughes allows two girls, up till now squeezed in the first row, to jump the barrier and dance in the pit. The most recognisable guitar riff in rock history erupts: Rolling Stones’ Brown Sugar.
English crowd goes absolutely nut, the song, here arranged in a “Keith Richard on speed” tempo, is as effective as ever. Nothing else could follow it, concert it’s over.
Exhausted, after 2 hours of photographing and dancing, I am happy to realize that is my Cambridge bedroom, and not Las Vegas’ Ceasar Palace, my next stop.
If you click on play on the player on the right, you can listen the first EODM, Peace, Love and Death Metal in full. If you want to know more about the band you can check the usual places: [myspace] [official site]
This was fun on the photography side as well.
I enter the pit about ten minutes before the scheduled time. A huge…head shaved…tattooed…black leathered…hells angels looking man approaches me saying, with an aggressive Californian accent: “if you don’t jump on stage I don’t care if you stay here taking pictures for the whole concert, if you do, I’ll kick you out of the venue, IS THAT CLEAR? …and…Hey man, NO flash throughout!”. Right, no probs man, I won’t create to you for sure.
A pass to photograph the entire show is very rare. Out of hundreds, it happened to me just a couple of time (by heart, Super Furry Animals and Steve Winwood).
It is a totally different approach to concert photography. Expecially if you shoot on film and, unaware, you haven’t taken with you 45 rolls.
You can relax. You can use the first songs to study how the band interacts, how the singer moves, how the lights are used. With no need to take a single picture. Then you can start with no rush, waiting for the right light, seeking the right angle. That burst-mode sensation of having to take as many photos as possible in order to have at least one good image has gone.
You can change lens, be creative, try that 18mm lens (that rarely deliver good images, though). You can even stop listening to the songs you like, from the very front row.
Even if you think you’ve got enough images, don’t go away. Save some film (or memory) and stay there for the encore, that is usually the best part of the gig. The band is exhausted and sweating, there is a growing feeling of happiness and enthusiasm and this is easily transferred into pictures.
There is only a negative side, some hundreds guys who waited for hours, standing squeezed in the front row, will be quite jealous of your location. Even if most of them will be empathetic; smiling, asking questions about pictures and begging you to give them the setlist after the show; few will be upset pushing you away anytime you are obstructing their sight. Be professional, nice and comprehensive. Don’t argue, concentrate on what’s happening on stage.
Oh, (if you don’t do this already) ignore the Bible, don’t “Give Drink to the Thirsty” even if they look dried out. If you do once, you will end up spending the rest of the night passing cup of water to screaming teenagers.
~ by Valerio on November 30, 2007.