Monstro - My immediate comment as this 2-guitar four-man lineup started playing was "damn, forgot my earplugs". Unfortunately this band either did not get much of a sound check or was too busy drooling at the club's powerful PA and felt everything needed to be turned up to 11. A number of bands have made that mistake here, as it does take some skill to find the volume point where you can still be loud as hell but have everything sound great. That criticism aside, this was a really good opening band. I think they should win some fans on this tour as they have a strong and creative metal sound. The music is thick and powerful with good vocals similar to Dio, but without some of the histrionics (for better or worse). They played a little over a half hour and packed in a fair number of songs that varied enough in melody to sound like individual songs. This is an interesting band that I will keep my eye on as I like to find metal bands that avoid the cliches. Of course, tonight has two more examples of that.
The Sword - I've seen this band in Denver and at least one time here and always find their brand of metal highly enjoyable. The band looks pretty familiar with the two-guitar line-up featuring one of them on vocals. Maybe they could not fill this club by themselves, but a large number of the crowd would pony up some hard earned cash to check these guys out irrespective of anyone else on the bill. Again, these guys deliver some of the most balanced metal/hard rock out there. it is not a surprise that Metallica are fans as the Sword show off many of the regular guy features that Metallica did in the early years. Of course, that is if regular guys can play fast powerful music. These guys can and do. They even balance things further by not engage in an overdose of fretboard sprints during the solos. They more often do shorter creative runs and fills and quickly head back to the meaty rhythms. The vocals are clean and even the stage patter is a friendly guys next door style. The closer had a great moment where they all dropped to their pedals and created a whirlpool break before standing up and finishing off another verse. Great style, great substance and I continue to root for these guys.
Kyuss Lives! - Nick Oliveri is here on bass and I am not close enough to see if he's wearing an ankle bracelet but it seems that some of the dates (especially the Canadian dates) will have another former Kyuss bassist Scott Reeder filling in. The singer and drummer are key members and they have a Belgian guitarist named Bruno Fevery in for Josh Homme's spot. Like many people, I discovered this band a little late, well actually quite late as they had already broken up and in researching Queens of the Stone Age, I eventually pursued the Kyuss back catalog. It took a few listens for me to really hear the magic these guys can make. It seems a little too simple at first with thick monstrous riffs and a high pitched vocalist delivering more of a classic hard rock lyric than that of modern metal bands. There aren't a lot of frills, but further listens show a band really locked into a grove and focusing on the overall thrust of the sound. It's a bit like Motorhead taking more of a Groundhogs approach. I was not at all surprised that they put on a solid set of just under 90 minutes tonight. They had the crowd grooving and the guitarist nailed the sound down perfectly and handled wah-wah moves with the necessary grace. A couple of the songs maybe droned on a bit too long, but that's what they do. They covered their catalog well with the songs from "Blues for the Red Sun" going over well with me and much of the crowd. They had the large crowd swaying and some were dancing pretty hard. Singer John Garcia was quite humbled as the lights went up on the crowd. The desert psyche groove is back, strong as ever and depending on who lines up at bass in the future, it appears these guys will be around a while. Based on their performance tonight, I will be along for the ride.
Quote of the Night: Deciding that I did not want my eardrums blown out by the openers, thus spoiling sets by the two excellent bands to follow, I opted to put on my portable earphones. So one of the newer 9:30 Club staff came over as he had little else to do...
"What are you listening to."
"What's in your pocket."
I showed my IPOD and he looked at it and walked away.
It's always such a lovely time with the staff at this club. I also enjoyed having the guy look at me three times while studying my drivers license photo. Yes, I borrowed my 51-year old brother's ID to hide the fact that I was 47.