By: Derek Jung
Back when I was a teenager, Eagles of Death Metal was one of my first concerts...third to be exact, and I was so young that I wasn't even allowed to go by myself (Thanks Aunt Sharon and Uncle Nick for taking me!). I credit that concert for really spring-boarding my love for live music, and when I heard that they'd be returning to the same small theater where I saw them the first time, I couldn't resist.
Eagles of Death Metal are known for their high energy shows, and frontman Jesse "Boots Electric" Hughes is the spitting image of the classic rock 'n roll sex symbol. He's suave, sexy, and has a charisma that really makes him the most likable person in the room. While he's not the best guitar player, he makes up for it with funky dance moves, hilarious jokes, and constantly swooning at the ladies. It takes a certain kind of person for the frequent comments to pretty women in the crowd to not feel really creepy , and maybe it's because I'm not a woman, but Jesse has never given my the vibe of a creeper (but he is a Midnight Creeper). Instead, the atmosphere is a fun-loving, booty-shaking good time.
Eagles of Death Metal's second half, QOTSA frontman Josh Homme, almost never tours with the band, which creates a situation where Jesse needs touring musicians. Luckily for them, Homme and company always have a cast of characters from their ever-expanding group of collaborators to choose from. On this tour, Dave Catching of The Rancho De La Luna recording studio took his usual post playing guitar, Matt McJunkins of A Perfect Circle assumed bass duties from Brian O'Connor, who has been battling cancer in recent years, and Jeff Friedl took drums from Homme and Joey Castillo. While I missed seeing Castillo and O'Connor up there, Matt and Jeff really performed well in their own right.
I've been a little skeptical of the new material from the new album Zipper Down, being released October 2nd, especially since a few of them are repeats from Hughes' solo album Honky Kong. Despite what some may call lazy, I really enjoyed the live version of "Complexity" compared to the solo album version. Silverlake was a real rocker and nearly brought down the house along with Hughes' guitar playing (he warned us beforehand that he may "fuck up" the strumming). Save A Prayer was also a welcome surprise from the new album, and even though it's a Duran Duran cover, they put their own spin on it that I enjoyed more than the original (low bar to meet).
Hughes played a good selection of songs by himself prior to the encore, including a rousing rendition of "I'll Blow You A Kiss In The Wind", before reintroducing the rest of the band back on stage. I was a little disappointed that he played my favorite cover, Brown Sugar, without the rest of the band. I was also a little tired by the end of the extensive guitar duel between Hughes and Catching, which lasted far too long and was not helped by McJunkins' finale of the Mario Theme song on bass (Seriously, how many musicians use that as their go-to solo?).
All in all they put on a thriller of a show, mixing in new songs and old, lasting around two hours and well past what I thought was a hard 11pm sound curfew in the area. Hughes tossed a half dozen sweaty towels to the crowd during the course of the show and finished with his sweaty shirt at the end of the show. This is after they flung a few packs of custom guitar picks into the audience, admiring how far they went. If you didn't go away with a souvenir from this show you either weren't trying hard enough or were out of their pick-throwing range.
The new Eagles of Death Metal album Zipper Down is in stores October 2nd.
Bad Dream Mama
Don't Speak (I Came to Make A Bang!)
I Got a Feelin (Just Nineteen)
Whorehoppin' (Shit, Goddamn)
Stuck In The Metal
I Want You So Hard (Boy's Bad News)
--Boots Solo Encore--
Kiss The Devil
I'll Blow You A Kiss In The Wind (Tommy Boyce & Bobby Hart cover)
Brown Sugar (The Rollings Stones cover)
--Full Band Encore--
Save A Prayer (Duran Duran Cover)
Wanna Be In LA
I Only Want You
Speaking In Tongues
(As far as I remember)
By: Derek Jung
A little over three months after taking the main stage at Bunbury Music Festival in downtown Cincinnati, Father John Misty returned to the Tristate, this time across the Ohio River at Madison Theater. Luckily for those in attendance, Tillman and gang brought the captivating performance and hilarious banter along with them.
Bringing out songs from their debut Fear Fun and their latest, I Love You, Honeybear, one of my favorite albums so far this year, the band lived up to their reputation of being one of the must-see acts of the past few years. J. Tillman is the quintessential frontman, exuding charisma, personality, and sardonic humor. Note the "No Photography" heart shaped neon backdrop in the background. He takes nothing too seriously, himself included, and lyrically many of his songs reflect this attitude. Personality aside, Tillman was all over the stage the entire night, swinging a mic stand over his shoulder, standing on the bass drum, and dropping to his knees in moments of passion. The crowd was in the palm of his hands and he performed with a calm confidence that just made us want more.
Playing the night after his "cover of Ryan Adam's cover of Taylor Swift's 1989 hit 'Blank Space' in the style of The Velvet Underground" surfaced on the internet, many in attendance were calling for him to play it, but he declined with a quick quip about not remembering the words. These quips were a central aspect of Father John Misty's performance, tip-toeing a fine line between a music set and a J. Tillman stand up comedy routine. Some people think he can go on a bit too much with his humor, but I take it all in stride. With topics ranging from internet meme wormholes, cute burly men, taking photos at concerts and not knowing what to do if you don't have your phone to capture every moment, and playing Freebird for no good reason, he made the most of it and I think the crowd generally got a kick out of it.
All of that aside, the man can just straight up sing. Let's not forget that Tillman was formally the drummer in Fleet Foxes, the harmony-heavy indie folk band. Tillman's range is just as impressive as his songwriting. This was especially apparent on "Bored in the USA" where he sang most of the song backed only by keyboards. I think it's sad that his vocal talent and fantastic songwriting sometimes get lost in his rambunctious antics on and off stage, because quite frankly he is one of the most compelling vocalists that I've ever seen. I'm glad that he's been receiving more of the attention that he deserves since I Love You, Honeybear was released.
The band was super tight in their performance, with impeccable timing and great musicianship. I also thoroughly enjoyed that Dave Vandervelde from opener Tess & Dave was a guitarist in the band.
I highly highly recommend seeing Father John Misty if you get the chance. This was my third time, and I'd happily see them again.
Below is the setlist from the show, and below that is the band's performance of "When You're Smiling and Astride Me".
I Love You, Honeybear
Only Son of the Ladiesman
When You're Smiling and Astride Me
The Night Josh Tillman Came to Our Apt.
I'm Writing a Novel
Chateau Lobby #4 (in C for Two Virgins)
Nancy From Now On
Bored in the USA
Nothing Good Ever Happens at the Goddamn Thirsty Crow
This is Sally Hatchet
Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings
Funtimes in Babylon
The Ideal Husband
I Went to the Store One Day
Everyman Needs a Companion
Featuring Houndmouth, J. Roddy Walston and The Business, and Cold War Kids
Wow. So first off, what a show. Nashville knows how to do a good live show. The crowd was fantastic, the sound was great, and the overall production value was amazing. The only thing that really fell flat on its face was the headliner, Cold War Kids. But more on that later. I want to talk sound quality first. So I've always had a problem with sound quality at shows. There's a lot that goes into that: for example, you could go to a show on Fountain Square and run into a sound guy who doesn't know what the phrase "sound balancing" means. Or you could go to a show at Nashville's Bridgestone Arena and be way up in the nosebleeds and lose out on the balancing that way. But, for me, I've always had a beef with the speakers themselves. I've come to accept that when I go to a live show the EQ of the speakers themselves are going to be all over the place, and certain instruments will suffer because of it. For example, if you go to Bogart's Music Club in Cincinnati you can expect to hear all drums and virtually no vocals. Certainly don't expect to understand what the vocalist is saying on that sound system. However, not expecting much in terms of a balanced sound system makes finding it that much sweeter when you hear it. And Live on the Green's sound system is the second-best sound system I've ever heard. The first? Every single stage at Bonnaroo. Just in case you were wondering.
So, you can imagine how excited I was when I realized how wonderful and balanced this sound system was about two songs into Houndmouth's set. This was my first experience with Houndmouth's live sound, and boy was I impressed. I haven't listened to the band too much, short of a few listens of their two main LPs, but every time I listened I wasn't too particularly impressed by their sound. There was a certain intensity I found lacking in their album sound. However, the band more than made up for that lack of intensity with their live sound, delivering a wonderfully surprising and effective set. The balancing of their sound (there it is again) really helped make their set more effective, as each member of the band was mic'd up and delivered some beautiful 4-part vocal harmonies that most sound systems would be unable to handle properly. I fully intend on seeing Houndmouth again, but unless I see them at Bonnaroo I highly doubt their live set will be as great as it was this time around because of that great sound system.
Next up was J. Roddy Walston and the Business. Now, I have a certain love affair for J. Roddy. Unlike Houndmouth, who I had never seen before, this marked my 4th time seeing J. Roddy Walston and the Business over the last year. Frankly, I believe they are one of the best live acts on the road right now, and I will go out of my way to see them as much as possible. I went into this show with giddy anticipation: J. Roddy Walston feeds off the intensity of the crowd, and this crowd was ready to have their faces melted off by rock 'n' roll. And J. Roddy delivered the goods. I needed my J. Roddy fix, because last time I saw him in Harrisonburg, VA, it was one of the worst shows I had ever been to. It was cold and raining, and no one knew who J. Roddy was. As a result there was absolutely no intensity in the crowd, and J. Roddy and the band just went through the motions because of it. But not this time. This time J. Roddy took the crowd on an epic 10-song set through his best live songs (minus "Sweat Shack"-I really have no idea why the band didn't play what has become one of their most recognizable songs) and blew the entire audience away. I knew there was no way headliner Cold War Kids could follow J. Roddy's set. But what we got was significantly more disappointing.
Ok. Let me preface this by saying I like Cold War Kids. To me, they sound a lot like Foxy Shazam minus the intensity. But for those who know just how much I love Foxy Shazam, (shoutout to their frontman Eric Nally being featured in the latest Macklemore song) you know this is a very high compliment I can bestow on a band. But it wasn't their sound I had a problem with. It was their lighting. It's like what Derek said the other day about that Fountain Square show: if the first thing you remember about a show is anything other than the band and the music, that's not a good thing. And the only thing I can remember about Cold War Kids' set is the lighting. For some strange reason, the band decided to be cool by having their entire set be lit by lighting that was behind them. As a result, all you could see of the band were shadows. At first, I thought this was a gimmick. That they were gonna hold off for a few songs and then have a great moment in like the third song where all the sudden all the lighting comes up and everyone goes crazy. No. Didn't happen. For the entire set, the members of Cold War Kids were just shadows. Or you couldn't see them at all. This meant that seeing the stage didn't mean anything, and as a result people who waited for hours to get the very best seat had no better a view of the band than someone who showed up 5 minutes before the set started in the very back. This made me very frustrated, as someone who was in the front for the entire show, and after initially putting up with the 2 inches of personal space I was given to start Cold War Kids set because everyone pushes to the front for the headliner, I said screw it and moved to the very back and actually sat down and just listened. Any intensity the band may have been able to give the audience was completely lost because of the lighting, and as a result I valued having personal space higher than trying to be as close to the stage as possible. As a band, that is certainly not what you want your audience to think and feel, and I hope Cold War Kids changes that "artistic decision" very soon.
As for the set itself....it was fine. It was pretty much dominated by that lighting issue, and it was very hard for me to get into the set because of it. But their sound was still pretty good and they were fun to listen to. They are a solid band with a good sound, but they just couldn't follow the sets that Houndmouth and J. Roddy delivered. Overall, the show was fantastic, and when you also add in the small fact that it was also free, you have the icing on the cake. The atmosphere was fantastic, and everyone was their to hear some great music. And that's exactly what they got.
J. Roddy Walston and the Business Set
Don't Break the Needle
Take It as It Comes
Brave Man's Death
I Don't Wanna Hear It
Used To Did
Cold War Kids Set
All This Could Be Yours
One Song at a Time
We Used to Vacation
Louder Than Ever
Hang Me Up to Dry
Something is Not Right with Me
Who are we?
Derek Jung and Joseph Kathmann -- Just two ordinary (debatable) guys that love talking about music. You can read more about us here: