In the early 90’s, Kyuss arose from the California desert to help forge the foundation for what has become known as stoner rock. It’s a crappy moniker but it stuck. Yeah, the music can be trippy and evoke spacey imagery but that’s what makes it great! The style is a mixture of pscyhedelia and the doom metal sound of Black Sabbath. The music is bass heavy with a thick guitar sound. There are no caterwauling vocals, screeching guitar solos or spandex.
While compatible with grunge, it didn’t explode onto the musical consciousness. There has been no Nirvana equivalent. But that may be a good thing. The world burned out on grunge while stoner rock has grown a small but devout community of fans.
Kyuss put out four albums and broke up just as they were headed out on the road as an opener for a well known band whose name escapes me. I never got to see them play live and my friends and I were crushed by their demise.
After the break up, the band members continued on in different bands but they had less success than Kyuss. Josh Homme, the guitar player, and the original bassist, Nick Oliveri, formed Queens of the Stone Age and became very successful. Oliveri was eventually fired and Homme went on to stardom.
Kyuss’ singer, John Garcia, played several shows as a tribute to his old band. Eventually, just as in The Blues Brothers, he got the band back together, except for Homme who feels that Kyuss is the past and should be left there as a monument to great music. Garcia gathered together the rest of the original line up of Nick Oliveri on bass and Brant Bjork on drums under the moniker of Kyuss Lives!
I bought tickets for the Terminal 5 show in NYC not long after they went on sale. This was a “bucket list” event for me and I didn’t want to risk the show selling out. I wasn’t concerned about quality as they’d played several dates already. I figured that if there were any kinks they’d be worked out.
Well, I’m here to say that Kyuss fans shouldn’t worry about Homme’s absence at the concerts. New guitarist, Bruno Fevery, is a perfect substitute. Not only does he have the guitar sound matched up perfectly, but he plays all the songs with the finesse of someone who’s been lovingly playing them for years.
I was really surprised by Brant’s drumset. All he had was a seven piece! Snare, tom, bass, high hat and three cymbals.
Oliveri was surprisingly sedate. I suppose when you’ve just gone toe-to-toe with a SWAT team you probably have a lot on your mind and you’re going to do everything possible not to make things worse.
Garcia was an enigma. He didn’t say “Hello” when they came out. He didn’t talk with the crowd between songs. A few times he turned his back to the audience and focused his attention on Brant. It reminded me of Morrison in his early years. Before he got his Mojo going, he had a bit of stage shyness. That could be the same thing here, especially when you’re playing in NYC. There were a few smiles towards the end along with a “thank you” once the band wrapped up the encore.
They played for an hour and 25 minutes, including the short break before the encore. They didn’t play anything off of Wretch, their under produced debut. Instead they stuck with the material from their better albums: Blues for the Red Sun, Welcome to Sky Valley, …And the Circus Leaves Town. They were great! No forgotten lyrics or messed up riffs. It could’ve been 1995 for their sound wasn’t messed with at all. It wasn’t like listening to the CD’s. There was no mistaking that this was live, with all of the little pangs of feedback and distortion that goes with the territory.
To the best of my knowledge, these are the songs they played (not in order):
One Inch Man
Supa Scoopa and Mighty Scoop
There’s talk of the new lineup going into the studio next year to record a new album. I can’t wait!