Last nite, Kyuss Lives! kicked off its North American tour in Toronto, with support from The Sword and MonstrO. To say that the venue was a little out of the way would be an understatement, and the support was a little underwhelming, but I woulda given a kidney to see 90 minutes of Kyuss tunes in the flesh. I’m just glad I didn’t have to!
Let’s get one thing outta the way. Kyuss Lives is not quite Kyuss. In fact, some have taken to calling them Kyus, cuz it seems like there’s something missing. True, Bruno Fevery’s not Josh Homme, but he does these songs justice, even if he uses a little artistic license at times. I liken it to when I saw Pentagram for the first time, when they had Russ Strahan on guitar. He doesn’t play all the old tunes note-for-note, but he’s not butchering them the way this guy completely massacres “Roxy Roller”. (Seriously, that video’s so bad I still remember it all these years later…)
Another added bonus was seeing Scott Reeder on bass. Though he’s not officially part of the band, he’s filling in on the Canadian dates since Nick Oliveri can’t cross the border. The dude’s really packed on the pounds since the mid 90’s, but that didn’t slow him down on stage at all, as he was feeling every note of his barefoot performance, and was really fun to watch.
I don’t know if they play more older stuff when Oliveri is around (might hafta catch ’em in Buffalo in December to find out), but tonite’s set drew heavily from Welcome to Sky Valley and …And the Circus Leaves Town, the two albums that Reeder played on. Suits me just fine, since Sky Valley is my favourite Kyuss record. I think it branches out into psychedelic territory more than their other releases–and the band took full advantage of that, playing some longer, drawn-out versions of a few tunes. Man, I would probably pay just to watch these guys jam for an hour, it’s really that good. And while his performance is understandably understated as a lead guitarist, Fevery can improvise with the best of them–and Reeder and Bjork are right up there, believe me!
Another reason that I dig Sky Valley so much is that it features the greatest rhythm section Kyuss ever assembled. These days, I’ve gotten used to seeing Brant up front on vocals and guitar, having caught him with the Bros a handful of times now. But man, does he ever look comfortable behind the kit, his intense, passionate gaze showing just how much fun he’s having. Last time I saw him with the Bros, in fact, someone yelled out “Play some Kyuss!” to which he responded “I think Kyuss should play Kyuss.” Lemme tell ya, Kyuss isn’t Kyuss without Brant behind the kit! (No disrespect to Alfredo Hernandez…)
Like Reeder, it seems John Garcia has also gained some weight since back in the day (hey, so have I!) and he came out on stage in a dress shirt, with his hair tied back–though he would later change into a tank top and backwards ballcap for the encore. Although he hardly addressed the crowd, and was still getting the lead out when it came to moving on stage, his banshee wail still cuts through the mix in all the right places. Dude’s been flying under the radar for a little while, but there’s no denying that he is one of the voices, if not The Voice of Stoner Rock.
I was a little late jumping onto the Kyuss bandwagon, picking up their last two albums after they broke up, and I remember a discussion with a friend of mine a couple years back where I concluded that a Kyuss reunion would probably never happen–cuz Josh Homme would never agree to it. Turns out, even without Homme, three-quarters of Kyuss was the best band I’ve seen all year. I’d be curious to see if there’s any truth to these new album rumours, and how Fevery does at crafting his own riffs, instead of playing someone else’s, but I would not hesitate to see this band again. (I’m kinda eyeing the Calgary date in late November, as a matter of fact…)
Man, I gotta say, this year’s been pretty good to me. I’ve seen Pentagram, Saint Vitus, YOB, Crowbar, Accept, Sleep–and now Kyuss, all within the past six months. If my kidneys seize up and I die tomorrow, I’ll have gone out on top.