By Adrien Begrand
Trust Eyehategod to put out a live DVD that looks like a fifth-generation VHS bootleg from 25 years ago. And bless ‘em for it. After all, the pure grit and amateurishness of the way the two live sets on Eyehategod Live are shot are far more appropriate for the New Orleans sludge legends than, say, a lavish light show, crane shots galore, and a five-channel surround mix. Nah, instead we’re privy to poorly lit, hand-held shots from various angles, most of which are right smack in the middle of the chaos the band is creating, and sound quality that’s muddy and distorted. It looks and sounds absolutely filthy, and it’s perfect.
Shot in Cleveland in June 2010, the first live set on the DVD, for all its dicey quality, is incendiary, the quintet hammering out such blues-drenched classics as “Take As Needed For Pain”, “Sister Fucker”, and “Dixie Whiskey”. Inimitable vocalist Mike IX Williams is as intense and confrontational as you’d expect (the guy has to repeatedly deal with a big skinhead idiot who keeps taking up residence onstage), while the chain-smoking Jimmy Bower lets loose riff after riff, sounding half Tony Iommi, half Robert Johnson, his tone thick as kudzu. Bower might make a decent living as the drummer for Down, but just as we wish Dave Grohl wouldn’t waste his time fronting the Foo Fighters and go back to what he does best behind the kit, Bower should be at the front of the stage with his SG more often, because his riffs alongside bandmate Brian Patton are positively godly.
The second full live set was shot in Baltimore in October 2009, and is the superior show, not only in the quality of the recording, which actually approaches competent, but in the band’s performance as well. Williams is absolutely ferocious during the songs, and in between, savagely witty (“We’re looking for heroin and black girls”), the set list including “$30 Bag”, “Kill Your Boss”, and Children of God”. Meanwhile, the improved sound quality allows us to really tune into the rhythm section of bassist Gary Mader and drummer Joey LaCaze, who provide a swing that few heavy bands can pull off.
Some interesting bonus footage has been tossed in as well, including three songs from a 2010 show in Vienna, Austria, as well as videos for “Sister Fucker”, “Anxiety Hangover”, and “Age of Bootcamp”, which only makes the DVD all the more enjoyable. Eyehategod Live is ugly, abrasive, and a bit of a mess, but fans of the band wouldn’t have it any other way. And seeing how Eyehategod will likely never play a show north of the border, this is a live set for Canadian fans to savour, not to mention seethe with envy of their neighbours to the South.