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Kyuss Lives | November 19, 2011

Kyuss Lives!

A sold out event at San Francisco’s Regency Ballroom is not a particularly rare occurrence, but there was something about Saturday’s Kyuss Lives show that felt out of the ordinary … an over-heated pot of water, rapidly approaching a raging boil and threatening to make a mess all over the place.

A few clicks before 8 pm, a recently-resurrected Papa Wheelie took the stage to Queen’s Bicycle Race and an already healthy-sized crowd that were probably surprised to find Jason Newsted of Metallica fame slinging a guitar and fronting the band. “We ain’t good, but we’re LOUD” may have been a bit of an understatement and by the end of their tight, 30 minute set, there was a palpable booze-fueled buzz in the room. Next up local two-piece sludge metal from Black Cobra. It’s always cool to see a local band supporting a national tour in their home down and neither the band nor the crowd disappointed. The amount of noise coming out of Landrian and Martinez was frankly astonishing for a two-piece and by the time they wrapped up, the Regency was nearing capacity.

From the edge of the stage, you can’t always get a feel for what’s going on in the rest of venue. The first inkling that things were teetering on the edge of a boil-over hit when The Sword took the stage. When they passed through the Bay Area last October, it was a pretty mellow show but tonight when they opened with Freya, the front row went absolutely bonkers and, unlike last year’s show when the band largely stood unmoving throughout the entire performance, these guys actually rocked it this time around.

Cutting out midway through The Sword’s set for a trip to the lobby bar stopped me in my tracks; it was absolutely packed and the drinks were flowing freely … including from some drunk joker’s cup of beer to all over my camera (thanks dude). It got me thinking, if all these people are out here drinking and all those people are in there watching The Sword play, what’s going to happen when Kyuss Lives hits the stage?

Kyuss Lives features only two member of the original line-up, Brant Bjork (drums) and John Garcia (vocals), who have chosen to carry on the name, most notably, without Josh Homme. And while the use of the word “Lives” in the band name probably has something to do with an agreement between former band members on how to present the latest instantiation of the band, it was also clearly a statement that they were here to play and to do it right.

Taking the stage at a prompt 10:40 with a huge “Kyuss Lives” backdrop and glum back-lighting, Garcia clutched his mic stand like his life depended on it as the band launched into their first song. The crowd went absolutely nuts and the bodies started landing left and right in the photo pit which was still relatively safe compared to the apparent crush on the barricade. Half way through the second song, Garcia somehow managed to lose the bass of his mic stand, briefly throwing him off-kilter as the crew scrambled for a replacement but nary a note was missed.

Three songs and out found me picking my way from the photo pit across the sticky, beer-soaked floors looking for a place to stand. There were none to be found. And all those people that were in the bar? They were now filling the absolutely packed ballroom floor. Finally settling down in the relative safety of the balcony bar provided a perfect view of the ensuing chaotic mess as the boil-over hit in what looked like a pretty brutal pit which only mellowed slightly an hour into set during an extended jam.

Dark, heavy, brutal, chaotic … ninety minutes well spent. Yes indeed, Kyuss lives.

Supporting acts: Papa Wheelie, Black Cobra, The Sword

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