Eagles of Death Metal: “CAN YOU DIG IT?!?”

The Duke Spirit
Eagles of Death Metal
The Note
West Chester, PA
11.20.08

It only took four days for the buzzing in my ears to cease.

Photo by Kii Arens

I got to the West Chester club, The Note, (owned by figurative and literal Jackass Bam Margera), around 7:45 Thursday evening amidst thick snow flurries and chilled November air. Waiting for my brother to arrive, I was talking to a friend when Jesse “Electric Boots” Hughes walked by, a rockabilly Fraggle of a man with there-for-show sunglasses propped onto his nose. The guy was all smiles and as pleasant as any amicable acquaintance, going out of his way to make conversation with the winter-bound filter suckers braving the air to appease their nico-demons. My friend managed to get an autograph on her ticket stub. I had will-call tickets, so I had nothing scribble-worthy to present. Missed opportunity; fuck will-call tickets.

Margera, flanked by his local comrades and star struck suburban boppers, was also at the show that night playing the roll of Super-Cool Nightclub Proprietor: The Dirty Version. Celeb-du jour in the house.

When my brother showed up, our gang walked into the venue, which is basically a continuous hallway that spills you out to the stage. There is a long bar on the right, exposed brick and dark woodwork like a gimmick variation on castle interior with three-candle light bulb sconces added for a medieval effect. As people filed in, the bar got more and more congested as there weren’t many corners to stake claim to. It was hard to be out of the way. Opening act, The Duke Spirit, went on around 9.

We hung back at the bar for the opener, wondering why we couldn’t really hear them that well. Singer, Leila Moss, was completely inaudible under the muddy weight of guitar and drum that emanated from the stage like a muffled bootleg. The crowd seemed into them, as the only clear thing we could pick-up were applause after every song concluded. They played for about 30 to 45 minutes. We decided to make our way to ground zero soon after.

When you get past the bar, the hallway opens up into a decent sized room with a balcony overhead. There are three tall and ornate light fixtures hanging from the ceiling and a Beetlejuice-striped wall on which the balcony stairwell sits. It’s an intimate setting, which is always what you want to see.

It was almost 10:30 when Eagles of Death Metal took the stage, Pilot’s “Magic” somehow providing the perfect entrance music. Hughes came out wearing a mirror-shiny jacket and pink t-shirt underneath, cementing his position as the only man that can get away with such a wardrobe combination. Queens of the Stone Age drummer, Joey Castillo was the Josh Homme for the night with QOTSA-alum, Dave Catching on guitar and Brian O’Connor on bass. As the crowd screamed, Hughes looked on with a wide smile, displaying an intense amount of amazement, disbelief and gratitude. Without even playing, Hughes already declared this crowd the best he’d seen in the last three shows. The cynic in me, though, is sure that he says that to all the crowds.

Cutting lose with all the rock n’ roll energy any human being can muster, and having an absolute blast while doing it, Hughes was engaging and amazing to witness live. Addressing the crowd with affection (like Cyrus from The Warriors, following every rock n’ roll statement with, “Can you dig it?!?”), taking moments between songs to fully appreciate the impact he was having on all of us, Hughes was the epitome of gracious and cool and the audience was really into it. In all seriousness, there was nothing serious about it. Just fun. The entire show was just a lot of fun.

As far as songs go, they played just about everything I wanted to hear: “I Want You So Hard (The Boy’s Bad News),” “I Only Want You,” “I Like To Move In The Night,” “Whorehoppin’ (Shit, Goddamn),” “Don’t Speak (I Came To Make A BANG!),” “Cherry Cola,” “Stuck In The Metal,” “English Girl” (though they changed that to “Philly Girl” for the sake of the crowd)…etc. Despite the tour supporting their latest album, Heart On, it seemed like most of the set revolved around their two previous releases as they didn’t tap into the new material too often. They played for about an hour and fifteen with a six or seven-song encore comprised of a cover of The Rolling Stones’ “Brown Sugar” and an amazing rendition of “Speaking In Tongues,” during which some of female crowd were let on stage to dance the band away.

When the music died down, I became very aware of how damaged my ears were. Every sound was submerged under gallons of invisible fluid, leading to four days of an internal and distracting BUZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ. Evidently, it’s time to invest in some earplugs, because the recovery was slow and a little painful.

But, the show? Fuck, what a great time. And no ticket stub to show for it.

Sincerely,
Letters From A Tapehead
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