The Eagle of Death Metal
With Thelma and the Sleaze
House of Blues, Dallas
Sunday, May 22, 2016
A scorching, dry heat wave from the California desert descended upon the heavy humidity of Dallas last night: the Eagles of Death Metal had landed at the House of Blues. The band’s brush with tragedy last November during the terrorist attacks at their show in Paris has only served to strengthen and expand their domestic fan base. A palpable sense of camaraderie and patriotism permeated the venue’s musky atmosphere; divided we fall, but united, we rock.
Enormous banners bearing the likeness of the band’s charming and excessively charismatic
Jesse Hughes dressed as Uncle Sam adorned the stage, with the words “I Only Want You” peeking out from his protruding forefinger. It was only fitting, then, that after the band’s swift entrance they opened the show with their hit song of the same name. Without an introduction, Hughes lead his band into a soul-shatteringly loud rendition of the song, complete with seizure-inducing flashing lights.
After the first song had screeched to a perfect halt, the band offered absolutely no reprieve before breaking into the next song on their list, and then the next, and then the next. Shell-shocked, the audience was putty in Hughes’ hands when he finally addressed them. Wearing a shirt bearing his own band’s name and deeply tinted trucker glasses, the poster boy of self-aggrandizement screamed into the mic, “Does everybody here love to have a good time?! Does everyone love to rock and roll?! Does everyone love the ladies?!” The crowd fervently displayed their support for all of the above.
The Eagles of Death Metal are the kings of clap-alongs, and born showmen through and through. During nearly every song, a member of the band would abandon their instrument to coax the crowd into contributing to the beat. Hughes would occasionally set down his electric guitar to gyrate across the stage like a modern-day Elvis hopped up on speed. Dozens of guitar picks were tossed into the audience, and the band’s gratitude to their fans seemed limitless.
Despite all the squealing, acrobatic guitar solos and crunchy, bass-heavy grooves, the Eagles of Death Metal had an astonishingly keen sense of harmony. Each song sounded crisper and better than its sterile, recorded counterpart, and the band never lost steam throughout its insanely energetic set. When an enamored woman’s panties found their way up to the stage between songs, Hughes gripped them in his hand and took a deep whiff: the smell of adoration. After he’d had his fill, Hughes threw the used underwear down and instantly started the next sweltering single without missing a beat.
Though crass and crude, the controversial front man also veered toward the sentimental. When his band mate drew his attention to a veteran in the crowd, Hughes’ tone turned somber and reverent. He pointed to the soldier: “Hey man, you served our country? I want you to know that I love you very much. I don’t give a fuck about what anyone thinks; I’m going to thank you.” The audience responded in kind, turning toward the soldier and exploding in cheers.
Winding down their set, Hughes’ introduced a song from the band's 2008 album, Heart On, called "Wannabe in L.A." Pushing back his pomade-drenched ‘do and cracking a devilish grin, the incendiary crooner began, “I’ll tell you that these last four shows in Texas have meant so much. I’ve seen a few of y’all at these last shows and you have no idea how much you’ve resurrected our spirit.” The crowd erupted in applause.
“It’s been a weird few months, and I just want y’all to know that you’ve saved our asses," Hughes continues. "And to thank you for that,” he added, pointing to his band mate Dave Catching, “Davey here will give y’all a blow job. Or a lemonade.” The crowd erupted again, this time in laughter. “And just remember that even the worst blow job is still pretty good. And the worst lemonade.”
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