Eagles of Death Metal

Too often, musicians who are obsessed with building the perfect rock beast fail because they leave out one of the most important joints -- the funny bone. That flaw will never be ascribed to Queens of the Stone Age frontman Josh Homme, who's taking a busman's holiday with this off-the-wall trio.

With:
Band: Jesse "The Devil" Hughes, Josh Homme, Tim Von Hamel.

Too often, musicians who are obsessed with building the perfect rock beast fail because they leave out one of the most important joints — the funny bone. That flaw will never be ascribed to Queens of the Stone Age frontman Josh Homme, who’s taking a busman’s holiday with this off-the-wall trio.

It would be fair — if a bit uncharitable — to accuse Homme of stretching truth in advertising standards with the very name of the combo, which is less a metal band than a burlesque show that fuses boot-scootin’ desert country and glam-rock theatrics. The combination seemed to perplex a fair portion of the aud here, but the sonic in-jokes that peppered the set weren’t obscure enough to require a libretto.

Set’s broadest strokes came during a rockabilly-tinged romp through Stealer’s Wheel’s “Stuck in the Middle With You,” which effectively retrofitted the song with an aural analog to Quentin Tarantino’s “Pulp Fiction” visuals. The equally unhinged “Wastin’ My Time” suggested John Lennon’s “John Sinclair” taken on a trek through Junior Kimbrough’s Mississippi.

Returning to his roots, Homme (billed as Carlo Von Sexron) mans the drum kit for the Eagles of Death Metal, leaving ringmaster duties to Jesse “The Devil” Hughes, a mustachioed slip of a man with a penchant for wild costumes and a falsetto to rival that of Darkness singer Justin Hawkins. Hughes put that high register to best use on the absurdist glam-blues “Miss Reprezentin’ (Miss Alissa)” and his de facto theme song, “Who Will Kiss the Devil?”

Taken in the dose proffered at this club date, the band’s incongruous mix of gun-totin’ swagger, parodic arena-rock banter and wink-wink closet nerdiness makes for an agreeably intoxicating brew. Too much, however, would surely make for an unpleasant morning after.

Eagles of Death Metal

Mercury Lounge, New York; 199 capacity; $10

Production: Presented inhouse. Reviewed April 5, 2004.

Cast: Band: Jesse "The Devil" Hughes, Josh Homme, Tim Von Hamel.

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