A lot of the Eels introspective, melancholy ballads really sing to my sad-sack soul. Which made it all the more surprising that the band largely just rocked the fuck out at last night’s show.---
While I thought I might feel jipped missing out on some of the somber tunes from Electro Shock Blues and Blinking Lights instead I and the rest of the decent-sized crowd at In the Venue last night were treated to a surreally animated and lively set. When I say “surreally animated” you have to appreciate the bizarre effect the Eels music has when coupled with the band’s bizarre stage presence.
Front man Mark Everett, “E”, led the sharp-dressed, stone-faced and well-bearded band through more than two hours of Eels classics. E himself stood in contrast to the rest of the band’s dark Reservoir Dogs suits, coming on to the stage in an all white jumpsuit, black bandana and dark sunglasses—dark enough that a roadie had to guide him on and off stage with a flashlight so he didn’t trip on the stairs. The royal treatment extended onstage where another roadie dressed in suit and tie, stood in the shadows tuning E’s guitars and swapping them out after every song (For E alone a rack was set aside with 7 guitars on the stage).
In full-rocking tilt the Eels gave the appearance of a ZZ Top cover band playing in a David Lynch inspired dream sequence, by appearance only though, mind you, the performance was uniquely Eels. While the band did some somber serenades with songs like the title track to their recent album End Times and others, it was clearly a night for the more amped –up selections from the bands repertoire like “Dog faced boy” and a power trifecta from Hombre Lobo with “Prizefighter,” “Tremendous Dynamite” and “Fresh Blood.” “Fresh Blood” was the song of the evening for me, for hitting the baleful notes full-soul and then cueing some seriously impressive, seizure inducing strobe light effects in between the lyrics.
The crowd engagement was a plus also. E joked with audience members and threatened to have security remove a “douchebag” for making a ZZ Top joke about the bass player (not me, but the douchebag was just saying what we were all thinking, but just didn’t have the good sense to keep it to himself). And in the finale of the show E even tossed popsicles into the crowd. Good popsicles too, creamy strawberry ones, not those cheap-ass frozen sticks of sugar water.
By the time the Eels exited stage left a void quickly filled the space in the venue previously occupied by a rousing, absurd and high energy show. One that left the crowd—including the emo high-schoolers—grinning and just wanting more.