Fu Manchu

One Eyed Jack's

December 14, 2004

When I did an interview with drummer Scott Reeder, he said Fu Manchu could only play for so long onstage. Was it because the repetitive chords and grooves got old? Nope. After I saw Fu Manchu at One Eyed Jack's Tuesday night, I realized he was talking about the physical toll the music takes on a body in the audience.

Fu Manchu played loud, unrelenting, catchy, crunchy, macho hooks. If any band is the master of the dramatic, monstrous, and melodic groove, it's Fu Manchu. The fourteen year-old quartet from Orange County, CA, hit the stage with little fanfare and went to work. Since New Orleans was their third-to-last tour stop, they looked a little tired when they walked onstage. But, once the band made eye contact with the full dancefloor, they went into throw-your-back-out headbang maneuvers. One Eyed Jack's low stage and lack of seperation between crowd and band made for an intimate concert. At one point, vocalist/rhythm guitarist Scott Hill leaned over the crowd in a glorious, drunken rock haze. What's a better way to react to the audience than get in their face and see what they do? Hill played a beautiful, transparent fiberglass guitar.

The band was very tight. I didn't hear one misplayed note. The band's force was lead guitarist Bob Balch. He was the most energetic member, and his ripping, high-powered, classic rock solos kept the band from turning into sludge-rockers. Reeder hit the drums hard, but he wasn't quite as thunderous as former drummer Brant Bjork. Still, it was pleasant how he made up for brute force with agility. His speedy fills somehow hit their mark everytime.

"Saturn III" was the highlight. What a brutal riff! It was great to look over and see the rest of the floor collectively swaying in time to the monster groove. It made me make a nasty face, and Hill did the same thing a couple times. I could tell when something powerful was coming because Hill scrunched up his face before he went into the part.

The band's new album, "Start The Machine," is great, so it was nice to hear them play four songs from it. The band played many old songs.

The band thanked the crowd many times, and they took requests, but before one song the voices turned into a squalor, so Hill just blasted into whatever he had on tap. After they came back for an encore, a woman up front requested "Godzilla," so that's exactly what they played.

Incomplete setlist:

Ojo Rojo
Hell on Wheels
Boogie Van
California Crossing
Written in Stone
I Can't Hear You
Make Them Believe
Open Your Eyes

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