Frontman of Eagles of Death Metal (along with Queens of the Stone Age’s Josh Homme), Jesse Hughes, aka Boots Electric, brought his rock and roll spirit and sex-dance aesthetic to Exchange LA to give us a taste of his forthcoming solo album, Honkey Kong (9/20 on Dangerbird Records). Fans were anxious to hear the new direction Boots is taking, which he analogized in an album trailer as a sonic rape involving George Clinton, Gary Numan, and Little Richard.
Exchange LA buzzed with anticipation as fans mingled and imbibed under giant images on the walls of Boots wearing only underwear and a plumed marching band hat. This palatial structure was a perfectly majestic setting for a rock n’ roll icon such as Boots. He entered after his band mates had taken their positions, descending a stairway stage left with a Japanese parasol in hand.
Boots previously announced that Honkey Kong would consist of “dance rock,” which is an accurate label for the single, “Boots Electric Theme,” yet from opener “Oh Girl” to the finale, “Complexity,” the performance was mostly straight-ahead rock. A mid-set keyboard malfunction accounted in part for this lack of a dance-based, funkier sound as the band was left to fend without any of the electronic instrumentation—a necessary element of his new material. Unfortunately, the result was what sounded like a regression of Eagles of Death Metal: less mature, less badass and rhythms that were less driving. This was a presentation of Boots’ persona more than his new music. In between songs he marched around erratically, zealously delivering a rock ‘n roll sermon. After all of the theatrics, the flawed instrumentals and an end to the set that came surprisingly soon (after seven songs), Boots looked slightly ridiculous.
Though this performance didn’t go as planned, Boots shouldn’t be discouraged. For his divergence from the sound that he is known for with Eagles of Death Metal, Boots will be respected. He has asserted himself as an artist who can tweak his style into the funky and the unexpected while remaining true to his rock n’ roll identity. Time and time again he proves that the inspiration for his music, his indefatigable spirit, transcends the sonic dimension.