Concert Review: John Garcia at Elsewhere (Brooklyn, NY)

Concert Review: John Garcia at Elsewhere (Brooklyn, NY)

Stoner rock legend John Garcia played an electric last show of a two-week North American run, dubbed the Tour of the Valedores, on May 29th at Elsewhere in Brooklyn.  Garcia and his backing band ripped through sixteen songs from the many bands he has fronted throughout his celebrated career.  He had last played in the five boroughs with his Band of Gold at Desertfest in September 2022, a mere stone’s throw from Elsewhere, at Knockdown Center in Maspeth.

Garcia is most well-known for being the lead vocalist for Kyuss, the stoner rock genre defining outfit from Palm Desert that released four albums in the first half of the 1990s before disbanding.  Though not celebrated at the time, Kyuss’ body of work is celebrated as highly influential to the stoner rock and metal bands that have followed. Former members Josh Homme, Nick Oliveri, Brant Bjork, and Scott Reeder all went on to play in many of the genre's most notable bands upon their breakup.  Garcia was no different – he eventually fronted Slo Burn, Unida, Hermano, and Vista Chino (with former Kyuss bandmates Oliveri and Bjork).

Garcia (left) and Bennet. 

On this evening, it became apparent that the predominant focus of the setlist would be Garcia’s work in Kyuss. His backing band came on around 9:50pm and started playing the opening notes of 'Gardenia,' the opening track to the band’s 1994 masterpiece Welcome to Sky Valley. Garcia followed shortly after, clad in a button-down shirt and jeans, to deliver his opening lines to the song to an ecstatic crowd.

From there, the band launched into four consecutive Kyuss songs without much of a break. 'Conan Troutman,' another crushing song from Sky Valley, quickly followed 'Gardenia,' followed by 'Hurricane,' the opening track to 1995’s swansong …and the Circus Leaves Town.  Another album opener, 'Thumb' from 1992’s classic Blues for the Red Sun, came next, before 'Odyssey,' another ripper from Sky Valley that delighted the Brooklyn crowd.

The first non-Kyuss track to enter the setlist was 'Cowboys Suck' by Hermano, which got a big reaction from the diehards in the audience. 'Supa Scoopa and Mighty Scoop,' a signature Kyuss track written about Brant Bjork’s departure from the band, provided another high point in the evening following 'Cowboys.' The band launched in '100 Degrees,' perhaps the fastest paced track in Kyuss’ back catalog, before Garcia departed the stage while the band members jammed for a bit.

Garcia returned to the stage with 'Jim’s Whiskers,' a Band of Gold original. The band teased to introduction to 'Writhe' from Blues for the Red Sun before playing an abridged version of the 'Whitewater,' the epic closer to Sky Valley. 'Phototropic' and 'One Inch Man' from Circus came next, with Garcia dedicating the latter to all the married couples in the audience.  A Vista Chino song, 'Dargona Dragona,' came after, before the band closed the set with 'Green Machine' from Blues for the Red Sun and 'Spaceship Landing,' the monumental 13-minute last song on Circus. After leaving the stage for “a smoke,” according to Garcia, the band came back to close with 'El Rodeo,' another Kyuss staple from Circus.

"Green Machine" towards the end of the set. I stood too close to the guitar amps.

Throughout the evening, Garcia expressed gratitude to the crowd for coming out to see the band.  He explained that they do not take the ability to tour for granted, as he said that all the members of the band are married and have day jobs, which reflected in the workmanlike approach the band took to hammering through their set with very little down time.  He expressed some sadness in having to go back to reality the next day when the band would return to Palm Springs and joked with the crowd - “it sucks, I know,” sarcastically.

The opportunity to see a legend like John Garcia at an intimate venue playing all of these Kyuss classics was an incredible experience, especially for fans who never had the chance to see Kyuss perform.  During interviews about his time in the band, Garcia has lamented being young and untrained as a vocalist, as he was in his early 20s when they was active.  Being able to witness these legendary tracks with the benefit of Garcia’s experience and development as a vocalist is an absolute treat for any fan of Kyuss or the stoner rock genre in general.  While in the past his vocals could be characterized as raw, on this evening he performed these definitive tracks with a refined style that enhanced their power even more so than before.

The backing band was also tremendous all evening.  John Bennet on guitar played Josh Homme’s parts to perfection, while bassist Billy Cordell and drummer Greg Saenz provided a pounding rhythm section that Kyuss fans have been accustomed to between the work of Nick Oliveri, Scott Reeder, Brant Bjork, and Alfredo Hernandez.

Telekinetic Yeti, a two-piece band from Iowa, and Left Lane Cruiser provided support for the two-week run.  Both bands played short sets that impressed the intimate crowd at Elsewhere.

As for the future, Garcia has recently commented that he has an unnamed project with Mastodon guitarist Bill Kelliher that may see the light of day sometime in the future, which would make for a very intriguing collaboration.  He does not have any future dates confirmed, but here’s hoping that he books some soon.  If you get the chance to see a legend like John Garcia perform, and consider yourself a fan of stoner rock, I cannot recommend it highly enough.

Great! You’ve successfully signed up.

Welcome back! You've successfully signed in.

You've successfully subscribed to This Day In Metal.

Success! Check your email for magic link to sign-in.

Success! Your billing info has been updated.

Your billing was not updated.