April 29, 2002
BY JIM DEROGATIS POP
The musicians onstage at the Double Door Saturday night included one
who's sold millions of records, one who's a revered cult hero, and one who
fit both those descriptions, as well as having made the sort of impact on
his generation that the Beatles made on theirs.
But in every other way, Eyes Adrift--the new group featuring drummer Bud
Gaugh (a veteran of platinum hit-makers Sublime), guitarist-vocalist Curt
Kirkwood (formerly of the legendary Meat Puppets) and bassist Krist
Novoselic (of Nirvana; 'nuff said)--was just another new band working hard
to find its sound and identity. There were problems to overcome, but there
was also plenty of promise.
As Billy Corgan's new band, Zwan, proved at the same venue a few weeks
ago, rockers can enjoy a liberating sense of freedom and a renewed energy
when they start over from ground zero. Of course, fans carry with them a
host of expectations built on their previous endeavors, and this is a
Eyes Adrift had to contend with a fair amount of heckling from the
audience (most of it nicely deflected by Novoselic, who also played the role
of the wisecracking MC in Nirvana). On the other hand, the sold-out crowd
wouldn't have been there to see just any new band; they were there because
the players are who they are.
Meat Puppets fans left more fulfilled than anyone who came looking for
hints of Nirvana. The defining characteristics of Eyes Adrift's sound are
Kirkwood's laid-back vocals, which deliver the Beat impressionism of his
lyrics with a flowing lilt and a Southwestern twang, and his fluid Les Paul
guitar, which has always recalled Jerry Garcia as re-envisioned by Lou Reed.
Novoselic made a significant contribution with bass riffs that were much
more solid and melodic than those that the Meat Puppets once employed. These
lines merged nicely with Gaugh's propulsive drumming to anchor Kirkwood's
wilder flights up to the sun, especially during a killer set-closing
blow-out called "Pasted."
More problematic were Novoselic's occasional vocals, especially on a tune
called "Enquiring Minds" that boasts the refrain, "They put flowers on your
As a survivor of the media circus that greeted the suicide of his friend
Kurt Cobain, and as someone who's embroiled in a bitter legal fight with
Courtney Love over who will control the legacy of Nirvana, Novoselic is
certainly entitled to his musing about the evils of a sensationalistic
But satire might have been a more effective tool than melodrama.
Like Zwan, Eyes Adrift has self-financed the recording of a promising
album that it hopes to release in the near future, possibly on its own
label. As Novoselic told me before the show: "I feel like I've been there
and done that [re: the major-label star-making machine]. And I don't see why
we need it."