When Eagles of Death Metal frontman Jesse Hughes repeatedly asked the Paradise audience ''Are you having a good time?," it could have seemed pat performance rhetoric. And, what with the packed club's patrons screaming and cheering the band's every note, the answer appeared somewhat obvious. But rock 'n' roll these days can be too serious, a bag of style and politics. From its cartoon-rock moniker to its over-the-top songs, which both honor and ridicule typical rock clichés, Eagles of Death Metal is simply about ''The Good Time." A very definite article.
So Hughes's question was more a statement of intent, a reminder -- a rallying cry as the crowd's mood built from fervent to explosive with each successive blistering rocker. Even the band seemed surprised at the euphoric reaction. No one seemed to care that the Los Angeles-based band's usual drummer, Queens of the Stone Age leader Josh Homme, was absent. Homme was on board for the new record, ''Death by Sexy," but, as a busy new dad, will only play select dates on the tour.
New songs like ''I Want You So Hard (Boy's Bad News)" came liberally bathed in Dave Katching's squalling guitar licks (of course, he played a Flying V, the most over-the-top-looking guitar of all) and were locked down tight by drummer Samantha Maloney and bassist Brian O'Connor. One highlight, ''I Got a Feelin' (Just 19)," was a sheer shock of sleazy rock grind with an infectious, jittery riff. A romp through the Stealers Wheel classic ''Stuck in the Middle With You" (made famous again in ''Reservoir Dogs") ended the main set, and the encore began with a strut through the Rolling Stones' ''Brown Sugar." But the performance finished on the highest note, with EODM's own 2004 cult classic, the heady, bluesy stomp ''Speaking in Tongues."
New Yorkers Rye Coalition opened with an impressive set of songs concocted from the best riffs that Van Halen, Led Zeppelin, and AC/DC ever presented.