Maximum Russell Crowe

Maximum Russell Crowe, 30 Odd Foot of Grunts

30 0dd Foot of Grunts

Fan Reviews, Austin Texas, August 2000


HEAT WAVE
By Maximum Crowe

With a series of sell-out shows this summer, the members of 30 Odd Foot of Grunts have proved they're not just an actor's band anymore. They're in it for the long haul, evidenced by their rocking, mostly rousing, thoroughly entertaining show Aug. 4.

Despite having played only one other U.S. show, at the Viper Room in Los Angeles last winter, Crowe and Co. showed no signs of nervousness as they took the stage at Stubb's in Austin. Dressed in black and sporting short hair and a tan, Russell had a relaxed confidence that was often lacking at the L.A. show last year. He was clearly the main attraction, and his playfulness, coupled with a bad-boy stance, showed he was more than willing to please the mostly female crowd. But he was also there to rock, and the faithful fans who were actually there to hear the band got their money's worth.

Introducing the Grunts guitarist as "The Rev. Billy Dean Cochran," Russell and his longtime friend gave a brief acoustic introduction before the rest of the band -- Garth Adam on bass, Dave Kelly on drums, Stewart Kirwan on trumpet and Dave Wilkins on guitar -- took the stage. Starting out with a soft ballad wasn't the best idea. The choice seemed to perplex the already anxious crowd, which had been standing for hours through 90 degree-plus heat, an oddly chosen opening act (in the form of a string quartet) and Aussie comedian Nick Penn's hodge-podge of a standup routine.

Despite the bumpy start, the Grunts soon found their groove with Wendy, an anthem of sorts for young single moms everywhere. The band played different arrangements of some of its better-known songs, including an upbeat version of Castle Builder, one of the Grunts' most emotionally raw songs ever. Circus was a surprise addition and sounded more mature, less like a novelty record, played live.

Each song was preceded by an explanatory intro -- sometimes brief, sometimes not, but always interesting. Russell, who does most of the songwriting, seemed to enjoy explaining the inspirations behind his lyrical creations. He ended up exposing a little of both his history and his soul in the process. The night was filled with poignant tributes to people who've touched him in some way: the aforementioned Wendy, whom Russell worked with back in his earlier days in New Zealand; Daniel Pollock, the rising Australian actor and Romper Stomper co-star who battled drug addiction before throwing himself under a train before the film was released; and Russell's uncle David, one of our own favorite people, to whom Russell dedicated the aptly titled David.

The night's best song, however -- and one that should make record companies take notice -- was Memorial Day, a tribute to Russell's late grandfather who carried around painful memories of being a war photographer during World War II. The song is surprisingly up-tempo for such a deeply personal subject, though it has a haunting quality that stays with you for hours, perhaps days, after you hear it. The song is also the band's most accomplished musically, seamlessly mixing elements of rock, jazz and latin music.

There was a short lull in the middle of the show. The new songs, though good, started to sound the same after awhile. But the Grunts came back for a high-energy encore full of its best-known songs, among them The Photograph Kills, the aching Oblique is My Love, the bluesy What You Want Me to Forget and the R&B-flavored Nowhere (minus rap by Kevin Durand). The night concluded with a fun, full-on rendition of Folsom Prison Blues.

Collectively and individually, the band has never sounded better. Russell's voice continues to get stronger, as well as more melodic. The man who practically growls through much of the band's previous work shows promise of becoming an accomplished singer, ably inflecting heartache, lust, happiness, even irony at all the right times. His performance made even the less distinctive songs seem familiar.

He'd be nothing without the rest of the band, though, and their playing clearly shows it. If Russell is the star player who fills the seats, Adam, Kelly, Wilkins, Kirwan and Cochran are the talented, dependable teammates who get the job done. Kelly's confident playing drove the band's performance even more than Russell's star quality. Adam was an audience favorite, as was the equally talented Kirwan. Everyone onstage seemed glad to just be there.

Ok, so the band still has a way to go before selling out Wembley Stadium. But we'll all happily be there for the journey. For years his most vocal supporters knew Russell the actor was destined for greatness. Now, after pouring his heart out in front of nearly 5,000 people this summer, many may find themselves believing Russell the musician is headed for greatness as well. (Maximum Crowe)

(Photo by (and thanks to) Michele & Nicole)


Standing in the sweltering Texas evening, at the end of a line four blocks long, I wonder: If I took a poll of the people around me, would they say they were there for the music, or because the singer's a famous actor?

I think I know the answer, which appears to be validated by wandering reporters and the interviews I overhear. I feel a little self-righteous, because, after all, I am there for the music. I was hooked the first time I heard it; the driving percussion, the soaring electric guitar, the singer's liquid-smoke voice. The fact that the singer happens to be an award-winning actor and dead sexy to boot - is just a bonus. Thatâs what I tell myself.

During the concert, I hear little about the music from the people around me. Most of the calls from the crowd involve invitations to disrobe or engage in sexual activity. I lose myself in the music, having found a place where I can see the band clearly. I sing, dance, and applaud noisily.

Then I find myself to be no better than the people I have quietly criticized. When he shucks the long-sleeved black shirt and exposes those magnificent shoulders and glorious biceps, I feel a surge which has nothing to do with the music reverberating in my breastbone.

The moral of the story is this: There is a certain flash-point of fame after which a person no longer belongs to himself. He belongs to the people who think of Jerry Springer as a hero and Oprah as a priestess. The people who flock to see his body are indifferent to the man inside his skin. They do not care whether the performance has any merit. All they want is for him to take his clothes off.

We glibly say that celebrities have no privacy, but it is more than that ö they are robbed of their personhood. He is not allowed to be himself, to have his own hopes, dreams, or desires, without the world insisting that it has a right to share them.

If no one had ever heard of Russell Crowe in any other context, 30 Odd Foot of Grunts would still be an amazing band. These men, including Russell himself, will never get the recognition they deserve as musicians. What a shame. (by Erin M. Allen)


He has presence that is undeniable. I knew that from the films, but pulling off a good show in Austin music is sometimes tough to do. We like our sounds down here and we weren't disappointed. (Rosemary Melody)


Heat, crowds and all, if we had it to do again we'd never hesitate. The band is even better live than on the CDs, Russell was in great voice and of course looked so fabulous I ran out of adjectives immediately. (Kitty)


(Ticket stub thanks to Heather T.)


I had never heard of Thirty Odd Foot of Grunts but as of August 11, 2000 , I am hooked. I withstood the heat and did wonder if I would last in the jammed venue at Stubb's BBQ . The tantalizing peeks at Russell on the upper deck did juice the heat ..the crowd whooping as he would wave...What refreshing music!!! It was the kind of music I have not heard in years. Dramatic meaningful lyrics, (what a concept). Hard stomping rhythm, and a lead singer and capable guitarist ... who just looks too good to be in rock and roll.

Some media calls Crowe arrogant..not so.. he acknowledged his fans and thanked them as personally possible. It was impressive.

The heat and discomfort disappeared seconds after the start. He has won the hearts of quite a few in Austin for sure. I don't want to see the media moguls get to his art. Keep it just between us gruntheads. (Deborah in Houston)


I enjoyed every moment of the show. Well, maybe I was a little impatient for the string quartet to finish. Maybe someone with a lot of musical talent or formal musical education could have found fault with something ---as I couldn't play an instrument to save my life and my formal musical education consists of one semester of music appreciation in college twenty years ago, I couldn't and didn't. I just enjoyed myself thoroughly. Russell's conversations with the audience and occasional self-deprecating comments only added to it all. (Debbie Morgan)


(Set list thanks to Heather T.)

The music was rockin', the crowd was dancin' (though not quite enough to satisfy Russell - he kept telling us we needed to "wiggle" more, and the show was a smashing success! Way to go, Russell! You f***in' showed them! What's important is if the fans love the music, and I can tell you from the pulse I could feel being a part of that awesome crowd - TEXAS LOVES THIRTY ODD FOOT OF GRUNTS!!!!! (Diane Jamieson, Dallas, TX)


All in all it was a ton of fun, oh, so hot, (the band, Russell and the Texas night), wouldn't have missed it for the world! (LM Blue)


The entire concert was a treat! Each band member was fun to watch, seeing how each of them was moved by the music they were performing. Smiles were frequently exchanged between the band members and the crowd, endearing them even more to us. I was especially amused by "Billy" Dean's bashfulness. His focus on the end of his guitar was so intense, I waited to see if the strings would burst into flames. R.C., at one point, coaxed the entire band to stop playing, in order to high-light Dean's playing.

Some journalists slammed R.C. for the length of his stories in between songs. I relished them, feeling more moved by the words after learning their history.

Thanks for wonderful memories and an incredible evening! (Kate Los Angeles, CA)


Was it worth sitting in 102 degree heat for 6 1/2 hours? Oh Yes!!! The concert exceeded my expectations (which were pretty high). No amount of words can describe the experience of being there! We had way too good of a time. Russell talked the whole time, interacted with the audience, and generally had us all wrapped around his little finger all night. (Cailin Scadden, Liberty, Utah)


"I picture your eyes, I whisper your name
Inside I'm screaming, outside I'm sane,
As soon as you're leaving, I need you again,
I'm left with my dreaming, it's just not the same"

It's difficult to put into words how excruciatingly handsome Russell is, sweating & singing his heart out, shaking his honey colored hair, swaying his hips, the golden skin on those magnificent arms glowing as he strums away on his acoustic. But those "Inside Her Eyes" lyrics could have been written by many a "fan" about him. (Angie G)


(Set list thanks to Heather T.)


YeeHa!!! Texans love the Grunts!!! Russell and the band sounded even better in person. You could tell by the smiles on their faces (and the faces in the crowd) that they were enjoying every minute of their performance - just a few mates telling stories and playing their hearts out. GRUNTS ROCK TEXAS!!!!! (Steph. & Beth, Dallas-Ft. Worth, TX)


It was a fantastic evening which I will remember and cherish for the rest of my life. For over two hours, I had a smile on my face, the Grunts put on a terrific show, Russell was mesmerizing, he made me laugh, sing and dance, he made me happy. I feel privileged to have been there, sharing this special moment with him and his mates. It was truly a wonderful gift. True, some women did yell "Take off your shirt!", but Russell asked for it when after a couple of songs he grinned, "Wearing this shirt wasn't a good idea!". I think it's part of the game, and it was part of the fun. I never felt that the audience was there ONLY to drool over Russell's good looks. There was love, that night. From the Grunts and Russell to us and from us to the Grunts and Russell. Of course we can't deny he was gorgeous, but what's wrong with that? Most of all we were charmed by his personality, his willingness to share personal stories, his self-deprecating humor, his warmth, his simplicity. There was no disrespect towards him even from the craziest fans, it was all very innocent, we were just happy to be there. So who cares if some of us fantasize about Russell taking off his clothes? What I do care for are his emotions, his anger, his desire for privacy, his talent, his beautiful human soul, his generous heart, I care for who he is as a man, not as a hot commodity. The crowd in Austin did allow him "to be himself, to have his own hopes, dreams and desires without the world insisting that it has a right to share them". He truly IS himself and he doesn't care about what the world wants of thinks. But he certainly does care about the people who love him. And we, the fans, surely do. One small request to the Grunts though: for your next concert, please pick up a cooler climate:) (Catherine, Los Angeles)


Angie also offers a few highlights of Russell's banter between songs Friday August 11th:
He was sad he couldnât call uncle Dave "to tell him about a night like tonight." He made sure to raise the lights and check on the folks in the back rows a couple of times. He cheered up a fan who couldnât make it by chatting by cell-phone.

[A fan] was holding up a cut out photo of his face up to him early on in the concert. Russ calls down "You're holding my head in your hand! Don't you know how f**king weird that is for me? Is that supposed to make me happy? (posing as her, grins) 'Hey, I've got your head!". Some others were begging for his cigarette butt while he took a few drags - "No," he said, "this stuff is bad for you ... didn't you see the movie with that fat guy?"



(Thanks to Michele)


More Austin reviews on Page 2 here

Read fan reviews from the London 2000 show.

Editorial about the "dog" on stage.

of the cds and the Viper show

Buy 30 Odd Foot of Grunts cds and merchandise here.

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