FOR THE INQUIRER
It is a well-known fact that only two things will survive the coming apocalypse: cockroaches and Keith Richards. A betting man would add ZZ Top to the list. After 40 years of chrome, smoke, and BBQ'd blooze licks, their party-time ubiquity shows no signs of diminishing. Wherever there are men on scaffolding, they will be there. Wherever Harley meets Davidson, they will be there. Wherever stripper meets pole, they will be there. Wherever a Don't Mess With Texas sticker meets a mud-caked pickup truck bumper, they will be there. They were beardos before it was cool, and they will remain so long after the hipsters have moved on to handlebar mustaches.
The Top are on the road in support of their first new album in nine years, the thoroughly butt-kicking, Rick Rubin-produced La Futura, wherein, amid other strokes of bawdy genius, they rhyme "chartreuse" with "big caboose." And they ain't talking about trains, my friend.
Friday night, they set up shop at the Keswick with three matching tour buses (one for each band member), plus an official tour dog named Gizzmo.
They also brought their A game, delivering a scorching 90-minute run through their fairly deathless back catalog - which has, to date, sold more than 50 million copies - and somehow made it look effortless.
They still have the Li'l Abner beards, the cheap sunglasses, the will to rock, and the keys to the cages that set the working man free for a few Bud-fueled hours of ecstasy Friday night. Frontman Billy Gibbons still sounds like he eats cactus for breakfast - like he's toked his way through the 25 lighters on his dresser that he sings about on the new boogie-powered "Gotsta Get Paid" - and his guitar still sounds like John Lee Hooker in the electric chair. Bassist Dusty Hill still rides the subwoofer like Slim Pickens on a nuclear missile, and he can still belt those immortal words: "Lord take me downtown, I'm just looking for some tush."
Ironically named drummer Frank Beard is still the only clean-shaven member of the band, and he can still take it from six cylinders to eight when the song is in the passing lane. And best of all, you get the feeling that after four decades of hard-rock blues-breaking, and more than 50 million served, the tres hombres are still tres amigos.