It's pretty incredible that Big Head Todd and the Monsters are still around, considering that they emerged during the same H.O.R.D.E. era that gave the jam-rock world the Spin Doctors. But since their early-'90s heyday, they've become a reliable, sturdy three-piece, the kind of dependable live band that doesn't warrant constant sellouts but rather the kind of "Yeah, I can dig this" vibe that long-term music careers are made of.
In the years since their initial hype has ebbed, Big Head Todd & the Monsters have had ups (an appearance at last year's Austin City Limits fest) and downs (one band member's infamous hookup on an episode of MTV's The Real World). Last year's double-disc Live at the Fillmore finds them delivering a solid if perfunctory set of originals that display their roots in Southern rock, among them "Crazy Mary" (not the Victoria Williams song Pearl Jam covers) and "Conquistador," which flirts -- albeit briefly -- with a bit of melancholy. More than anything else, though, Live at the Fillmore proves that for Big Head Todd & the Monsters, diligence pays off -- everything here sounds prouder, brighter, and better than any studio album the group's recorded.