30 Odd Foot of Grunts -- Russell Crowe's band will play its first post-''Gladiator'' gig

By David Browne
Updated July 14, 2000 at 04:00 AM EDT

He survived slavery, sword fights, and a tumble with a tiger. But can Gladiator‘s Russell Crowe conquer an unruly crowd of Texas rock fans? He’ll find out next month when his Aussie band, 30 Odd Foot of Grunts, plays three sold-out shows at Austin’s Stubb’s BBQ (the group is now recording nearby). Tickets for its first post-Gladiator gig have sparked an eBay frenzy, with bids as high as $500 to see Crowe moonlight as a singer-guitarist. ”There’s a lot of fans of the music, and then there are some who are just curious to see what it’s all about,” says Stubb’s co-owner Charles Attal. Not surprisingly, he adds, ”There’s certainly a lot of women coming.” What are they in for? EW music critic David Browne lends us his ear and reviews the sextet’s latest single, available at www.gruntland.com.

On its site, 30 Odd Foot of Grunts describe their music as ”Rock & Roll!!!” But the band’s free download neither rocks nor rolls, let alone merits three exclamation marks. Not even two minutes long, the slight ”Judas Cart” merges a gentle folk melody with Crowe’s lyrics about a man whose evil ex-wife takes custody of their daughter, though she left him ”some seven years ago.” Like his characters, Crowe sounds beleaguered, yet also indistinguishable from any standard pub folkie. Then again, what he doesn’t sound like is a showboating singing celebrity a la Willis or Hasselhoff. That sound you’re hearing is a Roman stadium full of people thanking the gods for small miracles. B-