Monday, 13 May 2013

Review: Melvins Day 1

Ah, the year is so young and I already have a number 1 on my Best of concerts list. But to be honest I knew that already when I bought my ticket for last week's Melvins double date months ago. The minute I saw an add for the show I ordered tickets online and let me say I never do that. But this event was different and special. The mighty Melvins planned on playing 4 1/2 classic albums on two consecutive nights at Festsaal Kreuzberg. The list of records they wanted to play made me nearly cry. Lysol, Egnogg, Houdini, Bullhead, Stoner Witch. Unnecessary to say I'm a fan. A big one.

The Melvins for me, I guess, is this one band everyone has. They can do whatever they want I'll always love them. Whether they release strange noise records like Colossus Of Destiny or have a ridiculous vinyl distribution. Between all that is an unbelievable gem of timeless records and live performances.

Formed in the mid 80s, the Melvins tried from the beginning on to do their own little thing. Something between Metal and Punk. Someone would say Grunge (yikes). Members of Mudhoney and Cows played in the Melvins and even Kurt Cobain auditioned once. Over the years their sound becomes so recognizable, a guitar riff, the pounding bass or the power of Dale Crover's drumming. Since 2006 the Melvins are a four piece, the current members are King Buzzo, who plays guitar and sings, Dale Crover, and the members of Stoner/Sludge band Big Business, Jared (ex-Karp) and Coady (ex-Murder City Devils), who play bass and drums respectively.

So, Tuesday was the first of two nights, where the Melvins performed 2 1/2 albums in its entirely. Lysol (1992), Eggnog (1991) and Houdini (1993) were scheduled for this glorious night. Festsaal Kreuzberg was sold out (obviously) to an old crowd with grey hair and holey band shirts. The doors opened at 8 and punctual at 9 accompanied by a Black Sabbath intro the Melvins entered the stage.

They started with the apocaplyptic Lysol record from 1992, which has become a blueprint for every Doom / Sludge band since. Reduced to the max, slow as hell and heavy as a bulldozer. Excuse my cliché description, but it is what it is, an unbelievable punch in the face. Just only the 11 minutes opener Hung Bunny or the Alice Cooper cover version manifests the state of this record. With the impressive double drum set in the middle and surrounded by guitar and bass amps, a lava of sound overran the audience. This beast was followed by the '91 recorded EP Eggnog. After an hour and standing on the balcony of a sold out Festsaal, we didn't have a gram of air to breathe. Fortunately the Melvins needed a break too. After 15 minutes they returned to play my first Melvins record.

Houdini was recorded in 1993 and was their first on a major label. There a people out there who are saying they became weak and too poppy, but all of their 3 Atlantic records are timeless and favorite records of mine. So, beat it. Don't get me wrong, Houdini is far from a mainstream album. With the success of Nirvana (Kurt Cobain plays guitar on Sky Pup) and Grunge, Atlantic thought it was a good move to sign them. I for myself think Houdini, next to Stoner Witch, is about the closest record to getting a representative Melvins album. It captures strikingly the band's major characteristics, like their undestroyable power, vision and weirdness. Every song on it is a hit and I sang every line and played every riff on my invisible guitar this evening. Certainly everyone waited for Honey Bucket, their big video hit (?) and the mosh pit was brutal, but totally worth it. They left, one after another with a noisy fade-away version of Spread Eagle Beagle and most of the audience knew they would return the following day to celebrate their favorite band.

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