July 12, 2013
It might be a good idea to take a drive by the Crescent Ballroom this morning and see if that place is still standing. I am pretty sure that the Melvins' blistering delivery of their noisy, sludge-y, smart, thick, and furious blend of motherfucking ROCK left that lovely downtown Phoenix venue in a pile of ashes after one lengthy and glorious set Friday night.
Weeding through the rock 'n' roll rubble, you might come across some bloody ears, a couple of mangled limbs, and maybe, just maybe, HOPEFULLY, the fucking annoying couple next to me who were constantly striving for crowd attention, reminding me of that old wisecrack, "Yeah, I remember MY first concert."
Suffering fools like those two jokers became a moot endeavor once the Melvins climbed upon the stage, kicking it off in no shy manner with "Hag Me," from 1993's Houdini. Guitarist and main man of the vocal duties, Buzz Osborne -- a.k.a. King Buzzo -- bassist fill-in Jeff Pinkus, and drumming duo Dale Crover and Coady Willis unleashed the fury.
The walls -- along with Buzzo's signature mass of giant crimped hair -- shook, the floor moved, and an envelope of noisy devastation enveloped the crowd, sealing the room shut with an impenetrable glob of sonic drool.
Celebrating 30 years of existence, the Melvins took it from there into a journey through their catalog, including, "Hooch," "Night Goat," and "Lizzy" also from Houdini, as well as "A Growing Disgust" from Freak Puke and the driving, commanding "Queen" from Stoner Witch. The latter locked the crowd into its groove, slowing up the pit action for a few minutes; Buzzo's guitar subtly keeping the good tension on the verge of perpetual explosion.
It's been a few years since I've seen the Melvins live, definitely before they started this business with having monster-on-drums Dale Crover share duties with another beater of the skins. Not that it wasn't already a perfect setup back in those days, but this pushed it over the edge, ensuring it as a brilliant fucking breathtaking festival for the eyes, the ears, and the gut.
Along with Coady Willis, who also drums for some other bands like Big Business (with Melvins bassist Jeff Pinkus), the two linked up like Satan's own marching band. You know, without the actual marching.
The combined synchronicity and mastery, full of ridiculous amounts of energy and soul, was mesmerizing to watch, and helped make the whole set purely addictive.
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Playing on that, with a real sense of mischief, elongated drum flurries blurred the lines between songs. The guys finished off the night with a few more, including the newer "Evil New War God" followed by the monstrous "Lysol," the whole final trio of tunes nothing but an eruption of disruption, wrapping it up with Buzz quietly exiting, followed by Pinkus who turned his bass to the amp and softly grabbed his drink and disappeared while the drummers tore it up in tandem. They gradually dialed it down, devolving into quiet, one beat hits, collectively collapsing the evening just past the midnight hour.
Critic's Notebook: Last Night:Melvins at Crescent Ballroom. Personal Bias: Into the Melvins for years, fully expected to be destroyed in the best way possible. The Crowd: Not a total sausage fest, but dude-oriented fo sho. Overheard in the Crowd: "I'd like to play a show in King Buzzo's hair." Better Than: The idiot sorority chicks on the patio who made fun of my date's man purse. Really -- a man's messenger bag is still on your list of laugh-worthy items?