Posted on 8th November 2011
4th November 2011
The Melvins are the treasure of the most anticipated show of the last few months in Bristol, Bath and surrounding areas. It’s been a while since they did the All Tomorrow’s Parties festival down in Minehead so people were ready for their trip to the multi grunge-y world of The Melvins heavy, The Melvins invention, The Melvins thoughtfulness and The Melvins Earth-meltingly good slabs of metamorphic rock.
Tonight a three piece but usually four of them; Buzz Osborne – original King Buzzo with glorious hair fizzing from his intensely dark brow, Jared Warren – a Melvin since 2006 and Big Business bassist (also with bouncy hair), and the two drummers that play in symmetry - Dale Crover who has been a Melvin since 1984 and was the in between Chad Channing and Dave Grohl drummer in Nirvana and appeared on some of the tracks on both the Bleach and Incesticide albums. Drummer Coady Willis, also a Melvin since 2006, and drummer in Big Business, wasn’t performing tonight unfortunately.
Thekla was rammed with die hard fans, most of whom are in bands, which is indicative of the kind of influence the Melvins have had on alternative music and their much respected place in rock history – are they in the Rock Hall Of Fame yet?
If Nirvana is an influence or a favourite then by default The Melvins have been too by way of osmosis for reasons of, if none other, them being one of Kurt Cobain’s favourite bands. But also their influence on Stoner, Grunge and Heavy Metal rock bands like Kyuss, Helmet, Isis, Sound Garden, Sun O))), Tool and Big Business who were so influenced are now half of them.
The set they played was truly outstanding, opening with a little noisemaking machine, an iphone no less, Dale had and Jarred shouting ‘Barnacles’ down the microphone, the be-robed Melvins slammed straight into the heaviest grunge you have ever heard. Immediately the sensibility of the music is apparent – it is constructed with a knowing ear, you can’t imagine much of this music happening accidentally and if it did, the fragments from the accident are picked up and deliberately pieced together and fine-tuned to make brilliant art, and in this case, music.
There are very low-slung chords, bass and guitar in unison a lot of the time with simple (ish) but seismic riffs a la classic stoner rock. That said, The Melvins may have influenced Stoner Rock but aren’t quite Stoner themselves – it’s not slow enough for a start and there is just too much lighter more trebly fuzz on the guitar which keeps them firmly in grunge, having said that, this is where grunge came from, so technically they are not firmly anywhere but in archetype land, which is the stuff of dreams.
Billy Fish marked the from-good-to-great moment, about four or five songs in, with the rolling drum riffs cascading round the kit and room, Dale making music not just keeping time and with Coady, I’m sure, only enhances its power. They played a mix of tracks but considering how many albums these guys have it must be hard to decide what to play. Recognisable crowd pleasers were Lizzy from 93’s Houdini, Queen from 94’s Stoner Witch, The Kicking Machine 2008’s Nude With Boots along with surprisingly fun Buddy Holly type pop track Up the Dumper from 99’s The Bootlicker, brought to attention the clear vocals which Dale, Buzz and Jarred all sung in glorious throaty harmony. Buzz sounded like D Boon of The Minutemen at times and does more so on the records. The Minutemen are the only band I could think of that may actually be an influence on The Melvins, but having seen this awesome interview with Buzz I realise it’s The Beatles and Black Flag!
So they mark a time, and a birth of a time, that became a huge influential wave in the 90’s but what is great about The Melvins they move with the times and continue to explore their sound and making great records while exploring other band projects like Fantomas with Mike Patton, Big Business of course, Altamont. And all related projects, reads like a list of anyone interesting that ever picked up a fuzz guitar or pounded hell raising beats in American Rock History since the mid eighties. Respect and foaming adoration supremely deserved and especially as the show ends with Dale and Jarred jamming out to the DJ’s music – The Melvins were supposed to have finished – but Jarred’s ‘Full English Breakfast’ rap had only just begun. Brilliant!
- Miss Gardiner
Ads by Google: